To look at the Legacy Esports journey through 2020 on paper — or at least on their Leaguepedia Match History page — is to show a journey that belies their challenges with a story of simplicity.
A browse through said page reveals a 35–7 cumulative match score across both the regular splits, and a single loss in each of the three playoff series they’ve played. These records represent an 83% and 75% win rate respectively.
Such a record would lead one to think Legacy is a nigh-unstoppable favourite; a titan in a region where I said after their Split 1 triumph that ‘the chalk always wins.’
That seems how things ought to go, for my money. On paper, Legacy should win this match and win it comfortably.
But Legacy, who have demonstrated a cautious yet confident public face in their approach to this final, would tell you that in both cases that what’s on paper doesn’t tell the full story.
To get to the top of the peak as they have this year, Legacy have had to blood an import into a region facing a significant culture barrier and a looming pandemic, then had to rapidly pivot to a role-swapped player as they took out Split 1.
Losing one of their strongest edges over their competitors, they had to battle through a mid-split slump and questions regarding if their form and play style were up to the challenge of allowing them a chance to climb back to the top of the heap in Split 2.
Despite the challenges over the year, they remained at the top of the standings for all but a week or two. Their determination in the face of these challenges is why their year has looked so easy on paper.
They did it thanks to two eight-game win streaks in the second split, and thanks to overwhelming talent in their side lanes.
Much has been said about their ‘Teamfight Terror’ in Quin “Raes” Korebrits, but the pleasing thing to see for veteran viewers of the OPL was the development of Jihoon “Topoon” Kim, who has flourished from a passive top laner into arguably the best player in the league next to his bot lane teammate.
Topoon is one of three players with Worlds experience, and alongside Leo “Babip” Romer, has the most recent trip to Worlds with Mammoth last year. That trip was as the substitute, however, after now-Cloud9 prospect Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami announced himself as one of the brightest Australian youngsters of the past few years.
While Topoon believes he had a good champion pool for Worlds last year, a combination of confidence and injury issues led to Fudge being the preferred option. Topoon has said he is “way better than last year,” so he feels confident about being the starter potentially heading into another Worlds run.
Topoon credits that development to his mindset when he returned to Korea.
“Last year my laning was decent, I would say, but I was not a good player – I was only thinking about the 1-vs-1,” he said to Snowball Esports.
“After my contract ended with Mammoth I tried to not play mindless Korean solo queue and learn how to play out of laning phase. I became a better player and got to around 900LP in Korean solo queue.”
While he may have devoted himself to becoming a better player out of lane, he faces a unique challenge in the laning phase in the form of the popular, experienced veteran and face of Order’s team — Brandon “Swip3rR” Holland.
Having masterminded Order’s two victories over Legacy in the second split on the back of his now-signature Sion pick, Swip3rR and Order present a final opponent that cannot be underestimated.
“Big Swips” as he is known — among other nicknames — presents a unique challenge to OPL top laners in the sense his team depends on him to perform to win, but his performances are not the resource-heavy carry performances that his importance would suggest. Instead he brings his vast experience and game knowledge to empower his teammates and make them better to drive his team to victory.
.@adelaide_fc may be winless this season, but its e-Sports team Legacy is grand final bound. A win will give them a global audience of tens of millions of fans, but that isn’t the only way they will be helping the Crows. https://t.co/8ftPfFYTVQ @lucasrinaldo7 #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/dqwcToyknH— 7NEWS Adelaide (@7NewsAdelaide) August 27, 2020
However, Topoon is confident he has the weapons in his arsenal to unlock the Armored Titan in Order’s top lane and drive his team to victory.
“I think that Swip3rR will play a tank if Renekton is banned,” Topoon said. “Either I will match his tank, or draft a scaling champion into his tank. I don’t mind either way – if we play tanks and go even my ADC will carry me and if I play a scaling champion I will carry the game.”
If he is successful, awaiting Topoon and the rest of Legacy will be League of Legends’ best in China. Allowing himself a moment to consider such a prospect, he set his sights on historic North American organisation Cloud 9 as an opponent he would love to face on the international Worlds stage.
“They are arguably the best LCS team, and they had my former teammates Fudge and k1ng [Calvin “k1ng” Truong] on their Academy roster,” he said. “It would be funny to play against their main team in Worlds, especially if they bring one of them as a sub.”
If Topoon performs to the level he’s shown this year come Friday’s match, his and Legacy’s Worlds dream could see them floating on Cloud 9, in more ways than one.
The Oceanic Pro League grand final between Legacy Esports and Order begins at 5pm AEST on Friday, August 28.
The winner will be the region’s international representative at the World Championship this year, to be held in Shanghai from late September.