This weekend the two finalists from last month’s $1 million Call of Duty Championship headed to Paris for the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) Zénith 2015 tournament. But it wasn’t the million-dollar winners Denial or runner-ups Team Revenge that took the top spot in France.
In true OpTic fashion, the team started off the tournament in a bit of a slump, losing to U.K. squad Barrage Esports before barely recovering to survive the group stage by beating the Champs champions Denial in a close 3-2 series. The team played better in the bracket stage, sweeping Vitality Storm before taking down Denial a second time in a 3-1 final series capped off by an exciting last minute capture-the-flag comeback.
That’s sweet revenge for OpTic Gaming, who lost to Denial in the opening round of the bracket stage at Champs. But even the $20,000 payout for the ESWC win won’t erase memories of their seventh-place finish at Champs, considering a top two finish, which the team has never failed to secure in Advanced Warfare, would have scored more cash than OpTic’s total winnings for the year.
OpTic Gaming is easily the best team in the game in Advanced Warfare. They’re on one of the most dominant runs in Call of Duty history. But even if they win every tournament through the rest of the year, they’ll always be remembered for their collapse at Champs.
The ESWC tournament was OpTic Gaming’s first in a bid to move past that failure. It was the team’s first event without Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag since December 2012 and Frag Cup IV. After placing seventh at Champs, Haag stepped down from the team due to the stress of the position. Damon “Karma” Barlow was tabbed as his replacement, but Barlow, a Canadian by birth, couldn’t leave America to attend ESWC as he’s in the middle of securing American citizenship. OpTic turned to Ian “Enable” Wyatt to fill in, and he became the second player to win a major tournament in both Halo and Call of Duty by taking the tourney, joining OpTic teammate Matt “FormaL” Piper.
Wyatt will play one more event before Barlow gets back into the lineup, the Gfinity Spring Masters tournament at the Gfinity Vue Arena in the United Kingdom this weekend. Their competition will be even tougher—all of Europe’s top teams, along with Denial, EnVy, OpTic Nation, Team Kaliber, Strictly Business, and Prophecy will be in attendance.
The OpTic train will keep rolling, even with NaDeSHoT out of the lineup. But the team won’t be able to wash away their failure at Champs until a similar event rolls along. The Major League Gaming (MLG) World Championship in October might be that event.
Until then, though, OpTic Gaming will likely rack up the tournament wins. They’re the best team in the game, and single-tournament slump is just a bump in the road for them. Even if it was a $1 million bump.