Mammoth vs The Chiefs Esports Club. Two teams that came into 2019 looking for glory, and now finding themselves just three maps away from achieving the greatest of glories in Oceania, victory in the Oceanic Pro League final, and a ticket to the 2019 World Championship.
Mammoth is a team designed to win championships.
They took the core of their from the two most dominant teams in the league last year, with jungler Leo “Babip” Romer and support Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw, while mid laner Stephen “Triple” Li and bot laner Calvin “k1ng” Truong joining from the Dire Wolves.
Joined by rookie top laner Kim “Topoon” Ji-hoon and coach Richard “Phantiks” Su, this roster came in as a favourite to win it all. Split 1 saw them fall well short of expectations, with an 11-10 record putting them fourth before they were bundled out of gauntlet in the first round.
The would-be super team struck back with a vengeance in Split 2, however, working through the issues that soured their first season of the year. Alongside the renewed focus, the team bolstered their top lane stock with the addition of OCS prodigy Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami.
Things went as expected for the stacked squad, with a 16-5 second-place finish buying them a ticket straight to the final game of the gauntlet. The team held the equal-best record in Split 2, only denied a path straight to the Melbourne Esports Open by head-to-head.
Luckily for the team, they were able to hold off Order’s second miracle run with a 3-0 series, and claimed their chance at revenge against the Chiefs.
I will never forget the pain of losing in both of last years finals, I will not let this opportunity slip.
See you at MEO ?
— Leo (@BabipOCE) August 24, 2019
Mammoth will look to take over the make and gain a quick dominance when they play this weekend. With the strength of their solo laners, they will try to gain an early advantage in both of these lanes. Combine this with consistent gank pressure from Babip, they’ll try to take over a lockdown the top side of the map.
The key there will be Babip. He’s a workhorse of a jungler, and while his KDA scores aren’t always the highest, it’s the other aspects of his gameplay that he shines. The pressure he is able to enforce over opponent laners in both ganks and vision deal is one the best.
He is closely matched by opponent Jordan “Only” Middleton in the ganking department, but as long as Babip brings his best, he will be able to outpace Only across most of the map.
The skill of the bottom lane will also be critical. Going into the bottom lane against Pro League MVP Quin “Raes” Korebrits and his offsider Bill “Eyla” Nguyen, k1ng and Destiny will want to do their best to shut them down before they are able to eventually popoff and grab victory.
Both Phantiks and his counterpart Tim “Volt” Clay have the potential to claim the edge for their team. The pair will try to out-draft each other, but Phantiks believes he holds the advantage.
“The edge I have over all my counterparts is that I am a competent player myself, being able to see the game from both a player and a coach’s perspective. That gives me an advantage both strategically and from a draft standpoint.”
I will hoist the Trophy ?. pic.twitter.com/WnR0FShjeo
— ???????? ???? (@DestinyOCE) August 28, 2019
There is an added stake in this game for k1ng as well as Chiefs top laner and captain Brandon “Swip3rR” Holland – whoever walks out on Saturday with the title will also become the only five-time Oceanic Pro League champion.
The potential milestone clearly weighs heavily on the Mammoth marksman’s mind.
“Being the first to five OPL titles is something that is definitely on my mind,” said k1ng.
“A big motivation for me as a competitor is to achieve new things, getting five OPL titles is simply one of them. Being one of the first Oceanic players to get to the group stages at the World Championship is another.”
There’s only one problem for k1ng, and it’s a big one.
Since the introduction of the gauntlet format in the opening split of 2017, the team that locked first-seed in the regular season has never lost the deciding match. It’s a record, and potentially a curse, that k1ng wants to see end come Saturday afternoon.
“I don’t really think there’s a gauntlet curse, have played in the majority of recent finals I believe it’s as simple as the better team will win,” the four-time champion said.
“If the best team from the regular season keeps good form or even gets better heading into finals, they have a good chance of winning. This split ended with us and Chiefs having equal points but between and end of the split now and I feel we’ve improved significantly.
“We were able to show that in the gauntlet game versus Order, while the Chiefs ended on a bad note with no stage games to gauge their form heading into finals.”
Calvin ‘k1ng’ Truong
There’s no doubt this Saturday will be explosive. Both teams are fighting to show they are the best, and will want to prove they have what it takes to lead Oceania further than ever before.
The game will be fought to the very end and it will all be left on the Rift. It’s going to be close, but it has the potential to become one for the history books.
Watch the OPL grand final live from the Melbourne Esports Open later today on twitch.tv/RiotGamesOCE.
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