Looking between the splits: Changes to the LoL Oceanic Pro League for Split 2
No one can argue that the Chiefs-Legacy 5-game final failed to deliver an exciting conclusion to Split 1 for the OPL in 2016. On the one hand you had top of the table Legacy Esports with their new gaming house and new found professionalism, and on the other hand you had 2015 split 2 OPL winners The Chiefs, who struggled during the regular season due to the absence of their team captain, Simon “Swiffer” Papamarkos. These two teams have a rivalry that dates back to 2014, when Legacy (in the form of Team Ascension) upset Chiefs (then Team Immunity) in the OPL Winter Regionals (a title that Chiefs swiftly reclaimed over Legacy in split 2 of OPL 2015). Now consider the fact that Legacy’s AD Carry received a last minute match ban going into this final, the team seemed to be suffering from a collective flu (one of the other benefits of a gaming house), and the Chiefs’ prodigal son had returned, and you know you had a Hollywood blockbuster on your hands. Actually, in the end it was a finale that could not have been better-scripted- Chiefs almost completed a sweep, then Legacy almost completed a reverse sweep, with Chiefs ultimately taking out the series 3-2 on the back of a pentakill from Derek “Raydere” Trang.
But as with all highly anticipated finals, after a winner is crowned and the confetti dust settles, feelings of elation subside and there is a sense of despair as you realise that your regular twitch viewing will be disrupted by the lack of OPL broadcasts between split 1 and split 2.
Well, restart your hype train because split 2 for 2016 is fast approaching! Games kick off on Monday the 23rd of May.
But the OPL is not as you remembered it…. So to equip you with all the latest and greatest knowledge of all things OPL, here is a summary of the events that occurred between the 2016 splits.
Chiefs compete at the IWCI
Two weeks after their win over Legacy, the Chiefs were off to Mexico to represent the Oceanic region at the International Wildcard Invitational- their third international tournament.
— The Chiefs (@ChiefsESC) April 19, 2016
The Chiefs impressed at the 2015 International Wildcard tournament in Turkey, falling to the Bangkok Titans in the final and narrowly missing out on a place at the World Championships. The 2016 IWCI, however, saw the Chiefs finish 5th with a record of 3-4.
This sparked debate on twitter about who would best represent Oceania at an international event.
The @ChiefsESC have had enough chances to prove themselves internationally. Other oce teams can rep us better. Next split, new contender.
— Jason Ryan (@RYmeisterOCE) April 17, 2016
I really don’t understand social media. You’d think people would support their region but instead it’s the usual “others would do better”
— Andrew Rose (@TaintedRosey) April 17, 2016
On April 25th, OPL caster Zack “Rusty” Pye outlined his ultimate Oceanic contingent on ask.fm in response to the question “Who do you think from OCE would do well internationally, given the chance?” His response (which deliberately avoided players who have already competed internationally) included Tally (top lane), Seb/ Impaired (Jungle), Rymeister (Mid lane), Raes (AD) and Rogue (Support role).
You can check out the Ask.fm here.
Hellions Roster Changes:
On May 16th, after a less than optimal Split 1 for the boys in the “other” gaming house, Hellions announced they would temporarily say goodbye to Byeong Kook “Cookie” Choi (who, alongside Beom “Bomb” Park, joined Hellions for OPL split 1 2016). In light of James “Denian” Goddard’s departure on March 24th (you can read his statement here), Hellions announced two new additions to the team (with a very minimalist twitter post)- Luna (formerly of OCS team Alpha Sydney) as their new support player, and Elliot “Impaired” Capell (formerly of Trident gaming) as Jungle. Obviously “Rusty” was not alone in his assessment of Impaired’s capabilities.
Sin Gaming Roster Changes:
Following a solid performance as a last minute substitute for Legacy in the OPL grand final (due to K1ng’s 5 match ban for “a patent of toxicity including in-game harassment and on social media, including after a warning was issued” on March 31st), Sin gaming’s Harry “Cardrid” Archer announced his retirement from professional League of Legends. The full statement from Sin Gaming can be read here.
— Sin Gaming (@SinOceania) April 8, 2016
Then, on May 4th, it was announced that Sin Gaming top-laner Ryan “Chippys” Short was transferring to another OPL team. The full statement from Sin Gaming can be read here.
I contacted Sin Gaming’s co-owner, Jason Zhe, to find out how the team would determine their new starting roster.
“As for replacements, it’s actually not that hard. The boys play a lot in ranked, so we have a list of players- from solo queue stars and OCS players to free lancers. We do extensive play trials then discuss from there.” – Jason Zhe, via facebook
On May 12th it was announced that Aaron “Raps” Tran (formerly a Legacy Genesis and Abyss Red player) would replace “Cardrid” as the Sin gaming AD Carry. The full statement from Sin Gaming can be read here.
One week later, Elliot “Skwiggle” Charters (formerly a Legacy Genesis and Avant Garde player) completed the Sin gaming roster, replacing “Chippys” in the top lane. The full statement from Sin Gaming can be read here.
Dire Wolves roster changes:
On May 12th, the Dire Wolves announced that one of their League of Legends founding members, top-laner Curtis “Sharp” Morgan was retiring from professional LoL. Five days later it was revealed that he would be replaced by Sin Gaming’s “Chippys”, in a move that would see “Chippys” make a return to the wolfpack. The full statement for the release of “Sharp” can be read here and for the signing of “Chippys” can be read here.
On May 18th, it was announced that OPL Caster Julian “Pastrytime” Carr had left the OPL and moved to California to join the casting team for the NALCS.
— lolesports (@lolesports) May 17, 2016
— Chris Smith (@PapaSmithy) May 18, 2016
Picks and Bans
For the first time in the history of the OPL/ OCS promotion/ relegation process, two OPL teams (Trident and Infernum) have been relegated to the OCS, while two OCS teams (Chiefs Black and Abyss Red) have been promoted to the OPL.
Unfortunately for Abyss Red, two of their five man roster were under the required age to compete in the OPL, prompting speculation about who would fill the Abyss Red Top lane and Jungle positions. Over five nights, Abyss Red revealed their OPL roster. In the top lane will be Pacman (formerly Trident), as Jungler will be Seb (formerly Infernum; also one of Rusty’s picks), in the mid lane will be Looch (retained by Abyss), as AD will be Squidgy (retained by Abyss) and as support will be Tgun (retained by Abyss; formerly team Hellions and Team Immunity).
— Abyss Esports (@AbyssEsportsOCE) May 15, 2016
The Chiefs Black were also in the lurch a little. Under official rules, one organisation cannot have two teams competing in the OPL, so Chiefs Black would have to be bought by another organisation if they were to compete. On May 13th it was announced that Tainted Minds had purchased the Chiefs Black. The promotion of Chiefs Black sees veteran player Andrew “Rosey” Rose return to the OPL in an active roster position.
We are proud to announce our entrance into the League of Legends OPL Split 2!
— PLT.TaintedMinds (@TaintedOrg) May 13, 2016
In OCS news, it was announced on May 11th that newly relegated Infernum had been bought out by Oceanic eSports newcomer Nuovo Gaming, and Sin Gaming were happy to announce the promotion of Sin Fighto up from the OOL.
And that’s a wrap on between splits news.
Also don’t forget that the OPL starts on Monday and will be the first ‘English speaking region’? to compete past Patch 6.9!
— Rusty (@RustyLoL) May 18, 2016
You’ll be able to watch all the action from the OPL live at the RiotGames Oceania twitch page from next week, with the first round beginning on Monday, May 23rd.