2017 was the year of the wolf, Nathan “Rippii” Mott’s strategic business decision to sell part of his organisation to Guinevere Capital, gave Dire Wolves the keys to unlock this rosters’ potential.
At its core in 2016 the Dire Wolves were a squad of great mechanical players who couldn’t seem to deliver on the LAN stage at OPL finals, the squad lacked structure, I was constantly left wondering what the Dire Wolves of 2016 might have achieved if they had a coaching structure in place.
Enter 2017, a gaming house a stone’s throw away from the Riot Studios, with an investment backing full of sports expertise and contacts in their network, things were looking up for the Dire Wolves.
But what was the icing on the cake was the acquisition of Shernfire. Out of respect to the encumbent Sybol they tried to balance a dual jungler setup within 6 man roster, but it wasn’t to be and with the decision to make Shernfire the full time jungler, Dire Wolves unleashed a beast onto the rift.
Now we all know how the story goes, Dire Wolves win split 1, have a disappointing appearance at MSI, Win split 2 to qualify for Worlds. And while they couldn’t quite reach their own internal expectations of reaching groups it was always going to be a tough ask.
Here we are at 2018, days shy from seasons start, what can we expect from the wolfpack?
Firstly let’s call out the elephant in the room, it’s extremely disappointing to see Shern cop a 2 week suspension, it has really put a bitter taste in this DW vs CHF week 1 opener. I mentioned earlier how crucial Shern is to Dire Wolves 2017 success and this really hurts the Wolves coming up against a weakened Chiefs lineup.
With that said, it’s only a 2 weeks and there is a 10 week season to playout, in the grand scheme of things the Wolves have a lengthy period of time to recover should things turn pear shaped while Praelus fills in.
The Dire Wolves have retained Chippys in the top lane, this is a great retention for the Wolves, he showed brief moments that he was happy to run tanks top lane but what really unlocks Chippys is giving him the ability to be a split pushing threat. Sherns control of the jungle has really unlocked Chippys gameplay and taken him to the next level, I am very excited to continue to see this players growth in 2018.
A new mid laner is a big change for the Dire Wolves. Replacing a veteran like Phantiks with someone who even approaches how mechanically gifted he was is a big ask. With Phantiks moving onto to become the new head coach of the Chiefs they’ve picked up Triple as a replacement. Triple is a great choice for the wolves, he’s had a really solid stint at Avant gaming and will thrive under the Dire Wolves set up, initially I would see this as a slight downgrade for the Wolves, but give him time and he will show to be a great replacement.
Finally the bottom lane has retained K1ng as ADC with Cupcake being the new Support. This is a really interesting line up, K1ng can look like he is the best ADC of the region, an absolute prodigy, other times looks like he’s switched off, with that said he’s talented and definitely has the drive to compete, he just needs consistency.
Cupcake came as a bit of a surprise, with Destiny leaving and EGym electing to become a caster, the Support pool had really thinned out, as a result the Direwolves have essentially claimed a great support for what was left. With that said, it is important to remember that Cupcakes laning partner last year went on to join Echo Fox, so I’ll be interested to see if Cupcake can prove a point that it wasn’t just Lost carrying the lane.
All in all, It’s a well rounded bot lane that should ensure the Dire Wolves are able to push for title contention.
The Wolves have had a massive 2017 that they’ll be wanting to repeat and have 2017 to learn off and use as a platform to build future success. However the competition this year is on another level and the Wolves will have to dig deep to show that their bite is still as big as their rambunctious jungler’s bork and ensure the Wolf pack can add to their trophy cabinet.