With the conclusion of the recent OPL promotion tournament we now know the 8 teams that will be competing in the first split of the 2016 OPL split, out of the 6 teams to compete, Sudden Fear were the only team to lose their OPL spot to Legacy Genesis in a quite convincing 3-0 series. Both Team Immunity and Absolute were able to retain their spots against Alter-ego and Imperium respectively. Thus with the completion of Relegation tournament we know all 8 teams who will be participating, the follow is how I perceive them to be ranked.
- Chiefs Esports club
Chiefs have long been the dominant force of the OPL, going a total of 27-1 in their regular seasons games, not including playoffs. This is largely due to each team member being widely regarded as either the best or one of the best in their specific roles, as well as this Chiefs seem to be the most advanced team from a strategic standpoint, probably due to their top tier support staff in the shape of coach Jish and analyst Ottoke. The Chiefs major strengths lie within simply outclassing their opponents both as a team, and individually in lane. The only major weakness seems to momentary lack of communication during team fights and miscommunication over the use of teleports. Even though Chiefs once again will be coming back to the OPL from a failed attempt at qualifying for a large scale international event through the International Wildcard Qualifiers it is highly probable that they will have another dominant split and we will most likely be seeing them in the finals once more.
- Legacy Esports
Legacy have historically either been battling with Dire Wolves for the 2nd spot on the OPL ladder or Chiefs for the top spot. A team with well rounded strengths in particular in the Support and Jungle roles due to the high mechanical skill and game knowledge of Support player Flying Joo and Jungler Carbon, both of whom are well known throughout Oceania as being within the top two players of their roles. With this said it’s important to mention that the rest of the Legacy line are no slouches either, Top laner Minkywhale and Mid laner ChuChuZ both very competent players in their own rights and AD Carry Tallywhacka putting in consistent solid performances. Legacy have shown an ability to defeat every other team in OPL thus proving they deserve their spot as the second best team in the OPL. However Legacy will be playing the first couple of games without Flying Joo due to a competitiveban. During the previous playoffs Legacy were forced to field sub Mid laner Claire as a support, who had a surprisingly good showing for a non-Support main playing against the OPL’s best under a high pressure situation despite the eventual loss that saw the Chiefs take the OPL split title. However with Legacy’s sister team qualifying for the OPL Claire may no longer be fielded, this may lead to some complication for Legacy during the opening games of the split.
- Dire Wolves
Dire wolves have been Legacy’s main competition for the second place spot for the majority of the OPL’s existence. A team mainly focused on its two main carries, current Mid laner and former Top laner Perfection, and AD Carry K1ng. Both K1ng and Perfection have shown incredible mechanical skill time and time again, but with the recent addition of Nada, former Support of Avant Garde during 2014, in which they won the Oceanic Regional Finals, the team looks even stronger again. Provided Sharp can hold his own in the Top lane and Sybol can maintain his level of consistent play, this team has the ability to take the second spot off of Legacy. The team focuses on team fighting around objectives and sieging but has had issues finishing off games from behind. This maybe partly due to poor communication or due to some of the more riskier plays the DW players have a habit of attempting not paying off.
- Sin Gaming
Sin look more threatening in this split than they have done before. The previous split saw them barely miss out on the final playoff spot against Avant Garde. This split however with Top laner Rosey and Mid laner Rymeister coming into their own during the later stages of the last OPL split expect Sin to get rolling early in the split and pick up a few wins off the get go. Last split saw a rather slow start for Sin against the higher tier teams, however with the added experience of a split behind them and a growth in team synergy Sin look menacing. It is however important to factor in that Sin will now be playing with a new Support player LikeARouge, this will be his rookie season in the OPL and has some heavy weight on his shoulders to perform in a team that looks poised to improve their performance and place higher than that of their last OPL split. Provided the team can maintain a decent level of synergy and LikeARogue can perform to the required standard Sin Gaming look likely to make it to Playoffs.
- Legacy Genesis
Legacy Genesis will be entering the OPL for their first split after relegating Sudden Fear in a convincing 3-0 series. This series did however point out many flaws within the team. Such as a distinct reliance on making individual outplays over outplaying opponents with superior teamwork and objective control. This is a worrying thought when you think of how teams such as the Chiefs and Legacy play almost completely around objective control, this style of play allows for a wider verity of win conditions. As it allows for a more controlled environment in which to control the pace of the game, it allows a team to take the fights that they deem worth taking, where as the Legacy Genesis style relies on constant outplay which against the best players is incredibly hard to do and puts a large amount of pressure on the carries. Similarly to Dire Wolves, the main carries on Genesis are the Mid laner and the AD Carry Claire and Edition, this is quite a standard set up for OPL teams, with the Top laner bringing out a carry orientated champion once in a while, past examples of this include Minkywhale on Fizz and Swip3rR on Tryndamere. Legacy will be a mid table team as their players are mostly better than the teams ranked below, but the seeming lack of synergy as a team they will be hard pushed to take games of the top four teams. On top of this there is a possible difficulty with having to rebrand causing out of game stress that has the possibility of causing in game conflicts.
