The perennial dark horses of the OPL, SIN Gaming come into 2018 off the back of a somewhat successful 2017. Surprising many with their gauntlet runs that not only had you on the edge of your seat, but had you jumping out in awe. With a young roster, it seemed that SIN would be moving into 2018 all guns blazing, well in contention for their first finals appearance but with the departures of Dhokla, Ryoma, FBI and Rogue, their hopes are in shambles. With captain Juves the sole remainder, SIN has looked to rebuild bringing in some experienced and new faces.
It is only appropriate that we address the retention of Brandon “Juves” Defina. The life-blood of SIN gaming, Juves brings a wealth of experience, having been the sole remaining member from not only 2017 but, since the organisations inception at the beginning of 2015. The SIN captain has seen a myriad of players come and go in this time and with a rebuild on this scale, is possibly the most important member to be retained. While he may never be held in the discussion for best jungler in the OPL, by many he may even be regarded as one of the bottom players in OPL, he certainly has a knack for coming out of seemingly nowhere to secure influential leads – after all he outsmited Levi! His value truly comes from his experience, leadership and personality, not only for the players but for the organisation as a whole. Juves has the power to bring viewers in to watch SIN games, and is one of only a handful of players in OPL to be able to do this. I have absolutely no doubt that with Juves at the helm that SIN will be able to once again foster young talent into top OPL talent in due course.
Moving down the roster, we introduce a familiar face to the OPL with Mark “Praedyth” Lewis moving from TM Gaming to join SIN. Praedyth brings a style that can be directly compared with Dhokla, setting up for almost a seamless transition for Juves to be able to play around. Known for his ability to play split pushing carries, he joins a long line of former SIN gaming top laners that have been known for this exact ability. However, while being known for this ability he struggled to execute on a struggling TM roster that went through tumultuous changes in the first split, and lacked leadership in the second. One could argue that his struggles were due to a systematic issue within the team itself, as opposed to individual – with Juves guiding his hand, it is definitely possible we see significant improvement in this area. However the primary concerns lie in his poor sense of how to engage and when. With top lane often being the primary engage tool, inside of “tank meta” it should be expected that Praedyth struggle, unless SIN look to capitalise on counter pick opportunities to allow him to play his natural style. While not the best of the free agents, SIN have certainly done a good job in filling the hole left by Dhokla with a player in a similar mould.
Continuing to the mid lane, we see our first new face to the OPL, Dimitry “Bdoink” Botov. Coming off of his 3rd split in the OCS, Bdoink returns to the organisation that gave him his taste of competitive League of Legends having played for the SIN academy roster in 2016. Originally renowned as a Yasuo one trick, his champion pool has expanded over the years being able to play a myriad of champions. However, based off of his 2017 performance, you can only rate this as a significant downgrade from Ryoma and within the role that is filled with the most talent one can only expect him to struggle, entering the OPL as one of it’s weaker mid laners. However, in the past Bdoink has shown rapid improvement when he joined the OCS in 2016, yet stagnated somewhat in 2017. Fans of SIN gaming can only hope that upon joining the OPL, Bdoink is able to once again rapidly improve upon joining the top league in Oceania.
Another new face, Ronan “Dream” Swingler (formerly known as PVA) fills the void left by FBI. Dream comes into SIN Gaming having limited experience, playing only two games in the OCS under Lynx. While the overall performance was slightly above average, and with the limited sample size it is difficult to give a true gauge on how he will perform in the OPL. However FBI joined last year with even less, and proved to be a top 3 ADC in the region without a doubt. While the sample size is limited to solo q and the two games of Ashe played in OCS it would appear that Dream does not appear as comfortable as being as source of engage as FBI did, where due to how meta was tailored in 2017 and how SIN played, FBI was able to carry despite being in a utility position. Dream will have large shoes to fill in 2017, and I’m not entirely sure if he will be able to perform to an OPL level but is definitely worth giving him a crack given the parity a majority of OCS ADC’s have shown in 2017.
Lastly, Mike “Cuden” Le makes his return to the OPL having spent the most recent split with Abyss in the OCS. While Cuden may have three splits of OPL experience, he has never truly solidified his position in a team having changed teams in each of these splits, SIN will be his fourth. Cuden is often criticised for his lack of aggression, staying true to the player he was when he joined having been known for his Soraka. This is in stark contrast to the player Rogue was, being the aggressive playmaker and possibly the best playmaker from the support position in the OPL. Cuden will have big shoes to fill being paired with the rookie Dream, and having the experience of three splits in the OPL will definitely have to fulfil a primary engage role at some point given what we already know about Praedyth. In 2018 hopefully we witness a more aggressive Cuden.
All in all, SIN were in an exceptionally difficult position to fill the voids that they were left with, while they were largely left with the scraps they have been able to pull together a roster that has a good balance of experience and new faces. While in 2018 I have this roster falling towards the bottom, they have the tools to create some upsets.