OpTic Gaming: Last chance Saloon
OpTic’s Danes have under-performed all year, but the expansion of ESL Pro League in EU and the impending Major cycle may be their last shot at redemption.
Esports now, more than ever, is a result-based business. FNS had only 54 days to try and rebuild Cloud9 into a contender again after the loss of Stewie to then SK Gaming before he was benched. The Snax experiment on Mousesports lasted only a little over three months as he tried to fill the shoes of Styko in a role he wasn’t accustomed to. Loba only got four days on Imper… nevermind, you get the point.
If you were to take even a casual look at the OpTic Reddit’s Match Threads for the current CS:GO team you would think that OpTic are a perennial powerhouse in Counter-Strike and every lost round is an abomination the likes of which the world has never seen. The truth is, besides a few week period where OpTic won Northern Arena Montreal and then ELEAGUE Season 2, OpTic’s Counter-Strike history is fairly toothless. Nostalgia is the drug of choice for the Greenwall. However, you can hardly blame the supporters of OpTic for feeling like someone sold them a false dream when the core of the current lineup came together in April of this year. The lineup had all the pieces to challenge as a top ten team in the world. Instead, it’s been a constant one step forward and two steps back song and dance for OpTic over the past seven + months.
You certainly can’t blame the higher-ups at Infinite Esports and Entertainment, the parent company of OpTic Gaming, for wanting a bit of stability in their CS:GO lineup. Since winning the second season of ELEAGUE two years ago and Stanislaw’s departure after the Greenwall placed 12-14th at the ELEAGUE Atlanta Major in 2017, OpTic has been a constant revolving door of stand-ins, temporary coaches, and full on new lineups. There was even a Peacemaker sighting that’s how you know it was rough.
It makes sense then with the investment from Infinite and the addition of a League of Legends and Overwatch League franchise spots added to OpTic’s already nearly full esports plate, that the days of JasonR and HaZed standins were done and lineups would be given a real chance to make it work. However, I don’t think anyone at OpTic envisioned the lineup they put together in April of this year would need this many chances to find their groove.
This current OpTic lineup is an enigma, there’s not a better way to describe them. One week they are making it through a tough EU Minor beating NiP and then ENCE for the second time that tournament to easily qualify for the Major. And then last weekend they finished dead last at Dreamhack Winter in a tournament that featured zero Top 10 teams. They have a good mix of veterans in Snappi and cajunb and young talent in niko (the Danish one), K0nfig, and JUGi in the lineup. They have an experienced coach in Ruggah. They have the support of one of the biggest brands in esports, but they still don’t have the consistency needed to justify the investment of both time and money that Infinite have shelled out for them.
This lineup has long worn out their welcome with critics, pundits, and especially most of the OpTic CS:GO fans, who lost their beloved Dota team right after The International this year and then saw a significant amount of Infinite employees laid off as the company cut costs all while paying what one must assume is a healthy salary to the current CS lineup. Maybe no one will notice if you end what’s been a Danish disaster and come limping back to OpTic’s NA roots. Maybe there are enough scraps in the NA talent pool to build a contender out of next to nothing like OpTic did when they first signed the former Conquest lineup of NAF, Stanislaw, Daps, Rush, and Shahzam, but I doubt it. You won’t get that lucky twice.
I don’t think this is lost on the players on OpTic themselves either. They know they’ve been far worse than the sum of their parts. For whatever reason, the mashup of former Heroic, North and OpTic players under SNAPPI just hasn’t produced results. Fortunately, for the players sake, they’ve been gifted another opportunity. ESL has decided to expand their Pro League Season 9 to 16 teams in EU. This means two out of OpTic, AGO, Kinguin and the loser of Virtus Pro vs 3D Max will qualify for Pro League next season. They will fight it out over two days in Dallas on Wednesday and Thursday of this week in a double-elimination four-team bracket. If a team of Snappi, cajunb, K0nfig, JUGi and niko can’t place top two out of this four-team LAN, just pack it in. Take this iteration of the lineup out back and shoot it. Put them out of their misery.
December is the proving grounds for OpTic. If you can’t qualify for Pro League through this field of teams in Dallas or qualify for the Minor through a favorable bracket in the Closed Qualifier then what is the point, really? I look at the names on that OpTic lineup and I don’t think there’s a quitter among them, but its time stop making silly mistakes on anti-eco’s. It’s time to stop missing easy shots that you’ve hit 10,000 times.
If you’re not already, it’s time to start putting in the extra individual time after practice to work on your game. It’s time to start being selfless instead of selfish in key rounds. It’s time to take a long, hard look at your teammates around you and put it all together and make a run. It’s time to stop under-performing as individuals and start to perform as a team. OpTic have been patient with this lineup, maybe too patient, but I don’t see that lasting much longer. This really is the last chance for this lineup.