After several years building up the Australian esports scene, the Oceanic Pro League — and Riot’s Australian operations — are no more. For a lot of Australian esports, the news was heartbreaking in more ways than one.
Riot’s early efforts will always leave a mark on the country’s nascent esports scene, as the league’s foundation and operations helped blood a new generation of fans into Australian esports. Players created new careers. Writers discovered a new passion, founded their own websites. Fans upskilled in graphic design, editing and production work as they helped new teams with their social presence and streams.
So Riot Oceania’s departure — and the subsequent loss of all the players and support staff involved — leaves an enormous hole. The league helped sustain team houses, created a platform for new people to discover Australia.
The initial reaction was shock, sadness and disappointment from all quarters.
Devestating news about the OPL today.
Without OCE and all the wonderful people that built the flagship office down under I wouldn't have been able to be a part of any of my proudest achievements in my life. I'd be in an office somewhere.
— Max Anderson (@Atlustv) October 7, 2020
I’m done with today. I thought i’d be okay but i’m not. And I’m not even directly affected beyond memories and being a fan. I’m finishing my last email and going for a run.
— Wahluigi Fish (@Maxzzie) October 7, 2020
Can only imagine what is going on for a lot of the players, staff and people who have poured their livelihoods into this.
I have no doubt that once all the pieces land, they will start to be put back together. Some of the sharpest minds in OCE esports sit within this ecosystem https://t.co/pFw8YCgEVb
— James 'jimNeso' Cowan ???? (@deepjimpact) October 7, 2020
— Avant (@AvantGaming) October 7, 2020
Devastating news from Riot & a major blow for esports in Aus: "We do not believe that the market is currently able to support a professional league.” https://t.co/Wdz1pikS6w
— Matt Phipps (@Matt_Phipps) October 7, 2020
Insane news. I have some incredibly fond memories of covering the OPL and it's end will have a huge impact on many in the scene. Hoping everyone is able to land on their feet. https://t.co/etl4pSc2NK
— Brad Spookston ???? (@TheWesty_) October 7, 2020
This is so disappointing to hear. It has given rise to so many professional careers that have prospered from the opportunities it gave. This is a sad day not just for the OCE League community, but for the wider esports community.
Sending love to my league pals ???? https://t.co/6Y7f0ohCFS
— Manic (@robjmunday) October 7, 2020
If I can help anyone in any way even with just a chat if you need an ear please reach out also I'm sure myself and many others are more than willing to host,help your streams in anyway we can #opl #LeagueOfLegends #eSports https://t.co/UJzwprYAqg
— pandatv (@PandaTVoce) October 7, 2020
Shutting down the office as well is terrible news, especially as Riot seems to be really interested in branching out now with all kinds of games in the works.
— J Pipsam (@markdavaus) October 7, 2020
Pretty sad stuff though, RIP OPL
— Travis Gafford (@TravisGafford) October 7, 2020
Players and observers noted that while Australia would be folded into the LCS, it effectively meant that the country was being freezed out in practicality. Any Australian representatives will have even fewer resources than under the current model, making international bootcamps and consistent support over a year-long period nigh-on impossible.
For American teams, it makes it easier for them to poach some new blood from the OCE shores. But not having a permanent, stable tournament circuit in Australia will make future talent development even harder, a fact that wasn’t lost on fans. Some even questioned the practicality of how American teams would scout Australian/New Zealand talent in the first place, given the state of the amateur/grassroots scene.
worlds and msi qualification is a meme lol there will be no good teams practicing year round, best ur gonna have is a group of part timers/students who get together 1 month before qualifiers
— Claire (@ClaireOCE) October 7, 2020
I’m really sorry to hear this. I started my career showcasing the love Australian players have for Blizzard, Riot Games, and the FGC.
The passion, creativity, and love is there. Don’t be dismayed, my friends. Our time will come. Just a matter of when.
Love to all affected. https://t.co/RMqKW8h9I0
— Amelia Savery (@Sunset_SC2) October 7, 2020
Years ago back in my cosplay days I was in total awe of the OPL – attending all the LAN's at conventions and spending my nights watching it live on my shitty internet connection. OPL has a soft spot in my heart. So many people giving up everything to chase their dreams.
— Laura (@imflaura) October 7, 2020
It’s especially heartbreaking after this year, when Australia’s representatives Legacy put in a respectable performance to finish 17-18th, qualifying equal first from their play-in group before unfortunately losing to the heavily favoured LGD Gaming in the knockout stage.
Legacy Esports, to their credit, announced they would still be competing in 2021 after their international success. “Following a standout year with 2 OPL titles and a record Worlds 2020 run we are saddened by today’s news that the Riot Games Oceania office is closing and with it the Oceanic Pro League as we know it,” the team said.
“We are excited for what League of Legends in Oceania looks like in 2021. OCE will retain its Mid Season Invitational and Worlds spots and we intend on qualifying for both.”