As the three-way battle for the top heats up in the Oceanic Pro League, former champions the Chiefs Esports Club have emerged as the late-season pacesetters after Week 8.
While the Chiefs towelling up Mammoth on Friday evening certainly helped the club take the top spot with their 13-3 record, a 35-minute victory for Bombers over Mammoth was the result that knocked the former leaders into second place.
That’s not to say the Chiefs didn’t have their own battles to fight. Their victory over Mammoth – a 23-8 battle that the new leaders managed to edge in 32 minutes – was coupled with a Saturday evening thrashing of finals hopefuls Gravitas.
The 2-0 weekend bounces the Chiefs out to a five-game winning streak and sets hope alight for the four-time Pro League champions. For jungler Jordan “Only” Middleton, there’s a simple way to summarise how the squad is feeling: “Everyone on the team is hyped as f*ck right now.”
“Everyone is super hype,” he told Snowball Esports after the undefeated Week 8. “It feels really good after last split, which wasn’t up to us, to be in control. That feeling, where we know if we win every game we get first place, has got everyone just super hype.
“There’s this buzz around the house and practice. It feels like scrims and practice are paying off, and it’s all worth it. It’s not like we’re just practising and hoping that games elsewhere can go our way like last time around. This time we’re at the front, and can make things happen.”
The Chiefs took control of their contest with Mammoth straight from the first click. A 2nd minute double for Quin “Raes” Korebrits give the Lucian pick the added power he and Bill “Eyla” Nguyen needed to roll over Calvin “k1ng” Truong and Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw.
Brandon “Swip3rR” Holland found his own kill-forged power spike minutes later as he benefited with his double-kill on k1ng and Stephen “Triple” Li, picking up turret gold off the back of the three-for-one skirmish victory.
The Friday win gives the Chiefs a 2-1 hold-over on Mammoth in regards to head-to-head records. The second victory of the weekend netted Chiefs a 3-0 run over Gravitas.
In fact, the new league leaders hold positive records over nearly everyone in the field. There’s only one team that has eluded them so far – the third-placed Bombers.
The defending champions have emerged triumphant twice against the Chiefs so far in Split 2. Considering the two clubs are set to come face to face in the very last fixture of the last gameday of Super Week in a fortnight, Only knows it’s an import record to break.
“We are seeming to do really well against every team except the Bombers right now, there’s a mental block there for us where we stomp early game against every team except them, where we drop first blood and kills,” the Chiefs jungler said.
“That’s our next challenge, we’re figuring those issues out ahead of the last game and we want to pass that test on the last day. If Bombers smash us they might get a big confidence boost for the gauntlet, but if we smash them then that might be the difference right there.”
While Bombers are the focus in Week 10, there’s plenty of matches to be played out on the Rift ahead of that all-important match-up. With the ‘big three’ of Split 2 all still very much in the race for first-seed, Only believes the Chiefs have to be at their “consistent best” to come out on top.
“There are so many teams close together this split, any team can win on their day. I’m a bit biased because we’re the first team at the moment, but I think this is the closest and most competitive split we’ve had,” he said.
“There’s always these super-teams in the league, like Dire Wolves for a time, or Bombers last split. This time around there’s three strong teams – us, Mammoth, and Bombers – and that means the race is going to go down to the very end.”Jordan ‘Only’ Middleton
While Mammoth was coped with an 0-2 weekend to tighten the race, Bombers kept pace on the top two with a 1-1 weekend. The defending champions bounced back against Mammoth on Saturday evening after finals rival Order scored a huge comeback victory.
It was the only win Order were to net on the weekend, however, as the Melbourne side dropped to the Dire Wolves in the opening match of Saturday’s fixture list. The Wolfpack earned themselves a 2-0 weekend off the back of their win, after beating Legacy Esports earlier.
Finally, Avant Gaming found stability in a 1-1 weekend at Legacy’s expense, knocking the trees further down the ladder with another 0-2 weekend for the cellar dwellers. With a 1-15 record to their name, Legacy will not make playoffs in 2019.
The Oceanic Pro League returns on Friday, August 9 for Week 9, with matches beginning from 4pm. Watch live on the new RiotGamesOCE Twitch channel, find more information and the full fixtures schedule at oce.lolesports.com.