The Bombers are this split’s gauntlet rookies. Since the implementation of the gauntlet in 2017, none of the starting five players for the Bombers have played in one.
The organisation as a whole has never qualified for finals. The only player to play in an OPL finals series was Rosey way back in Split 1 2015. So if you wanted an underdog to root for, the Bombers should be top of your list for this gauntlet.
If you have missed the entire 2018 season of the OPL, then the Bombers is a brand new team for you. The team formerly known as Abyss was bought out by the Essendon Football Club – the second traditional sporting club to enter the esports fray in Australia.
The team qualified for the OPL through the OCS, defeating Trident Esports to qualify for Split 2 2016. Looch is the only remnant of the squad which helped the team promote into the OPL, with Seb joining the team for their first OPL split and Rosey joining the team after a stint on Tainted Minds in 2017. European duo Sleeping and Tiger came across for the start of 2018, and the team has spent the first part of this year finding their feet.
While it’s still up for debate as to whether they have found them yet, the Bombers have pulled out some remarkable results this split. They are one of 3 teams to take a game off Dire Wolves and the Chiefs this split, and these individual game wins over the course of the split have secured them a place in the gauntlet even with their 3-7 record.
At times they’ve been their own worst enemy with overzealous plays and looking shaky when coming in to finish a game. However when they play the way they want they look like the Essendon of 2000. These moments of greatness are what make Bombers a gauntlet worthy team and in with a chance of making a decent run.
Though, they must get on a run in the first place to make that happen. Their first opponent is Legacy, a team they’ve lost 2-1 to both games this split, and a team coming off an inspirational performance to claw their way into gauntlet by the skin of their teeth. Playing through their stars Claire and Mimic, Legacy have the potential to run the gauntlet all the way to Melbourne.
But so do the Bombers. Sleeping was known for his carry top laners and dueling his opponents, and a dominating performance over Mimic will open up the rest of the map. However, the key matchup in the Adelaide v Essendon AFL showdown is in the mid lane. With two of the best mechanically minded mids in the region, an inspired series from either one will lead each of their teams to victory.
Raid will also find himself up against his old support Rosey in the bot lane. The two played alongside each other throughout the 2017 season, and while Raid moved on to Legacy for 2018, the Bombers will be out to prove that that was the wrong decision.
WATCH: The Bombers do everything in their power to keep Tiger alive, and win the final fight to end the game against Avant in Week 4 of the OPL Split 2.
I sat down with top laner Christian “Sleeping” Tiensuu, jungler Sebastian “Seb” De Ceglie and coach Scott “Windowsmonkey” Farmer to talk about about the team’s first gauntlet run and their improvement over the year.
First of all, congratulations on making the gauntlet for the first time in history. How far do you think you can go?
Windowsmonkey: I think we are in with a chance of playing at MEO. Obviously, the first two matches are going to be a lot easier than playing the Chiefs and Dire Wolves, but we’ve taken games off almost every team we’ve played against. Nothing is outside the realm of possibility.
Do you think you can pull out a consistent performance over five games to make it happen? How do you think you’ll fare in a best of five?
Sleeping: I think we are a slow team to start, and yes we haven’t played a best of five before, but based off our best of threes, we can beat anyone for sure. I mean, we’ve taken games off everyone, so it’s possible.
How much do you think you’ve improved individually and as a team to make it into the gauntlet?
Seb: Individually, I think I’ve learnt a lot thanks to our lovely coach.
Windowsmonkey: Oh, thank you!
Sleeping: For me personally, like Split 1, I was focusing on beating people one-versus-one straight up, not really on the team aspects. Most of the time I didn’t get punished for it, but I wasn’t focusing on what was happening on the map. The concept of playing on the weak side of the map was completely unknown to me, but now that I understand it I think I’ve gotten it under control. That was the biggest thing, although my macro knowledge has improved significantly, which has helped the team in what team comps we play.
How helpful was your NA bootcamp in between splits in improving the team?
Windowsmonkey: I thought the bootcamp was very helpful. The biggest difference I saw out of the team coming out from the bootcamp was the improvement in the mid-jungle pairing (between Looch and Seb). They’ve played a lot better as a unit, and I think Seb and Looch took a lot of what they learnt over in NA into the second split and it’s been one of the key points to pick up more games.
Your first gauntlet match against Legacy is the AFL Showdown in the OPL – Adelaide vs Essendon. Do you think there’s a rivalry starting between the two AFL teams?
Seb: I haven’t noticed it too much, unless it’s an Essendon fan or someone in the office at the Hangar points it out to us. It’s like “oh yeah,” but because they are still called Legacy I don’t take much notice. Sleeping had no clue about AFL though, same with Tije (Tiger).
Have they had a kick of the footy yet?
Seb: Yeah he has, but no technique whatsoever.
Sleeping: It’s fun. I used to play soccer, so it’s not like sports are completely unknown to me. It’s a lot harder than soccer though, and it’s way more in depth.
Seb: Well, you didn’t grow up with it.
Windowsmonkey: It’s a very fun game.
Sleeping: When we went to watch a game, I wasn’t expecting much but it was pretty good – at least it wasn’t boring!
Do you have any final words for the fans out there?
Seb: I’ve prepared nothing, Scott say something!
Windowsmonkey: Thank you to everyone who has supported us through the year, it’s been a lot of fun working with the guys and seeing the improvement going from a seventh placed team to a gauntlet team who can compete against anyone. I don’t think there’s any team in the gauntlet we can’t beat.
Thanks so much for taking time out of your hard practice for the gauntlet, hopefully we can see you on stage at MEO!