The first week of the OPL in 2018 went pretty much as expected, although I didn’t go 4 for 4 on my tips when I picked the Chiefs to take out the Dire Wolves. ORDER, Legacy Esports and Avant Gaming all swept aside their opponents in a week plagued with substitutions after a wave of competitive suspensions cast a pall over the first week of play. Week 2 has a few choice matchups, so without further ado, let’s enter the Rift!
Bombers v ORDER
The first game of the week is a battle of the armed forces, with the Bombers taking on the ORDER army. Both teams’ debut matches couldn’t have been different, with the Bombers being dominated by Avant Gaming in a 2-0 sweep. It was always going to be hard for the Essendon FC-owned team, with assembling a brand new roster yet having two members suspended for the first two weeks of the season. ORDER, however, had no such issues and instantly sought to confirm the rumours of them being Oceania’s new super team with two very strong games against the Kiwi team Tectonic.
ORDER should be looking to exploit the relative competitive inexperience of Artaphernes in the top lane, and I expect Spookz will be making frequent trips to the top lane to aid Tally who looked very impressive in his two Gangplank games. With the Bombers’ new ADC Tiger only arriving the day before the teams’ first match, I’m sure the existing synergy between FBI and Rogue will outmatch the individual mechanical ability of Tiger and Rosey. For Swiffer, it will feel just like old times when he squares up against former Legacy midlaner ChuChuZ, and the odds will be heavily in his favour to win the midlane matchup.
For the Bombers, it’s a long shot that they win the series, let alone a game after how clean and methodical ORDER looked against Tectonic. But if they are going to do it, it will have to start through Tiger and Rosey, to exploit arguably the point of weakness in this already impressive ORDER side. However, that does remain extremely unlikely and we’ll have to wait until Week 3 to see the true potential of the Bombers side. For ORDER, this may simply be an opportunity to add to the highlight reel, and there shouldn’t be any doubt about the winners of this matchup.
My Pick: ORDER 2 – 0 Bombers
Avant Gaming v Chiefs Esports Club
As in Week One, the game involving the Chiefs will be the closest one of the week, when 2017’s second placed team take up arms against Avant Gaming. The Chiefs lost out on a fantastic start to the season when they let their last two games of their series against the Dire Wolves slip away. With the series the only one to go to 3 games during Week One, the Chiefs had their ups and downs, and they’ll be looking to improve this week. For Avant Gaming, a 2-0 sweep of the Bombers was the perfect note to start their season, and the entire team looked very impressive, conceding only 4 deaths and 4 towers in the entire series. It was a clinical Avant at their best.
The Chiefs should focus on winning the games through their solo lanes, with Swip3rR and ry0ma currently being better mechanical players than Pabu and Frae. Babip needs to play a crucial role in this series, making plays so Swip3rR and ry0ma can manufacture a lead. Avant Gaming appear to have built synergy with their three new players with their existing botlane, so it doesn’t look like the Chiefs can exploit that. Teamfighting from the Chiefs will have to be on point to ensure they can take a win, and I’m sure they’ll be looking to draft in that direction.
On the other hand, for Avant Gaming to take out the W, they must be looking to take advantage of the disconnection between Phantiks and Destiny after Phantiks (normally a midlaner) became the ADC substitute after Raes was suspended for 2 weeks. Avant has no such burden on their team, and you should be looking for Only to be frequently taking trips to the botlane to help out Blinky and Jayke. Avant will win through their botlane, and the Chiefs will win through their solo lanes. Taking all that into consideration, as well as the individual strength of the players, the Chiefs have more opportunities to build a lead, and so I think they’ll be taking out the series, but not without a scare from Avant.
