Riding high after taking down the kings of old, the Chiefs, on their way to their second OPL title. the Dire Wolves headed to Korea as Oceania’s first representative at the LoL World Championship. With the addition of the Play-In stages at both Worlds and MSI as well as the new Rift Rivals format, Riot has enabled emerging regions such as Oceania the ability to play internationally and gain beneficial experience that comes with performing on the world stage.
Drawn into a group with a Worlds stalwart in NA’s Cloud9 and young upstarts Team oNe eSports from Brazil, it was definitely in the realm of possibility for the Wolfpack to make it into the Play-In Elimination stage. After sitting through 3 high-intensity games on Day 1, the Oceanic representatives were set to take the stage against NA’s third seed in Cloud9. With a win already under their belt after taking down Team oNe eSports, Cloud9 looked to continue their rampage through the group and secure their first seed spot for the second part of the play-in stage.
After plenty of banter prior to the competition, with Chippys and Impact exchanging words on Twitter, champion select began with DW banning out Maokai, Shen and Orianna, and the dreaded Kalista + Rakan combo being banned out on the side of C9 as well as a signature Jayce pick. Shernfire picked up Sejuani first, which was followed up by Xayah and Jarvan IV for Sneaky and Impact. The big Void Terror known as Cho’Gath was quickly locked in by DW, not wasting any time locking in Corki next up for Phantiks.
C9 had kept their composition under wraps with flex picks galore after picking up Galio, and the second phase of bans had DW focusing Smoothie’s champ pool with the Thresh and Blitz disappearing off the Rift, while Cloud 9 knocked out Tristana and Kog’Maw for k1ng. Caitlyn and Karma were quickly snapped up by the Wolfpack and Contractz’ signature Nidalee slipped through into his hands while Smoothie went back to an old favourite in Janna. The Galio was turned over to Jensen in the midlane and it was onto the Rift.
An overextension from Phantiks on Corki was quickly punished by the roaming Contractz for first blood at 4:30 to drop the Wolfpack 1k gold behind. A CS advantage for Impact in the top lane led to an early level 6 and Chippys went down with a pixel-perfect spear from the Nidalee. On the other side of the map, k1ng’s Caitlyn laid down the pain onto Smoothie to secure the Wolves’ first kill of the game. Turrets were traded in quick succession, and Cloud9 went up 1.5k gold with a Cloud Drake as well. Closing in on 10 minutes, Chippys was ganked 3v1 for the second time to turn over the third kill to the on-fire Contractz. A lull ensued until Chippys got caught out again to send him 3-0 and put a 1 in the kills column for Jensen’s Galio, with Rift Herald falling quickly after.
Cloud9 spent the next 15 minutes on demolitions duty, flawlessly rotating around the map turning turrets into rubble and filling the coffers with a 10k gold lead. A brawl at 21 minutes saw a 1 for 1 trade as Shernfire fell quickly after the Crown Prince in the top lane was brought low for C9. Cloud9 went from strength to strength, ending lives of dragons, Summoners and turrets alike as they swept aside the Wolves after amassing a 15k gold lead to go 2-0 with a 27 minute victory and send the men from Oceania into their second game of the day 0-1.
Coming off a shaky start to their Worlds campaign against Cloud9, the Dire Wolves were looking to put one up on the board against one of their regional rivals, Team oNe eSports from Brazil. The traditionally stronger region, Brazil had often been upset by Oceanic teams (mainly the Chiefs) in Wildcard tournaments previously, the last 5 games going 4-1 in Oceania’s favour. Both teams had already fallen to the North Americans, and it seemed that this matchup would be the one that decides the second seed to move in to the Play-In Knockouts.
Champion select booted up with a focus on 4LaN’s champion pool from the Dire Wolves, banning out Sejuani and Rek’Sai, while also taking away a globally good pick from RedBert in the form of Rakan. oNe’s bans were more varied, with caution thrown to Chippys’ Jayce as that was taken away as well as a botlane sweep with Alistar and Kalista disappearing off the Rift. In probably record time, Jarvan IV was locked in for the Dire Wolves, probably going toward Chippys. oNe responded with a flex of Jax as well as Braum for oNe’s support. Phantiks decided to go with Corki again, in an attempt to not repeat the mistakes of the previous game. Rumble also came in, meaning that the Jarvan was in the jungle for Shernfire and the mechanised menace headed up to the top lane.
