We are back, finally! The second split of the LCO starts tonight and the league has seen numerous shakeups throughout the offseason, from competitors to the competition itself.
Firstly, a new format—a single round-robin best-of-two for Stage 1. Stage 2 will cull our teams to create a six-team double-elimination bracket.
For the broadcast, the LCO will see new hosts following the departure of Mac and Kitty. NatTea has made her return and Maximize will finally make the jump to full-time hosting.
As for our teams, newcomers Vertex has taken control of the slot left by Peace following their mid-split expulsion. Our existing teams have also seen some changes; Mammoth disassembled their roster to sign a number of veterans, whilst other teams have seen some more minor adjustments, changing out an odd player or two from the last split.
With every map mattering this split, the competition will be fierce, as only two teams will once again be able to jet off internationally to compete in the PCS playoffs, hoping to obtain one of the two Worlds spots awarded to our combined region.
The day’s second game will see Team Bliss take on the Dire Wolves. After only a single best-of-one game last split went in favour of the then high-flying Wolfpack, Split 1 runners-up Bliss will be looking to get out the of gates in decisive style.
Game of the Day however is the opening match, as defending Champions the Chiefs take on the new dogs in Vertex.
Harry’s Game of the Week — The Chiefs vs Vertex
The road to the PCS–and hopefully Worlds–begins now for these two teams.
The Chiefs solidified their seat on the throne by landing their second LCO, and sixth Oceanic professional title, last split. Now, they’re aiming on making a return to the top international stage–the World Championship in South Korea this Spring.
The Queensland-based team has seen a slight retune over the mid-season break. Former league MVP jungler Shane “Kevy” Allen returns from the NACL where he spent time on CLG’s second-tier squad, joining the team he defeated in the 2022 Split 1 finals.
The run will be long and grueling, but today is their first step on the journey and their first opponent will be the league’s newest team: Vertex Esports Club. The club, most known for its FPS forays specifically in CS:GO, dips its toes into a whole new genre in League of Legends, taking control of the slot that last was controlled by Peace.
The team has brought in a number of rookies to pair with some veteran talents in what seems to be a well-balanced lineup. Tomas “Tomasino” Pereira joins as the team’s top laner and will get his first chance at professional play.
Chinese international Liu “4ever” Yue joins as the team jungler. A true rookie to competitive play, the top-ranked challenger (number four on the ladder at the time of writing) is a relatively unknown commodity, so we shall wait and see what they bring to the table.
Dominant amateur Duncan “Chirp” Zehnder joins as the team mid lane and may be recognised by those who watched the Chiefs Scouting Ground tournament last year, while their bot lane will be commanded by Alvin “Danteh” Wong–just not for week one.
Instead, coach Gian “styled” Leon will play out the team’s opening week, with Danteh’s move from Ground Zero formally finalised ahead of Vertex’s second week of matches.
Finally, Split 2 2023 sees a familiar name return to the support role: Andrew “Rosey” Rose. Having been part of top teams back in the Oceanic regional days—before the region even had its own dedicated server or the OPL existed—Rosey makes his return to Oceanic professional play having last played for the Bombers back in 2018 and will no doubt bring experience and expertise to the squad.
Coming up against the defending champions and some of Oceania’s best in The Chiefs is a difficult first assignment for the league’s debutants. They should make this a competitive pair of games, but I think The Chiefs should take both of these games with ease and start the league with three points in their bank.
LCO Week 1 Day 1 Predictions
The LCO returns to screens tonight at 6pm AEST, opening with Chiefs vs. Vertex and followed by Team Bliss vs. Dire Wolves. Keep up to date with the split schedule, stream, and more via our ultimate coverage hub.
Follow our prediction team @CDMLoL, @ImHarryTaylor, @NadetteOCE, and @Ties_AU on Twitter.