Since the departure of stanislaw in January of 2017, OpTic Gaming has fielded line-ups entirely defined by how its star players transitioned out of the organisation. Tarik and RUSH left a leaderless and crumbling OpTic to join Cloud9, eventually going on to win a major trophy. NAF became an internationally lauded superstar moving onto Renegades, then joining Liquid to bolster and round-out their elite fragging core. Even European OpTic saw Magisk’s exit to Astralis win him a premier event and help frag the Danes to ‘best team in the world’ status. What though, had any of these players achieved in OpTic throughout 2017 and beyond?
By contrasting results in and out of the team, it’s clear OpTic has had no shortage of optimistic signings or promising talent under their banner. But imbalance of roles or lack thereof has always plagued a chance at meaningful results. If not for in-game issues it’s out-of-game caveats that have crippled and victimised OpTic’s hopeful tournament runs to withered and exhausted marches. Their last Bo3 win on LAN against a top ten team was December 10th, 2016 versus FaZe at the ECS Season 2 Finals. It’s been over 500 days since they’ve made any sort of impact on the international CS landscape.
As an OpTic fan, things have been tough to say the least. But in spite of Twitlongers and drama, with the the recent changes, they might start to look a little better.
Even the calloused psyches of die-hard #GreenWaller-ers can start to hesitantly feel hopeful over OpTic’s new signings. With the addition of Heroic’s two stand-out players (albeit, for different reasons) in JUGi and Snappi, OpTic now boast an all-Danish lineup brimming with a mix of veteran minds and young talent. We might not see them lift trophies, but for a team under the OpTic banner, success is relative, and this roster is the most promising they’ve had in years.
Show me the starpower
In the original ‘Danish’ OpTic that also had the services of ShahZam and Stanislaw, their win condition into a round largely centred on k0nfig. As the sole source of legitimate international ‘superstar’ level firepower, k0nfig’s aggressive rifling on both sides of the map formed OpTic’s foothold into a round. He boasted a 1.26 entry-rating with his closest rifling counter-part being gade’s 0.93 entry-rating. Add a record-breaking 47 kill performance in regulation time against Renegades (in a series they lost 2:1) and you quickly get an idea of where the sting behind OpTic’s punch came from.
JUGi’s addition to this lineup is a goosebump-inducing move given the context of k0nfig’s performance thus far.
If Snappi is looking to bring a Danish understanding of structured play, JUGi is bringing a volatile, modern-day AWPing explosiveness to complement k0nfig. JUGi is part of a renaissance with the big green, pushing the boundaries of what is ‘normal’ with the AWP alongside players like woxic, s1mple, oskar, draken and (LAN results pending) ceRq. In a time where teams are becoming increasingly more cohesive and unconscious in their fluid pressure onto AWPers, there has been a reactionary kick-back. Gone are the angle-holding jdm’s, KQLY’s, and allu’s of the world. The current breed of ‘hot’ AWPing talent looks to constantly press for the highest number of entries in a game. They embrace the hair-raising, close-range noscope moments as much as they can train their crosshair from afar to lock-down long angles. Dynamism, flexibility, and unpredictability with your AWPer, supported by a solid, consistent team-base is the name of the game.
JUGi is a seasoned practitioner of this style and one of the most high-profile highlight clip manufacturers with it as well. One can imagine that a new team, playing at a different level of competition and a refocused pressure on him to perform will see him carry his form from Heroic into OpTic.
While k0nfig and JUGi’s planned trajectories on OpTic are undeniable, cajunb and gade’s might be more ominous. The trajectories of cajunb and Gade have intersected, one looking to slow down his fall from the top, the other hungrily rising up to try and reach it. Cajunb in OpTic has relinquished AWPing duties to play a more supportive rifling role, often using his veteran hand to close out clutches and retakes. While he is serviceable amidst online NA competition, it remains to be seen how well an AK-wielding cajunb can perform against legitimate international fragging cores. Almost any rifler on Heroic would be a potential upgrade - especially given Snappi’s ability to pick-up the secondary AWP if cajunb were to leave.
While the skill-ceiling and role allocation of cajunb might be an issue, it will not be his job to lead scoreboards. It feels like cajunb is far more of a mentor and emotion regulator in a team full of young guns than a round-changing superstar. Gade, on the other hand, might need to rapidly evolve into that impactful role.
On-paper, the OpTic roster with stanislaw and ShahZam had k0nfig pinned as it’s fragging focus and gade as the equally important secondary star who would develop into his role amongst a lower level of competition. He’s only played close to 50 maps with the lineup so far, but from what we’ve seen, gade has struggled.
While his skill ceiling and ability to hit headshots might excite the montage-makers amongst his fans, in other areas he has been lacking. There’s a distinct absence of tested in-game awareness, especially in regards to the timings of his integral CT-positions. Some young stars are able to lean on a rock-solid site player to help transition them into a team system; 2016 flamie looked to seized, as 2018 ISSAA looks to ANGE1. Gade, on the other hand, will often anchor the small site or play as a rotator - being forced to make many integral individual decisions round-to-round.
Gade clearly needs time and isn’t the man to suddenly prop-up a defence through calculated rotations. The addition of JUGi, and an IGL who can also frag in Snappi will be huge for gade in this sense. With less pressure on him to be the star player and more emphasis hopefully being put on his partnership with players like cajunb, Gade could be the long-term investment that puts OpTic over the line. If the Greenwall ever needed to show its star power, it might nor come from gade right now but it might manifest itself after careful tinkering down the track.
Success is relative
The trajectory of this all-Danish lineup is steeped in unknowns. How Snappi choices to approach leading the team and who fills what role - especially between gade/Snappi/cajunb, are big questions that remain to be answered. What’s more, where this lineup chooses to compete - in North America or Europe - will massively dictate the amount of potential LANs they can attend and their performances in online leagues.
Regardless of the key questions in the air right now though, the driving hope with this OpTic lineup is that they’re better than the ones before it. If the friberg and hazed-led OpTic rosters are our benchmarks, then it’s not like Snappi and company will have to jump particularly high to transcend them.
OpTic want to become international contenders. They have the explosive talent to be a scrappy and dangerous ‘bottom of the top ten’ dark horse. K0nfig and JUGi are just too terrifying and impactful for them not to have a chance in a big series. They shouldn’t get carried away though. To reminisce about the late-2016 success of ELEAGUE and ECS S2 and mapping a similar path for this Danish side would be foolhardy theorycrafting. Success is very much a relative term, and relatively speaking, this is by-far the most optimistic any OpTic fan should be feeling in a long time.
Photo Credit: Adela Sznajder / DreamHack