Last time we had a look at teams that should look towards their strengths, their values, their identity, and their roster if they wanted to pose a threat to Legacy’s crown. Today, we look at the top four teams and what they could add to chase that ever-elusive Worlds slot.
Getting right into things with Order, I want to see their plan move into the final step sooner rather than later. It has felt like the team has been on a slow burn to success, building steadily from a rough start into a decent gauntlet run that could have even gone a place or two further than it did.
If the final form of this Order plan is the version that competes and looks like the title challengers that I assume they want to be, then I want to see an earlier rise to form this split. They seemed to play like they felt like underdogs against top teams for much of Split 1. I think this team can stand toe-to-toe with the top dogs, and I think they feel like they can too. So I want to see it in their play.
It starts from their bottom lane. Eyla finished the split looking as good as he did in his rookie split after starting it looking like he had heavily regressed, and rare7 came into his own as the split went on as well. If these two can fire then it heavily opens up Order’s options, as last split it sometimes came down to “Save us, Haeri!”
- Read more: Sliding Doors: OPL 2020 Split 2, Week 1
Looking next at the Chiefs, they will need to find a new normal, and then build out consistency from there. As the team that, for most of the regular split, looked every bit the equal of Legacy, they will be disappointed with their finish.
Their plans for Split 2 took a quick hit after Kang “KoreaCK” Cheol-gyu had to return to Korea and I don’t see a way in which he returns for any part of the split, let alone the beginning of it. In a world where both their bottom lane and jungle-support synergy is disrupted, they will be on the clock to introduce a new support.
This support is going to have to hit the ground running if the Chiefs are going to run with the big dogs as they have done every split so far. In turn, this will put pressure on the rest of their roster , in particular the solo lanes of Brandon “Claire” Nguyen and Romeo “Thien” Tran as the bot lane gets up to speed. Both struggled at times with consistency, so this is the new normal they will need to find to get back into the grand final they’ve become accustomed to.
The Dire Wolves I wanted to see go one of two ways: either stay the course, and build on what they had accomplished, or gamble. I think what they have done presents as a gamble, though not the one I had in mind.
Shern “Shernfire” Tai has replaced Ben “Kai” Stewart as coach, well, co-coach alongside Andy “Cupcake” van der Vyver. I don’t think there’s any taking away from the veteran voice Shern can add to the team, though I’m not yet convinced how that will translate to being a coach. As a player, he seemed so instinctual that I’m not sure that what he knows can be taught. Mark me down as “skeptical, but happy to be shown wrong” for now.
The prevailing wisdom for stay the course was that second is a damn fine finish, and with time and up-skilling together, the team could hopefully go one better. And that’s at least the decision they’ve made as far as roster goes. The team plainly didn’t need a roster change. I wonder what Cupcake’s role insofar as the playing group goes will be. I think the Wolfpack look miles better with him playing as opposed to Daniel “Decoy” Ealam, who flattered to deceive.
If they were to make a roster change from the six-man group that finished second I was eyeing off the jungle position, at least until the end of the playoff run. Mir “Mir” Park finished the playoffs in excellent form, which belied a regular season that had valleys as high as the peaks that he finished with.
This was the spot I had eyed off as the best potential landing spot for touted young free agent Shane “kevy” Allen – I see him as having the same upside as Mir, but without the low floor that came with his ceiling.
But we’ll see now how the Wolfpack goes with the same six and Shernfire at the helm. It sure is exciting to have him back in the region.
Lastly now onto the defending OPL champions in Legacy. It’s hard to say anything productive about what one should go and do to win the title when you’ve just won it. “Go do it again!” is hardly actionable, after all.
I think Legacy needs to focus on something that isn’t necessarily something they can add or change. It comes from within, and it comes from that desire to be the best. I want them to really concentrate on setting the bar as high as possible for the other teams to catch them.
When you’re chasing a title, whether it’s your first as it was for Legacy last split or just any team looking to take down the top dog, it is much easier to chase the leader than to set the pace. When you’re in the chasing pack you can see the goal that you have to reach or the target that you have to hit. You have a clear enemy and you can work to be better than that enemy.
When you’re the leader, things are much less clear. You are working as hard as you think you can, and then you have to look over your shoulder and hope that the others aren’t catching you, metaphorically speaking.
I suppose this last section applies to all the teams that want to go to Worlds, but I’m going to address it to the champs.
In any team-based competitive endeavour that I have witnessed, be it traditional sports, esports or whatever, even the best teams win and lose close games at a roughly even clip. Over time, these games balance out. Look at Chiefs and Mammoth last year – Chiefs took the regular season series 2-1 but lost the finals 3-0. These were two good teams and the losses just fell the way they happened to fall over these six games. 4-2 is not definitive by any stretch, yet Mammoth got to go to Worlds.
So Legacy should not panic if they drop a game or two during the season to good teams. They should not seek to lose games, but if they do – it’ll be nothing more than a reminder of the fact that the pack I mentioned is always trying to catch them.
In my experience good teams crush bad teams. Again, this holds true in traditional and esport team endeavours alike. So what I want to see from Legacy is good performances against good teams, and clean games against the bad ones.
That’s the form I look for from teams I expect to earn the right to go to Worlds.
The OPL returns today at 4pm AEST.
Follow Reece “Ties” Perry on Twitter.