The 2018 World Championship Play-Ins begin early next week, and Oceanic representatives and current OPL champions Dire Wolves now know their opening pathway to a potential group stage berth in South Korea.
For the OPL titans, there may not have been many group draws harder than pulling Chinese third seed Edward Gaming out of the pot, but for organisation chief executive Nathan “Rippii” Mott epic clashes like the upcoming DW vs EDG matches are “why players want to go to Worlds”.
“We definitely think Edward Gaming are the strongest team currently in Play-Ins, so it does make it hard for us to draw them in groups, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think this is why you try to qualify for Worlds,” Mott said.
“Our main goal at Worlds is always to turn up and we now have an opportunity to put Oceania on the map when we face off against China’s third seed on Tuesday.”
The Dire Wolves and Edward Gaming are also joined by Mexican club Infinity Esports, who will be representing the LAN region in the Play-In stages and potentially beyond.
2018 World Championship Group Draw Show. Source: Riot Games Twitch
For the Wolves, Infinity Esports offers a clear pathway through the Play-In play-offs, and a chance to enter the best of five series that boast a place in the World Championship group stage as the prize.
“Infinity [Esports] represent a chance for us,” Mott said. “They’re coming into the group stage having arrived late in Korea, and even without any outside factors coming into play we believe that we have the stronger roster and the better team cohesion.”
“Even beyond that, we have the experience at international events, and while our results at all of them haven’t exactly been positive, we’ve been to Worlds before and we’ve been to two MSI tournaments so we know what to expect, and we have that behind us.
“This is the first time Infinity have arrived at an international event, and so they’ll be acclimatising themselves to it all while we are settled, and ready to play.”
So the question hovers around the Dire Wolves as they continue their preparations for the biggest LAN tournament League of Legends has on the competitive calendar – can the OPL champions go further than any Oceanic team has before?
According to Mott, most definitely.
“It’s hard to say exactly how everything we’ve been practicing will translate on stage, but as of right now I think we’re operating really well, and from everything I’ve seen the guys are just eager to get on stage and show they’re ready,” he said.
“Last time we came to Worlds we weren’t completely ready, and that rings true for our first tilt at MSI as well – we had this air of confidence but we didn’t actually know what to expect.
“This time around, we’ve had a year of getting that winning feeling in the OPL, we have the experience of the past as an organisation and – apart from a few things that have cropped up – we’re ready to represent Oceania and we’re aiming to do the region proud.”
The Dire Wolves will take to the Rift for the first time in the 2018 World Championship on Tuesday evening at 8pm AEST, facing off against Infinity Esports. They will then contest their second match at 10pm the same evening.
The OPL champions will play their second set of round robin fixtures at similar times on Thursday evening. All matches will be streamed live on Twitch and YouTube, find the schedule and all the details at lolesports.com.
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