The Dire Wolves have cemented themselves as one of the greatest Oceanic League of Legends teams in the competition’s short history, levelling the Chiefs’ championship record with a 3-1 victory in the OPL Grand Final.
Played in front of a cheering crowd divided down the middle in their support for the old kings of the region and the new, the Dire Wolves’ Split 2 triumph was the culmination of one of the Melbourne Esports Open.
The final win also stretches the Wolves’ historic best-of streak to 26 undefeated series, an “awesome achievement” for everyone involved in the team according to organisation founder Nathan “Rippii” Mott.
“We had roster changes throughout that streak but we’ve managed to keep it up, it’s just the Dire Wolves touch,” Rippii told Snowball Esports in the final post-match interviews. “It’s an awesome achievement and it’s great to look back on.”
“Obviously you can’t win forever, but we’re just focused on Worlds now especially having so much disappointment from last time.”
Rippii, who travelled with the Wolves to China for the 2017 World Championship only to see a second day collapse punt the Oceanic representatives out of Play-Ins, said he “never wants to feel that way again”.
“I don’t want that feeling, I want to make it to groups for Oceania and there’s a lot of pressure on us to perform and achieve highly,” he said.
Although international achievements are still a question mark around the four-time OPL champions, their domestic success has been an exclamation mark in recent years.
Under lights on Rod Laver Arena, they proved it once more, opening with a bloody contest that culminated in a Baron Nashor secure apiece but Dire Wolves winning out in the end.
An early lead for the eventual champions saw them take control of the map, but the Chiefs weren’t going down without a fight in the opening game, forcing team fight after team fight that nearly brought them back into the contest.
While the first outing didn’t go the Chiefs way, a similar style saw a late fight around the Baron pit fall in their favour, levelling out the series and guaranteeing at least four bouts for the Melbourne crowd.
Game three fell back into the hands of the Dire Wolves, after a mid lane fight saw them sweep through four to put them onto match point in the decider.
From there, an oddball choice of Vayne for k1ng was met with question marks from the thousands in Rod Laver, the analysts and the fans, but Dire Wolves’ marksman proved them all wrong as he guided the defending champions back to their throne.
It’s proof for Rippii, and the rest of the organisation, that they can stand head and shoulders above the rest of the OPL for now, even the former dynasty of the Chiefs.
“We are tied with four each with the Chiefs, but I want to beat that next split and beat them, it would mean a lot to overtake them,” Rippii said. “I think the way everything has happened has felt so good it almost feels scripted.”
“There’s been so much that has gone into the split, and the wins, and we want to push ourselves even further to give everyone a performance to be proud of in Korea.”
Rippii also praised the fans that had turned out at Melbourne Park to support their team, and admitted he was happy “our fans were louder than the Chiefs” considering that’s “all [he] wanted”.
The champions’ support, Andy “Cupcake” van der Vyver, also pointed out the fans after the match, thanking everyone that had turned out at the live event or tuned in from home.
“I want to thank every fan, Dire Wolves, Chiefs, OPL and esports, you make this all possible and you bring the hype,” he said. “It’s not an event without you guys.”
“Special thanks to the Wolves fans, seeing the shirts and hearing the cheers really is uplifting, we’re all so focused on the plan and what we’re going to do next and you look over and here chants and it just puts smiles on our faces.”
The Dire Wolves now begin their preparation for the Play In stages of the World Championship, to be hosted in Seoul from October 1.
Watch the full interview with Dire Wolves Founder/CEO Nathan “Rippii” Mott & support Andy “Cupcake” van der Vyver below.
— Snowball Esports (@snowballesports) September 2, 2018