By the dancing
emotes over their enemies’ fallen piles of loot shall you know
them: OpTic Gaming has acquired one of the very best Fortnite teams
in the scene. The four-gun squad of Kenneth ‘BaldyKun’ Anderson,
Robert ‘WizKay’ Simone, Marco ‘MarkyWap’ Soto, and Dade
‘Dramas’ Lesch have already made a splash in the nascent
competitive community – multiple splashes, in fact.
“We just kind of
took the scene by storm,” recounted Soto. “We hold three of the
kill records – solo kill record, duo kill record, squad kill
record...” Their practice and scrims can only be described as
relentless – when asked the usual interview thing about their
personal lives and hobbies, two of the four’d sheepishly admitted
that, at least for the last few months, there hasn’t really been
Said Simone: “The
last four months has been nothing but Fortnite, scrimming, sleeping,
and repeating that process.”
“I love Fortnite,
so it’s hard to get me off the game,” said Soto. Though in their
now-rare free time, half the team kicks back with basketball games –
and groaning at the Cavaliers, in Simone’s case.
“I’m a massive
sports fan for all the teams in Cleveland,” said Simone, who
currently resides in the city. “Browns, Indians, Cavs – the Cavs
are in the finals right now, so I get together with my friends and
that’s what we normally do: we watch the game and yell at the TV
like little kids.”
It wasn’t possible
to avoid bringing up J. R. Smith’s infamous moment.
“Yeah, see that’s
not – that wasn’t a very happy moment for the people I was with.
Let’s just say that.”
None of the four
players started with Battle Royales, of course, much less Fortnite.
But they do have a common origin as Call of Duty players – some
starting out as late at Call of Duty 4. Dade Lesch, however, has
touched the entire lineup, all the way back to the first iteration of
the franchise. For many of them, Call of Duty and MLG Gamebattles was
where they first cut their teeth in competitive play – and H1Z1 the
point in which their paths fatefully intersected.
Three of the four of
them were a long-established competitive force in H1Z1’s Battle
Royale community – the triple-threat of WizKay, MarkyWap, and
Dramas. All four of them boast, at barest minimum, 400 hours in the
game, with Lesch claiming to have sunk over 4,000 into it himself.
The transition to
Fortnite instead of PUBG, the latter of which arguably shares
stronger roots with their original focus on H1Z1, largely fell onto
preferences in the respective game’s pacing. “Marky and WizKay
liked PUBG, I’d say,” recalled Lesch. “It was just too slow for me, and I didn’t enjoy it at all.”
“PUBG is just a
much longer process of landing, looting, and finding people,”
explained Simone. “Fortnite, you can land, find a gun in five
seconds, and you’re fighting someone 10 seconds after that.”
more on what drew them into the Battle Royale space in the first
place: “When I started playing video games, it was strictly Call of
Duty Search & Destroy, a little bit of Halo and Gears on the
side, but that was it. It was team versus team, S&D style games,
so when I got to H1Z1, it was just something I’d never played.
satisfying to win a game. In CoD, you win a game, four people win, and
there’s only eight people in the lobby. In Fortnite, you win a
game, one to four people win, and there’s a hundred people. That
feeling just kind of pulled me in.”
Dreams to Reality
That combination of experiences, with both competitive Call of Duty
and H1Z1, led them to where they are today – and helped sculpt
their remarkable set of skills. Notably, most started fairly young.
Anderson started with competitive sniping when he was just 11 or 12
with Modern Warfare 2. “I’d just play competitive quickscoping
pretty much,” he recalled. “And then I started playing actual
competitive Call of Duty, which was like GB. I played GB matches in
tournaments, and eventually got pretty good and started playing with
And the entire time, the dream of black and green was on their minds.
“We haven’t told a ton of people; we’ve been trying to keep it
a little low,” said Simone. “Anybody that I’m friends with that
games obviously knows who OpTic is. They’re obviously really happy
‘cuz a lot of them, like me, come from a CoD background, and OpTic
is obviously the org you want to be in no matter what. So when we told people that’s the team we’re joining they kind
of freaked out a little bit.”
“I’ve just been dreaming of joining OpTic since I was a little
kid, ad it’s unreal that I’m finally about to be a part of it,”
said Lesch. “And I’m excited for the future.”
Epic Games has not yet announced their plans to distribute that staggering $100 million prize pool through competitive events – but anticipation is high that announcements will come in the wake of E3.