Oceanic Professional League: Mid-Split Review
Teams have hit the ground running in the second split of the Oceanic Professional League, bridging the halfway point earlier this week. Everyone, bar Sin and Avant who are awaiting a rematch, have played their first seven games, and the leaderboard is figuring itself out with some hotly contested spots in the top 4. The standings show some familiar faces and some predictable results, along with a few interesting ones, too.
Currently, the standings are:
Chiefs eSports Club – 1st (7-0)
The team with the star studded lineup is comfortably sitting ahead of the pack, to no one’s surprise. After an impressive first split, dropping but one game throughout the regular season and playoffs, the Chiefs have returned from their Turkish expedition looking stronger than ever. Of course, this is partially due to their experience and practice overseas, but definitely also indicative of their bot lane strength, with Bryce ‘EGym’ Paule breaking the 500+ day streak of an untouched roster, replacing Andrew ‘Rosey’ Rose.
Holding the first position outright, two games ahead of the closest competitor, the Chiefs are looking to replicate or better their split 1 performance. But, at the moment anyway, that’s looking unconfirmed. Despite what their record suggests, the Chiefs aren’t strangers to falling behind in the early game, and they have certainly looked defeatable at times. Their opening match against Sin Gaming, essentially the 1st vs. 8th seed, saw them lose control of the game against the Challenger-qualified squad, until their teamfighting was able to inch them back into the game and allow them to take the win.
While ironing out some kinks in their play, the Chiefs are still the top dogs of Oceania. Still with a bitter taste in their mouths after missing out on the bracket stage of the International Wildcard Invitational, the Chiefs will try and continue to assert their dominance over their domestic competition, while preparing for another international adventure to qualify for Worlds.
Dire Wolves – 2nd (5-2)
After an impressive first split, placing second overall after dismantling Legacy in the semifinals before dropping to the Chiefs, it makes perfect sense to see the Dire Wolves trailing slightly behind the Chiefs, but placed above the rest. Similar to the start of the first split, the Dire Wolves have undergone a relatively large roster swap, bringing in a new jungler and rearranging existing positions again. Although heavily criticised by some, the swap is starting to pay off, it would seem. Despite shaky early performances from Curtis ‘Sharp’ Morgan, the newly donned top laner seemed to be finding his feet. Similarly, rookie jungler Lachlan ‘Sybol’ Civil joined the pack with immediate success. With consummate performances on multiple champions, Sybol is shaping up to be one of the strongest junglers in the OPL.
Disappointingly, the Wolves were stopped in their tracks during an important week, with Richard ‘Perfection’ Su receiving a week long ban for poor in-game behaviour. Their all important match against the Chiefs eSports Club was hindered, having been forced to send Sharp back to mid lane for the week and use substitute, Ryan ‘Chippys’ Short in the top lane. To their credit, the makeshift lineup actually performed fairly well, considering the circumstances, but it wouldn’t be enough to dent the armour of the Chiefs.
Now, with their roster intact once again, Dire Wolves are on a mission to catch back up. With an amount of games still to be played in split 2, their eyes are firmly set on rewriting last split’s outcome.
Legacy eSports – 3rd (4-3)
2014 Oceanic titans Legacy seem to be struggling in 2015, especially in the second split. They started strong, taking a game off the Dire Wolves in the opening weeks, but have since lost their form. While giving credit for their win against Dire Wolves, the game seemed to be more of the Minky show than anything else. With Perfection and k1ng amassing around a 100 CS lead between them, the win seemed to fit in as more of an anomaly than anything more, blemishing the Dire Wolves otherwise impressive record against Legacy, steady at 5-2 over the two splits.
But, all hope is not lost for the Legacy camp, despite uncharacteristic losses against Immunity and Avant Garde. With a rumoured roster swap in store for the Legacy lineup, it’ll be interesting to see how they address their performance heading into the latter half of the split. Legacy have shown previously the ability to pull themselves out of bad spots, the tenure and experience of the squad will hopefully serve them well. They have some opportunities in their schedule to pull themselves above, but they’ll need to hunker down in order to secure these wins.
Avant Garde – 4th (3-3)
Avant are simply enigmatic this split. They looked incredibly competitive in their match against Chiefs, but weren’t strong enough to cement the win. Similarly, they caused an upset after taking down Legacy; but on the flipside, were upset when they lost to Absolute. They seem entirely inconsistent, but their upside seems promising. Unfortunately for Avant fans, they haven’t been able to shine thus far in the split, with two of their games being unplayed, with the remake on the way for Sin Gaming and their forfeiture against Dire Wolves. Despite this, they seemed very adamant and vocal of their strength, as they embellished across social media platforms after the pair of games weren’t ruled in their favour.
Kenste, who seemed a little timid in the first split, has found his stride this split and is looking comfortable on a handful of champions, routinely drawing bans from their adversaries. Unlike last split, Porky has been starting since day 1, and his reliable playstyle is netting AV advantages left and right; but as we saw in the Absolute game, sometimes it isn’t enough to construct a win.