My Pick: Avant Gaming 1 – 2 Chiefs Esports Club
Dire Wolves v SIN Gaming
Out of the three 2-0 games this week, SIN Gaming looked the closest to taking games away from their opponent in Legacy. Their roster was destroyed, and had to be rebuilt around Juves, and for all intents and purposes, the team didn’t look that bad even though they did go down 0-2. They took the fight to Legacy, with Praedyth and Bdoink putting up some good performances in their first game. For the Dire Wolves, having Shernfire out and replaced by Praelus led to a slower, more methodical playstyle that did get the better of the Chiefs in their Grand Final rematch. Their 2-1 win was close, but all of the Wolfpack looked very, very impressive.
For the Dire Wolves, SIN Gaming shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge, with all members of the Wolfpack maybe with the exception of Praelus being expected to outplay their opponent in lane. Chippys and Praedyth will be an interesting matchup, but I’m sure Chippys’ wealth of domestic and international experience will be the deciding factor here. k1ng and Cupcake should sweep aside Dream and kpop, especially since kpop is the substitute for the suspended Cuden. Bdoink shouldn’t be too hard of a matchup for Triple, and the Dire Wolves may win the game just by eking out massive advantages in the laning phase.
The odds are stacked against SIN right from the outset, but if they do have a chance to win, it will be relying on their captain Juves to bully Praelus out of the jungle and lend a hand to his solo laners. Juves’ appearance in the lanes may tip the balance of the game in SIN’s favour, but the ganks will have to be executed perfectly to give SIN any chance of coming away with a game. The Dire Wolves will know that this is SIN’s only real opportunity for a win, so expect them to target Juves in champion select. It’s going to be an uphill battle for SIN Gaming, and this early in the season I don’t think they’ll be able to take a game, especially since they couldn’t take a game off 2017’s third placed team, let alone 2-time defending champions.
My Pick: Dire Wolves 2 – 0 SIN Gaming
Legacy Esports v Tectonic
Our last game of the week is probably going to be the most one-sided series, maybe alongside the ORDER v Bombers matchup. Legacy was fantastic in their debut series against SIN Gaming, especially since their roster had to be rebuilt entirely around Claire after the rest of the side departed for various reasons. Former Abyss ADC Raid had a stellar debut on the Legacy team, with a whopping KDA of 34, with the most inexperienced member of the squad in his support Decoy also putting up some big numbers. Tectonic, however, played two very different games against ORDER. In their first, they were obliterated, only taking 4 kills and being down 17k gold, in their second, they put up a bit more of a fight, especially from Shok’s Urgot in the midlane, before falling in a 32 minutes slugfest.
Legacy are easily the favourites of this matchup, and their win-condition should just be to mechanically outplay their opponents, taking advantage of the competitive inexperience of the Tectonic squad. Ceres should be able to dominate Papryze, as well as Raid and Decoy being able to get the better of Low and Tilting. Sybol vs Swathe will be a battle to watch, with the winner of that matchup potentially having a massive impact on the rest of the game. When it comes to teamfights, Legacy should win, even with a composition only showing consideration to a teamfight unless Tectonic take a risk and go all in on a teamfight composition.
For Tectonic to win, it’s going to be through Shok in the midlane. Shok had strong performances on both Azir and the surprise Urgot against Swiffer, taking 3 out of his team’s 4 kills with the Azir, and getting 9 kills in Game 2 on his way to a respectable 3.5 KDA. If Shok can outplay Claire, especially on a roaming champion like Malzahar, he can create shockwaves across the map and potentially push the odds onto the side of Tectonic. However, Shok is only one member amongst five, and with the rest of the team expected to be beaten in lane, I’ve got to give the win to Legacy. Keep your eye on the midlane matchup, because I’m sure there will be fireworks.
My Pick: Legacy 2 – 0 Tectonic
Saturday 27th January
- Bombers versus ORDER – 2:00PM AEDT
- Avant Gaming versus Chiefs Esports Club – 5:00PM AEDT
Sunday 28th January
- Dire Wolves versus SIN Gaming– 2:00PM AEDT
- Legacy Esports versus Tectonic – 5:00PM AEDT