Ho Chi Minh-Vietnam The Oceanic Representatives huddle together backstage as the team prepares for what would be their final game together against Isurus Gaming. Currently at a 2-3 record and having been eliminated earlier in the day, the Bombers team walk to the stage to play for pride and end their tournament run with an even record. As the game moved forward, it appeared as if the Bombers had found their footing and 25 minutes into the game and 6k gold up after a Baron power play, it was looking like the Bombers were going to end the Mid Season Invitational on a win before throwing the game towards the very end.
As the Bombers nexus explodes as the Oceanic team breathes a heavy sigh as they rise up from their chairs to shake the jovial and excited Isurus Gaming. The OPL superteam, the team many believed would be the breakthrough performance for an Oceanic team at an international event, all died in that moment. The Bombers were brought down from this heir of dominance they experienced domestically and felt something that the organization has not felt in quite some time, defeat.
Two months past that moment in Ho Chi Minch, The OPL MSI Representatives have not been nearly as dominant as they once were in Split 1. After posting a serviceable performance for the Oceanic region at this years Mid Season Invitational in Vietnam, the Oceanic superteam made insurmountable changes to their lineup once jungler Balkhan and AD Carry FBI left for Galatasaray Esports and Golden Guardians Academy, respectively.
Following a rough start to the split, the Bombers have found a way to rebound and currently boast a 9-5 record which puts them in a prime position for playoffs. But who exactly are the Bombers and why they are the model of success for future Oceanic teams because of their sound infrastructure and support.
Tied together by their parent organization FC Essendon, the AFL team entered the OPL last year after acquiring Abyss Esports spot in the league. It was a slow progression in the OPL in 2018 before having a breakthrough year in 2019, qualifying for the Midseason Invitational. While the team was a dominant Oceanic powerhouse domestically, the team was unable to maintain that success as the OPL MSI Representative and ultimately failed to prove how talented some of these Oceanic players can be.
This tournament was a first hand experience at an international tournament for many of these players. In League that had previously been dominated by Chiefs back in 2014 and 2015 and DireWolves in 2017 and 2018, 2019 was a breath of fresh air for new viewers as we had the opportunity to see a new representative at the Mid Season Invitational for the Oceanic teams.
While their tournament run ended early, it was a good experience for Oceania as a whole because it rewarded a sound infrastructure and provided merit that sports teams should invest more into esports in Australia.
Providing a New Model for the Oceanic Scene
The stigma around esports in Australia has been poor for many years. The perception of esports has been slow to catch on in the Oceanic scene which has caused slow progression or the best teams in Australia to move to America. While Counter Strike has Renegades, League of Legends does not have a team yet that can stand up against some of the biggest names in League of Legends right now. Oceania League of Legends needs their moment and I feel it is on the horizons despite constant stagnancy during international tournaments. With more and more support flooding the Oceanic scene, the development of talented players will be there and with that will come improvement and more knowledge of how to perform on the international stage.
The OPL MSI Representative team have struggled without FBI and Balkhan on the lineup. No longer as dominant on their aggressive early games and dominant laning phases, the Bombers will need to find a new recipe for success if they want to find repeated success and make their way to the team’s first World Championship appearance.
It will be exciting to see how the new look Bombers will continue to develop. Who knows, maybe this roster will be able to figure out things the old roster was unable to do.
Even if they do not find success in Split 2 of 2019, the Bombers have the support and infrastructure that is needed to maintain dominance as a consistent playoff contending team in the Oceanic Pro League. While the OPL MSI Representatives are not as sharp as they once were, the Bombers are here to stay in the Oceanic Pro League and are a name that can contest some of the long standing names of the Oceanic Pro League for years to come.