Long gone are the days of Dire Wolves’ domination, and after Bombers’ Split 1 win in April this split’s title was anyone’s for the taking
One of Riot’s wildcard regions, Oceania’s OPL (Oceanic Pro League) Split 2 saw the region’s top 8 teams battle it out over 12 weeks in order to find the strongest team, and ultimately which team would qualify for this year’s World Championship. Long gone are the days of Dire Wolves’ domination, and after Bombers’ Split 1 win in April, this split’s title was anyone’s for the taking.
Previously Sin Gaming, MAMMOTH had never before won the Oceanic league nor had they ever experienced international competition other than the now defunct GPL-LJL-OPL Rift Rivals back in 2017. However, after Split 1 winners, Bombers, lost their star ADC FBI to NA’s Golden Guardians, Split 2 now looked up for grabs for whichever team could rise to the occasion.
As for MAMMOTH, their roster stayed largely the same from the one that finished 5th in the Split 1 playoffs, other than the introduction of top laner Fudge from their academy side to split time with existing top laner Topoon.
This single change looked to spark something within the side, as the previously mid-table team started the first 2 weeks of the 10-week regular season with a 100% 4-0 record; including wins over the top 2 teams from Split 1’s regular season Bombers and Chief Esports Club.
The team’s form continued through much of the split and, despite a slight drop off which saw them lose 3 out of 4 games across weeks 8 and 9, MAMMOTH ended in second place with a 16-5 record, only behind a Chief Esports Club side on equal wins but with the better head-to-head record.
Of the league’s 8 teams, the top 5 from the regular season earn a spot in the playoff gauntlet based on their win-loss ratio across the initial 10 weeks, whereby each team plays twice per week and a total of 21 matches (3 against each other team).
Completing the playoff spots were Split 1 winners Bombers in 3rd (14-7), 4-time OPL champions Dire Wolves in 4th (12-9) and ORDER in 5th (9-12). Missing out on the gauntlet were Avant Gaming and Gravitas (6th and 7th both with 8-13 records) and Legacy Esports in 8th, who despite going 1-1 in the opening week were unable to earn a single win from week 2 through to week 10 and ended with a dismal record of 1 win and 20 losses.
Much like Korea’s LCK, OPL’s playoff format consists of a 3 round gauntlet for teams to earn a spot in the final, with the number of wins needed differing for each team based on their regular season seeding. As MAMMOTH finished 2nd, they were only required to win 1 best-of-5 series in order to reach the final to challenge Chiefs, who’s 1st place seeding gave them a bye directly to the grand final.
After beating Dire Wolves and knocking out holders Bombers in successive 3-1 victories, ORDER were well on their way to making a historic gauntlet run to go from round 1 all the way to the final, and only MAMMOTH stood in their way.
Having chosen to field Fudge ahead of Topoon for playoffs, MAMMOTH looked as strong as ever as the top laner proved instrumental in swatting ORDER aside, going 8/2/5, 11/1/1 and 6/2/12 in a 3-0 victory and setting up a grand final against Chiefs.
The final, which took place in Melbourne Park’s Rod Laver Arena, was expected to be a close affair between the region’s top-2 teams but proved to be anything but as MAMMOTH took their momentum through into the series and clinched their first title with another 3-0 sweep.
In beating Chief Esports Club, MAMMOTH became the first OPL team to win a split despite not going into the gauntlet as 1st seed, ending the ‘top seed’ pattern that seemed to be a blessing for regular season winners sides in seasons gone by.
The most anticipated matchup of the entire split, the playoff final saw the top 2 teams from the regular season, MAMMOTH and Chief Esports Club, go head-to-head in a best-of-5 series to find out who would represent Oceania at this year’s Worlds.
In the regular season, Chiefs just edged MAMMOTH with 2 wins to 1 and fans expected an equally close series heading into the final, however it would prove to be anything but.
The opening game saw MAMMOTH take down the 1st seed in a 32-minute dismantling of Chiefs, with the latter only managing 3 kills in the entire game. Fudge was once again a key cog in the MAMMOTH machine and went unkilled (while earning 6 takedowns of his own) as his team opened the series in just about the most perfect way possible only giving up a single turret in the entire game.
Although not as dominant a display, game 2 was more of the same for MAMMOTH as they slowly built on a steady lead to take down Chiefs inside 30 minutes and set up match point for the series and the split.
With their backs against the wall, the Chief Esports Club of the regular season finally reared their heads in game 3 and came back fighting with hopes of prolonging the series. Despite falling to a small gold deficit in the opening 25 minutes, a Raes quadra-kill on Lucian at the baron pit swung the game in their favour and opened up a real opportunity to clinch their 1st win in the series.
By the 33rd minute, this gold lead had stretched to 6k and the Chiefs looked well on their way to take it to game 4, however a 0-1 teamfight around the dragon pit after securing baron (and MAMMOTH securing the elder dragon) showed Chiefs did not have the control over the game that they might have expected.
As the game reached past the 40-minute mark and with both teams sporting full item builds, a teamfight win would prove to be the game-ender for either side as gold leads were thrown out of the window. Much to the despair of Raes and his squad, this final teamfight would go the way of MAMMOTH and put the final nail in the coffin for Chiefs, making unfortunate history as the 1st team to enter the playoff gauntlet as the 1st seed and not secure the championship.
The deserving winner of this split’s Raydere Medal was Chief Esports Club ADC Raes, who was recognized by fans for his performances through the regular season as he was voted as the MVP in his team’s victories more than any other player in the league.
Key stats from the split show Raes with the least average deaths, 2nd highest average KDA and highest CS/min and gold/min of any AD carry in the OPL, proving himself to be the best in his role (ahead of 5-time OPL winner k1ng) and ultimately the best player in the league over these 12 weeks.
MAMMOTH to win the split
After a 5th place finish in Split 1 and little change to the roster, not many would have pinned MAMMOTH to be a title contender this split, let alone the champion. Though betting on MAMMOTH could’ve seemed like a mad decision before the split began, the opening weeks would be enough to see that the bet had a good chance of paying off, and it eventually did as the organisation earned their first OPL title and will now be looking towards the 2019 World Championship, held in Europe, that begins next month.