The OPL is restructuring in 2018

By CptStupendous

If you looked away from your screen for a second, you might be shocked to realise we’re nearly at the end of 2017! It really was a big year for the Oceanic Pro League—we saw every team move to Sydney to play matches at a new live studio, and we even crowned a new champion that went on to represent Oceania for the first time at Worlds.

With that said, in pursuit of a bigger and better competitive landscape, the OPL is restructuring for the 2018 season. While your primetime OPL viewing experience won’t be affected too much, these changes will have major implications for Oceanic Challenger Series teams and anyone involved in the Challenger scene.

1. The OPL Promotion Tournament is downsizing from two relegations matches per split to one relegation match per year.

This is the big one: in previous years, the top OCS teams had the opportunity to qualify for the OPL both at the end of Split 1 and Split 2. Next season, there’s only going to be one promotion tournament at the end of the year to decide if we’ll see a new OPL team for 2019. It’s a pretty huge change, especially if you’re an OCS team with an ambition to compete at the top level. So why is this happening?

First, it empowers OPL teams and players to sign healthy agreements about the year ahead. They’ll know what the season is going to look like, and they won’t have to worry about sudden changes in the event that they get bounced from the OPL in April.

A reduction in relegation matches would also help OPL teams to sign year-long sponsorship agreements. More external funding in the OPL means a higher quality league, and we want to help the sponsors who power your favourite team to make quality commitments.

Lastly, by making relegation a yearly event, OPL teams will be able to make better decisions around team housing and training facilities. It’s difficult to sign a lease for what might end up being one split of residency—with this change, teams and landlords can base their agreements around an annual calendar.

2. The OCS is moving to a single season format and expanding to fourteen teams, eight of which will be run by an OPL organisation.

Since relegation is only going to happen once a year, we recognise that the core purpose of the OCS is going to change significantly for every party involved. We consulted with key stakeholders in the Oceanic esports ecosystem to redefine the OCS’ purpose and, with the intent of providing a better way for upcoming players to be noticed, we decided that the OCS would best serve our local scene as an incubator for rising talent.

Many strong players like Ry0ma and Cupcake are products of the OCS ecosystem, and we believe that this change will raise the overall talent level in Oceania in the long run, especially as OPL teams become more invested in the Challenger scene as well as future pro player development.

To assist OPL organisations in their new OCS involvement, we’ll also be starting the OCS between Split 1 and Split 2 of the OPL to improve the league’s visibility as well as enabling organisations to dedicate resources to their Challenger team without being too much of a burden on their OPL campaigns.

3. The Oceanic Open Ladder will be replaced with grassroots activities organised by OCS teams and third parties like ESL and Showdown.

We love amateur competition, but we haven’t done a good enough job at servicing the growing amateur scene in Oceania. Fortunately, a handful of third party organisations like ESL and Showdown have stepped up to provide exciting opportunities for grassroots players.

In 2018, we’ll encourage OCS teams to run amateur tournaments, perhaps in partnership with third parties who have an interest in amateur play. These grassroots activities will be organised by the community, and we’ll do our best to amplify and give visibility around them so everyone knows about the opportunities available to them.

Even though the OOL provided amateur players with an opportunity to move into the OCS, we found that the vast majority of OOL players enjoyed the opportunity to play in regular, structured tournaments more than anything. This change means that organisers will be able to focus on providing a fun, competitive environment for amateurs as their first priority.


Q: What happens if an OCS team manages to promote into the OPL?

A: We hold our OPL teams to a high standard, which means that an independent OCS team that qualifies for the OPL will be vetted to ensure that they’ve done their due diligence and crafted a quality business plan. If they pass, they’ll promote into the OPL. If they fail, Riot will tender the slot and pay out the OCS team (minus any costs involved, like brokerage).

Q: Man, that sounds a little harsh.

A: Fair enough, but it doesn’t help anyone for an OCS team to promote into the top level of play and fail. It’s bad for the other teams in the league, it’s bad for the fans, and most importantly, it’s bad for the team itself.

Q: Okay, so what if an OPL-affiliated team promotes into the OPL?

A: If an OPL-owned OCS team wins the promotion tournament, we’ll organise a sale to an appropriate organisation, with the OPL owners receiving a capped portion of the proceeds.

Q: Why are you capping the proceeds from the sale of a team? Shouldn’t organisations be rewarded for qualifying?

A: The cap is necessary to reinforce the OCS’ status as a talent development league. We don’t want to encourage OPL teams to treat it as a revenue source.

Q: Hang on, eight OPL-owned OCS teams plus five independent OCS teams equals thirteen. Where’s the fourteenth OCS team coming from?

A: We are currently looking into bringing another independent OCS team into the scene via invitation. Stay tuned for details.

Q: Fourteen OCS teams on top of eight OPL teams is quite a lot. Are there even enough players to make it a good competition?

A: We definitely recognise that the average skill level in the OCS may drop a bit this year with the league’s expansion. That’s why we’re opening qualification to any player that hit Diamond V in the 2017 season. In the long run, we believe the average quality of our Diamond players will increase based on these changes, which will have positive effects on solo queue as well as organised play.

Q: The OOL is gone and we don’t know anything about these grassroots competitions. How are you sure that there’s going to be an amateur scene at all?

A: For year one of this new competitive structure, we’ll be working closely with teams and tournament organisers to kickstart an awesome framework for amateur competition. At the end of the day, the amateur scene is at its best when it’s run by the community, so we’ll support third parties and help them get to where they want to be.

1 year ago

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