Are Avant all talk? Maybe. They came into this split hyping themselves up, specifically their bottom lane duo, but are yet to deliver on their words. Does this mean they don’t have a chance? Of course not, but their efforts might be focused on their play rather than their social media accounts. With two important games tonight, Avant can propel themselves to second place, but they’ll have to best Sin Gaming and Dire Wolves to do so.
Sin Gaming – 4th (3-3)
Sitting in equal fourth with Avant, the side of Sin Gaming has been impressive to say the least. Unlike their Challenger counterparts, Absolute, SIN seems incredibly capable for such a young team. They’re shaping up to be a strong team, but maybe not in time for this split. Undergoing a roster change, with Nicholas ‘Stealthix’ Tian stepping down to focus on academics, they’ve brought on ex-Legacy player, Harry ‘Cardrid’ Archer. Cardrid was previously a powerful AD in Oceania, but hasn’t hit the professional stage in that role since last year. In split 1, his transition to top lane didn’t prove very effective, and saw him being subbed out for An ‘Minkywhale’ Trinh. To his credit, however, he’s more recently headed the Legacy Genesis team, who’ve looked to be the outright strongest team beneath the OPL, with commentators predicting ease for their qualification into the OPL.
Sin’s talent doesn’t end there. With ex-Chiefs player Rosey finding a new home in Sin’s top lane, he’s one of two very formidable solo laners in the possession of the team. Most notably is their midlaner, who really came out of no where. Jason ‘RYmeister’ Ryan was previously a substitute for the Chiefs, but never saw any play. He’s definitely making a name for himself, however. Solo-killing Chief Swiffer in their opening match, RYmeister rarely seems to concede lane dominance or control. The most integral part to his development will be whether he’s able to convert a strong lane phase into something more tangible for his team, which he’s shown a little inconsistency in doing so.
For a newly qualified team, Sin seem to be exceeding the expectations of many, and are showing a large deal of potential for a younger team. In all honesty, I don’t know how good their chances are for a top four, or more importantly a top two, placing are in 2015; but you can be sure they’ll be a contender in 2016.
Team Immunity – 4th (3-4)
Rounding out the trio of ties in the middle of the pack is household name, Team Immunity. Out of the three, they’re most unlikely to progress much higher this week, having played seven games — unlike Sin and Avant. Team Immunity had a couple of changes to their roster heading into the second split, with long-time member David ‘UberGiantsBro’ Uebergang retiring from competitive play, and their jungler, Michael ‘Zahe’ Dunn stepping down. Consequently, their split started slowly. Temporarily using James ‘Denian’ Goddard, he too stepped down from the roster, citing conflicts with the team’s mid laner. Filling his place is Zenk, an untested player without previous competitive experience. Similarly, Luchio ‘Soulstrikes’ Park, previously of Dire Wolves, has come into the team, who’s showing tremendous success in more recent weeks.
After figuring out their roster and losing some earlier games, the Immunity boys seem to be mounting a comeback. They took out a shaky Legacy, but their other wins have been against Absolute and Sudden Fear. At this stage, a finals finish seems improbable for Immunity, but not impossible. However, it’s rumoured they’ll be fielding substitutes once again for some of their upcoming matches—hopefully this doesn’t spoil their chances of a podium finish.
Absolute – 7th (2-5)
Also qualifying for the OPL through the Challenger system, Absolute are adjusting to the level of play—but are evidently struggling at the moment. They had a very convincing win over Sudden Fear early in the split, and then more recently took out Avant Garde in impressive fashion, out-teamfighting the veteran squad to solidify their victory.
Absolute are still finding their feet, and this is heavily reflected in their scorelines and their position on the ladder. Despite this, they seem resilient and innovative, willing to try new things and play to their strengths. The remainder of this split will prove invaluable for Absolute, who will likely have to play relegation matches. Getting some more experience under their belt will help them to confirm their spot in the OPL and to make a bigger impact for next year.
Sudden Fear – 8th (0-7)
Avoiding relegation last split, Sudden Fear haven’t managed to improve their form coming into the second split. They had some struggles with their roster, losing one a crowd favourite in Ayy Paps and then moving their top laner to mid. Likewise, they lost their old support in Broler, bringing in Patu, who has actually looked somewhat impressive in their matches, considering the context.
Sudden Fear need an incredibly impressive second half of the split if they want to change their fate, but the path they’re following doesn’t look very safe—despite them having fun.
In all, this split of the OPL has showcased some much more exciting competition and a higher level of play. Fresh faces among the scene are trying to earn respect, while some of the older players continue to throw their weight around. Having only just reached the halfway mark, this split is far from over—and placings at the moment aren’t final. Teams are heading towards the pointy end of the competition, though, and everyone will need to shape up if they want to make it to the LIVE stage at Luna Park, Sydney — and beyond!
Image Credit: OCE Lolesports, Avant Garde, and Sin Gaming.