OpTic Gaming: Looking at the future for the all-Danish line-up

After mediocre results online, OpTic now have to a roster that is bursting with potential. Is this another short-term project or a possible rising Danish powerhouse?


Photo Credits: (Dreamhack)

OpTic Gaming’s first ever CS:GO roster was gained when they bought out Conquest, a roster including Damian “daps” Steele, William “RUSH” Wierzba, Keith “NAF” Markovic, Shazeeb “ShahZaM” Khan and Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz. Following changes that cumulated in the sale of RUSH and tarik to Cloud9, OpTic got their first European roster for a matter of months before once again finding themselves in a position to build a new team.

In the aftermath, ShahZam and stanislaw found themselves on a team with three hungry Scandinavian lions who were not looking to share their new Texan territory with the NA talents. 

Lost focus

The Danish-American hybrid team was an unexpected product of the post-Boston Danish shuffle where OpTic’s own Emil “Magisk” Reif, and former North star, joined Astralis following the departure of Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye to North while Rene “cajunb” Borg and Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke were replaced and benched, respectively. Astralis were a shock elimination in the New Legends Stage after going 1-3, only beating their fellow Danes North, who themselves suffered an 0-3 departure.

ShahZam had been on Misfits during the ELEAGUE Major: Boston and despite the team showing promise, a 1-3 elimination was the conclusion of their time in the New Challenger Stage and the players’ contracts expired, leading the organisation to withdraw from CS:GO entirely. Stanislaw had been on the Team Liquid bench for three months, having missed out on playing the Major as TL added Lucas “steel” Lopez as his replacement and instead played with their coach Wilton “Zews” Prado. Liquid managed to finish above North and Misfits despite not being able to play with their signed fifth player.

When OpTic announced the new roster, many questioned whether it was a long-term plan to try build another Euro-American team in the wake of Misfits’ withdrawal or simply a stepping stone for future projects. It didn’t take long for everyone to find out what was going on within the team.

Hindsight

Before even appearing at a LAN tournament and with a mixed bag of online league results, the team imploded internally with Snappi and JUGi being recruited from Heroic at the end of April. The latter had been out of action for almost two months from their former team due to ‘personal reasons’. Many suspected JUGi had tried to join OpTic in this time and negotiations were possibly under way. 

While videos produced by OpTic showed the initial members getting along and looking forward to the new experience, a Twitlonger by stanislaw   painted a very different picture. Detailing accusations of cajunb acting as the ringleader for the trouble caused by the Danes, k0nfig having punctuality issues and gade having a bad attitude, the organisation seemed to side with their international pickups over the reliable old guard they brought back into their ranks. 

The original plan for OpTic was to pick up the Heroic duo and for many, this early swap came as no surprise, even if the rumoured buyout was close to $500,000, the same price thrown around that FaZe Clan had apparently paid Mousesports for superstar Nikola “NiKo” Kovac.

In gaining two new Danish players and bringing in former North coach Casper “ruggah” Due, OpTic became the third best team in Denmark as their fellow countrymen Astralis have returned to the hotly contested number one spot. While FaZe won IEM Sydney, their results in 2018 have been a mixed bag with a disappointing finish at the V4 Future Sports Festival after failing to take a map off of the slumping Virtus.Pro in the semifinal and being unable to stop the Astralis surge at DreamHack Masters Marseilles or the ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals.

OpTic now have what k0nfig and cajunb lacked on North and the initial incarnation of OpTic with stanislaw and ShahZam – a highly consistent, fearless and impactful AWPer and an IGL they can respect and rely on to lead them to success. When looking at the components of the team now, it should be the clear second best team in Denmark on paper.

Under the microscope

Rene “cajunb” Borg

Photo Credit: Starladder

The most experienced member of the OpTic line-up, cajunb has donned the jerseys of the most notable Danish teams including Copenhagen Wolves, Astralis and Team SoloMid. 

Throughout his time on North, cajunb was often singled out as one of the weakest AWPers in the top tier of Counter Strike, having picked up the role intermittently throughout his career despite being a very solid rifler. By the time he was benched on North, his performance at the ELEAGUE Major: Boston had many questioning where the veteran would end up and whether he could recover from his personal decline.

Combining forces with another experienced player in the form of Snappi, OpTic have an accomplished core to reinforce the younger talent on the team. cajunb has shown he is still a reliable rifler who can perform under pressure and is willing to secondary AWP if the team needs him to, showing his past form at the end of his time on North has not shaken his confidence.

Jakob “JUGi” Hansen

Photo Credit: DreamHack OpTic are not the first team to recognise the talent and potential in JUGi. Heroic had bought out the AWPer in February 2017 from his contract with Tricked and he went on to be a crucial part of Heroic’s success and remained one Danish player many wanted to see get a chance at the top. Consistency is JUGi’s strength, having put up impressive numbers against Natus Vincere, Astralis, HellRaisers and Gambit during his time on Heroic.

JUGi playing with the support of strong fraggers who can do the same will make OpTic a team not to be underestimated. While ShahZam had his moments of promise, the huge upgrade in the form of JUGi will certainly provide incredible firepower within the roster. He will also have the option of the majority of his teammates as possible secondary AWPers whenever a double AWP setup would be beneficial, allowing him the freedom to do what he does best and feels most comfortable doing on every map.

Nicklas “gade” Gade

Photo Credit: DreamHackThe most inexperienced member of the roster, it was announced gade was only on a six month loan with OpTic when he first joined, expecting to return to North Academy at the start of October. With the North Academy no longer active and the Major ending just a week beforehand, it is hard to think what the future might hold for gade. 

