A few hours before the start of HCS, I figured I could take the time to replace my bent iPhone. Nothing is going to happen while I am out. What could possibly happen before the first game of the season that would change the landscape of the Halo Championship Series?
An hour into trying to get my phone fixed, news broke that OpTic bought out Counter Logic Gaming’s Halo team, and that their old team would no longer compete under the OpTic brand.
Needless to say, that phone became broken beyond repair after that announcement.
The first week of any professional sport or esport usually is a week of finding a team’s identity. However, for the players of ex-CLG, an identity crisis happened just moments before the HCS kickoff, and then a mere 28 hours later in the final match of week two.
First off, why would OpTic buyout CLG, which is a move estimated to be in the department of thousands of dollars spent?
In late August, OpTic bought out one of the most successful Gears of War teams from Denial. This was a team that won an ESL Pro League, placed second in the other, and won the MLG North American Open over another esports giant in Team EnVyUs.
Considering that buyout, and also the desire of Nick “MaNiaC” Kershner to retire as soon as possible, it’s pretty clear that OpTic needed to not only fill a roster spot, but get themselves over the relegation line. Enter CLG, who was willing to part ways with their Halo team for an undisclosed, although rumored to be in seven figures, fee, and a blank checkbook held by OpTic H3CZ.
With two roster buyouts in a month, it’s clear that OpTic doesn’t want to be known as just a Call of Duty team anymore, not even if they are known as one of the greatest out there. No, they want to be called an empire; an esports organization that dominates any game it touches, and the most powerful gaming brand on the planet.
And, as seen with them picking up the greatest Gears of War and Halo teams out there, they are willing to pay any price to have a full trophy case and power over the esports world.
But the newly christened OpTic, who crushed Enigma6 on day one, fell a day later to Evil Geniuses, and the #GreenWall had yet another dillemma to face.
Is this the team we payed for? This team of players haven’t lost a competition since the middle of the summer split, and yet they lost to EG, a team who finished fifth last year?
On the surface, this seems like a complete upset, but maybe, just maybe, ex-CLG is human all along, and EG found a formula that broke down the wall of OpTic.
I won’t put the added pressure and fame of being affiliated with OpTic as a reason why this team faltered in five games, but rather go to their objective play. This team, without question, is the best slaying team this year, with all four players having the top-six KA/D’s through one week.
If HCS was strictly Team Slayer 24/7, OpTic wouldn’t drop a single game. But instead, objective modes are thrown into the mix, and OG dropped every objective game against EG, and got a break with E6’s potato-quality internet connection on day one.
OpTic’s objective play problem wasn’t the only reason why they fell apart, because Evil Geniuses, led by the Brown twins, has a lot of veteran presence on their side. Not just on their players, or even their coach, but in their “remote analyst.”
Yes, I would not be surprised if the legend Tom “OGRE2” Ryan had a strong role in bringing down OpTic on day two.
When you have the most successful player in Halo esports history, who won over 40 events in his 12+ year career, on as an analyst, you best believe he brings a playbook the size of War and Peace and the mind like that of a Hall of Fame head coach.
Also, in OGRE2’s long tenure, he played for CLG back in the Halo 2: Anniversary days, alongside current OG members Paul “<a href="http://halo.esportswikis.com/wiki/SnakeBite" target="blank”>SnakeBite” Duarte and Mathew “<a href="http://halo.esportswikis.com/wiki/Royal2" target="blank”>Royal2” Fiorante, and under Chris “Royal1” Fiorante.
This pretty much means that OGRE2 knows the best team in the industry inside and out, and he made sure his players keyed up on objective play rather than beating their opponents to a pulp.
If you look at the stats and VODs from those games, OpTic dominated EG in terms of K/D, and that helped them secure the win in Slayer. But when you turn over to CTF and Strongholds, EG was the team that knew how to rotate better, when to pass flags, and how to be the better objective team.
OpTic Gaming will be, without question, a top four team this season and make it to the Fall Finals. Heck, their day two match in week one may even be their only dropped match of the entire season.
However, with that defeat, it became clear that OpTic may have bought a team that the rest of HCS has begun to figure out; a team that will kick your teeth in, but may not be the best team in terms of objective play.
And, if the rest of the HCS begins to figure out OG like the Geniuses did, there may be an empty spot in the OpTic House trophy room come November.
This is why you PTFO, kids.
Was this game just a blip in OG’s new team, and will go on to sweep the competition? Or does it show that OpTic needs to work on its objective play?
Let us know in the comments below and for all your Halo and esports updates, make sure you are following us on Twitter, @GAMURScom.
James Mattone is a journalist for GAMURS and can be contacted by email at <a style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; color: #df2940; text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;" href="mailto:[email protected]" target="blank”>[email protected] or on Twitter -<a style="box-sizing: border-box; background-color: transparent; color: #df2940; text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer;" href="https://twitter.com/TheJamesMattone" target="blank”>@TheJamesMattone.