It’s no secret that the Chiefs Esports Club haven’t had the smoothest ride through 2020. They faltered in their playoff rematch against the Dire Wolves in Split 1 before looking far removed from their former selves in Split 2 and slumping to fourth in the regular season. However, Brandon “Claire” Nguyen still thinks they can go all the way and make it to Shanghai.
Despite a lengthy career in the OPL, Claire has not yet tasted domestic success. The only Oceanic trophy in his cabinet comes from the OPL’s victory at Rift Rivals in 2018.
Despite his perennial role as the bridesmaid, he has his eyes firmly on the title this split and is confident that “when we play to our potential we can overcome every team in the OPL.”
That potential hasn’t fully been realised so far this split, as while they have taken games off every team in the competition, they have 1-2 losing records against four of the seven other teams in the competition, including seventh-placed Mammoth.
- Read more: Chiefs partner with L’Oréal Paris Men Expert
Their 12-9 scoreline is the worst regular season finish for the team since the OPL switched to triple round-robin at the start of 2019, and the fourth-place position the team finds themselves in is the lowest they’ve ever been at the end of the regular season (they, of course, ended up fourth in Split 1 2017 playoffs after SIN Gaming’s miracle run).
“We’ve definitely had a rough split and a lot of comes down to mistakes or bad decisions on game days. The most I can really say is that our performance on stage doesn’t reflect how our practice is going” Claire told Snowball Esports.
The first team to put that statement to the test will be the Dire Wolves, who are also the only team in the playoffs that the Chiefs have a winning record against. Even though the Dire Wolves may have a mental edge following their upset victory over the Chiefs in the Split 1 playoffs, Claire isn’t letting the last split weigh on his mind.
“In last split’s playoffs we felt like we were the better team but despite that we were outperformed on the day.
“As long as we stick to our game plan, playing towards our strengths and snowballing the game early on, we don’t need to worry about what the enemy team can do”
The Wolfpack will be eager to continue their winning trend against the Chiefs, who despite having a losing record against them, managed to take the all-important final game in the last week of the season, a potential barometer for how the upcoming series will go.
While that may encourage some teams to go back to the drawing board on how to deal with their opposition, Claire thinks otherwise.
“This time, we haven’t decided to change anything too drastically. We believe that trusting in the process and dedicating ourselves to practice will lead to results,” he said.
“Nothing can ever truly prepare you properly for playoffs, the best you can do is be disciplined and treat practice seriously.”
The Dire Wolves have a myriad of threats across their roster for the Chiefs to deal with, with Ryan “Chippys” Short remaining one of the best top laners in the region while jungler Park “Mir” Mi-reu, mid laner Ari “Shok” Greene-Young and ADC Ha “Vital” In-seong have all had pop off moments this split.
“I reckon it’s between Mir and Vital,” Claire said on who poses the biggest threat to the Chiefs, “but if you ask every player on the Chiefs who their biggest threat is, I reckon you’d get a different answer every time.”
However, Claire is still looking ahead to who stands in their way should they triumph over the Dire Wolves tonight — Legacy.
“They’ve shown over the past 2 splits they’re the team to beat. They have the most consistent gameplay, their laning is solid and they always play to their plan and know what they’re doing in every state of the game.”
“I think they’ve shown many more weaknesses in their gameplay this split compared to last but they’re still the top dog for now.”Claire, on Legacy
Before they get their long-awaited crack at Legacy in a playoff series, they will have to go through every team other team in the playoffs, starting off with the equally shaky Dire Wolves. After that it’s either Order or Pentanet, with each series a chance at redemption for the boys in blue.
“We’re heading in with confidence and don’t believe we’re at a disadvantage as players or as a team versus the top three teams,” he stated.
If that confidence and discipline can shine through, the Chiefs may only be a few best-of-fives away from booking a ticket to Shanghai with their first OPL title since 2016.