The OPL is back on Friday. Seems soon, doesn’t it? Well, to get you primed for Split 2, here’s a list of five players you should keep an eye on throughout the season.
With Legacy gearing up to mount their title defense against seven hungry followers, everyone will have to step up their game to contest them. Whether it’s an MVP candidate needing to take it to another level, or an underperformer who needs to turn their year around, there’s plenty of players to keep your eyes on.
However, there’s a few players that will dictate the success — or failures — more than others. Recent roster shakeups have sent players to new homes, and new roles, and veterans of the league are making their triumphant return.
So, when the action kicks off this Friday, keep your eyes on these five players below especially, as they’ll be key to their team’s success and potentially challenging for the OPL title, and a spot at Worlds come August.
Pabu’s move to Pentanet is arguably the biggest move of the offseason for a few reasons. One, the top laner is completely jumping roles to jungle. Two, he has a real chance of cementing himself as one of the best players in role. And three, he might have been the missing piece Pentanet needed in Split 1.
Breaking all of these down, Pabu’s role swap to the jungle shouldn’t surprise anyone in the know. While he was playing for Gravitas in the top at the tail end of last split, he’s been grinding hard to reach rank one on the role, peaking at over 800 LP.
Because of his experience as a solo laner, it also makes him suited to becoming one of the region’s most gifted junglers. Something junglers have typically lacked in the past is awareness of lane states — especially if they were solely a jungle main. Small things like this will make Pabu an undeniable force, once he gets the ropes of jungling in a competitive setting.
Finally, Pentanet crumbled in Split 1, not cashing in the scrimbux they made for themselves in the pre-season. Souli looked out of his depth in his first full split, and change was needed. The experienced head of Pabu should help change up the PGG mentality and set their course for playoffs at the very least heading into Split 2.
Papryze is back. After not finding himself on a team for Split 1, the former Legacy and Tectonic top laner will be out for vengeance in Split 2. He’s slotting into the Avant roster in place of Dragku, who found himself on the outskirts of the boys in blue at the end of last split.
Now, Papryze’s history in the OPL isn’t anything stellar. He’s never made playoffs — in fact, he’s only placed better than last in one split (7th in 2019 Split 1). He’s always been outclassed in the top lane, and has had a tendency to start strong out of the blocks before falling apart.
However, this is the first time Papryze has found himself on the outer, and now back in again. While he cruised from bottom-tier team to bottom-tier team in the past, one can hope the six months away from the competitive scene allowed him to fine-tune his art.
He’s played with Chazz and Api before on Legacy. He’s got LeeSA, Violet, and Gunkrab in his back pocket too. One could argue this is the best team Papryze has played on, and he finally might get the chance to prove himself as a top laner that’s worthy of being in the OPL. Fail now though, and he might have just burned his last chance.
Claire is undeniably one of the best mid laners Oceania has ever produced. The fact he basically won Rift Rivals for the region single-handedly back in 2018 isn’t lost on many fans.
However, he struggled in Split 1. While the Chiefs experienced some form of success — Croc got the MVP, Katsurii got Most Improved, they finished second in the regular season — it was nevertheless disappointing. Claire’s lacklustre performance mid-split would have certainly weighed on him.
Now, in Split 2, he has the chance to prove himself as to why he was once, arguably, the most feared mid laner in this region. A Chiefs with a Claire firing on all cylinders is a team that can take the OPL title away from Legacy.
Even if he can find some consistency in the same way that Tally steadied the ship for Legacy, that’ll be a huge bonus for the Chiefs. If he can relive the moments of Rift Rivals 2018 for a whole split, even better. We’ve seen all four members of the Chiefs show up consistently in Split 1, and now it’s up to Claire to click in as the final piece of the puzzle.
Everyone knows Raes, however I’d like to shine the limelight on Isles. Yes, we mentioned him in our Split 1 rookies to watch as one of the hottest prospects the region has ever seen. However, his first full split in the top-flight cemented him as arguably the hottest prospect right now.
Isles held his own — and even looked to outshine Raes at times — during Split 1. While Raes was making the flashy plays week after week that cemented Legacy their first OPL title, Isles was the silent performer.
His champion pool is wide — he played ten unique champions in Split 1, second to Eyla’s 13. His ability to play playmaking supports rivalled the likes of what we saw from Destiny before he was shipped off to the LEC. However, he wasn’t scared to pick up obscure picks like Rumble.
Him and Raes form what is one of the most threatening bot lane duos OCE has ever seen. OPL fans will know the legacy of historic bot lanes like Raydere-Rosey, FBI-Rogue, and k1ng-Destiny, and Raes-Isles has the potential to slide themselves into the history books if Isles can keep up his Split 1 performance.
Shok had a slow start to Split 1, but ultimately became one of the driving forces behind the Dire Wolves resurgence to make it to the Grand Final.
He carried the Wolfpack in the one game they won against Legacy in the finals. He showed up against the Chiefs to get them there on a variety of picks (his eclectic champion pool has always made for some interesting gameplay).
On a roster where there’s carry threats across the map — including Cupcake as the support — Shok carved out a space for himself on that roster to also pick up the slack when needed. No longer is he just the supportive mid laner on control mages 24/7, but he can take those mages and dominate 1v5.
It makes Shok an exciting prospect to watch in Split 2. The Dire Wolves looked to finally have solved the puzzle at the end of last split, and while there’s been a change in coaching, if they can keep the momentum going, we might have a tight race at the top of the table.
The OPL returns on June 5 when the Chiefs take on Pentanet.GG from 4pm AEST.