On March 31st 2018, the Chiefs lined up against the Dire Wolves at Riot Studios for the OPL Split 1 Grand Final. It would be the second consecutive time the two teams battled for first and second place. In their previous encounter, the Dire Wolves won 3-1.
For the Chiefs, the Split 1 grand final was an opportunity for a fresh-faced roster to prove themselves; to compete at MSI; for redemption. Every player wants to lift the winner’s trophy and represent their region at an international tournament. The Chiefs were no different. And throughout the 5 game series, the intensity of their desire was palpable. Their emotion transcended the screen – the anxious pre-game nervous giggles, the excitement of winning the first two games, and their desperation during the fifth. You felt it all.
When people talk about passion and emotion in League of Legends, they reference the image of a distraught ‘Faker’ at the 2017 League of Legends World Championships. But it is the reaction of the Chiefs after their loss to the Dire Wolves by reverse sweep in that grand final series which has stayed with me.
The team was hurting. Devastated. None of them were dry-eyed. You wanted to give them all a hug. The day after the final, Chiefs captain Brandon ‘Swip3rR’ Holland made a promise.
I keep fucking saying this but I really mean it now. Next split is my split, no more fucking around. Hold me to this.— Swip3rR (@Swip3rR) April 1, 2018
And so far this season, the Chiefs are on track to fulfill this promise.
The Chiefs dominated the first two years of the OPL (2015 and 2016), winning all four splits. They represented Oceania at the 2015 International Wildcard Invitational tournaments in Turkey, the 2016 International Wildcard Invitational in Mexico, the 2016 International Wildcard Qualifier in Brazil, and Rift Rivals on multiple occasions.
They won every domestic title that there was to win. However, over the past two years they have placed fourth, second and second respectively. For reference, the Dire Wolves won all of those splits.
WATCH: In Week 3 of the OPL Split 2, Raes on Karthus picks up yet another penta in a competitve match.
This split, the Chiefs have continued their top 2 form and are in a good position to contest the title. In the round robin, they lost to the Dire Wolves and Tectonic, but strong 2-0 victories against every other team saw the Chiefs firmly in 2nd place by the end of the split. If the finalists were determined on the basis of consistency, we would see Dire Wolves and Chiefs face off in the live final at the Melbourne Esports Open. More than that, it is the rivalry/redemption story that the fans desire.
To satisfy my desire for a Hollywood-worthy final, the Chiefs have to overcome one final hurdle – and they’re called Legacy.
Until 2017, Legacy and Chiefs were the two dominant forces in the OPL. They met in every OPL grand final bar one and a fierce rivalry quickly developed. Now that the attention has shifted to the success of the Dire Wolves, Legacy is rarely mentioned in the same sentence as “title-contender”, but their rivalry with the Chiefs remains.
Now, Legacy and Chiefs meet again. This time, the stakes are high. They have never beaten the Chiefs in a gauntlet or finals match.
There are a number of factors to consider with this match-up. Confidence in their ability to replicate previous performances against Legacy may give the Chiefs an edge in the upcoming gauntlet match. Further, Legacy’s last two best of five series against Bombers and Order have been very impressive, but it’s a long road for them.
Mimic has been on fire in their gauntlet matches so far, Only just had a career defining series against ORDER and Claire is still putting in huge work. Swip3rR may have anti-Mimic coaching tips hidden in his tattoo (yes, I’ve seen Prison Break), and Raes and Destiny historically have run over the Legacy bot lane. Can they do it once more?
Another match up that will draw attention is that of the two coaches. The draft has played no small part in Legacy’s wins, with Soulstrikes at the helm. Head coach Doruk though believes he will have the edge and that Chiefs are “often disrespected in the draft”.
Brandon 'Swip3rR' Holland, Captain
This split is really close so I think it’s hard to say I’m just going to be in the final. But if we play our A game I’m pretty sure we can take out anyone.
As for my own performance, the most difficult person for me to lane against is Mimic. His movement and 1v1 knowledge goes beyond most players in OCE.
Doruk 'Doruk' Hacioglu, Head Coach
We have been putting in a lot of practice towards fixing mid game issues, but obviously our preparation isn’t going to be focused on just one thing.
On 8.16 the meta has shifted slightly, but the players have very flexible champ pools. I am confident that we will be satisfied with the amount of work we have put in this week in preparation for gauntlet.
Chiefs are the favourites in this match up. And for the story, I want the winner to be the Chiefs. But it would be a mistake to underestimate Legacy. They look mighty scary right now but there is a fresh, well rested and prepared Chiefs line up ready to meet them.
And the boys in blue want to put a stop to their miracle run once and for all.