It’s a battle between first and second place in week 5 of the OPL, and it’s Avant Garde’s first big test since the first week of the OPL. Both teams are coming in hot with the Chiefs on an eight-game winning streak and Avant Garde on a six-game winning streak.
Chiefs are certainly the favorites for this match, with veterans and plenty of big game experience all across the map and they’ve been top dogs of the OPL pack for a very long time. Avant Garde has always been sneaking around the big three but has never quite taken that step up into the top tier of the OPL, and they’re hoping that this is the series where they’ll stamp their authority on the league and proclaim themselves as title threats.
Avant Garde – The New Age
The Chiefs are going to be Avant Garde’s biggest test since their first-week loss against Legacy, and I spoke to their top laner, Ceres, to find out how he and the team as a whole were progressing. “We figured out our strengths and weaknesses as a new five man roster and began to play around them heavily and last week’s Avant is the result!”
Chelby is Avant’s most experienced player, and he’s going to need to use all that experience when he comes up against Spookz. He’s played the sacrificial role in champion select, very rarely playing Kha’zix and has stuck to playing Rek’sai more often than not to open up carry top lane picks for Ceres. Chelby’s role in Avant Garde has certainly developed into more of a supportive role for his team, and he’ll have to keep Spookz under control to ensure his laners can play aggressively enough to garner Avant Garde a lead to work with.
“The Avant team is like a family and we all get along incredibly well, which enabled a very smooth transition into a team environment.”
While Avant’s opposition in the past three weeks hasn’t been highly rated, Ceres believes that they’ve still managed to improve. “Against Exile 5 we closed out both games in sub 25 minutes which is probably the closest indicator we have of our understanding of how to close a game on stage,” he says.
One of Avant’s big changes for this split was the addition of Blinky, and while the meta hasn’t favoured his preferred carry champions, Ceres believes that he’s added a new dynamic to the Avant Garde roster that was lacking in previous splits.
Chiefs – The Untouchable Kings?
The Chiefs have been at the pinnacle of OCE for a long time, and while their mechanical ability is certainly up there with the best, they’re the most well-drilled team too. They’re very consistent performers, strong laners and they have a great understanding of the meta. Wrap that all up with a strong sense of macro and you can see why they’ve been the best OCE team we’ve ever seen.
The whole team revolves around the mid/jungle duo of Swiffer and Spookz. If there’s anything happening around the map, then these two are certainly going to be in the thick of it. Spookz has stepped up massively over the past year to really dominate the jungle in Oceania. He’s shown a strong grasp of the jungle meta as he’s played several Ivern games and while his aggressiveness can sometimes get the team into trouble, it’s more often than not the reason they get strong leads.
What’s particularly worrying for Avant Garde is the fact that Graves has reentered the meta with the lethality changes and Spookz is an incredibly adept Graves player. His play on the champion in the 2016 Spit 2 Final overpowered Legacy, and he didn’t look rusty on the champ last week when the Chiefs took down Abyss.
Matchup to Watch – Ceres vs. Swip3rr
Ceres has been a revelation for Avant Garde in his rookie split, and he’s going up against the best top laner in OPL history this week in what will be his biggest test yet. So far he’s exceeded all expectations, and he leads the OPL for MVP points, but against Swip3rr his biggest test isn’t in lane it’s out of it.
Despite this large task, Ceres seemed unperturbed when I spoke to him. “I am not worried at all about my match-up with Swip3rr. Swip3rr’s impact on the game is usually outside of lane, and I feel that although I come from solo queue, my teamwork and macro understanding is up to scratch and I think I can match his macro play quite well.”
While his confidence is commendable, many top laners have tried and failed to match Swip3rr’s out of lane impact. He’s far more experienced, both in competitive and playing with his team, and he’s used this experience to rule over any new comers.
“The most important thing for myself was getting used to the stage environment which ultimately only took one set. I felt extremely liberated from stage anxiety and motivated after losing to Legacy.”
So where will Ceres differ? Well first off, he’s shown the ability to play tanks as well as his more natural play style of carry top laners. He’s also been given all of the necessary resources he needs to carry in all of Avant’’s games, and he’s performed in all of them. He’s clearly very vocal in pick/ban, and the team has faith in him to pull of any pick, as seen by his Tryndamere pick last week.
Swip3rr, on the other hand, has played so long that pretty much every champion is in his wheelhouse. While he’s more known for tanks now, he’s always been a solid bruiser player and last week he showed a great performance on Jayce as well. However, he isn’t the type of player to take many resources from his teammates. He’s often the sacrificial lamb in pick/ban and as such will have to work with less against Ceres.
Ceres has crossed a couple of names off of his OPL top lane hit list, but this is by far the biggest fish to fry, and Swip3rr’s not going to make it easy for him.
It’s always a gamble to bet against the Chiefs. They’ve been so good for so long that even when they’re on the ropes, they always find a way to win. And while it’s true that Avant Garde has looked good over the past three weeks, you can’t undervalue the fact that they’ve been playing against much lower quality opponents.
Avant Garde have the mechanical skill to take a game off the Chiefs, but it’ll take a monster performance from Avant to win the match, and at the moment, they haven’t shown the ability to beat a team of the Chiefs’ caliber.
Chiefs Esports 2 – Avant Garde 1