Unlike their namesake, the history of Mammoth is quite short. However, don’t let the organisation’s history distract you from the fact that this is one of the most experienced teams in the OPL.
The trio Stephen “Triple” Li, Calvin “K1ng” Truong and Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw have eight OPL titles between them. Leo “Babip” Romer and Ji-hoon “Topoon” Kim have been rising stars of the OPL over the last couple of years and have forged a crucial part of the Mammoth super team.
Born from the ashes of Sin Gaming, Mammoth first stampeded onto the Rift in Split 2 of 2018. They may have stampeded in the wrong direction, as they finished the season with a record of 3-7. Despite missing out on a gauntlet position, Mammoth succeeded off the rift. #TUSKSUP and images of plush mammoths won over many OPL fans and presumably some Elephantidae enthusiasts.
Coming into the gauntlet at fourth place means that Mammoth have a prehistoric mammal of a job ahead of them if they want to join Bombers in the grand final. However, it’s in Mammoth’s blood – after all, they were born from the team known for the Sinderella story.
Interestingly, one aspect of the Gauntlet favours Mammoth. While the regular season was a best-of-one format, the gauntlet matches are best-of-five – at which Mammoth have been predicted to excel.
“Due to the number of strategies and adaptations required across the multiple games, the best-of-five format is a true indication of who is the better team,” explains Destiny.
“I believe our team will do better [in the best of 5 format], as we have had many successful experiences in the past.” – Mitchell ‘Destiny’ Shaw
Babip also believes that playing a best-of-five removes a lot of the pressure for the team. “Playing a best-of-five takes a lot of the stress away compared to the best-of-one. Knowing that the better team will take the series at the end of it gives me confidence we will do well.”
In the first round of the gauntlet, Mammoth face Order – a team that surprised many when they struggled throughout the season, and then again when they scraped into fifth place.
Mammoth come into this match looking the better of the two squads. They had a 2-1 head to head record over Order in the regular season and appear to be playing with more conviction than their opponent.
Regardless, Destiny is keenly aware that “mental fortitude will play a major part” for both teams.
Player to Watch
Stephen “Triple” Li. Triple by name, Triple kill by nature.
This mid lane dynamo has proven time and time again that he is a force to be reckoned with, consistently making disciplined decisions and executing strategies flawlessly.
In the 2018 season, Triple was part of the 20-0, dual premiership Dire Wolves squad, competed at the Mid-Season Invitational, and the Worlds Play-in. He and bot lane teammate k1ng have recently stepped into the international spotlight and are likely driven to make sure they stay there.
In the match against Order, all eyes should be glued to the mid lane, as Triple faces off against Simon “Swiffer” Papamarkos. Order are known to favour their jungle-mid combination, both of whom are players known to have their performance greatly affected by their emotions. If Triple can dominate his lane, Order could struggle.
If Mammoth can turn Order into chaos, they will face off against Avant Gaming in the second round of the gauntlet. Avant Gaming may prove to be a challenging opponent for Mammoth. Their unconventional, flexible pool of champions make them difficult to prepare against and their 2-1 head to head record against Mammoth this season will give them confidence heading into the match.
On the flip side, four of the five players on Mammoth have experience competing in high-pressure best-of-5 matches while most of the Avant Gaming players are gauntlet debutantes.
If Mammoth defeat Avant Gaming, they must face one of the two teams who have had a stranglehold on the competition – The Chiefs. At this point, one would wonder about the performance effects of momentum and fatigue. These are factors that the team acknowledges.
“We believe we can run the whole thing as long as we have the endurance to do so,” said Destiny. “I’m glad to have this opportunity to do something that nobody has ever done before and I know my teammates feel the same way. The better team will always win, so if we lose, we can accept that.”
Babip backed up Destiny, saying “although it’s not where we hoped we would be, it’s kind of exciting to have the chance to be the first team to run the gauntlet successfully.”
Will Mammoth trample the gauntlet and meet the Bombers in the final, or will they end up as fossils? It’s a challenging road, but with the experience of this herd, anything is possible.
Catch the Mammoth vs Order game on Thursday 27 March via the RiotGamesOCE Twitch channel.