Aspiring writers couldn’t have scripted it better if they tried – a newly founded organisation, finding it’s feet with a roster billed early in its young life as a “super team”, representing the city that the massive grand final event and the entire gauntlet is now barreling toward.
The path to ORDER’s third place finish in the Oceanic Pro League – and a possible “home town” final – was a long one, as the Melbourne organisation earned a 7-3 record (17-7 games) before falling prey to Legacy Esports’ surge through the Split 1 gauntlet.
This time around, the Oceanic ‘super team’ marched to 23 points and the third slot with a 6-4 overall record off the back of a 14-10 game record.
It’s a position they’ve been in before, but for the entire organisation it’s second time the charm, and with a spot in the Melbourne grand final the major prize they have so much more to play for.
It’s a roster full of Australia’s shining stars – top lane veteran James “Tally” Shute, former OPL champions Samuel “Spookz” Broadley and Simon “Swiffer” Papamarkos, and Sin Gaming’s old bot lane combination Victor “FBI” Huang and Jake “Rogue” Sharwood.
That’s a roster oozing talent even before you take a look over the backroom staff, and ORDER boasts a number of key names from the league in recent years, including coach and helmsman Aaron “ChuChuz” Bland, organisation general manager Jake “Spawn” Tiberi and recent consulting acquisition Nick “Inero” Smith.
WATCH: ORDER turnaround a gank in the bot lane, picking up three against Avant Gaming in Week 8 of OPL Split 2.
Spawn, who stepped into a commanding role for ORDER after their acquisition of the Team Regicide roster slot at the end of 2017, admits qualification to the Melbourne Esports Open and OPL Grand Final would be “perfect season-end” for the team.
“At the start of the year there were a lot of factors in the squad – Tally had just had surgery, Swiffer was returning from a sabbatical, and we knew the first split was going to be about working to be on the same page,” Spawn explained.
“As a group we came together and worked on a lot of things, and of course we would have loved to have made Rift Rivals, but Split 2 is where we were always going to make that serious run at being the best team in the league.”
Jake ‘Spawn’ Tiberi, ORDER GM
“You couldn’t have scripted it better [to have the final in Melbourne]. Everyone involved in the org calls the city home, so when we came together we wanted to together a competitive team and when Riot announced the final would be at an event Australia has never really seen before it really began to motivate us.”
Spawn also knows beyond just the possibility of stepping out onto Rod Laver Arena and representing the city through their performances on Summoners Rift, the Melbourne-based clash would also give the team a chance to play in front of friends and family.
“Everything was falling into place, now we’ve got that Melbourne home crowd that could be supporting us,” he said. “It feels like everything has fallen into place for us in terms of the story of the year.”
“A lot of us feel that if we can make it in front of that ‘home crowd’ it’s a big opportunity for us to have that support. After flying up to the Sydney studios all year we’d be welcoming the other teams to our home ground and they’d be on our terms.”
While the top laner and long-time league stalwart Tally doesn’t originally hail from Melbourne – the 21-year-old represented Queensland in 2017’s League of Origin – he knows how much it means for his teammates to step out under southern lights.
“I know how much it will mean for everyone on the team, especially Swiffer and Spookz,” he said. “For me though, it’s a chance to finally win the OPL – that’s something I’ve been looking to do for a long time.”
“Outside of what I want to achieve, I know that what it means to the other guys will drive me so much, and I just want to get the win for them in front of their friends as well.
Tally, who revealed his team describes his champion options as “an ocean”, remained tight-lipped about potential strategies they may pull out across the gauntlet – and fair enough – but said he was hoping he could bring out an “interesting” pick if he could.
“I have so many champions I practice all the time and while we play a lot of meta and have a lot of success there, I’m always ready to just pull out something a bit odd,” he said.
WATCH: Tally does some dunking and comes out on top in a 2v1 against the Dire Wolves in his first game of Split 2 in the OPL.
Tally may have a desire to bring out an oddball choice in the elimination rounds, but in the end it’s up to the coach in the draft, and ChuChuZ knows he’s playing an integral role in the team’s quest for MEO.
“The pressure is on, I had my first taste of gauntlet last split and that didn’t go to well, but having Melbourne and Worlds and a live crowd as motivators drives us all,” ChuChuz said.
“I think all of the first split gave me a great understanding of what I had to do, and I’m going to use everything I’ve learned going into the gauntlet now. I’m confident in myself to do well both on stage and off.”
“We didn’t really do anything to win and other teams were slipping up. This time we know what we want to do to take the victory”
Aaron ‘ChuChuZ’ Bland, ORDER Coach
ORDER’s leading man also turned his eyes back to the last time the team was in the gauntlet, and Legacy’s reverse sweep over them to move through to a match-up against the Chiefs.
It’s a very similar situation Bland and the rest of the squad have found themselves in again, but this time ChuChuZ believes they are “prepared for anything”.
“I feel like when we were playing our best of five against Legacy last split everyone thought we had it under control and we kind of lost it from there, but I feel like a lot of our winners back then were simply the other team handing them to us,” he said.
“We didn’t really do anything to win and other teams were slipping up. This time we know what we want to do to take the victory, and a lot of games this split we came out of them knowing we had a game plan we’d executed.
“That’s going to be a big difference to back then, we make our own results and I think – combined with the fact we’re probably the team that plays the map best – we can definitely go the whole way.”
So the question still remains for the ORDER roster: can they punch their ticket to that hallowed Melbourne decider and complete the fairy-tale narrative?
A major key factor outside of the ‘super team’ narrative and the hunt for a home town final still remains in the form of the organisation’s recent acquisition of Echo Fox’s former coach Nick “Inero” Smith.
Both Tally and Spawn came to one simple consensus: Inero has flicked a switch behind the scenes for ORDER and taken them to a “new level”.
“We’ve done a few sessions with Nick and he’s looked over a lot of our scrims and on-stage VODs, and just points out these simple things we’re doing wrong,” Tally explained.
“It genuinely feels like he’s come in and just made us swap a few minor things and we’ve just improved so much. Obviously earlier in the season we lost to Chiefs and to Dire Wolves, but with all of this behind us I think we can win it all. That’s how much I think we’ve grown and improved.”
If the passion and desire to play in Melbourne come together for ORDER, they could easily find themselves sitting opposite the undefeated Dire Wolves at Rod Laver Arena.
From there, knowing qualification to the 2018 World Championships is on the line and with the roar of the home town crowd behind the Melbourne team, the trophy is well and truly anyone’s to claim.