Overall, the addition of Order to the league has thrown the top end of the ladder into disarray more so than any other offseason in the OPL to date.
Based purely on past individual performances, and theoretical speculation in regards to how these new lineups will mesh, I think the league will be broken into three distinct tiers with some wiggle room at the edges.
Avant for the longest time have struggled to break into the top echelon of Oceanic League of Legend teams; with the roster shake up of the 2017 top four, the 2018 season could be where Av make a break for it.
On an individual level Pabu is an upgrade on Ceres with potential to grow, which is what they needed considering their best looking player in 2017 in Triple has joined the Wolves. Frae has belonged to many homes surrounding the OPL, the latest of which is Abyss Academy with a 2nd place finish in Split 2 2017. Out of all free agent mid laners, Frae sits at the top of the list and accompanying him on 2018 Av is ex-TM Gaming jungler Only. Only serves as a comparable replacement for Sybol with an inverse tendency towards carry junglers to that of Sybol’s tanks, and is coming off of a winless latter half of 2017 despite being one of the better performing members of the struggling TM. The rock that AV’s roster sits upon is the bottom lane duo of Blinky and Jayke and they’ve shown steady improvement over the course of their time together.
AV has always been a team that at their best comes together as something much greater than the sum of their parts, and this roster looks to be sticking to that mantra.
The Bombers’ success in my eyes rests largely on the performance of their imports, with the backing of the Essendon Football Club they bring in two European players previously from the same team (ROG School) in Tiger and Sleeping.
Sleeping presents as a definitive carry threat, replacing ZZZ as the OPL’s resident Riven player; as of the time this was written he has played 26 games of Oceanic SoloQ and not a single game has been on a tank. Tiger on the other hand seems to favour utility, with the exception of his penchant for Lucian. This in theory meshes quite well Rosey’s often unique take on bot lane. Seb and Rosey both had moments of success in the 2017 season, however they both sit optimistically middle of the pack on a role to role comparison with their peers. Looch has been the crux of the Abyss lineup for a long time and we see him returning again for 2018, however given that mid lane is the most competitive role in the region the competition will be tough.
I don’t see the Bombers’ fighting for the trophy in the upcoming season without a huge performance from Tiger and Sleeping, but I don’t see them fighting in relegations like they have in the past either.
For a team that once held the global record for the longest standing trio of players, the Chiefs roster for 2018 has had a tremendous shakeup.
What Ryoma lacks compared to Swiffer in leadership, he makes for up in raw talent and given the work he put in for Sin during the 2017 season will serve as one of the stars of this new look Chiefs lineup. Babip is almost completely untested territory, being a long time sub for Legacy however receiving next to no game time at the professional level. For Chiefs to succeed this season the stability of retaining Swip3rR and Raes alongside the addition of Destiny need to provide a working environment to bring Babip up to speed. The jungle is the fulcrum that balances the map for many teams and losing long time jungler Spookz for an untested rookie could be their downfall, or not, only time will tell.
The Chiefs have an incredibly sturdy backbone in Swip3rR and Destiny with immense carry potential coming from mid, ADC and jungle; regardless of roster changes I still expect to see them be a top three team in the region.
The Dire Wolves have (on paper) downgraded in both of their roster changes this offseason.
Losing the MVP of the league in Phantiks meant they were always going to downgrade mid lane and Triple was certainly one of the best options for replacement available in the OPL at the time. Cupcake brings a particular niche to the Dire Wolves, a player who has mostly favoured his own take on the game rather than being a strict meta slave as we saw him trailblaze both Bard and Brand during times neither were considered top tier. Losing the versatility of Destiny to the Chiefs will hurt the Wolves, but not too badly considering their worthy replacement.
Overall the Dire Wolves still hold a lot of star power in Shern and Chippys, and I hope to see K1ng carry his form from Worlds into next year following his lacklustre domestic performance. This offseason certainly hasn’t done the reigning champions any favours however I fully expect Dire Wolves to still be a top team defending their title in 2018.
Another top team going through huge roster changes is Legacy, losing long time jungler and captain Carbon to retirement, top laner Tally to ORDER and star player Lost to NA.
