Let’s get one thing out of the way: Legacy Esports have it in them to beat LGD Gaming in a best of five series, and earn their place in the Worlds 2020 group stage. I truly believe that. But no matter what happens tonight, Legacy has done Oceania proud.
This year’s World Championship run has been one to remember for League of Legends in Australia, New Zealand, and across the Oceanic region.
Ahead of the Play-In stage, I did a fair amount of prep work. I rewatched VODs, looked into Legacy’s opponents, and spoke to players. Scrims in Shanghai seemed to be going well, and Jonah “Isles” Rosario confirmed that to Snowball Esports soon after.
Then, on the eve of Legacy’s opening matchday, Leo “Babip” Romer declared there was just ‘something about this team.’ He told me there was a “funny feeling” building. And, he added, the whole Oceanic team “just keeps exceeding expectations.”
Snowball’s Josh “Swifty” Swift and Andrew “WrayZ” Wray were both offered a chance to read Babip’s interview ahead of publication. Josh had to — he was producing parts of the piece — but Wray turned it down: “I told myself I wouldn’t get my hopes up this year.”
When I read his Discord message, I realised I had already bought into this team heading all the way to Shanghai to represent our region. I’d been hurt before, yes. We all have; there isn’t an OCE fan alive that won’t admit the League of Legends World Championship is equal parts excitement, and year-ending, shattering disappointment.
But I still had that “funny feeling.” One that kept building into Friday night.
Our OPL champs defeated INTZ in style, thanks in equal parts to Kim “Topoon” Ji-hoon, and the whole team’s sleek macro game plan. We moved to a 1–0 record in Group A.
“Imagine,” I remember my brother saying to the gathered crowd watching at my house as Legacy cracked open Brazil’s Nexus, “if Legacy actually made it to the actual groups. How crazy would that be?” He added with a laugh, “surely not, right?”
The same suggestion wasn’t uttered after Liquid demolished Legacy on Day 2, in a late-night jab that reminded Oceania that hope during Worlds was a dangerous game.
But Monday night held a different story. Where Worlds usually holds tiebreaker defeats to the Unicorns of Love, or shattering revenge wins from Infinity, Legacy stepped up.
Even with the Liquid loss on Saturday night, I felt like there was something brewing behind the scenes for Legacy Esports. I even suggested, admittedly half tongue-in-cheek, to Andrew “Ducky” Amos, there “had to be tiebreakers,” because in my mind SuperMassive was going to beat Liquid, and we were going to clean up SuperMassive and MAD Lions.
Ducky laughed it off in our private Dexerto Slack conversation. At 9.44pm, he sent another message, this time in Snowball’s Discord: “Isaac, I apologise… for having no faith.” Legacy had beaten MAD and SuperMassive, and were headed for a first-place tiebreaker.
That game ended being another loss to Liquid, but it didn’t matter: Legacy were second.
Now, as Legacy prepare to face their greatest challenge yet — a re-energised LGD Gaming, with the full fury of China behind them — I can comfortably say the Oceanic champions have done something our region has been crying out for: renewed our hope.
No matter what happens tonight, when our OCE heroes load onto Summoner’s Rift against the might of the LPL’s fourth seed, they should be welcomed home as heroes.
When Babip outclassed Zhiqiang “Shad0w” Zhao during the clash versus the now-eliminated MAD, my friends were crying out “Oceania is going to win Worlds!”
Another of Snowball’s top writers, Reece Perry, messaged me asking if he could write anything “just to be proud.” Another of my Dexerto colleagues, Brad Norton, put aside the fact he barely watches LoL to let himself be swept up in the hype.
Oceanic Twitter has been alight with celebrations since the 3–2 record. Jake “Spawn” Tiberi has been glowing on the World Championship broadcast, talking up the boys from the OPL in every way he can.
The League of Legends world has been forced to turn its eyes to the stars Down Under, and remember that we come to play on the international stage, each and every year.
Even when Liquid rolled through Legacy late on Monday, the room where I was watching was full of smiles and cheers. Second place in Group A had been locked in. LGC were set to play a best of five series at Worlds 2020, and sit one win away from the group stage.
My brother uttered similar words on Day 4 too: “Legacy could actually make it all the way to groups. Imagine that.” This time, there was no extra comment; he, and everyone else, have fully bought in to Legacy’s whirlwind journey at Worlds.
So cheer loud and proud this afternoon. Spam in Twitch chat to your heart’s content, whether we march on to historic Worlds glory, or out of the running: no matter what happens tonight, our boys Legacy Esports have done the entire Oceanic region proud.
And, with a bit of luck, and a hearty helping of the “controlled chaos” Tally promised Legacy fans all the way back on Day 1, we could be watching these boys go even further again.
Today, 4pm AEST. Let’s see history made.