OpTic Nation are one of Call of Duty's greatest enigmas. A lineup forged from world champion calibre talent with years of experience competing hand-in-hand with one another: they should always be one of the top teams in contention for victory, right? Apparently not, because Killa, MBoze, Ricky and MirX have been one of the most consistently confusing teams in the professional Call of Duty scene for a long while. It seems impossible to predict how they'll perform because sometimes they're able to take the best of the best to task with ease, whereas others they'll crumble at the first sign of resistance with seemingly no rhyme or reason.
It could be argued that their playstyle lends itself heavily to this inconsistency; a formation that focuses heavily on objective play over slaying, on intelligent bait and switches to confuse opposition and score points from under their noses. It's interesting, unique, and it costs them dearly just as often as it rewards them. As of late, the former has been more true than anything as they've struggled with a series of disappointing placements. Gfinity's Spring Masters I was a chance for retribution, a chance to put their names back on the international radar as a top competitor. They certainly achieved that.
The Group Stages
OpTic Nation were placed into Group C alongside Team EnVy, Vitality Storm and FAB eSports. Certainly not a position to complain about, having managed to avoid the two scariest rosters in the form of OpTic Gaming and Denial eSports in the early stages.
The first match pitted them against recently formed British powerhouse Vitality Storm, a match that argiably should be a nice way to ease into the tournament mindset. Things didn't end up going their way though, with Vitality taking charge and capturing victory by a single point in the first map, Bio Lab Hardpoint. The next match continued to embarass them, with MarkyB managing to pull off a 1v4 clutch for his team to help Storm go up 2-0 in maps after Nation were only able to take a single Search and Destroy round. It was here that the North Americans came to life, finding their feet and securing the next two maps in an extremely confident fashion, unprepared to take an early loss lying down. The final Search and Destroy showdown ended in an anticlimactic manner, as Vitality showed excellent trading throughout to take the map 6-1. Suddenly, the US team were at risk of elimination during the very first stage.
FAB eSports was their next battle, and a victory they had to obtain in order to keep any hopes of progress to the brackets alive. In certainly the least competitive match in the entire pool, OpTic Nation delivered swift and assertive blows in quick succession to take the series 3-0. A much needed confidence boost and a solid warm up for Saturday's affairs.
The final hurdle for the team was a rematch against Vitality Storm, the team who had bested them just the day before. This was a test: were OpTic Nation able to correct their mistakes and build a strategy that could best a more slayer-dependant roster? It ending up being a more intense affair than even the first match, going down to a map 5, round 11 showdown between the two. Excellent trades by OpTic Nation allowed them to force a 2v1 situation, and this time MarkyB's hopes at a clutch were shuttered by the Green Wall to finish the game.
Nation had done it. They were moving through as the 2nd place finishers from Group C.
OpTic Nation vs Denial eSports
The stage had been set. The bracket had been drawn. OpTic Nation were delivered arguably the worst luck they could have: a face-off with Call of Duty World Champions, Denial eSports, in the very first round.
OpTic Nation came out of the gates slowly, putting up a fight occasionally to ensure that their deficit wasn't too large in the opening hills of the first Hardpoint. It wasn't until the closing minutes where they really hit their stride, taking and holding the lead through pinpoint kills on the hill. In a shocking turn of events, the Green Wall was bringing the fight to the Wolfpack as equals, and they'd just attained the advantage by securing the first map. The battle was on.
Denial answered back, securing a confident 6-3 victory on Detroit Search and Destroy to even the score. It was in Uplink that the series was really decided, though. Kill sprees and clutch plays swug the tides between the two rosters back and forth sporadically, with Denial holding desperately onto a small 2 point lead going into the second half. OpTic Nation answered back with consecutive 1 point dunks throughout the second half, eventually pulling away from their opponents and snatching the lead for themselves. They held it too, despite the best efforts of Attach and his ensemble. Nation had stood strong, securing their second map by a single Uplink point. Exhiliarating stuff.
Map 4 and 5 felt somewhat underwhelming in comparison, as Denial swept Killa and co. aside in Capture the Flag and forced a Search and Destroy showdown once again. The Wolfpack had easily taken victory the last time these two teams competed in this game type, but it wasn't to be. OpTic Nation showed each and every spectator exactly why they've long been considered some of the most individually dominant Search and Destroy players in Call of Duty history, winning the map 6-1. They had done it. They had toppled the giants.
They didn't progress any further into the tournament, after losing to Team Prophecy in the next round and locking themselves in for a final Top 4 placement. That isn't what really matters though. What's important is that OpTic Nation have made a very important statement to all their detractors. They are an exceptionally talented team of players, with individual skill and coordination as a unit that can be unrivalled when everything clicks together perfectly. They've had their troubles in the past, and to be honest there will likely be more trials in the future for OpTic Gaming's sister team. But, on the day this lineup can defeat anybody in tournament play. Don't sleep on them.
Gfinity is bringing Counter Strike: Global Offensive back to London with the Spring Masters II, taking place May 15-17th. More information and tickets are available now.
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