It was the penultimate week of the OPL regular season, and teams were jostling across the board for the all important gauntlet positions. Legacy were back to full strength as they took down Avant Garde and the Dire Wolves took down the Chiefs sub squad. Meanwhile, Sin continued their impressive second half of the split as they took down Abyss.

All this and more in Respawn Ninja’s OPL Week Nine Recap!

Legacy (2) def. Avant Garde (0)

Avant Garde has been struggling for form recently, and a full strength Legacy were always going be a difficult test. After two weeks on the sideline, Claire returned to the Legacy lineup, and Legacy picked up right where they left off with Claire on Viktor. Avant managed to punish Legacy’s over aggression well in the first game but were being bullied in the laning phase. A sneaky death brush play from Claire deleted Avant’s bot lane and resulted in two mid lane towers and from then on it was all Legacy as they rounded out a 30-minute victory.

Game two followed a similar path as once again, Avant held a slight lead in the early game with their skirmish focused composition, rounded out by a surprise Jhin mid pick. But once the mid game hit, Legacy leveraged their superior macro and team fighting to claw back the gold lead. Not even a crazy Baron steal from Sybol could halt Legacy’s momentum as Avant’s double AD Carry composition couldn’t get through Legacy’s beefy front line and Legacy sealed a 2-0 victory.

Dire Wolves (2) def. Chiefs eSports Club (0)

In their second and final match, the Chiefs sub squad came up against a Dire Wolves squad keen to lock up first place. The Dire Wolves were in no mood to be the Chiefs subs’ second scalp, and they got off to a roaring start. Shernfire continued his good run of form as he picked up first blood on Fesh’s NIdalee. From then on, the Dire Wolves controlled the pace of the game, pressuring both the mid and bot lane to end the game in 26 minutes.

The Dire Wolves were even more ruthless in the second game as Shernfire picked up a triple kill at 10 minutes and turned on the heat to go 12/1/8 on Kha’zix and lead his team to a 21-minute win and all but seal their first place finish.

Sin Gaming (2) def. Abyss eSports Club (0)

Sin continued their end of split revival as they took down Abyss in a decisive 2-0 victory. It was immediately apparent that Sin and Abyss were two teams that had opposing strategies. While Sin drafted an aggressive bottom lane of Ashe and Zyra, Abyss went the opposite way with a very safe bottom lane of Ezreal and Soraka. Unable to match the pushing power of the Sin bot lane, Abyss had to forgo any pressure and map control. And when Abyss finally misstep, Sin were ready to pounce and didn’t let go.

Sin’s mid-split roster swap looks to have paid dividends as they’ve begun to look like a team which could potentially be a dark horse heading into the gauntlet. Ryoma’s performances have become more and more influential as he incorporates into the Sin style of play. Abyss, on the other hand, will almost certainly be facing relegation and will need to focus on the upcoming promotion tournament.

Tainted Minds (2) def. Exile5 (1)

Exile5 are still looking for their first match win of the season as they fell to Tainted Minds in a chaotic series. Once again, Exile5 fell behind in the laning phase, but overambitious moves by Tainted Minds meant that ChrisMisTrees picked up several kills on Cassiopeia and quickly developed into a massive threat in the team fights, tearing through the squishy Tainted Minds composition to pick up their first win.

Tainted Minds quickly took note of their lack of a tank and drafted Shen to help them press the early game leads that they accrued. This proved to be a decisive adaptation as they were able to play their natural aggressive style with the support of Shen ultimate and they ran off to two sub 30-minute wins to recover and secure a 2-1 victory.

Player of the week: Dire Wolves Shernfire

The Dire Wolves have gone to a new level in recent weeks and at the forefront of their charge for first place is their jungler, Shernfire. We spoke to Shernfire two weeks ago on the team’s push towards the playoffs, and he made it clear that he believed he would prove to be the difference that ensures the Dire Wolves make the final and with first place all but locked up, they’ll be guaranteed a spot in the final

While Shernfire wasn’t firing on all cylinders at the start of the split, after being given the starting role full-time he’s found the confidence to play the aggressive style that made him a renowned solo queue player. He does still have the tendency to push a little too hard at times, but it’s become a much less frequent occurrence.