OpTic Gaming has undergone many changes this year, but after the Florida Home Series, they seem to be back to their best.
It’s not been an easy start to the Call of Duty League (CDL) for legacy brand OpTic Gaming. Prior to the beginning of the inaugural season of the CDL, OpTic Gaming went from being the most popular organisation in the space to the most hated in a blink of an eye after the founder of the Green Wall, Hector “Hecz” Rodriguez left the organisation for NRG after it was bought by Immortals Gaming Club.
Along with Hecz, talismanic player Seth “Scump” Abner and a hoard of Green Wall supporters migrated to the newly-formed Chicago Huntsmen franchise with Hecz at the helm once again. OpTic was a shell of what it once was and with a target painted on what was left of the almighty Green Wall, Immortals and OpTic had a big rebuilding job on their hands.
Despite Immortals owning the brand and Scump departing for pastures new after remaining loyal to a brand that had seen him grow into a Call of Duty superstar, OpTic still managed to retain the services of Black Ops 4 breakout star Brandon “Dashy” Otell and Thomas “TJHaLy” Haly, two of the five players that won OpTic’s last tournament at CWL Las Vegas. Joining Dashy and TJ would be two-time, back-to-back world champion Jordan “JKap” Kaplan after a turbulent Black Ops 4 season and 2016 world champ Austin “SlasheR” Liddicoat. Rounding out the roster would be another breakout star in recent years, Kenny “Kuavo” Williams.
On paper, this was arguably one of the strongest teams in the entire league. The team was filled to the brim with talent and experience and comprised a near-perfect balance of explosive, aggressive slaying power from the sub-machine gunners and assault rifle prowess.
A Rough Start
Launch weekend was the first time all 12 teams had the chance to compete offline on Modern Warfare. First up for the new OpTic Gaming would be the unknown entity of the Paris Legion. Paris stunned the Green Wall, taking the fifth and deciding game to win the series 3-2, leaving the team without a win heading into the second game of the weekend against newly-formed rivals, the Chicago Huntsmen. Chicago looked the superior team from the outset, sweeping OpTic 3-0 to hand them their second loss in as many days.
Week three of the league was no different, if not worse for the Green Wall. The team were swept aside by the Atlanta FaZe in their opening game before taking a solitary map against the Florida Mutineers in their 3-1 loss and elimination from the tournament.
After two weeks of competition, OpTic Gaming Los Angeles was dead last in the league table without a single point to its name. Something had to click sooner rather than later otherwise a change to the roster was inevitable.
The Beginning of The Resurgence
The Los Angeles Home Series was a chance for OpTic Gaming to prove that it was the top Los Angeles team in the league. Kicking off the campaign in a battle for LA against the Guerrillas was a hard-fought contest between both teams but the Green Wall stood tall, taking the series 3-2 to score its first win of the season and 10 valuable points.
A strong Minnesota RØKKR lay in the way of a debut appearance in the knockout stage of the tournament, OpTic’s home tournament no less. Highlighted by a clinical display on St. Petrograd Domination, OpTic dispatched of Minnesota 3-0 to book its place in the final four and earn another 10 points on the board. The disappointing start to the season looked a distant memory for the Green Wall, a team that had seemingly found its feet and managed to begin to string together some form.
The semi-finals against the Dallas Empire was a stark reminder that there was still plenty of work to be done for OpTic LA. The Empire knocked down the Green Wall 3-1 to eliminate them from the tournament but despite the loss, it was another 20 points earned as the team slowly began to enter the mid-table battle.
A Dip in Performance
Heading into its first online event of the season confident after showing significant improvement in Los Angeles, OpTic found itself in a rematch against the Dallas Empire in the opening group B match. Despite the change in setting, the result was the same as Dallas replicated a 3-1 win to send OpTic down to the loser’s bracket where the second battle of Los Angeles would take place.
Having beaten the Guerrillas back in LA, the wide consensus was that OpTic would advance into the elimination match but this was a better-prepared Guerrillas team and it showed. The Guerrillas avenged the loss, taking the series 3-1 and eliminating the hometown rivals from the tournament. This was another weekend where no points were acquired by the Green Wall and widespread criticism came of JKap’s performance, after he failed to go positive in all four maps, especially struggling on Search and Destroy of which OpTic had made their best game mode. Change was afoot.
In recent Call of Duty news, just four days prior to the Florida Home Series, it was revealed by General Manager Eric “Muddawg” Sanders that JKap had been demoted to the bench while former Team Kaliber star Martin “Chino” Chino had been called into the starting line-up in an attempt to get the team back on track.
With limited practice just days before the event, the tournament was going to go one of two ways for the Green Wall – The honeymoon period was going to carry them to a strong placement or they were going to crash out of the tournament in spectacular fashion.
Taking on the London Royal Ravens in the first game of the tournament, it looked like that it would be the second of those options after falling to London in a very close game. OpTic had it all to do if it was going to stay alive in the tournament and beating the Paris Legion would not be an easy task. During the game against Paris, something clicked for the Green Wall. Dashy and TJ were excelling as the aggressive SMG players, SlasheR was once again proving why he is still in the conversation as one of the very best players in the world and Chino had slotted into the team as the flex player with ease. A 3-0 sweep from the Green Wall set up another showdown with the Royal Ravens, with the loser out of the tournament.
A completely different OpTic came to play in round two against London. A swift 3-0 for OpTic booked its place into the final four for the second time this season. A potential shot at the title was in reach for the Green Wall.
Standing in the way was the Toronto Ultra, a team that had its fair share of opportunities to make it into the knockout bracket. Both teams went blow for blow with each other, with OpTic unleashing a ruthless offensive play in the dying seconds of Gun Runner Domination in an attempt to close out the series but the Ultra held on to force a game five decider. Arklov Peak played host to the deciding Search and Destroy and saw a battle of the snipers between Dashy and Ultra player Cameron “Cammy” McKilligan. Dashy played a pivotal role thanks to his efficiency with the sniper to give the Green Wall a narrow 6-5 win but more importantly, a place in the finals.
The Green Wall had the chance to lift a trophy once again if it could conquer league leaders Atlanta FaZe. The series started off well for the Green Wall, taking the opening Hardpoint but the FaZe came roaring back, taking the next three maps to take the championship.
Despite the loss in the finals, OpTic Gaming Los Angeles had proved that it was back in a big way. The roster change looks to have paid off and heading into the second half of the season, the team could well begin the climb through the packed midfield and towards the top of the table.
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Image via Activision