We often look at players in the OCS as the ones who will fill the shoes of those in the OPL once they move on, but those stars of the future also have to come from somewhere.
That’s where the High School League comes in, as schools from all across Australia and New Zealand clash to determine the very best in Oceania.
A competitive signing is a major goal for many of these students, looking to follow in the footsteps of Tectonic’s midlaner Ari “Shok” Greene-Young who was recruited into the OPL directly from his high school competition in New Zealand.
The teams have all been playing for months in an attempt to make their regional finals and lock their spot in the High School Nationals, with the Victorian final even being played at the Melbourne Esports Open earlier in the month.
Teams from Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia competed in weekly regional brackets organised with the support of the Adelaide Football Club’s HSEL, with teams in the Premier Division battling for the coveted Nationals spot while those in the Challenger Division were fighting for bragging rights.
The teams from the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and New Zealand made their way into the finals by participating in a seven-week competition organised by letsplay.live, again with Premier and Challenger divisions.
After many weeks of epic competition, the eight spots at the High School Nationals were filled. The quarter and semi finals were broadcast by OPL this past weekend. Here’s what went down.
Day One – Bracket A
New Zealand’s Rangitoto College took down Tasmania’s Elizabeth College in commanding fashion to book their spot in the first semi final. They were up against New South Wales’ Blacktown Boys High School, fresh off their victory over Queensland’s St Peter Claver College.
NZ drafted a split-push composition with Jayce and Gangplank in top and mid, coupled with a safe bot side with Kai’sa and Braum alongside a Sejuani in the jungle. NSW decided for a mixed teamfight and pick composition with Poppy, Skarner and Ryze, and added Ezreal and Karma to the mix in the botlane.
Despite assumptions Jayce and Gangplank would be played top and mid respectively, New Zealand’s solo laners swapped lanes to give themselves favourable matchups.
Counter jungling was the name of the game early on as both Camomile’s Skarner and White Palette’s Sejuani roamed deep into each other’s jungle, meeting multiple times without either securing the opening kill of the game.
As the jungle arm-wrestle continued, NSW decided LGD Somnus M’s Gangplank was a key threat, and sent both Camomile and expelliarmus on Ryze roamed top to take him down, but all it took was some fancy feet from the talented New Zealand mid laner to walk away scot-free.
First blood finally went over to NZ as 10 minutes ticked by, with DK’s Kai’Sa and lemonlord’s Braum turning around a gank from Camomile to send The Penguin Lord’s Ezreal back to the spawn platform. It opened the floodgates as DK grabbed two more kills minutes later, and his team was able to snowball their gold lead to 13k at 20 minutes.
By this time nine of New Zealand’s twelve kills were on DK and he was nigh on unstoppable as NZ spent the next five minutes more than doubling their kill count to take the first game of the series.
A stunning counterattack from NZ sets up DK’s Kai’Sa for a quadra kill and the game!
Heading into game two, NSW looked to hit back with a multi-layered draft full of opportunities for individual agency, including Ahri for wow so pro, who subbed in for Camomile as expelliarmus moved to the jungle and selected Olaf.
With a Jinx for The Penguin Lord, NSW had a clear win condition – get their ADC and mid ahead so they could wipe NZ. DK responded with a Vayne pick and Palette grabbed Nidalee to support both the Vayne and Somnus’ Lucian mid.
New Zealand weren’t letting NSW slow them down as White Palette and Somnus picked up the first two kills of the game off the back of catching out Olaf and FriedRice2’s Shen. DK, not to be outdone, popped StoneBlock’s Nautilus before lemonlord’s Tahm Kench stole the kill.
Somnus grabbed his second kill on Ahri and NZ had a almost 3k lead by six minutes before he solo-killed wow so pro once more. Kills kept going the way of New Zealand and by 20 minutes they had 29, including ten for DK.
At this stage, the Aussie battlers could do little as New Zealand finished their demolition duty and took the second game and the first of two spots in the competition decider.
Day Two – Bracket B
With New Zealand taking their place in the final, Day Two would decide who would challenge them for the title. Willetton Senior High School from WA took down Victoria’s Melbourne High School to head into the semifinal against SA’s representatives Glenunga International High School, who beat NT’s Darwin High School.
WA moved into full team fight mode in their first game draft, picking up a Varus/Karma bot lane alongside Camille, Gragas and Urgot, while SA countered with a split-push composition with Kled and Jax, with a dash of team fight ability with Kai’Sa, Galio and Tahm Kench.
South Australia secured first blood as Zero’s Tahm Kench chowed down on an invading Gragas to recoup some of the gold lead WA had accrued through lane pressure. A clean three for nothing for WA turned into a second Cloud Drake and a fourth tower to stretch their lead by 5k.
A messy fight that looked like it was going the way of SA was miraculously turned around by WA as they claimed an ace and an inhibitor for the loss of two. Raring to go, WA moved to the top lane where they swept South Australia once more to storm into their base and blow up the Nexus to take 1-0 lead.
WA group up near the Baron pit and overrun a retreating SA lineup to boost their lead.
WA had put down the eager aggression from SA in Game 1, and were looking to do it again as the Camille appeared again, and the leading squad added both Kai’Sa and Galio, before rounding out their composition with Jarvan IV and Zyra.
SA were hunting for picks – quite literally – as Kled and Warwick were taken in the top and the jungle before Tahm Kench reappeared alongside Kalista and a unique Lissandra pick in the mid lane. The crowd control-laden draft from WA proved effective as they caught out Mustachi Yo’s Warwick and DeAsianNewb’s Lissandra a mere two minutes into Game 2.
Six kills were traded between the teams over the next 10 minutes, but importantly WA had secured two turrets and the Rift Herald again to take control in the gold haul. They continued to shove in all lanes, taking turrets with abandon whilst staying grouped up to counter the pick attempts from SA.
A massive team fight in the mid lane gave further advantages to WA, but SA constantly roamed and kept close in the kill score with some choice picks. However, Peanut’s Kai’Sa shone in every late-game brawl, staying alive to dish out massive damage.
A 12k gold lead was the deciding factor for WA to end the game as they withstood an initiation from SA to respond with a lethal chain of damage before ending the game, booking their spot against New Zealand in the finals.
Oceanic League looks to have a bright future with the level of play shown over the weekend. Some rivalries never die as we’ll have a trans-Tasman battle on our hands when New Zealand’s Rangitoto College and WA’s Willetton Senior High School duke it out in the final on October 20th.