- Team Immunity
Team Immunity, also a team who will have to rebrand before the commencement of the OPL due to an official Riot ruling over the organisation not properly paying players, ruling found here. Seem to have an unquenchable thirst for a good game of musical rosters, this team has seen more players come and go than any other team in the OPL to date. Six players to be exact, beginning with some of its veteran players retiring such as former Top laner JK Smithy, former Jungler Zahe and former AD Carry UberGiantsBro. Besides retirement iM have had other players leave for multiple reasons, former Mid laner Claire, who is current Mid laner for Legacy Genesis, former Mid laner Cheese and former AD Carry Denian. The high player turnover rate of players on this roster could very well be one of the issues keeping them from moving forward as a team, however it is entirely possible with a new brand or organisation to their name this team may finally find a stable roster and manage to work some success. The roster of the team itself however does look to be promising, Top laner Ryoo recently during the course of the second OPL split had really seemed to have found his stride and improved quite greatly and has found himself to be a quite well respected player amongst his peers, Jungler SoulStrikes has been playing relatively well for a rather prolonged period of time. New Mid laner Frae had a more than impressive showing during the Relegation Tournament boasting an impressive total tournament score of 31-9-31 playing a particularly impressive Viktor, a champion who he carried iM to their first two wins of the series with. Last to mention is the Bottom lane, Zenk and Tgun. Whom throughout most of their time playing together seem to have some major synergy issues, with one permanently seemingly wanting to be aggressive and one not having any of it. Again during the Relegation Tournament this Bottom lane looked shaky, however some signs of improvement could be seen, one of which seemed to be the duo playing more on the same page and not over aggressing and losing trades too often. Look for this team to find itself Middle table at best at the conclusion of the next OPL split, with time however they could become a force to be reckoned with.
- Avant Garde
Avant Garde have recently announced that they are searching for three players to fill out their roster, in a statement found here. The roles that need filling out include a new Bottom lane and a new Top laner. It was announced during the last OPL split that the teams’ veteran Mid laner Kenste would be retiring upon the conclusion of the split. These roster changes are the primary reason for Avant Garde being ranked so low, having a single roster change can be difficult to manage, but having three is a lot for a team to adjust to, however time isn’t the biggest Issue Avant face. The biggest issue is the severe lack of experienced players who are either free agents or willing and able to leave their current team. This will mean that the most likely situation will see Avant picking up three rookie players, which is quite a step down for such an established brand. Due to the uncertainty of the roster swaps and the limited contenders for the roster spots, it is quite hard to place Avant Garde any higher than 7th.
Although absolute managed to defeat Alter-Ego 3-0 in the Relegation Tournament this team still seems to be in the mind frame of solo queue when playing competitive games. This is evident when watching the recent Absolute vs Alter-Ego series, so many mistakes were made that just make the team look uncoordinated and unpolished, players getting caught out because of lack of vision, not turning up to objectives on time, and not having those objectives warded beforehand. As well as this a lack of varying strategies is evident, the majority of the series saw repeated 1 – 3 – 1 split pushing from ABS, to be able to do this you must have the two players who are split, be stronger than the opposing players whom are tasked with stopping them, or at least have the possibility of outplaying the opponent to continue the pressure, this works against a team like Alter-Ego who played very reactively the whole series, however it is highly unlikely that this would work against almost any of the OPL teams. This series was quite dominant, but this is more because of misplays from Alter-Ego than it was outplay by ABS. These repeated mistakes make it incredibly difficult to see Absolute picking up many wins at all, although the roster has some pretty decent players, such as the new bottom lane, Stealthix and Wiffle who seemed to have quite good synergy and out laned AE’s Squidgy and Valen all three games of the series, and Mid laner Midbeast does look like a player to watch, however even with these players, this team still suffers with the same kind of problem that Legacy Genesis is facing, playing a solo queue style against OPL teams will not get you many wins, these teams will just be played around, out lane swapped, out scaled, out picked and outplayed as a team, so without some serious increase in strategic diversity look for Absolute to be bottom of the table.