If someone said that OpTic was going to be the #3 ranked team at the end of 2016 half way through the year with their 16th place finish at ELEAGUE Season 1, everyone would have called them crazy. Yet the team proved everyone wrong and showed that crazy is not impossible with their recent rise to success. “Trust The Process” is what Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez, the CEO of OpTic Gaming has reiterated to his Green Wall supporters for what feels like ages, and he was right. The process took nearly a year, but OpTic is the undisputed best team in North America moving into the 2017 ELEAGUE Major, but how did they get to where they are today? The ride was long, but it was well worth it.
“Trust The Process” – Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez
OpTic’s Humble Beginnings
At all started on January 4th, 2016, when OpTic picked up the ex-Conquest roster, which contained Damian “daps” Steele, Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan, Keith “NAF” Markovic, Will “RUSH” Wierzba and Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz.
On paper the team potential. Shahzam was one of the best AWPers available in North America at the time. Daps was a strong in-game leader, with smart decision making skills. NAF and RUSH both had extremely high raw talent, however were inconsistent at times. Meanwhile, Stanlislaw provided excellent support coverage for the team with his vast knowledge of grenades and play style. Unfortunately, the team was unable to compete with Tier 1 teams, and hovered in mediocrity due to their lack of firepower.
January 7th was their first match together as a team, playing against Lounge Gaming for a spot in ELEAGUE Season 1. They secured their position in the $1,000,000 season with a 2-0 win over Lounge, launching the team into the spotlight for the first time.
Their first tournament as a team was the Americas Minor Championship, in which OpTic fell to Splyce in an extremely close best of 3. Although not directly qualifying to the MLG Columbus Qualifier, they still had one opportunity in the Americas Last Chance Qualifier. Touted as the best team in the tournament, OpTic again failed to make it past the semi-finals. The curse continued as OpTic fell in another close best of 3 series, this time to Winterfox. Due to inner-team conflict surrounding ShahZam and the rest of the roster, the team was not practicing. Tensions were high, communication was low, and the overall atmosphere of the team was toxic. The team decided that the only solution moving forward was to release ShahZam and look for a replacement primary awper.
Increasing Firepower with Mixwell
The first major move that would shape the Green Wall as we know it involved signing Mixwell from gBots eSports on April 13th, 2016. Immediately his presence was felt as Mixwell showed flashes of brilliance and became the star player of the team. Within a month, OpTic was competing in ELEAGUE Season 1 against other top tier CS:GO teams on the back of Mixwell. However, they still showed weaknesses in their ability to consistently frag behind their star player, placing 16th out of 24 teams over the course of the season.
Leading up to ESL One Cologne, OpTic was forced to qualify through the minor. They did so in style, running through the competition at the Americas Minor Championship, only dropping 2 out of 10 maps verses the likes of TSM and Tempo Storm (Now Immortals). The team was starting to form cohesion with the ability to outperform tier 2 teams. This performance allowed them to qualify to the ESL One Cologne Qualifier, where they placed 4th out of 16 teams, thus securing their position at ESL One Cologne. A true test of their ability, OpTic unfortunately failed to perform at ESL One Cologne, and showed that they still had troubles keeping up with the best CS:GO teams in the world.
Finalizing The Green Wall
As a result of their lackluster performances against world-class opponents, OpTic decided to that they had to make a roster move if they wanted to compete at a world class level. CLG was struggling, and with JDM’s departure to Team Liquid, Tarik was looking for a new place to call home. Initially the team dropped Stanislaw in order to accommodate for the new arrival of Tarik. However, after one month, Tarik would convince OpTic to change their decision and swap Stanislaw back into the roster, replacing Daps position as IGL. This would finalize the current Green Wall squad that we know of today.
With barely two weeks of practice, OpTic was moving into ESL One: New York blind against 7 of the top teams in the world. Roles were sorted, however with little practice as a squad their strategies were still in the blueprint stages. Even with a new lineup, OpTic showed glimmers of hope with strong wins over both Astralis and G2. With the addition of Tarik, OpTic finally had the firepower to compete with the top CSGO teams. Unfortunately, they were shut down in the final group stage match at New York in a heart-breaking 14-16 loss to Virtus Pro, who would go on to play in the finals and lose to NaVi.
