Dire Wolves settle into OPL title hunt after clocking up first 2–0 weekend

OPL Recap - Split 1, Week 4

The Dire Wolves have finally joined the hunt for the Oceanic Pro League title after an “extremely decisive” 2–0 weekend, and Ryan “Chippys” Short believes his team can build on momentum after the clean-sweep round.

The four-time domestic champions had a mixed start to life in the OPL in 2020, clocking up three straight 1–1 weekends to leave them trailing the dominant pacesetters Legacy Esports and the Chiefs, who both surged to undefeated starts.

Dire Wolves jungler Mir “Mir” Park

Finally, after nearly a month of split rounds, the Wolfpack finally clinched the double-dub, edging mid-table rivals Order 13–6 in an all-important battle for third, before rolling over defending champions Mammoth in just 22 minutes.

The Friday and Saturday triumphs gave the Dire Wolves a one-win buffer over their southern contenders. The win also pushed them to within two of Legacy, who had tumbled to a defeat in their table-topping OPL Classico battle with the Chiefs.

It wasn’t just the 2–0 that will prove key this weekend, however. According to the Wolfpack’s returned star Chippys, the “extremely decisive” nature of the back-to-back “stomps” has fired a surge of confidence into the boys in green.

“The double victory itself isn’t that important… being able to see our progress as a team so quickly is really important for my teammates’ confidence moving forward,” the 2018 MVP told Snowball Esports after his team’s successful weekend.

“Beating Order and locking ourselves into top three of the first round is a good start [to our season], in my opinion, top three has a big advantage in playoffs [this time] since they get two lives in a best-of-five, instead of first-seed just being overpowered.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that by the time we play [the top two] again, it’ll be Dire Wolves/Legacy/Chiefs all having a gap over the rest of the chasing pack.”

That’s not to say everything hinged on the Dire Wolves vs Order battle that played out in 28 minutes on Friday evening. Externally, the Wolfpack looked like they were struggling to find their feet with a 3–3 record, but Chippys wasn’t phased.

“There wasn’t much to worry about for us since two of the losses were against the top two teams, Legacy and Chiefs. The only concern that I had was the loss to Pentanet, but I think they’re a bottom two team,” he explained.

“We’ve improved massively since Week 1, however, so we’re at the point now where we can consistently beat most teams, even in best of ones.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that by the time we play [the top two] again, it’ll be Dire Wolves/Legacy/Chiefs all having a gap over the rest of the chasing pack.”

The race for the top two spots may be heating up as the Dire Wolves finally lumber into top gear four weeks in, but for Chippys the season has been just as much about “settling in again” as it has been chalking up results.

After finishing as minor premiers with the Wolfpack in 2018 Split 1, being crowned MVP, and earning a place at the Mid-Season Invitational with a 3–2 win over the four-time defending champions the Chiefs, it felt “strange” to drop down the rankings, he said.

Now he’s back in the green and black he spent three years in⁠—minus a little slice with Sin Gaming in 2016—and he couldn’t be happier.

“It feels really good to be back. My last few splits away from the Dire Wolves I was on quite weak rosters with low chances for success,” he said, and admitted he sees a bright future for the team as they continue to build in 2020 and beyond.

“Now I’m back with the Wolves and able to help build a strong roster of hard-working players, it gives me a lot of confidence that I can work my way back to being the strongest team. Our goal is that we improve the most out of anyone, so even if we finish second or third, we will dominate best-of-fives. That’s the plan.”

Chippys and mid laner Ari “Shok” Greene-Young were featured in Snowball’s Team of the Week for Week 4.

Elsewhere in Round 4 of the split, the Chiefs remain undefeated at the top after winning the OPL Classico on Friday evening. Legacy, Pentanet.GG, Avant Gaming, and Order all scored split rounds—the fourth time in a row for the Melbourne org.

Finally, cellar-dwellers Gravitas and Mammoth continue to languish at the bottom of the standings after 0–2 weekends. Mammoth was defeated by the Wolfpack and PGG, while Gravitas failed to fire against Order and Avant.

Chippys and the Dire Wolves’ plan continues this Friday, when they face Pentanet last up at 7pm AEDT. They then battle Gravitas (2–6) at 5pm on Saturday.

The OPL returns on Friday, February 28 from 4pm AEDT.

PhotographyRiot Games
ProducerJosh Swift
Isaac McIntyre
Isaac McIntyre
Isaac McIntyre is Snowball Esports' editor in chief and head of editorial, leading coverage on Oceanic & Asia-Pacific gaming talent at home and abroad.



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