In a statement posted on the LoL Esports website, Malte Wagner, Managing Director of North America & Oceania, and Tom Martell, Global Esports Director of Operations, has announced the dissolution of the Oceanic Pro League.
In the statement, Wagner and Martell said the OPL was founded with the aim of driving commercial growth, fan engagement and building a sustainable league that supported professional play as a full-time career. “Despite the best efforts of our teams and players,” they said, “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.”
Crazy to see the dissolution of the OPL - @Atlustv & I cast the first ever OPL game of Legacy vs. Chiefs 5 years ago and I know there are so many talented people on the team and broadcast side over there.— Chris Smith (@PapaSmithy) October 7, 2020
Thoughts go out to everyone, lot of great people working out next steps https://t.co/Y0R5D9CQNj
The news comes as a huge blow for the professional scene in OCE. Legacy Esports recently made the Play-ins finals of Worlds, numerous players like Fudge, King, and FBI have become imports to LCS, and the dissolution of the OPL seems surely set to hurt the prospects of grassroots players looking to compete and live up to and exceed these teams and players.
While the OCE will still have the opportunity to qualify for Worlds and MSI via “qualifying tournaments,” a lack of consistent and dedicated pro-play outside of these tournaments makes the prospects for OCE teams look bleak.
A little known fact about me is that I was kicked out of home for Esports. My family didn't support the endeavor and only once I became "successful" years later did they change their mind.— Zack Rusty Pye (@RustyLoL) October 7, 2020
I poured my entire life into this world and this REALLY hurts. Hard to move past it.
Nor is it just the players that are affected by the end of the OPL broadcast. A great many of the most famous faces of League of Legends had their on-air talent breaks in the OPL. PapaSmithy, Atlus, and Froskurinn all had their major breaks on broadcast there or with the OPL team, and the likes of Spawn and Rusty were still a part of the OPL broadcast.
OPL being cancelled actually seems really good for NA since now the players won't take up import slots. Definitely should build really strong teams incorporating players like Fudge, FBI, Lost, King etc in the future!— Christian Rivera (@IWDominateLoL) October 7, 2020
The situation isn’t all bad news, though. Analysts and pundits alike have pointed out the opportunities inherent in being considered “native” talent for a major region like the LCS. The region has been under fire for dubious performances at Worlds and accusations of players being more concerned with job security than actively competing for first-team places. By having OCE players no longer take up an import slot, the pool of pro-level talent available to the LCS increases, and offers a major opportunity for both career and competitive prospects for top-end OCE players.
That’s all well and good for already discovered talent, but for upcoming or future OCE players (or broadcast talent) yet to break into the scene or make a name for themselves, the road to being noticed has never looked murkier.