Given the ashes of his enemies that he’s left behind, Nick Ridgeway needs no introduction to the Gears of War community. The coach of OpTic Gaming’s illustrious Gears team is the mastermind of the scene’s single strongest squad and architect of their strategy – and in recognition of their achievements under his wing, it should be no surprise that a promotion was in order.

Though we aren't yet ready to unveil our primary GM, Nick is nonetheless now their right-hand man as Assistant GM, and the main mind behind the organization’s console efforts – doing, primarily, what he’s already been doing.

“As an Assistant GM, I’m still making sure players are taken care of, and have everything they need to be as successful as possible. I’ll still be coaching the Gears of War team,” assured Nick. “But in addition to that, I’ll be working closely with [our new GM] to give the brand a direction, and to push its development as the best esports organization in the world.”

Addressing Issues

To that end, it necessarily needs to involve more publicly active leadership – a requisite that played a role in their selection.

“I think that we knew that OpTic needed leadership that was both charismatic and comfortable on camera – something that I’m comfortable with. And also somebody who’s familiar with the more traditional aspects of OpTic and what brought us to the point that we are at now – what made OpTic so special not only to the people involved, but the fanbase.”

That, specifically and explicitly, includes the games that it’s involved in. Especially the game that kicked it all off. “I think that console esports in general, and especially console shooters, is the groundwork and foundation of OpTic Gaming. It’s what made it what it is. We started in Call of Duty, and that will always be an esport that we hold near and dear, and an esport that we will support – as well as other console shooters. We’re very familiar with the history of the brand and where it’s been, and will continue to support that as we push the brand forward.”

Scouting Ahead

There is a lot of ground to push forward onto too, given the rumors circulating the scene with E3 2018’s approach – as well as the leaks and slip-ups that inevitably happen when major announcements are on the horizon. One thing that wasn’t a leak: the Activision earnings call that tantalizingly suggested that they were taking lessons from Blizzard’s Overwatch League in determining the future of competitive Call of Duty. The possibilities and challenges therein had no escaped Nick’s attention.

“It would be tremendously exciting to see them franchise and follow that Overwatch League structure,” said Nick. “It’s something that any esport can definitely benefit from – that structure and stability. I definitely think that they have a large enough community and fanbase where it would be successful.” Nick also noted that it would be the first time that a console esport received that sort of high-level developer support too – and as arguably the face of North American Call of Duty, OpTic’s especially vested in learning more of Activision’s esports plans for the announced Black Ops IV release.

News of Gears of War 5, within Nick’s own wheelhouse, is a bit more nebulous, with only a purported Walmart leak suggesting it’s real. But after a few years of Gears 4, the team is ready to see what The Coalition has in store next.

“For Gears 5, there’s definitely a lot of changes that we’ve been vocal about for Gears 4 that haven’t happened, so we’re hoping that they get implemented into the next game. I think that the devs who made Gears 4 have done a tremendous job with the esports program and a really good job continuing the work on the game. We’re just hoping that, going into the next game, they take all the suggestions and feedback they’ve gathered from this one and make Gears of War 5 the best game that we’ve seen.”

With Nick overseeing OpTic Gaming's competitive console efforts, the organization advances into its future on sure footing.