Welcome to the Take 5, which provides 5 Takes of variable spiciness for each week of the OPL season. This week: Week 1 of Split 2, 2017!
5) Dr Only or Only Hyde?
By all accounts Tainted Minds jungler Only had the breakout performances his widely touted potential had promised during League of Origin. This is fantastic news for him and encouraging news for a Tainted Minds roster looking to emerge from the mire they found themselves in during split one.
A stable presence in the jungle will be just the starting point that TM fans would like to see, as some torrid early games hindered their efforts as split one progressed. Only turned in what were at-times putrid performances, including getting thoroughly manhandled in one game by his lightning-rod of a rookie jungler counterpart from Exile 5 in Guts before rallying to take that set. He’ll want to leave his Split 1 performance behind him and carry his Origin performance into the split. To that end, it’s good that he was able to work closely with tgun while on NSW duties and the two will look to form a strong pairing to accompany rising top lane star Praedyth.
4) Abyss have almost run out of excuses
After picking up a major sponsor and the recent announcement of their ownership investment, this roster, like TM, then secured a young promising top laner and stable veteran support to solidify their squad. The pieces are all there to finally succeed after sixth (after tiebreakers, don’t give me that tied-for-4th PISH when you 0-2 the tiebreaker games) and seventh-place finishes in their first two OPL splits. Looch and Pabu are encouraging solo lane talent, and Rosey is for my money one of the two or three best choices they could have made to unlock the Split 2 2016 edition of Raid. The only remaining question mark was Seb, who was unquestionably one of the 2-3 worst performing players in the entire league last split. If Seb can have a bounce-back performance, then the team is all but set. With that said, though, I remain to be convinced by Looch’s return and I’m far from encouraged by Seb, who is best described as erratic. I would love to be wrong about this, so I’m excited to see them show it on the rift but if they don’t end up getting it together they may have scant few excuses left to account for why.
3) Don’t sleep on the big two top laners
Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the oceanic top lane this split were the historical big two top laners of Swip3rr and Tally. While neither had the breakout split or got to take home the trophy as Chippys did, both veterans brought a deceptively high level of play. Tally seemed to undergo a transformative period in he produced more and more assured tank play. His engages sometimes left a little to be desired but beyond that Tally really began to reach a new level where competency became proficiency. This move to evolve his level on a multitude of play styles indicated an acknowledgement of one of the real strengths of Swip3rr that Tally would benefit from adding to his game.
For his part, Swip3rr continued to display his usual level of play that I feel has become underappreciated. For my money, Swip3rr is still the most meta-resistant top laner in the region and has a deep understanding of how to carry his team when he is not actively carrying the game. Looking back at the gauntlet and comparing how he and Ceres each handled a Fizz with an early lead really shows the stark difference between Swip3rr and OPL top laners not named Swip3rr, Tally, or Chippys. Swip3rr’s big advantage is that he puts up respectable numbers while earning a comparative pittance of gold. The big two Oceanic stars may have a new challenger in Chippys but as impressive as the Dire Wolf has been he’s still not yet the five-tool players in the region that Swip3rr and Tally are.
2) Gut-check time for The Chiefs
The Chiefs have lost games before. The Chiefs have lost series before. The Chiefs have lost playoff games before. Admittedly not many of each, but never before had they lost a playoff series in Oceania, as anyone who watches the OPL is keenly aware. Until Sin, that is. Sin Gaming put forward a workmanlike first two games, running a train through The Chiefs’ bottom lane before The Chiefs spectacularly regained momentum in two bruising victories to knot the series at two. But then uncharacteristically the Chiefs, like a 24-hour McDonalds, didn’t close. They were unable to counteract the mounting pressure of the Fizz elsewhere on the map and got smothered out of the game. As gutting as it would have been the series loss also presents a fantastic opportunity for The Chiefs to really show their quality and put out a display of mental resilience that they’ve not yet needed to show. History has told us that The Chiefs take losses personally and I think they’ll come into this split with a chip on their shoulder and a lot to prove.
1) Dire Wolves vs. Chiefs HYPE~!
This series is, not to put too fine a point on it, going to bloody pop off. The final standings from last split coupled with the performance of the two teams would indicate that it may not be a particularly close series. However the deeper you dig back through the split, the more exciting it gets as you realize the number of unanswered questions this series still has. The prevailing logic that would lean towards a Chief win is “Form is temporary, class is permanent” but the two teams didn’t meet each other in playoffs so even form is misleading to an extent. What jumps off the page is that the Chiefs squad that the Dire Wolves wiped the floor with in what was the fastest series win in league history by my count is not the Chiefs that they’ll meet this weekend. To this end, one notes that the Dire Wolves have not yet beaten the main roster of the Chiefs this year, having lost to them in week one. But thinking back to their Week One meeting serves as a reminder that the Chiefs have not yet beaten this iteration of Dire Wolves either, as Shernfire was serving his two-week suspension. In fact due to the same suspension issue with Korean accounts we have not yet seen Chippys-Shernfire-Phantiks-k1ng-Destiny face off against Swip3rr-Spookz-Swiffer-Raes-EGym and that makes this series truly exciting.
That’s the OPL Take 5 for this week. Hit us up with what you’re excited to see for this week of games!