One month later, due to their 4th place performance at ESL Pro League Season 4, OpTic was playing in another premier tournament. This time they hoped to prove everyone wrong as they were predicted to not make it out of groups. OpTic started off the tournament strong with dominating performances over Team Liquid and Immortals. Between the 2 opening games of the tournament, OpTic had won a combined 32 out of 41 rounds. However, the tables would turn once again out of their favor as they would lose the next two games to Mousesports and EnVyUs, resulting in a 2-2 group stage. In the quarter finals OpTic lost against a Cloud 9 team that couldn’t be stopped and ending up winning the tournament. So close yet so far was looking to be the motto of OpTic, but the only thing that the team needed was practice and time.
OpTic’s Turning Point: First Championship
Moving into their first major in 6 months, OpTic only had one thing on their mind, and that was winning. They came into Northern Arena going 2-1 in the group stage, taking on NRG eSports with ease twice. Moving into the playoffs, OpTic battled hard in the semi-finals verses Heroic, taking the series 2-1 and moving them into the finals to play against G2. In their first ever majors finals performance they went down 3-12 in the first half. OpTic ended up bringing the first map to 14-16, just out of reach of a win. After regrouping, OpTic continued their second half momentum into the following games, beating G2 16-12 and 16-7 respectively for their first ever major event win on November 13th.
It was at this time that the OpTic CS:GO squad starting to turn some heads as they broke into the Top 10 World Rankings for the first time ever. The team was starting to not just compete, but also beat top tier teams. Mixwell and Tarik were on fire and consistently top winning crucial rounds. Not only that, but NAF, Stanislaw, and RUSH were elevating their game to another level. However, skeptics ran rampant for good reason as the Northern Arena event win included no team in the top 8. The real challenge would come at ELEAGUE Season 2, where all of the top teams would be competing.
OpTic’s Rise to the Top: ELEAGUE Season 2 Champions
The group stages of ELEAGUE Season 2 was posed to be a difficult task as OpTic would have to take on Fnatic and EnVyUs. However, they showed no mercy as OpTic came out of the group stage with the best round +/- out of every team in the tournament. The Green Wall was built, and the team was finally running on all cylinders. It didn’t matter who was last alive in any given round as OpTic had the firepower to compete. Along with Mixwell and Tarik’s consistency, all other players were finally stepping up to match their presence on the scoreboard. It was during this time where NAF and RUSH rose to their true prior untapped potential on the back of Stanislaw’s in game leading. Maps that were supposed to be CT sided were turning into T favored maps for OpTic as they continued to push Stanislaw’s hyper aggressive play style.
Moving into the ELEAGUE Season 2 playoffs, OpTic would go onto face Mousesports and FaZe clan in the quarter finals and semi finals respectively, not dropping a single map. In the finals, OpTic was up against Astralis, who had significant momentum off of two large wins versus SK and NiP. OpTic would end up losing map 1, but turn around game 2 and 3, completing the back to back tournament win. OpTic was on top of the world, and no one could stop them from taking home $400,000.
Only 1 week after the ELEAGUE Season 2 win, OpTic was back in another large tournament with zero rest. This time it was the Esports Championship Series Season 2 Finals, with their nemesis Astralis being in the same group. OpTic’s momentum was in full swing as they beat Cloud 9 and FaZe to advance to the playoffs after an opening loss to Astralis. The playoffs semi-finals series against EnVyUs would go 2-0 in OpTic’s favour as RUSH carried the team to victory. Unfortunately, OpTic would pose no match for Astralis as Astralis finished the tournament without dropping a map in 6 games.
What’s Next for OpTic 2017?
Moving into 2017 we know one thing for sure, OpTic is the undisputed best team in North America. As well, they are in contention for one of the best teams in the world due to their last 3 respective tournaments having two 1st place finishes, and one 2nd place finish all against top tier teams. Their rise was explosive to say the least, finishing the 2016 year in Cinderella fashion. We will look to see if OpTic can continue their success moving into the ELEAGUE Major.
Be sure to follow @DeeplyEsports as we breakdown OpTic’s last 3 tournaments with statistical analysis in our next article.