There is clear talent at gade’s fingertips but with the organisation unafraid to spend big money to get the talent they want, he will need to find consistency and learn to cope with a tier of CS above what he experienced in North Academy. With Daniel ‘mertz’ Mertz growing stronger on North’s main team, there is a lot of expectation for gade to do the same on OpTic. His current form is hard to assess simply due to the likes of k0nfig and JUGi having incredible games, reducing the possible impact of their teammates or blowouts where none of OpTic really make an impact. 

If OpTic wish to remain entirely Danish for the future, a disappointing tourney in London could see another member of North moving to greener pastures to take gade’s place if he is not brought in as a permanent member. With stanislaw’s statement suggesting cajunb and k0nfig were perfectly willing to create a team without him, gade will need to prove his worth at future events.

Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer 

Photo Credit: DreamHack 

Gla1ve, karrigan, MSL, HUNDEN may be discussed frequently, in both positive and negative lights when it comes to Danish IGLs, but Snappi is a figure often overshadowed by these bigger names despite being a good leader and solid player. 

Having been a name from 1.6, Snappi joined Heroic in 2016 and saw players come and go while the team itself failed to make a huge impact beyond a handful of surprise wins and deep finishes. This was not the fault of Snappi, but due to the sheer amount of changes Heroic were undergoing throughout the last two years.

Snappi has never played at a CS:GO Major and his only notable recent LAN success listed on HLTV is his 3rd place finish at IEM Katowice 2017 following a defeat to eventual winners Astralis. Leading OpTic, Snappi has perhaps his best chance yet of doing so.

If OpTic can fight their way through the ever stacked EU Closed Qualifier and subsequent Minor, Snappi’s leadership skills could be put to one of the biggest tests of his career as an IGL. With invites likely going to teams such as Ninjas in Pyjamas, Red Reserve and a French team, either EnVyUs or a new team comprising of members of G2’s bench and others, OpTic would need to progress through both events in order to make the Major with less than three months of time as a roster. Strong, effective and efficient leading could certainly make OpTic a contender if they make it as far as London next month.

Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke

Photo Credit: Starladder 

In Thorin’s words, ‘an AK and a pair of brass balls‘, k0nfig is as aggressive as he is talented. On Dignitas and North, he won the MVP award from EPICENTER 2016 and DreamHack Montreal respectively after only entering the semi-pro scene in 2015 and in the midst of teammates like Magisk also giving incredible individual performances. His meteoric rise is simply down to his skill. 

The only Dane to feature on HLTV’s top 20 players of 2017 that was not a member of Astralis, he also set a record in the DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018 North America Closed Qualifier getting 47 kills in regulation on Overpass against Renegades, with 32 kills on CT side alone in OpTic’s first qualifier event. 

Despite his ability to put up big numbers, his tendency to over-extend due to his aggression and sees his ratings fluctuate far more than the likes of cajunb. When OpTic have lost, it is often down to k0nfig not putting up the necessary numbers as the main star of the roster. At only 21 years old, k0nfig is the runt of the OpTic litter but with a stable, reliable pack around him, he can step up without needing to become a lone wolf hunting by himself for frags. With JUGi providing added firepower, this duo could be explosive and a huge problem for teams to counter.

Looking to the future

JUGi and Snappi made their LAN debut in their temporary stomping grounds of Texas at the EPL Season 7 Finals before the team relocates back to Europe for future online seasons, with a decent showing for the team considering their lack of practice time together. Both cajunb and k0nfig were posting 1.26 and 1.25 ratings across eight maps respectively, putting them comfortably within the top eight performers at the event, and OpTic’s team rating being second only to their fellow Danes and champions Astralis.

DreamHack Austin saw Space Soldiers get their revenge for their EPL Finals defeat as they tore through OpTic on Inferno and Train, with OpTic only just managing to steal a single map from the Turkish side. OpTic met their former teammates ShahZam and stanislaw when they faced compLexity, with the latter team struggling to string rounds together and losing twelve rounds straight on Nuke before getting their first round win on the second map.

With OpTic sitting out the ECS Season 5 Finals, ESL One Belo Horizonte and ESL One Cologne where the behemoths of Counter Strike were competing, the more modest DreamHack Summer 2018 was their most recent outing. In a return to familiar European soil, OpTic convincingly beat Gambit in their opening match and once again ripped apart compLexity in the group stage, avoiding their Kryptonite as of late, Renegades. The clash between OpTic and North in the semifinal put pride as well as placing on the line, with OpTic narrowly avoiding an embarrassing choke on the third map by closing it out in overtime.

With local rivals and the world’s best in the form of Astralis, former teammates on North and Heroic, deposed OpTic members joining compLexity, Renegades providing a constant challenge to the team in its old and new form, old tensions between G2 Esports and certain members of the roster, this team is undoubtably exciting on every possible level right now. The next challenge will be the Major and if the team’s dangerous firepower can show up in the qualifiers and Minor, they could easily sit between Astralis and North in the Legends Stage in London. With the likes of QBF and an altered G2 Esports lineup as Legends, the Danish team might even eye up one of the spots at the top.

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Phoebe Dua

44

I'm a UK-based student who enjoys sports of multiple varieties, but has a soft spot for esports.

I used to co-host the Clucking Karambit podcast, now podcastless.

Follow me on Twitter - @Dualism97!

 

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