ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals Team Preview: OpTic Gaming
Can OpTic Gaming Prove to Be a Contender?
After finishing in fourth place in North America at the conclusion of online play for the ESL Pro League Season 4, OpTic Gaming earned a spot in Group A at the offline finals in São Paulo, Brazil from Oct. 26-30. There, they will compete with the top teams from both the European and North American leagues for a share of $750,000 (USD).
The OpTic roster underwent some serious changes in August and September of 2016, which eventually led to the release of former captain and in-game leader Damian "Daps" Steele, and the addition of Tarik "tarik" Celik, formerly of Counter Logic Gaming.
The OpTic Gaming roster for the ESL finals will be:
- Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz
- Keith "NAF" Markovic
- Óscar "mixwell" Cañellas
- Will "RUSH" Wierzba
- Tarik "tarik" Celik
Unfortunately, the current five members of OpTic have only competed in one LAN event as a full team, ESL One New York 2016. At this event, OpTic placed top-six, with an overall map record of 2-0-3. OpTic began this event by losing its first two matches in the Swiss style format, both best-of-one maps on Train against SK Gaming and Fnatic. The most notable stat to take away from these two losses was the unusually poor performance by mixwell, who failed to reach a .60 HLTV rating on either map. After two early losses, OpTic managed to recover by taking a map off of G2 Esports and Astralis, on Cache and Overpass respectively, before being eliminated by Virtus.pro 16-14 on Cobblestone. With only five maps completed on LAN, all that can be gathered from this is the idea that OpTic has the ability to take single maps off international teams, but more consistent results are needed before solidifying themselves as a contender at top level events.
While LAN results should be the primary indicator of a team's success, online play can still be a valid measure, especially when considering a roster like OpTic, which has very little LAN experience as a team. Since the beginning of September 2016, just shy of two months of online competition, the OpTic Gaming players have built a list of impressive results including:
Best-of-one wins vs:
- Immortals (2)
- Team SoloMid (2)
- NRG (3)
- Renegades (2)
Best-of-three wins vs:
- SK Gaming
*Full Results can be found at http://www.hltv.org/?pageid=188&teamid=6615&statsfilter=1792&requiredPlayers=5
When a team changes a player, and more specifically an in-game leader, their map pool tends to change. OpTic was no exception when stanislaw took over as the IGL a few months ago. Below is a look at the seven maps in the current competitive pool and what to expect from OpTic Gaming on each of them during the upcoming event.
With previous OpTic Gaming lineups, Cache was a map that would often times be a first ban, and a map that they almost never picked. However, the current roster has shown to be quite comfortable playing it, posting an 8-0-1 record in online competition, and also earning a victory against G2 in their only showing on LAN. While I don't expect Cache to be OpTic's first choice of map to play, they appear to be more than comfortable letting it through and are prepared to face anyone.
Cobble is one of the most popular maps for this team, having played it 14 times combined on LAN and online. While only having a modest 8-0-6 record, this is a map that OpTic appears very comfortable on and are willing to pick against any opponent. Their only LAN result on this map was a nail-biting 14-16 loss against the veterans of Virtus.pro, considered one of the best teams in the world on it. If OpTic does end up on Cobblestone, watch out for the Spanish star mixwell, whose explosive play and impressive awping has earned him a 1.28 HLTV rating on this map.
Despite being the most popular map in the world, it is rare to find OpTic willing to let Dust2 through the veto system. While no longer a perma-ban, OpTic has only played Dust2 six times, all online, with stanislaw as the shot-caller. While a 4-0-2 record does not look awful, it doesn't tell the entire story. With victories only against TSM (twice), Renegades and Echo fox, as well as losses to Immortals and SK, this is not a map OpTic should feel comfortable on against top level competition.
During the early stages of this roster, it was clear that Mirage was not a map they are willing to play. Having only three online results, and none since beating Selfless on the Septt. 23, it has become a map OpTic has vetoed against nearly all opponents. Do not expect to see this North American team playing on it any time soon.
Nuke is the only map on which this group of five players has yet to record an official game on. Expect to see this and Mirage be the first two bans in Brazil for the OpTic side, and the order will be dependent on their opponent.
Overpass is a map that OpTic will likely let through the map veto, and force their opponents to choose whether to play or ban it. Their record of 5-0-2 includes impressive online wins over the Brazilains of SK Gaming and fellow North American team Counter Logic Gaming. Add a LAN victory against Astralis on top of that, and this is a map that OpTic can compete with anybody on. One worrying sign is the two teams that have bested OpTic on Overpass, Cloud9 and Immortals, will both be present at the ESL Season 4 offline finals.
Train is a map that many would consider to be OpTic Gaming's strongest, and a 7-0-4 map record is a good indicator that those opinions may be true. Over multiple versions of this roster, with the current squad being no different, OpTic has shown they are willing to play, and even pick, Train against any opponent. Despite impressive wins against Cloud9 and Immortals (twice) online, recent bad losses against SK and Fnatic at ESL One New York may make OpTic hesitant to choose the map. Even with their struggles on LAN, expect to see OpTic stick to what they feel are their strengths and be more than willing to play Train.
All map results and ratings can be viewed at http://www.hltv.org/?pageid=179&teamid=6615&statsfilter=0&requiredPlayers=5
Going into the LAN finals in Brazil, there might not be another team whose results are more unpredictable than OpTic Gaming's. It would not be a surprise to see OpTic earn some impressive map wins in the group stage and make it to the round of six, but it's also very possible that they could exit the tournament in last place without securing a single map victory. One unexpected event, the withdrawal of the Swedish powerhouse Fnatic from the tournament, has left the North Americans a very manageable group of five teams in their group, and only a top-three finish is needed to enter bracket play. With Team Liquid losing coach and strat caller Peacemaker, Immortals struggling recently on LAN, and the unpredictatbility of Mousesports and Team EnVyUs, I expect there to be a dog fight for the three playoff spots, with OpTic right in the middle of it.
With multiple players on OpTic Gaming who are explosive and capable of taking over a game at any time, but who can also be very inconsistent, it is difficult to choose one player that can make or break this team. If OpTic wants to make a deep run in this tournament, I expect the entry fragger, RUSH, to be instrumental.
Looking at the the results of each individual map that OpTic played during ESL One New York 2016, it appears that OpTic's success hinges on a good performance from RUSH. In the two map wins over G2 and Astralis, the 22 year old posted a 1.13 and 1.08 rating as the first man into the bombsite. That is in major contrast to the .63, .56 and .68 ratingsthat he had in OpTic's three map losses. If RUSH has the ability to consistently post a positive rating and be successful as a fragger, expect to see a dangerous OpTic Gaming team in São Paulo.
Will OpTic show up, or get shut down? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @GAMURScom.
Image credits to HLTV