Xayah was locked in for oNe as their last pick of the first round, and the second round of bans began with the Brazilians making sure that k1ng couldn’t play Kog’Maw. The Wolfpack countered with an Elise ban, continuing their theme of lessening the playable champs for 4LaN. Another support in the form of Karma was barred from Destiny’s hot hands and it was quickly countered with ensuring Brucer couldn’t play one of his signature champs in Kassadin. Making sure they got a midlaner in, oNe took Orianna for the significant teamfight potential her ultimate, Command: Shockwave, possesses. Ashe was hovered for the OPL men, and was locked in followed by the fallen angel Morgana. The Jax was flexed to the jungle after the mindgames were played as oNe picked up the Fiora for VVvert as their last pick of champion select.
The vision game was played early, as oNe managed to get a ward inside the Brambleback pit, ensuring that if Shernfire stuck with the red start they’d have decent knowledge of his pathing. 4Lan started at raptors while Shern did stick with the red buff then moved into the blue buff to start off. Action converged in the bottom half of the map as k1ng was almost caught out under turret, just managing to get away. However, 4LaN was caught out by Phantiks and Shernfire trying to steal the raptors and was brought supremely low before flashing behind the roaming Brucer to appear to get away. Destiny, following up from behind, flashed through a wall to pull off a fantastic Dark Binding to catch 4LaN and it wasn’t much difficulty for Phantiks’ Corki to put a few bullets in him to secure First Blood and double buffs for the Wolfpack.
Building upon that, the Wolves tried to maintain their 1.5k gold lead as all lanes slowly pushed into the Brazilians’ towers. The game remained relatively quiet until a flashed engage from Shernfire encased Brucer in a arena of rock as Phantiks flew in with the Package and Chippys laid down the Equaliser for an easy second kill. oNe responded with a sneaky first dragon, adding the power of the Mountain Drake to their arsenal.
Shernfire snuck in bot to try an initiate on the pushing Xayah and Braum, but some bungled timing meant that oNe’s bot lane managed to slink away, although without summoner spells. Using the 2k gold lead, Destiny managed to have his Ardent Censer done by 12 minutes, giving even more power to the extremely potent Black Shield. VVvert went in on Chippys in the top lane, only to have his own Flash burnt as he attempted to get away from the Rumble’s Equaliser in response. This exertion of pressure led to a stellar towerdive in the botlane, as a 5 man attack led to three kills, with the Corki picking up two while Destiny snagged the third. Now 5-0 and 3k gold up as well as first turret gold as a result of the fight the Wolfpack looked to be in firm control of this game.
After picking up the Package, Phantiks charged up the midlane to cleanly solokill Brucer, even trading flashes as he closed in for the kill. oNe looked all over the place as k1ng’s Enchanted Crystal Arrow connected with Absolut’s Xayah as he fell and the Braum fell soon after and a Double Kill was handed to Shernfire. A two man gank top on Chippys led to oNe preventing the perfect game and got their first kill on the board. Rotations began, and k1ng took the top lane Tier 1 and Shernfire snagged the Rift Herald so they could press their 7k gold advantage at 18 minutes.
A phenomenal arrow from k1ng connected with Brucer in the topside jungle, and shernfire and Destiny quickly followed up for the 9th kill of the game. Rift Herald quickly followed, and the midlane Tier 2 fell victim to the charge. Back to the botlane, and VVvert went in for another kill, but got far too greedy towerdiving and the reinforcements in the form of the on-fire Phantiks closed out the kill. Fiora was again caught out, but that can easily be forgiven after a 5 man attack quickly sent her back to the fountain.
A wild Xayah was sniped with some precise rockets from Phantiks as the Wolfpack moved onto the Baron in plain view of the Brazilians. The followup fight resulted in 3 kills for the Dire Wolves as the Brazilians’ base cracked in multiple places. Orianna got blown up as the men from Australia went for the nexus turrets with a 16-1 kill lead, and they picked up 3 kills as the nexus explodes to put Oceania 1-1 at Worlds. The win put them into second place going into Day 2, only needing to beat oNe again to advance.