@donq This has happened before after an Opera auto update. As I said previously, the last time it took even longer for the speed dial icons to finally appear. It was corrected with another update, then it worked as it did previously.
This time I started Opera and got the screen that it was updated, then when I went to speed dial, no icons again, then about 8 seconds later, they appeared. This is now the new normal. It seems that other users are experiencing the same issue.
Well, looks like most problems are related to speeddial updates.
This is unfortunately a thing I can't comment on - I have my speed dial cleared totally, nothing to update.
Have you turned the promotion settings off? They may be on by default.
What about updates adding unnecessary junk - I totally agree. Maybe this junk attracts some new users, unfortunately it may alienate some old users.