Order find themselves coming into the Split 1 playoffs as the fifth seed, only being able to dig up from where they currently sit.
Order’s lineup consists of mostly veteran talent. Coached by Aaron “ChuChuZ” Bland, the team consist of gauntlet/playoff veterans in top laner James “Tally” Shute, jungler Samuel “Spookz” Broadley, mid laner and captain Simon “Swiffer” Papamarkos, and support Jayke “Jayke” Paulsen, as well gauntlet newcomer in bot laner Ronan “Dream” Swingler, whose journey to the Gauntlet may as well make him a veteran.
Order joined the OPL at the start of 2018, with the purchase of the Team Regicide slot in the offseason. In 2018 the organisation ran with Tally, Spookz and Swiffer as well as long-time bot lane duo Victor “FBI” Huang and Jake “Rogue” Sharwood. The team didn’t meet their own high expectations that year, as they finished third in both regular seasons before falling to Legacy in the gauntlet in both splits.
Order’s split in 2019 has been a tale of inconsistency for the boys from Melbourne. After starting 0-2 in the first week, it seemed fate had turned itself around as they shut out the first round robin with a 5-2 record. Fate reversed again, however, with the second round robin being one to forget. The team fell to a six-game losing streak before obtaining a victory against the lowly Dire Wolves.
The third round robin saw them end 3-4, with a victory against Legacy on Saturday of Week 8, before another three game losing slide threatened to end their season completely. The team was able to barely scrape into the playoffs with a pair of victories over the Wolves and Gravitas to end the split, as well as some help from the Chiefs beating Gravitas on the final day, seeing them end at 9-12 and getting the fifth gauntlet seed on head to head over the newest OPL team.
Considering the team barely squeaked into fifth place, you would you think expectations aren’t too high, but if you ask the boys that represent Order themselves, this isn’t the case. I spoke to Swiffer and ChuChuz about what their expectations were for the gauntlet, what they think about Mammoth and their opinion on Bo5.
I asked them what they were expecting now that they had barely qualified for the gauntlet, and if this will change any preparation coming into Thursday. Swiffer believes that “(their) goals haven’t changed from the start of the year”.
“I think our goal of a top three finish is still very much achievable if we use our time in the gauntlet well,” he added.
ChuChuZ was more conservative in his goals for the gauntlet, and said he believes the team’s goal will be “to put on our best show”. The Order coach also confirmed their prep “won’t change drastically”, but that the team would instead look to “finalise what we’ve built”.
“Our initial goals weren’t exceptionally high as we recruited two new players; one being a very young rookie,” ChuChuZ said.
Mammoth is a team that was designed to trample over the rest of Oceania, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case thus far. Whilst they have also had their woes of inconsistency, they were able to pickup wins more consistently when expected, as well as more often when they weren’t the favourites.
When asked about what they expected with Mammoth, an opponent they have only beaten once this split, both Swiffer and ChuChuZ believe the best way to beat Mammoth is to not allow them to get ahead early.
“Mammoth are a team that tries to wrest control from you early and use that to accumulate small advantages until they feel ready enough to teamfight you,” Swiffer said.
“I think that if we manage to not get strangled out early we’ll match up well against them.” – Swiffer
ChuChuZ agreed with that sentiment, adding that “Mammoth hold an all-star roster yet we always manage to find a chink in their armour. If we don’t give them an early lead – we should defeat them.”
After a split that saw the regular season format change back to a best of one format, I asked them for their thoughts of what it would be like to participate in a Bo5 and multi-game series once again.
Swiffer said from a player’s perspective he “always enjoyed best of fives and even best of threes more than the single-game format”. He explained he felt the element of luck played too high a role in the best of one games, and that “no one gets lucky on the day” in a multi-game series.
ChuChuz held a similar belief, but said he enjoyed best of fives because of the “attention towards a team’s adaptability and mental fortitude”.
“Drafts will influence the next game, and this creates an interesting dynamic between coaches,” he said. “Players don’t have the freedom to critique game-to-game strategy/draft, coaches must step up based on their understanding of the team in the next draft.”
Player to watch
Ronan “Dream” Swingler will be the player to watch for Order during the postseason.
This is the 18-year-old’s first time participating in the OPL Gauntlet, and he will want to deliver the best performances he can muster. Dream has had a long journey to find himself where he is now, but through his drive, tenacity, will, dedication and hard work, he has found himself in the brightest lights and the hardest challenge he has faced yet.
While he hasn’t been all that consistent, much like the rest of his team during the regular season, when he popped off, he popped off hard. I expect him to do the same if he and Order want to make it to Friday and beyond.
Order will be the underdogs this playoff, and for most, a best of five victory will be beyond expectations. If Order are able “to find the chink in the armour” of Mammoth like ChuChuZ believes they can, Order will find themselves against Avant.
The third-placed squad are a team they are yet to defeat in 2019, and the Melbourne team will have to find their first win against them in a battle to progress even further into the gauntlet. That potential clash will also have the third and final seed for Rift Rivals up for grabs.
The chance of being able to make it to a date with the Bombers on the sixth of April will be slim for a team in this position, but with a pair of deep runs from Legacy coming out of fifth in 2018, maybe the third time will be the charm for the lowest seed?
Squeaking into the playoff should lower expectations, but with the Order boys keeping their expectations high, we should see an Order lineup that is once again explosive, and decisive.
Order line up against Mammoth in a blockbuster clash this Thursday at 4pm AEDT on the first day of the gauntlet. Catch this, and the rest of the Gauntlet action, on the RiotGamesOCE Twitch channel.