The Oceanic Pro League returns after a Rift Rivals-based bye round, and we fly right back into potential season-defining battles across the weekend.
There’s a major conflict developing at the top of the table for the hallowed first seed that punches your ticket straight to the Split 2 grand final at Melbourne Esports Open, the Chiefs, Avant Gaming, and Mammoth all vying for that top spot. Right behind them are the Bombers and the Dire Wolves, who in turn have Order breathing down their necks.
Our prediction analysts Emma “ammeplays” Van Ber Brug, Bernadette “Nadette” Wong, and Harry “hispanicatd” Taylor break down the biggest fixtures of the upcoming week as we get back into the swing of action, including a potential gauntlet-deciding meeting between Order and the Dire Wolves, and two big games for the defending champions as they look to hold off the contenders for the Oceanic throne.
Emma’s Feature Match of the Week: Mammoth vs Bombers
The last time these two teams faced off in Week 2 we saw Mammoth absolutely trample the Bombers. Mammoth have proven they are one of the strongest teams this split, boasting a 6-2 record and sitting on an equal first with Avant Gaming and the Chiefs. The Bombers are currently sitting in 4th, with a 4-4 record.
Mammoth’s mid laner Stephen “Triple” Li had a stellar performance last time out against the Bombers when he went 8/0/7 on Azir. Calvin “k1ng” Truong and Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw also had a great match as the duo played Lucian and Yuumi and finished with a combined KDA statline of 7/1/24. I believe the dominance Mammoth have shown across the board against a variety of teams will be the difference that nets them the win this week.
When the Bombers have faced the other top three teams, they’ve historically come out triumphant with wins against both Avant and the Chiefs. In these matches, it was Tommy “ry0ma” Le, Carlo “Looch” La Civita and Jake “Sharwood” Rogue who were the contributing factors towards their victories, with strong late game strength and great performances securing the wins, even against the stronger teams.
There are not many matchups that are as exciting as Triple and ry0ma in the mid lane. This is the matchup to watch, with both players being veterans and the top performers for their teams in their victories. They both have deep champion pools they can draw from, which contributes to making this matchup so intense to watch.
In their current forms, this matchup is Mammoth-favoured. They have stronger bottom and middle lanes, which impacts one of the Bombers’ major win conditions against these stronger teams. By stifling the strength in these lanes with their own, they are able to overpower the other lanes through a dominant laning phase and take the victory through decisive plays and teamwork. I’m picking Mammoth to take this match, and the strength they’ve been showing recently will give them the confidence to take down the Bombers once more.
Nadette’s Feature Match of the Week: Avant Gaming vs Bombers
After a weekend off from the Pro League, Avant Gaming and the Bombers will face each other on the Rift on Friday evening for the second time this split. Their previous meeting saw Avant copped with their first loss of the split, but this weekend Avant look to correct their previous defeat against the Essendon squad.
In Week 4, the Bombers went 1-1. The defending champions took a game against Legacy and lost to Order, leaving them to remain in a tied fourth position with the Dire Wolves. In the same weekend, Avant suffered their second loss of the split against one of their tied-for-first opponents in the Chiefs.
Over the course of the first half of the split, the Bombers have established themselves as a consistent middle-of-the-pack team with the changes to the roster, and while they’ve shown that they can compete with the higher-tier teams, they remain static in their fixtures as demonstrated by their continual 1-1 weekends. Avant, on the other hand, has maintained their position at the top of the leaderboard by being more unpredictable in their drafts and on the Rift, which will provide them with the upper-hand against most teams.
This split, Avant has proven themselves as one of the top teams in the League, reliable in their consistent gameplay and strategy, and this will lead them to the win against the Bombers.
Harry’s Feature Match of the Week: Order vs Dire Wolves
We start Saturday’s play with a mid-table clash between Order and the Dire Wolves. Both teams find themselves on either side of the gauntlet positions, clawing for a spot in the postseason to continue their journey towards MEO and then Berlin for Worlds. Order have seen their slow start to the split turn around after a 2-0 week in Week 4, whilst the Dire Wolves saw themselves post another 1-1 round ahead of the bye weekend.
The last time the two teams clashed Ji-hwan “Raise” Oh lead the Dire Wolves to victory in an affair that saw the Wolfpack take the lead early and snowball their way to victory. Raise led from the front with his 6/0/9 Gragas, with Brandon “BioPanther” Alexander and Robert “Katsurii” Gouv bring up the assist with a 6/4/7 Ryze and 6/3/9 Lucian respectively.
Both teams have seen a ramp-up in their level of play since then, with Dire Wolves falling in close losses against top-dogs Avant and Mammoth, and victory against Bombers in the past fortnight. On the other hand, Order saw a number of early leads crumble away before being able to pick up a pair of victories in Week 4, seemingly bouncing back into form.
The matchup in the bot lane should be one to watch. Both sides of the lane feature a young mechanical talent bot laner flanked by a veteran support, with Ronan “Dream” Swingler and Jayke “Jayke” Paulsen for Order and Katsurii and Jong-seop “Totoro” Eun for the Wolves. Both young marksmen are also feast or famine in their play – give them the tools to carry and they’ll pop off, but deny them that chance and they flounder. Keep an eye on this matchup, as if one of these lanes is allowed to get ahead, it’s most likely they will dictate the map and be key in leading their team to victory.
Ultimately I expect Dire Wolves to win in a contest that was more closely fought then the last time these two teams met. With this matchup being close on paper, it will come down to both consistency and the ability to take a lead and run with it, some which Dire Wolves have demonstrated more of in Split 2 so far.