The Chiefs have quickly and quietly emerged as the Oceanic Pro League’s surprise title contenders, storming through another undefeated weekend to lock their spot atop the standings with a 4–0 record.
Of course, it’s not a surprise at all if you talk to the Chiefs themselves. While many had their eyes on Legacy Esports (now also 4–0 after the first two weekends) and Order (2–2), the four-time Oceanic champions partially slid in under the radar.
Now, after defeating Pentanet.GG and Avant Gaming in their open matches, and dismantling preseason contenders Order and defending champions Mammoth, Chiefs have well and truly cemented themselves as an early title favourite.
It’s especially satisfying, young breakout top lane star Romeo “Thien” Tran told Snowball Esports after the second undefeated weekend, considering the “rough” start to the preseason the boys in blue had to struggle through.
“It feels good to be getting these results, because we had to practice at a net cafe for a lot of the preseason, and they wouldn’t let us bring our peripherals, so that was really bad, and I think that got a lot of us out of the flow,” he revealed.
The youngster also admitted that the Korean boot camp he and bot laner Robert “Katsurii” Gouv took in the offseason “took it out” of them both. While they didn’t have any imports settling in, them returning to Sydney almost felt like the same thing.
Despite all that, the Chiefs have soared into first place alongside Legacy. The standings almost seem to have reverted back to 2015-2016, where the two teams ruled the roost. Now, Thien said, the OPL’s historic grudge match can again be the decider.
“It feels really good to get the wins that we have, but more and more it feels like there’s one place that we’re going, and it’s the same thing that we looked at at the beginning of the season and decided on: we have to beat Legacy,” he said.
“Our bottom line for the season is top two, anything below that is a failure. We have an expectation that we’re going to take it all, definitely, and that means that we have to beat Legacy at some point. They’re the team to beat.
“That’s not to say we won’t have some tough games coming up before then, but in our eyes, all the other teams in the league aren’t really up to the same par that the Legacy roster is, so they can win the whole thing. We want to prove we’re better.”
Proving he’s better than his rivals has been a theme for Tran this split too. After starting pro life under the wing of Chiefs veteran Brandon “Swip3rR” Holland in 2019, Thien found himself across the Rift from his mentor in Round 2.
They may have two more meetings planned across the split, but Thien admits he’s “happy” that he got the upper hand in their very first faceoff. The youngster clocked up a 6/1/4 scoreline on Akali, and defeated Big Swips and Order.
“I was really excited to play against Doss, I came into the league last year and learned so much from him, I have a lot to thank him for,” Thien said. “Coming into this game I was quite confident too though, that’s just the feeling I always have.”
The new Chiefs star, who is filling Oceania’s heavily-decorated veteran star Swip3rR after years with the Armoured Titan in the top lane, admitted that’s the mentality he and his team have boasted all split long to earn their first four wins.
“I think going into games you always expect to win. If you aren’t expecting to win then I think you’re failing as a competitive team. You always have to hold a high expectation of yourself, otherwise, none of you can improve from there.”
While Chiefs and Legacy bagged 2–0 weekends, Order, Avant, Gravitas, and the Dire Wolves all collected 1–1 records in round two of the Pro League. Pentanet and Mammoth struggled the most, both suffering back-to-back defeats on Friday and Saturday.
The OPL returns on Friday, February 14 from 4pm AEDT.