The Oceanic Pro League is gearing up for the annual League of Origin event, which is due to kick off later today, Friday, Nov. 9, for a weekend jam-packed with interstate rivalry and top-level plays from the best players in the Oceanic region.
Much like the infamous Rugby League State of Origin event in Australia, League of Origin pins state representative League of Legends teams against each other. Last year Victoria dominated the competition and it’s pretty clear they are the team to go after this year. Let’s take a closer look at the competing teams.
Team New South Wales
New South Wales head into this competition with the strongest team on paper. However, they will still need to take down last year’s winners in Team Victoria. Team Captain and one of Oceania’s most beloved players, Brandon “Swip3rR” Holland, is feeling fairly confident with his team’s chances.
“Our roster is really talented, it is an OPL winning roster and surprisingly good. Getting revenge from last year is really important…” he said. “It stung a lot because we were very confident (last year.)
“Playing in Melbourne will be different but I think it will be a lot of fun, we will be on enemy turf but I love playing in front of a live crowd and it is something that I strive for.”
For “Big Swips” there was no hesitation in sparking up the banter early on, sharing with us his true intentions, “Obviously beating Victoria is number one priority. We do have a lot of grudges with them, especially with myself, Spookz, and Swiffer, it will be even more bragging rights because they didn’t have the best year (in 2018) so it will be even more bragging rights for me.”
Team New Zealand
New Zealand’s roster is quite stacked: Raes, Cupcake, and their captain Chippy’s are seasoned veterans of the region, all known for dominating solo plays. For League of Origins, it will be a matter of bringing the individual brilliance together.
It is exactly that brilliance that will win it for them, it is no easy task but Coach Windowsmonkey thinks he has just the formula to do it, taking a very strategical approach.
“We are looking to design a few strategies and practice them over and over again and make sure our team knows exactly what it is they need to be doing.” From there they will know “exactly the best way to win.”
And who do they want to beat, you ask? “For me taking down Victoria, taking down the winners from last year and taking their place.”
It is going to be no easy feat for any of these teams, and maybe I am a bit biased. I am definitely hoping the guys can do it for New Zealand, maybe we might even get a celebration Haka from the team?
Unfortunately, last year didn’t yield the strongest of performances for Team Queensland, finishing at the bottom of the competition—but that doesn’t mean they are going to go down this year without a fight.
The Queensland team has a lot of OCS players, the academy league to the region’s top competition, the OPL. Their most experienced players are in the top lane and jungle and are not to be underestimated. If they can find synergy and come together as a group, the other teams may be too concerned about the banter to take notice.
Queensland Coach James aka Denian doesn’t mind the underdog status,“I prefer being the underdog, in Aus everyone loves the underdog.”
Another one to not mince words, it seems there is a clear target for the teams: eliminate last year’s champions. It is no different for James and Team Queensland, saying they would “most like to beat Victoria. NSW is a really strong team, but Victoria has been excessively smug and I would love to smack ‘em down.”
Last year, Team Victoria secured victory while playing deep in enemy territory. This year they will have a live home crowd advantage. As if that wasn’t enough, the team will already have a decent amount of synergy established before they even take to the rift. All of Team Victory is either playing with a former or current teammate.
Coach Curtis is taking no chances, however, “We have an opportunity now to prove to everyone that Victoria really is the best. Winning once isn’t really good enough. If you win once, it could have been lucky, it could have been anything, and it was the first year League of Origins was around so winning this year really solidifies Victoria as the dominant state and the best at League of Legends which would be pretty cool to prove.
“In terms of the difference in preparation, it is very much similar (to last year). As a coach, because the tournament is so short and there isn’t a lot of time for preparation having a large emphasis on draft is the way to go. Making sure everyone gets the champions they are comfortable on—playing to everyone’s strengths and minimizing weaknesses is the way to go.”
Hinting at a bit of scrimmage rivalry already beginning, Coach Curtis continued that this year is “very much like we did the first time around, again we are seeing Victoria not doing too well in the scrimmages but I am confident in our veterans. I am sure they will perform on stage and if I just give them the best possible draft I am sure they will come out on top.”
Much like his NSW counterpart, Curtis didn’t hold back, setting the team up for an instant classic: “I just want to shut up NSW, they have massive egos and they have been doing well in practice. It is the stage performance that matters, not so much the practice, so hopefully we beat them in the Grand Final, that would be the best.”
The League of Origin playoffs begin next Friday live from the OPL studios. For those of us tuning in from home, the games will be broadcast on Twitch from Friday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 11 AEDT. Tickets to the Grand Finals at Margaret Court Arena the following weekend are available for purchase on Ticketek.