There’s a new sheriff in town, and he wears green.
If Split 1’s results didn’t convince you, Split 2 should have left no doubt in your mind that the reign of Chiefs eSports Club is over. For better or for worse, the LG Dire Wolves will be the first team to fly our flag at Worlds.
They earned that right in a resounding 3-1 win over Oceania’s greatest League of Legends organisation, and while there will be time to ponder where Chiefs will go from here, there’s something more pressing at hand: the biggest tournament on the League of Legends eSports calendar.
In the past, Worlds was a pretty predictable affair if you were a team from a small wildcard region like Oceania or Turkey. If you were good enough to take out the other wildcard teams in your qualifying tournament, you’d get to enjoy a trip overseas before taking the stage for a customary pummelling at the hands of three teams from more established regions.
Maybe you’d steal a game here or there, and if you were lucky enough to be in a group with a North American team, you could even upset your way into a pummelling in the quarterfinals.
This year, that qualifying tournament is now part of Worlds proper, which means we won’t just get to see the Wolves play their third international tournament of the year against their wildcard brethren. Teams from China, North America, Europe and Taiwan will be present, meaning the possibility of something like a Dire Wolves vs Counter Logic Gaming match is on the cards.
Gun to my head, I’d say it’s more likely than not that the Wolves will get roundly beaten in a match against a fourth seed from a major region. But that’s hardly the point, whether you admit it or not.
As an Oceanic fan, I want the Wolves to do as well as possible. I’d get k1ng’s face tattooed on my left buttcheek if they managed to take down H2k. But I’d also enjoy watching Chippys get his poo pushed in by Ssumday. It’s like if DeAndre Jordan dunked on you, or if Messi megged you. Would it be embarrassing? Probably. Would it still be awesome anyway? Definitely.
That aside, Oceania has developed some pretty fun rivalries at the few international events we play at every year. I’ll definitely be watching in hope we break the curse of losing to a Japanese team at every event, or if we can finally take out our Southeast Asian overlords.
At this point, you might think that’s not good enough. Maybe the prospect of our Oceanic representatives bombing out at Worlds is too strong for you to enjoy the event. And you’d be perfectly justified in thinking that way.
So why is it important to know how good Oceania’s best team is? Shouldn’t we be happy following local narratives? Isn’t it naive to think that Oceania can compete at an international level?
You can take the eSports blue pill if you want, but if we’re going to see our best team – a team that looked positively ferocious on a domestic level since Shernfire stepped into the starting lineup – play internationally, I want to know just how good they really are. I want to see how deep that rabbit hole goes, and if it’s only one group stage deep, that’s fine.
The possibility of a gigantic choke job aside, the Worlds will be the best opportunity we’ve had yet to see how Oceania really stacks up against the rest of the world.
Dire Wolves’ performance will be a barometer of sorts for the season ahead – not only for themselves, but for the Oceanic Pro League as a whole. What is it that we were lacking at Rift Rivals compared to Gigabyte Marines? If we believed we were the strongest and deepest region in attendance, what went wrong, and how have we changed since then?
The only way for Oceania is up. So I hope you’ll tune in with me as we watch our heroes in green forge onward and upward.