Coming off a disappointing Split 1, the Chiefs didn’t even make the semi-final after being taken down for the first time in a Best of 5 by SIN Gaming in their rampage through the Gauntlet.

Week 1 of Split 2 saw the old guard versus the new as the Chiefs took on Split 1 champion Dire Wolves. The games were all that they were hyped up to be, however Chiefs fell nearly to the bottom of the ladder after being taken down 2:1. Three decisive 2:0s over veterans and newcomers of the OPL alike in Abyss eSports Club and Team Regicide as well as the newly revamped TM Gaming propelled the Chiefs back to second on the ladder, only behind the Dire Wolves who remained undefeated.

Next up were the Chiefs’ biggest rivals, Legacy eSports, newly acquired by the Adelaide Crows. Legacy had only just procured their first clean 2:0 of the split, albeit against the winless Team Regicide and were hungry for more. A failed Baron defense coupled with a 13k gold lead plus 3 dragons to Legacy spelled defeat for Game 1. Game 2 was much closer, but after being aced at 13 minutes the downhill slide began. Lost’s Kalista shredded the Chiefs’ backline and Legacy walked up into the base a few minutes later and after diving the Chiefs under the mid inhibitor turret, took Game 2 convincingly.

A streak of dominant 2:0s against Gauntlet contenders Avant Garde and the struggling teams of  Abyss eSports Club as well as Regicide resumed normal service and the momentum was all for the Chiefs as they suited up for a tough battle against the on-form Dire Wolves. The result of the game would decide the placings for the Gauntlet. A single map win would put the Chiefs in guaranteed third place, while a 2-0 would put them in first and a 2-1 would put them in second place. On the flipside, if they were 2-0’d by Dire Wolves, they would drop to 4th and have to take out 4 teams in order to win the OPL title.

Game 1 was resoundingly taken by the Dire Wolves, ruling out a first place finish. However, the Chiefs bounced back in Game 2, with consistent pressure on Shernfire enabling map-wide plays from Spookz, eventually winning while holding DW kill-less. With third place at the very least guaranteed, Chiefs looked to establish early pressure in game 3, but a quick Double Kill to Phantiks’ Jayce started up a gold lead. The gold lead to DW shrunk, but a botched team fight after a Herald capture began a snowball from which there was no comeback. DW took more and more and closed the game, resigning the Chiefs to third place and waiting for whoever comes out of the Avant v SIN matchup when the Gauntlet begins next week.

Akin to the AFL team the Port Adelaide Power, the Chiefs have quickly become “The Pretenders” of this OPL split, unable to take down any of the other Top 4 teams yet work their way into the Gauntlet based solely on their precise demolitions of lower placed teams. The losses to Dire Wolves and Legacy marred what would have been a commanding redemption split for the Chiefs, and the question lingers, do the Chiefs have the strength to run the Gauntlet and reclaim their sorely missed title of Oceania’s champions?

The four names in the Gauntlet

This is even more important this year with the reinvention of the Worlds format, allowing the OPL champions to represent the region at Worlds.There’s no IWCQ (International Wild Card Qualifier) in the way this time. In order to topple the the Dire Wolves and punch their ticket to Wuhan, China, the Chiefs will need definitive victories over both Legacy and whoever crawls out alive of the bloodbath that will be the Avant Garde v SIN Gaming Gauntlet match. The Chiefs will be desperate to avoid the disastrous Gauntlet that happened in the first Split, and momentum will definitely be key.

Both SIN and Avant are very momentum-based teams, and if the Chiefs can quickly put at least one clinical win on the board against either one, the momentum will definitely shift to the Chiefs They will need to bring their A-game to bring down a considerably strong Legacy outfit in a contest that should be worthy of a Grand Final. Same scenario with the Dire Wolves, if the Kiwi ADC, Raes, can pop off as well as Shernfire being a target for pressure, Chiefs have already proved they can take games if not a title over the reigning premiers. All of the Chiefs players have the capacity to make phenomenal plays, and their success depends on how many of those players do step up and lay down some old-fashioned whoop-ass onto both the newer players and veterans. In the words of the Armoured Titan himself, “it wouldn’t be a redemption split without a good gauntlet run”, so expect some fire come game time.

Catch the first round of OPL Gauntlet kicking off 5PM AEST today – watch here.