To all of the Sydneysiders, Team New South Wales were robbed of the title last year. They successfully conquered the group stage in relatively dominating fashion, and were set to take the tournament for NSW when all of a sudden Spawn and his army appeared out of nowhere and snatched the title away. It was a disappointment for the objectively strongest roster in the competition and one that they’ll still regret today.

This year however, NSW will be gunning hard for the title and to put the upstarts back in their place. Sydney still has the title of the home of esports in Australia, and a win here would restore the natural balance in Oceanic LoL. All the other teams have identified New South Wales as the big threat coming into the competition, but only time will tell whether it was justified.

In 2017, NSW was under the managerial power of Matthew “Fish” Stewart and was coached by the dynamic duo of Josh “Jish” Carr-Hummerston and OCS caster Bradley “Tgun” Seymour. The squad was extremely strong, comprising of the titan himself Brandon “Swip3rR” Holland taking up residence in the toplane as he teamed up with Jordan “Only” Middleton in the jungle. Tommy “Ry0ma” Le was their upcoming midlane star and the botlane was even stronger with Victor “FBI” Huang working alongside either Bryce “EGym” Paule or Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw.

This year, coach Aaron “ChuChuZ” Bland has brought in many strong players to the team this year, with Swip3rR returning alongside Dire Wolves’ rookie toplane superstar Brandon “BioPanther” Alexander. Only, FBI and Destiny all make returns to the side in an attempt to lift the trophy for the OPL’s home state, with the only other new member being the Dire Wolves’ midlaner Stephen “Triple” Li.

Swip3rR is an Oceanic legend, there’s no two ways about it. Nicknamed “The Armoured Titan”, he’s got a penchant for rolling over his opponents and has the experience to continuously do so. With the Chiefs since the team’s inception, he moved into the captaincy this year and has led the team to two second-place finishes this year just behind the Dire Wolves. A true veteran, he’s got the leadership to carry the team to the title.

Sharing the toplane is BioPanther, and what a six months he’s had. Joining the Dire Wolves in Split 2 fresh out of the Dire Cubs, the young prodigy made a big splash in the OPL with a combination of his gameplay skill and infectious joy. With Worlds experience under his belt, nothing fazes this kid and no matter who plays in the toplane, BioPanther can and will show up whenever he’s given the opportunity

Only has been one of the breakout stars of the OPL this year, joining Legacy Esports for Split 1 this year and he’s been showing up. After bouncing around teams like Alpha Sydney, Tainted Minds and Avant Gaming, he’s come in to his own this year on Legacy Esports and is a true talent that NSW can utilise to create plays around the map. His champion pool is quite deep and it is often hard to target him in champion select.

Triple made a big step up in the world this year as Richard “Phantiks” Su moved to a coaching position with the Chiefs, allowing the young midlaner to start for two-time OPL champions the Dire Wolves. From there, he flourished and has now established himself as one of the best midlaners in the OPL. He’s a master of consistent play and provides a base that the team can build themselves around.

It might be quite hard for FBI to pop off this time around without Rogue by his side. The dynamic duo has been together from when they were on SIN Gaming in 2017 and moved to Spawn’s ORDER for this year. He’s also a player with a deep champion pool, displaying mastery on Ezreal, Varus, Xayah and Kai’Sa amongst others in the most recent split and has strong mechanical skill. However, it remains to be seen if he can handle being without his star support and instead deal with Destiny.

One of the best shotcallers in the league, when Destiny is on a playmaker you know that it’s going to be absolute fire. He has a gift when it comes to initiation and has partaken in many a highlight reel. After leaving the Dire Wolves at the end of 2017, he joined the Chiefs and has continued his special brand of skilled play. As part of Team NSW, he provides a veteran presence in the botlane and can help kickstart FBI and hopefully lead his team to victory.

New South Wales have the strongest individual laners, and so they should be making sure Only frequently roams around the lanes and lends a hand to push Swip3rR, BioPanther and Triple ahead. This team has been pegged as the favourites for a long time coming, with four of their players boasting two top-two finishes this year, and on a good day it seems like no one can stop them.

On the other hand, too many cooks spoil the broth, and the team will need to make sure that they don’t tear themselves apart over trying to get themselves ahead in the game. A calm, collected approach is the name of the game here, as their experience will shine through and the League of Origin trophy could be in easy grasp.