The most recent weekend played host to the OPL’s Gauntlet for Split 2, and after after 11 brilliant games, easily enough to satiate OPL fans, the Chiefs were produced as the challengers to take on the Dire Wolves at Luna Park on Saturday. This will truly be the old guard versus the new. Coming off of a thrilling regular season, which saw the further slump of kings of old, the Chiefs, as well as close to perfect splits for the Dire Wolves and Legacy. All three of those teams, as well as SIN Gaming, all established themselves as title contenders. The Split 2 Gauntlet was a carbon-copy of the Split 1 Gauntlet, meaning rematches aplenty, and first up was SIN Gaming taking on Avant.
Both teams were on form, after Avant produced a clinical 2-0 over last placed TM, meanwhile SIN reverse swept Legacy in a brutal 2-1 series. A rematch of the first match of the Split 1 Gauntlet, the underdogs AV were looking to make their first real foray deep into the Gauntlet, having only ever tied 3rd in the early days of the OPL. SIN, however, were attempting to repeat their success of the Split 1 Gauntlet run, where they had a brawl of a victory against Avant and managed to topple the reigning champs the Chiefs, both in hard-fought 3-2 matchups.
SIN got off to a good start, managing to close out a 40 minute slugfest with Ryoma’s Cassiopeia popping off, going 7/1/4. Games 2 and 3 saw Avant put themselves on match point with 2 very snowbally games, with AV’s mid laner Triple going 8/0/6 and 10/4/7 on Lucian and Corki. Game 4 started off good for SIN, picking up first blood and first turret, as Dhokla’s Jax went on an absolute rampage, going 10/2/2 and keeping Ceres’ Kled to 0/7/7. The game snowballed as SIN took it out in 33 minutes to bring it to Silver Scrapes, or well, as we have it in OCE, Dodo Sin. SIN absolutely destroyed AV in Game 5, closing it out in under 25 minutes with Ryoma’s Cassio again bringing the pain to AV as he went 10/0/2 with the Serpent’s Embrace and setting up for rematch with the Chiefs.
After SIN successfully kept their Gauntlet dreams alive, we again had a rematch of the SIN v Chiefs game from Split 1, where SIN managed to take down the Chiefs for the first time in a best of 5 and handed the reigning champs their first finals loss ever. SIN were looking to keep their momentum going while the Chiefs desperately needed the win to try and make it to Worlds after coming so close time and time again.
On paper what seemed like it was going to be a close contest was anything but. The Chiefs had the mother of all playoff buffs and looked like a completely different team than the squad that had taken to the rift in the regular season. Their objective control was brilliant and hammered home a 1-0 lead in just 29 minutes. Game 2 had the nostalgia flowing as we saw Ryoma bring out the Azir into Swiffer’s Cassiopeia, and for the first 10 or so minutes, it definitely delivered. Leading 3-2 in kills and with a 1k gold lead at 22 minutes after exerting tremendous pressure, SIN appeared to have learnt from the last game, but an extremely sneaky Baron take allowed the Chiefs an extremely profitable Baron powerplay.
A 7k gold turnaround began the downhill slide as Chiefs took 4 turrets with the Hand of Baron as SIN looked to bring it back and initiated a fight. However, this went drastically wrong as Raes on Xayah shredded SIN with her feathers for a Pentakill, and the Chiefs’ 8k gold lead snowballed into a 13k gold lead left SIN with little chance and the Chiefs cleanly ended the game 10 minutes later.
The final game quickly spiralled out of control with Raes’ Xayah still something to be feared as she was fed early and paid it forward to the rest of the team, who put the finishing touches on the 3-0, taking it out in just 24 minutes.
After the series, SIN were absolutely devastated, they had definitely poured their heart and soul into this season and emotions were clearly visible on the faces of SIN Gaming. Talking to the ever charismatic Juves, who said after being asked about what needed be done next year to make it the Grand Final, succinctly said “Just not have a shit season and be ready for it”.
Chiefs went into the “El Classico” of the OPL against Legacy eSports with plenty of momentum, and boy did they deliver. Cassiopeia may just prove to be the MVP of the Gauntlet, with Swiffer using her to her full potential, going 6/0/12 and enabling Raes, this time on Kalista to poke Legacy’s lineup full of spears as he went 11/1/7 as Chiefs dismantled Legacy to go 1-0. Game 2 threatened to go the same way as the Chiefs picked up first blood and turret, but Legacy fought back and slowly worked their way ahead with a 6k gold lead.
A huge fight was threatened in the bot lane, but a Tahm Kench ulti into Carbon’s Twisted Advance on Maokai was too much for the spaghetti to handle and the game was paused due to a bug. The play was reviewed and the bug was confirmed, causing the game to be Chronobroken (rewound) to 7 seconds prior to the bug occurring, drastically changing the course of the fight. As the game closed in on an hour, both teams with over 100k gold sought to fight over Baron, and Chiefs’ outstanding teamfighting allowed them to pick off Legacy, eventually going in for the ace and with it a 55 minute victory.
By Game 3, Legacy were drained and much like Game 3 against SIN, the game spiralled out of control and Chiefs booked their ticket to the Grand Final with 2 convincing 3-0s, even though they hadn’t beaten a top 4 team all split long.
Chiefs look like they’ll definitely be contenders for the OPL title and the guaranteed trip to Worlds, but they’ll have to take down a very strong Dire Wolves to do so. Whichever way you slice it, it’s going to be a fantastic series, and keep your eyes out for a Grand Final preview later this week!