After the results of the Spring Split, numerous narratives have developed during the offseason as the OPL teams adjust themselves to shoot for the crown at MEO.
Resident Snowball Esports analyst Bernadette “Nadette” Wong breaks down four of the most interesting storylines to watch as Oceania’s premier League of Legends competition returns on June 6.
Can the defending champions survive losing two of their title-winning players between splits?
Following numerous upsets in the Spring Split finals gauntlet, the Bombers managed to walk away with the crown, and a spot at MSI. Now as the OPL approaches its second split of 2019, the current Kings of the Ocean look to defend their title.
During the offseason, the Essendon team lost three members of the title-winning team, with ADC Victor “FBI” Huang, jungler Choi “BalKhan” Hyun-jin and head coach Scott “Westonway” Farmer making their departure from Oceania. With half of their main roster being transferring to other regions, the Melburnian team must regroup and recalibrate to achieve the same level of success with their new signings.
However, the question lies in whether or not they’ll be able to achieve it – will the team be able to defend their title without their missing superstars, or will the high-flying Bombers experience some early turbulence with their new additions?
Can the second-place squad go one step further, and put themselves in position for the crown?
Heading into Split 2 with a rather successful campaign behind them, and with an overall 2-1 head-to-head against the “final boss team” in Bombers, the Chiefs looked to be in a comfortable position to reclaim their Oceanic throne. Being just a point behind the Essendon super-team, and with an 18-3 record in the regular split, only bolstered that possibility.
Unfortunately, the season ended with devastation for the boys in blue, as they were just the latest team to fall in Order’s miracle gauntlet run. They didn’t record a single finals win. This hasn’t dampened the Chiefs’ morale, however. Instead, it seems to have fueled their desire, especially considering the team has only been boosted by the addition of sixth-man Romeo “Thien” Tran.
Now they look to prove their Spring failures were just a fluke, and that they’re worthy of returning to Rod Laver Arena. Can the veteran org take the extra step to qualify for Worlds, or will they fall just short of glory once again?
Can the team keep their Spring momentum and make it to the Melbourne Esports Open?
What was dubbed as an “ORDERella story” saw the boys from Melbourne #ORDER(their way)UP the gauntlet standings from fifth seed. Against the odds, and after a rather flat record in the regular split, the underdogs qualified for the finals before falling to the first-seeded Bombers.
While they suffered a 3-0 loss against the champions, Order still claimed major scalps on their scintillating run. Mammoth, Avant Gaming, and the Chiefs all fell along the way, many of whom had bested Order across the beginning of 2019. They lost just once in the gauntlet, in their 3-1 victory over Mammoth in the opening fourth-fifth fixture.
Similar to the Chiefs, Order have made the move to a six-man roster for Summer, introducing Paris “Souli” Sitzoukis. The young jungler will share time with veteran leader Sam “Spookz” Broadley for the remainder of 2019.
With the pressure on, and eyes locked on them after their gauntlet miracle, can Order prove they’re capable of wrestling with the top half of the standings? Can the six-man roster keep their Spring momentum rolling, and potentially qualify for MEO, or has midnight struck on their against-the-odds story?
A major overhaul of the roster has seen the Dire Wolves potentially back in with a chance to bid for Worlds – can the old champions change their Spring fortunes for Summer?
After reigning over Oceania for two years in a row, the Dire Wolves came into 2019 with a roster filled to the brim with rookie talent from their development squad. Ten weeks later, however, the four-time defending champions emerged from Spring with a single win from twenty-one games.
During the offseason, the Wolfpack made the call to overhaul their roster again. Brandon “BioPanther” Alexander remains in the starting lineup, but he’s the only survivor. Every other Wolfpack star has returned to the Dire Cubs, with new signings bolstering the team.
New additions include former LCK players Oh “Raise” Ji-hwan, and Eun “Totoro” Jong-seop for jungle and support, while Oceanic talents Lo “Siuman” Pak Man (mid lane) and Dire Cubs graduate Robert “Katsurii” Gouv (bot lane) round out the squad.
With a newly brand new roster, the Dire Wolves seek redemption for Spring, and return to the race for Worlds. Can the old champions change their Spring fortunes in time for the finals, or will they fail to contest the title once more in 2019?
OPL 2019 Split 2 is just around the corner, and these storylines are just a few to keep an eye out for across season.
The OPL returns on Friday, June 6, with the Dire Wolves facing off against Legacy Esports at 4pm on twitch.tv/RiotGamesOCE.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games Oceania/OPL