Throughout the course of the year Legacy played increasingly more around their bot lane, more specifically Lost, leaving either huge shoes to fill for Raid or spelling large stylistic changes for the team as a whole. Sybol had an inconsistent 2017 Split 2 on Avant, but with much more competitive and stage experience sees his place on the main roster over long time sub Babip. Losing not only their leader in Carbon, but co-captain in long time top laner Tally will hurt the roster, but bringing in a Korean born import in Mimic could be exactly what they need. From the little I’ve seen from his time on Millenium in the EUCS and soloqueue, Mimic is much more of a TP top laner than a carry player which should open things up for the rest of the map. Legacy retain Claire as a mid comparable to the best in the region, and I sincerely hope the real Claire gets to spread his wings instead of being rostered on to Karma duty for another split.
Raid comes off a reasonably successful individual split from Abyss and is joined by technically-not-a-rookie-but-still-a-rookie support Decoy rounding out Legacy’s bottom lane; I don’t see them contesting for best in the region right off the bat but serve as a solid baseline for growth throughout the year.
Oceania’s very first super team comprising of top talent from 3 different 2017 playoff contention teams. Buying the OPL slot from the eternally struggling Regicide, Order comes in as a newcomer and almost single handedly accounts for most of the roster changes amongst the other top tier teams.
Every player on this roster is at minimum considered top 3 in their respective role. however being one of the few top teams not travelling to Korea for a pre-split bootcamp they may have a slow start to the season. Furthering this potential slow start comes the news of Tally’s inability to practice until 3 weeks prior to their first match due to a back injury.
With the leadership between long time partners Spookz and Swiffer, the raw talent of the dominant ex-Sin bot lane and the versatility of a top laner able to play both carry and utility playstyles, Order look to simultaneously come in as newbies and potential favourites for 2018.
Sin (and specifically Juves) aren’t an organisation unaccustomed to sweeping roster changes and this year is no different.
Losing their entire carry arsenal: Ryoma to Chiefs and bot lane duo to ORDER see’s Sin rebuilding their roster with a mixture of soloqueue talent, OCS talent and names we’ve seen around the OPL before. Praedyth coming in replacing Dhokla who has moved back to NA, is a decent player filling a similar role to his predecessor with his split pushing inclination. Bdoink is a name already associated with Sin’s OCS squad, he promotes to the main team by way of Athletico and on a good day has the potential to challenge the best mids in the region however will most likely be seen as an underdog in most of his matchups. Dream, a previously unknown player taken straight of soloqueue flew himself to Korea alone for 2 months to practice at the age of 17 prior to this season. What he lacks in experience he bleeds in drive and coupled with Cuden, a player that has floated around the OPL without finding a permanent home will provide a serviceable bottom lane.
Juves, the veteran and only player remaining from the 2017 roster will have his work cut out for him in 2018 bringing this brand new roster to the heights he’s used to.
Prediction: Position 7
Unfortunately in my eyes TM Gaming’s now called Tectonic roster is not too much of an improvement on their from 8th place 2017 finish.
Retaining both carry players Shok and Low for the 2018 season sees a change in the supportive roles around them. Losing Praedyth to Sin sees a comparable replacement coming in from the OCS in Papryze, and accompanying him is another OCS player from the same team (Abyss Academy) in Swathe. Praedyth and Only were often relied upon by the 2017 roster as the bot side of the map faltered, so in the context of Tectonic these two players have the biggest shoes to fill. Tilting has some OPL experience already from his time on TM and should be a slight improvement over Tgun.
On paper it seems this roster lacks a strong leader, and given the amount of playstyle shifts we saw from them last year it will be interesting to see what style Tectonic settle on.
Prediction: Position 8
We have the top dogs in Order, Dire Wolves and Chiefs, these teams have the right mix of talent, infrastructure and experience to be contenders for the title in Split 1. AV, Bombers and Legacy make up the core of the league with potential to upset the top 3 on a good day, however on average fall slightly short of the mark in the areas required to be OPL Champions. Lastly we have Sin and Tectonic to round out the league, they both have large amounts of room to grow and I think will spend most of their efforts ramping up to peak later on in the year.
In saying all this, it’s purely speculation. We’ve yet to see a single one of these teams face off with one another, and I hope I’m left eating my words when the season starts on the 20th. Dire Wolves might just win literally everything for the entire year again, Bombers’ imports could be the best individual players we’ve seen in Oceania to date, or Tectonic might just shock everyone and start knocking teams off the list week after week. Whatever happens I’m excited to see all these offseason changes come to fruition from a brand new angle.
Be sure to tune in and watch EGym this Saturday 20th January at 2pm AEDT for his full time broadcasting debut!