As we go around the final bend before finishing the regular season, teams are jostling for position as they enter the final sprint to qualify for the Oceanic Pro League play-offs.
Legacy Esports is leading out the league, with Order shadowing behind them. Pentanet.GG and the Chiefs are shoulder to shoulder trying to hold their position, while the Dire Wolves and Avant Gaming desperately try to stay on the leading groups’ wheels.
So, where will these teams end up in the sprint?
Without further ado, Snowball’s experienced analysts Emma van der Brug, Harry Taylor, and Andrew Wray break down their chosen featured matches for this critical week. Round 9 will begin with Chiefs facing off against Avant Gaming at 4pm AEST on Friday.
Emma’s Feature Match of the Week: Order (11–5) vs The Chiefs (10–6)
Prediction: Order win.
It’s the final matchup between these two heavy-hitters before Split 2 winds to a close, and this match can potentially set the scene for both org’s playoff runs. That is, depending on how each team adapts to the playoff patch (thanks Rito, 200 years BTW).
Chiefs and Order are currently sitting on a split record against each other after their first two meetings, though the Melbourne squad boast the stronger ladder position. Last week saw the Chiefs rally slightly, bagging a 2–0 round, while Order fell to Legacy.
The Chiefs looked to be back on-song as they rolled over Pentanet and Gravitas with just six deaths between them across the entire weekend. Add to that the squeeze they had on map objectives in their two games, and the contenders may just be back.
I expect them to hit a wall this weekend, however. Order will have to be on their best performances to take out the win, but I believe they have what it takes. The Titan in the top lane, Brandon “Swip3rR” Holland, especially will be key here as he brings his season-end experience to bear in a must-win match for the Melbourne team.
Harry’s Feature Match of the Week: Legacy Esports (13–3) vs Mammoth (4–12)
Prediction: Legacy win.
We open Saturday’s games with what could just be seeding games for Legacy, after they locked their playoff berth last weekend. That doesn’t mean they won’t want that top spot though, especially with how the playoff layout is in Split 2.
For Mammoth, loading in on the other side of the Rift, this game means everything.
After taking Week 6 by storm with back-to-back upsets, the young Mammoth outfit failed to keep up momentum. In the past fortnight, they’ve struggled to find more results to build on their record, and only beat a now-eliminated Gravitas team.
This time last year, Mammoth were looking like Oceania’s potential Worlds contenders. They would go on to play in Berlin for Australia & New Zealand. This time around, they have a slog of five games ahead of them to even make the postseason.
Mammoth does have a chance — their Week 6 shock showed that — but I think Legacy have righted the ship in that regard. The champs should slam the door shut in Mammoth’s face this round, especially after all the mid lane changes for both teams.
Legacy has brought James “Halo” Giacoumakis into the fold to relative success. Mammoth, on the other hand, has taken what I believe is a backward step in promoting Wang “GDX” Xiaogang into the central role over Jerome “Chungy” Chung.
Look, I’ll say it: lightning could strike twice. I wouldn’t hold my breath, however, especially as Mammoth’s hopes begin to dwindle. It looks like they may be headed for extinction once again in Split 2, and this weekend could, unfortunately, seal their fate completely.
Andrew’s Feature Match of the Week: Dire Wolves (8–8) vs Pentanet.GG (10–6)
Prediction: Pentanet win
Wolves are known for hunting in packs, yet somehow they’ve found themselves adrift of their playoff counterparts heading into Week 9, in part thanks to two straight losses last weekend. Pentanet, meanwhile, comes in off a 1–1 round.
The Dire Wolves are in a rut; there can be no denying that. They’ve lost their last four games, and doubts are beginning to surface in regards to whether they’re up to the playoff task. The last time they swept a weekend was during a round against Pentanet, however, and they’re undefeated against the Perth roster so far in Split 2.
When I look at this match-up I can’t help but look forward to seeing Ryan “Chippys” Short and Brandon “BioPanther” Alexander teeing-off against each other. The history between these two are so intertwined that it always adds an extra edge to the top lane matchup.
I’ve got Pentanet bucking their head-to-head trend against the Dire Wolves this week though, meaning we can expect to see the Wolfpack totally off the scent as the OPL playoffs loom up in the distance at the end of next week.
The Oceanic Pro League returns this Friday.