April and May were void of any Oceanic Pro League (OPL) play, but plenty of other Oceania-related League of Legends happened between the splits- Dire Wolves competed in the Mid-season Invitational playoffs, one organisation rebranded, player transfers abounded, and the 2017 Oceanic Challenger Series (OCS) played out. Here is everything you need to know to keep you updated before the OPL Split 2 kicks off on Friday, June 8th.
The Dire Wolves at the Mid-Season Invitational 2018
Last split, the optimal strategy for players in the official OPL tipping competition was to always bet on the Dire Wolves and to never bet on Tectonics. Sadly for the Dire Wolves, it wasn’t so clear-cut at the 2018 Midseason Invitational (MSI).
Held annually between the first and second splits of all regions, MSI is a LAN tournament contested by the winning team of split 1 from each region. The winners from four regions (LPL, EU LCS, LCK, and NA LCS) automatically qualify for the main event group stages, while the remaining ten must battle through the play-in group stages to earn the final two spots.
This year, the play-in and main event group stages were held in Berlin, while the semifinals and final were held in Paris.
The Dire Wolves were randomly assigned to group B for the play-in stage- alongside Supermassive eSports (TCL), Kabum! E-Sports (CBLOL), and Pentagram (LJL). Coincidentally, the same four regions competed against each other in the play-in group stages of MSI 2017. In fact, three of the teams were the same (Rampage rebranded as Pentagram). Last year, the Dire Wolves finished 3rd in that field.
This year, the Dire Wolves started their campaign with a day 1 record of 2-1. Despite a loss to Supamassive eSports, wins against the other two teams meant that the Dire Wolves had kept their chances of topping the group alive and marked themselves as competitors not to be overlooked.
— lolesports (@lolesports) May 4, 2018
Unfortunately, the Dire Wolves lost to every team in their group on day 2, finishing the tournament with a record of 2-4.
— LG Dire Wolves (@direwolvesgg) May 6, 2018
Bizarrely, the standings for the group looked… identical… to last year.
— lolesports (@lolesports) May 6, 2018
This was clearly a disappointing result for the Dire Wolves players and staff. In the video below, Dire Wolves coach Curtis “Sharp” Morgan explains where he thought it all went wrong.
Heading into split 1, players seemed to be signing one or two year contracts with their organisations. This implied to me that roster changes between the splits would be unlikely. However, it happened, and here is a summary.
On May 9, Legacy announced that Lachlan “Sybol” Civil was parting ways with the organisation. You can find the announcement here.
This left a hole in the jungle position of the Legacy roster- but not for long. The same day, Legacy announced that Jordan “Only” Middleton had signed a two year deal with Legacy.
— Legacy Esports (@LegacyOCE) May 9, 2018
As a veteran player, Sybol seemed to be an ideal candidate to replace former captain Tim “Carbon” Wendel in the jungle role for split 1 of 2018. With Sybol’s departure, who will take on the leadership role? Perhaps it will be embraced by the longest-serving member of Legacy’s current team- mid-laner Brandon “Claire” Nguyen.
With the departure of Only, Avant Gaming needed to find a quality Jungler if they wanted to stay competitive in the OPL. Fortunately, they found and signed one- Jordan “Praelus” Fernandes. Praelus had an incredibly strong performance on the Dire Wolves when he filled in for Shern “Shernfire” Tai at the beginning of split 1. It was a matter of when, rather than if he would be picked up by an OPL team.
Give a warm welcome to @PraelusOCE as he joins our OPL team!
— Avant Gaming (@AvantGaming) May 15, 2018
Between the splits, Avant Gaming also said goodbye to longtime member Myles “Blinky” Irvine. Blinky and Jake “Jayke” Paulsen have served as the bot lane duo for Avant Gaming since early 2017.
Replacing Blinky as the AD Carry for Avant Gaming is Spanish national, Alejandro “Darkside” Oyonate. Darkside has competed for teams in the European and Turkish regions- his history in competitive play can be traced back to 2014. You can find the announcement here.
Mammoth / Sin Gaming
A big talking point between the splits was the rebranding of Sin Gaming as Mammoth. A lot of the talk was focused on the Mammoth logo, and the loss of the SINWIN hashtag and SINFIGHTO warcry. The new roster featured in there somewhere.
It appeared that Ronan “Dream” Swingler would not make the transition over to Mammoth. Dream would feature on the OCS team – Intuition – instead.
To bolster their roster, Mammoth would welcome two imported players. In the mid lane, Mammoth signed Kim “Remind” Hong-ju (most recently of Japanese team Unsold Stuff Gaming). As the AD Carry, Mammoth signed Canadian national, Brandon “Mash” Phan (formerly of Echo Fox).
Please welcome @Remind_2016_nov to MAMMOTH as our new mid-laner.
— MAMMOTH (@MAMMOTH_OCE) May 15, 2018
The Mammoth roster seems to get the tick of approval from OCS caster Jake “Hysterics” Osypenko.
— Hysterics (@HystericsCasts) May 16, 2018
Coach of the Chiefs, Richard “Phantiks” Su mentioned earlier this year that he was interested in heading up an OCS team, and it seems that now that time has come. Phantiks left the Chiefs to act as coach at newly formed OCS team, Intuition. In his place, Chiefs have signed Doruk Hacioglu. Doruk has acted as League of Legends coach in four competitive regions.
— The Chiefs Esports Club (@ChiefsESC) May 27, 2018
You can read Richard “Phantiks” Su’s predictions for OPL Split 2 here.
The Oceanic Challenger Series
The new look Oceanic Challenger Series (OCS) began. This year, six independent teams joined eight OPL academy teams in a 13-week series to determine which team would earn the right to challenge an OPL team for a slot in the 2019 OPL.
Spilt 2 of the 2018 OPL is shaping up to be very exciting! If you want to catch all the action, tune in to the OPL twitch channel… but you’ll have to readjust your viewing schedule-
The OPL has been moved to Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 5pm AEST, with two games per day across 10 weeks of regular season play. Based on data from the last split, this new viewing time feels like it will work best for the most possible OPL fans.
You can see all the information here. See you on the rift!