What’s next for Giants Gaming’s xPePii?

Taylor Cocke

(Photo: Lolesports/Riot Games)

Isaac “xPePii” Flores Alvarado has a lot to live up to. The latest in a long line of mechanically gifted Spanish mid laners, he’s walking the same path as legends Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez and Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez Santiago. Hell, he even renamed himself from PePiiNeRO to pay homage to the former.

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And yet, he seems unable to find his footing. Despite his immense talent for playmaking mid lane champions, he and the rest of Giants Gaming have yet to establish themselves as a premier team in the EU LCS. Even after fighting through the Expansion Tournament in 2015 and two separate Promotion Tournaments, xPePii and his team have struggled to rise above the bottom half of the EU ladder.

After his team’s most recent foray into the world of potential relegation, where they struggled and fought their way back into the LCS after 14 games in the 2016 Summer Split Promotion Tournament, xPePii’s got some work to do. He’s got a whole new roster behind him, one full of rookie talent. He’s just got to bring them together for the 2016 Summer Split. Easy, right?

(Photo: Lolesports/Riot Games)

Jack of all trades

Since their debut in the EU LCS, Giants Gaming has relied on xPePii to carry them to victory. While it hasn’t always been a foolproof strategy, he’s shown flashes of that intangible leadership quality that has made European mid laners so special in the international scene. He’s also a playmaker gifted with a little special something that can turn a decent team into a great one.

His assassins are ever dangerous, his Xerath still a threat, and his AD carry champs are becoming legit. He’s always had a propensity for playing a wide variety of champions, and he’s slowly been showing improvement on all of them.

And that’s what really separates xPePii from the pack. He’s never afraid to try something new, something out of the meta. Remember when he was one of the first guys in Europe to pull out Runeglaive Ezreal back in 2015? He was one of the first to really master the AP variety of the Prodigal Explorer. You can never really count xPePii out.

The problem is, he’s never been able to find consistent success on all of the champions that he attempts to play. While he’s got solid KDAs this season on the likes of Corki and Varus, he’s struggled on several of 2016’s meta picks like Lulu, Viktor and (now) Azir. Even his beloved Ahri couldn’t net him a single win — and he played her five times, more than any other champion on his list.

Interestingly, though, his kill participation has always been stellar. Never averaging less than 50% on his team in either the regular season on any champion on the LCS stage, his roaming style has been nothing but a boon for Giants as a whole. The question is: How does he translate that to wins?

(Photo: Lolesports/Riot Games)

Step up or step back

As xPePii and the rest of the Giants stare down the barrel of the 2016 Summer Split, they have a difficult task on their hands. They barely requalified for the LCS, and finished dead last in Spring. After that placement, xPePii is the only remaining member of the team that started the 2016 season.

Now a veteran in the LCS, he’ll have to step up his game. For a player known for his assassin play, he’s found a style that isn’t quite as selfish as his solo kill brethren. Still, he’ll really need to ramp up his leadership. He’s tried his best to solo carry Giants, and now he’ll have to figure out how to work with the rest of his team.

He’ll have to settle down in his picks and learn to play champions that fit into specific team compositions. Too often, he’s found himself on champions that don’t quite fit with his team’s win conditions. Having a variety of tools up his sleeve is a good thing, but he’s got to learn when to use the right one for the job.

If he can do that, he’ll be worthy of his place next to xPeke and ocelote. If he can’t, well, relegation is always a few mistakes away.

Taylor Cocke wishes his hair could be as purdy as xPePii’s. You can follow his adventures in balding on Twitter @taylorcocke.

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