The Oceanic Pro League is set to undergo minor changes for the 2020 season, with Australia and New Zealand’s premier competition implementing a double-elimination playoff format from Split 1 of next year.
According to Riot, who announced the news this week, the OPL will be moving away from the gauntlet format employed by global leagues like Korea’s LCK, instead favouring a double-chance bracket.
The postseason gauntlet will now see the 4th and 5th seed teams from the regular season placed into the lower bracket, while the Split 1 premiers will be automatically seeded into the second round of the upper winner’s bracket.
One small deviation from many double-elimination formats is the fact that the Pro League will not be favouring the winner’s bracket winner in the grand final beyond side selection for the first game of the best-of-five series.
“Every year the team here at the Pro League asks ourselves and the pro teams what we can do to make the OPL a more fair, exciting, and interesting league,” Riot said after the announcement went live on Tuesday, December 10.
“We love the gauntlet format, and it’s given us some special moments such as the SINderella story in 2017 and Order’s gauntlet run in Split 1 this year, however, we think we can make an adjustment to create a more exciting end to the split.”
While this change will see fewer miracle-runs from lower seeds like Order charging through the 2019 Split 1 playoffs with a 9-1 record to setup a grand final date with the Bombers, double elimination is expected to create closer deciders.
2019 saw two back-to-back 3-0 grand finals, with Mammoth defeating Chiefs at the Melbourne Esports Open, and Bombers crushing Order’s hopes from their miracle run at the Riot Games Studio in Sydney to claim the Split 1 title.
The Pro League’s final has twice gone the distance in the past five years, once in 2018 when the Dire Wolves held off the Chiefs to win the org’s third consecutive championship, and once in 2016 when the Chiefs edged arch-rivals Legacy Esports.
Snowball can confirm the playoffs for Split 1 will be a three-week process, increasing from the standard fortnight that the Oceanic Pro League’s finals were played over in previous seasons. Playoffs will also have a change to side selection, with the higher seed granted the boon in the first game, before it becomes loser’s choice.
Riot also revealed the regular season—which has now been confirmed to be starting on Friday, January 31, and will remain as two-day rounds—will be remaining at ten weeks, and will again be three-game round robin, contested through Bo1s.
The league’s daily format on Fridays and Saturdays will also be retained, with matchdays beginning from 4pm AEDT, with four fixtures played per day.