Welcome to the first edition of Enter the Rift, a weekly segment right here on Respawn Ninja that will cover what you should be looking for in each week of the OPL. The first edition will recap the offseason as well, but if you want more indepth offseason analysis be sure to check out our OPL Shuffles. The OPL has dramatically changed since the end of last year, with arguably the biggest offseason Oceania has ever seen, as well as 3 new teams making themselves known in Oceanic esports. The Essendon Football Club bought out Abyss Esports’ slot, with Team Regicide and Tainted Minds’ slots being sold to the new organisations ORDER and Tectonic respectively. And without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
Dire Wolves v Chiefs Esports Club
The first game of OPL 2018 is a rematch of the last series of 2017, the Split 2 Grand Final where the Dire Wolves cemented their place as Oceania’s best when they took down the old guard in the Chiefs Esports Club 3-1. After failing to make it out of the Play-In Stage at Worlds 2017, Dire Wolves lost their esteemed midlaner Phantiks and captain Destiny to the Chiefs, with the former taking up a role as a coach. Phantiks’ protege in Avant’s midlaner Triple made the jump to the Wolfpack, providing some talent to be developed as well as Legacy support Cupcake.
With the Chiefs only retaining Swip3rR and Raes after Swiffer and Spookz joined ORDER and EGym became a OPL caster, it was always going to be tough for the boys with the shield. However, with securing Destiny’s leadership in the bottom lane, the Chiefs’ new jungler and midlaner in Babip and former SIN Gaming player Ryoma respectively are sure to be developed into Oceania’s best, and any building upon their already incredible mechanical ability will catapult them and the Chiefs even further into title contention. However, due to a competitive ruling from Riot, Raes and the Dire Wolves’ jungler Shernfire will miss the series due to their two week competitive suspensions.
This will be an incredibly well-fought series, either way, but I think that the Chiefs, who with their signings haven’t taken a step down from the quality of their roster of 2017 if not a step up, will eke out the win. They won’t get it without a fight, and the Wolfpack will be ready to pounce upon any weakness, and start their title defense in a battle that could be a foretelling of finals to come. This will be the closest game of the week, so don’t be surprised if the Wolfpack does take the win.
My Pick: Dire Wolves 1 – 2 Chiefs Esports Club
ORDER v Tectonic
On paper, this seems like it’s going to be the most one-sided affair of the OPL’s debut week, with Oceania’s new super team helmed by OPL caster Jake “Spawn” Tiberi going up against the most New Zealand-like of the teams in Tectonic. Keeping their midlaner and ADC in Shok and Low from 2017’s Tainted Minds, the rest of the squad have been pulled from the Oceanic Challenger Series, with Papryze, Swathe and Tilting having no prior OPL experience.
On the other side, we have some of the best players in the region brought together in a formidable roster, to provide a real threat to the Dire Wolves’ reign. I expect ORDER to hit the ground running, as opposed to Tectonic who will have to build up cohesion over weeks of play. For Tectonic, this is not a team that will have instant success. It will take a long while for this team to become seriously competitive, and the hard yards will have to be put in. All of Tectonic’s lanes are sure to be at the very least mechanically outclassed by their counterparts in ORDER, so in my books, Tectonic’s only chance to take their first series of the OPL is if the regular flights to and from Melbourne have an adverse effect on ORDER’s playing ability.
My Pick: ORDER 2 – 0 Tectonic
SIN Gaming v Legacy Esports
Over the offseason, both of these teams had their rosters obliterated, only left with one player from their 2017 side to play on their 2018 squads. SIN Gaming have built their roster around their outgoing jungler in Juves, picking up Praedyth from the dissolution of Tainted Minds while also snagging Oceanic veteran Cuden for support. With OCS players Bdoink and Dream rounding out the squad, this team has potency as well as potential to take games off any team, but it won’t come easy.
Legacy, on the other hand, have had to build around their midlaner Claire, pulling in Avant’s jungler Sybol to synergise with their Korean import toplaner in Mimic. Raid from the former Abyss Esports links up with Regicide’s substitute support Decoy to top off Legacy’s side. Because of the massive shakeup, it’s hard to get a read on how these teams are going to perform, but on paper their rosters seem like they’ll provide a slugfest this weekend, with every game a hard-fought victory. Both teams have 3 OPL players, so it remains to be seen who can outclass the other. The games will really hinge on which jungler has an impact, because I’m sure that a team that can work effectively with their jungler in the early game will take the prime position to take the series. If Mimic can live up to the hype, the top half of the map will be fireworks.
My Pick: SIN Gaming 1 – 2 Legacy Esports
Bombers v Avant Gaming
Avant Gaming have been the perennial 5th place team in the OPL, always just a touch behind SIN, Chiefs, Legacy and the Dire Wolves. This year, they’ve built a roster that can tango with the best and do have the ability to come out on top. By keeping their botlane of Blinky and Jayke intact, they’ve given themselves a framework to build upon, and by picking up Abyss players Pabu and Frae as well as Tainted Minds’ jungler Only, they have a team that can grow and eventually challenge any team. Mechanical skill is pervasive throughout the whole team, and one of Avant’s win conditions is to just go full solo-queue and play a solocarry style because they have the skill to outplay anyone in lane.
The second AFL team to become involved in Oceanic League of Legends, the storied Essendon Football Club has no intentions of lagging behind the rest of the competition, forking out for two European imports in Sleeping and Tiger. A good decision, these players can easily fit around Seb and Looch (after the latter two remained with Abyss and subsequently the Bombers) to create map-wide pressure. The odd one out of the squad is OPL veteran Rosey, who has jumped around multiple teams and hopefully will settle at the Bombers. However, I expect the synergy that already exists between members of Avant Garde will win out in this matchup, although it won’t be as clean-shaven as you would think it would might be, and I’m sure the Bombers will take one game. Their chances are slightly dampened with competitive suspensions for Sleeping and Looch in top and mid (with Artaphernes and Legacy manager ChuChuz standing in for the first two weeks), but if the stars align, it’s perfectly possible for the boys in the red and black to claim the first scalp of the season.
My Pick: Bombers 1 – 2 Avant Garde
Saturday 20th January
- Dire Wolves versus Chiefs Esports Club – 2:00PM AEDT
- ORDER versus Tectonic – 5:00PM AEDT
Sunday 21st January
- SIN Gaming versus Legacy Esports – 2:00PM AEDT
- Bombers versus Avant Gaming – 5:00PM AEDT