Australia’s main professional League of Legends circuit, the Oceanic Pro League (OPL), will be shutting down, Riot Games announced earlier today. The league launched in 2017, with competition taking place in Sydney, Australia. Riot’s Sydney office will also be closing its doors, as its main function was to oversee the league.
The announcement came from Malte Wagener, Riot’s managing director of North America and Oceania, and Tom Martell, global esports director of operations. “We want to build competitive and sustainable leagues that drive commercial growth and fan engagement and that support professional play as a full-time career,” the announcement states. “Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of our teams and players, the OPL has not met our goals for the league, and we do not believe that the market is currently able to support the league in its current form.”
The OPL operated for four years, with the second split of its 2020 season ending in August. The league went through eight total splits, awarding cash prizes and spots in international League of Legends tournaments throughout its lifetime. Each split had eight competing teams, which were mainly comprised of players from Australia and New Zealand. Later splits saw players from the Asian region join in the competition as well.
While announcing the league’s cease of operations and the closure of Riot Games’ Sydney office, Wagener and Martell assured fans that this is “not the end of League esports in OCE.” Starting in 2021, the Oceanic region will be made part of the LCS’s global talent pool. Should a player from the Oceanic region get picked up by an LCS team, they will not take up one of the team’s import slots.
In addition to the new LCS rule, Riot will host qualifying tournaments for the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational and World Championship in OCE. Teams previously had to win an OPL split to earn a spot in the MSI or Worlds play-in stage. OPL 2020 split 2 champions Legacy Esports represented the region in the Worlds 2020 play-in stage, narrowly missing out on a spot in the group stage after losing to the LCS’s Team Liquid.
Time will tell if an Australian star will move over to the LCS in 2021. The LCS 2021 Spring split does not yet have a confirmed start date, though it is expected to begin sometime in January.
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