his is the third time that the OPL has had the gauntlet format and going into this gauntlet I had incredibly high expectations. I genuinely felt that all 4 teams involved could take games off each other and that we were in for an absolute treat – it certainly delivered. It’s safe to say that the gauntlet format is here to stay.
Avant has been Legacy’s kryptonite all year. Whenever Legacy started to gain momentum throughout the split you would always fall back to those two series losses as to why Legacy couldn’t be a contender. However once Legacy picked up a series win against ORDER in week 8, that sentiment changed.
Could it be that Legacy are dark horses? Genuine threats to the throne? Could Avant be a stumbling block to their chances and perhaps even a threat the other teams? Looking further down the path of our gauntlet you were then also wondering – can ORDER deliver when it counts? Can this “super team”, individually the most experienced team, deliver the extraordinarily high expectations?
How did it pan out?
Friday night was fight night as we went into a 5 game thriller, it had all the drama you could want in an opening series, gold leads thrown, convincing wins and return serves.
Early in the series Frae’s Corki, Only’s Olaf and Pabu’s tank play was causing Legacy grief, however after conceding the first game Claire’s Ryze late into game 2 and his Swain game 3 helped secure games 2 and 3 for Legacy . Heading into game 4, a stellar performance from Only again on the Olaf and Frae on his mainstay Ryze put in yeoman’s work to tie up the series. It was a series that captured the excitement of the gauntlet, but at the end of the day a decisive game 5 from Legacy that broke the back of Avant Gaming. With a 27 minute victory, Legacy were able to break the hoodoo from this split and find themselves playing against ORDER in the next phase.
Onto ORDER vs Legacy. The desk and the couch on broadcast were referring to all the experience ORDER had in the gauntlet. Every single member of their team played in both finals last year while there was only two members from Legacy who share that experience. Legacy had momentum in the head-to-head with the series win earlier in the split, also coming off their series win the day before against Avant, but at the end of the day there was an expectation that ORDER would get the job done when needed to under the pressure.
That certainly looked like how it was going to play out, Swiffer looked like he had recaptured his form, a throw back to the glory days of being the “best player on the server”. The bottom lane from ORDER looked to be in another class from the Legacy duo and the series looked to be settled. It was 2-0 and Legacy had to climb a mountain to have a shot back into the series.
I’m still not sure what caused the change, but Legacy were given a life line, they took game 3, making it 2-1. Claire showed his MVP form, the Legacy bot lane stepped up a level. However the real talking point was in game 4. ORDER had got themselves into a leading position around 22 minutes into the game, it looked like they would run away with the series. However after a questionable Baron call, ORDER end up giving Claire a triple kill and a baron buff. This misplay gives Legacy the game and the series is tied 2-2.
Game 5 was once again on a knife’s edge with ORDER holding a slight lead. But from this controlling position, ORDER concede two barons and thanks to Claire’s imposing presence on Azir, Legacy closed the series victory.
How good is an underdog story? How much better is the story if it involves the “el-clasico” of oceania’s two predominant esports organisations, scrapping it out on the rift to land the spot in the OPL grand final? I had never been so excited to watch a series of OPL games. Legacy had shown they were contenders, the Chiefs had slid under everyone’s radar and looked so slick all year, finishing games with absolute style. Did I also mention this is the biggest rivalry in the OPL?
Legacy with all the momentum they had from their incredible gauntlet run so far, got the job done in game 1, they looked match fit and raring to go. However some tactical adjustments from the Chiefs, letting Ryoma loose on carry mid-laners and leaving Swip3rR to his usual tank comfort changed the landscape and Legacy failed to adapt. The all-star bot lane duo of Destiny and Raes took Legacy to town and while there were small glimmers of hope for Legacy, they were unable to convert any of the games and Chiefs picked up the series 3-1.
We have Dire Wolves vs Chiefs next week and honestly I can’t wait. The match-ups are just tantalising, can “Big Swips” survive the pressure Chippys will undoubtedly put on him? Who will get the edge in the mid lane match-up between Triple and Ryoma? Can K1ng and Cupcake hold their own against the Chiefs’ juggernaut of a bot lane?
The Dire Wolves are the favourites, this makes sense. They have not dropped a series all split finishing 10-0. However the Chiefs and Dire Wolves that played against each other on the very first day of the OPL 2018 Split are vastly different and if the stars align, I can see the Chiefs causing an upset to the Dire Wolves. Can the Chiefs prey on the Dire Wolves’ weaknesses? Or will Shernfire and his arsenal continue their undefeated run through 2018?
WATCH as the Dire Wolves go up against the Chiefs Esports Club this Saturday 31st March at 5pm AEDT on Twitch.