Back in February 2018, OpTic as an organization was still deciding what kind of force it wanted to be within competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Previous rosters didn’t meet expectations and they looked to create a new team from the ground up. As they began to build from the ashes of what once was, they started from square one creating a North American team with four pro players - two Danes, a Canadian and an American, along with another young Dane from the amateur scene named Nicklas Gade. “That was a big move for me [joining OpTic]. It was an opportunity I had to seize back then,” he said.
Not two months after Gade joined OpTic, stanislaw and ShahZaM, the only North American players, were replaced by two more Danes. Snappi and JUGi rounded out a full Danish roster. “It was two rough months because it didn't turn out as expected with the team, so that was a shitty feeling,” said Gade. On top of adjusting to new teammates, Gade also had to adjust to a new region as the team transferred to playing in Europe instead of North America. Thankfully, changing the competitive environment didn’t phase him. “I don’t think it affected me that much. I just go with the flow and whatever happens, I’ll adjust,” said Gade. “When we were in North America a lot of the tier one teams were at events so they weren't scrimming; so we didn't really get much out of it. Scrim-wise It’s a lot better in Europe because the schedules and the teams are better, so practice is much better.”
Besides completely switching regions, having teammates that are fellow Danes makes for a more enjoyable competitive space. “The five man core we have now just being full Danish makes a lot of things easier,” said Gade. “If someone has a plan or idea they just bring it to the table instead of having to translate, so in general it just simplifies a lot of things. The playstyle doesn’t really matter because you can always adjust to that. It’s just more fun because we all understand each other instead of having different people from different cultures. We’re pretty straight forward when it comes to Danish people [laughs].”
Many in competitive CS:GO, even teammate k0nfig himself, consider Gade to be a rising star with the ability and talent to become a top player in the not-so-distant future. While he appreciates the sentiment, Gade doesn’t let any pressure affect him and just wants to continue to be a team player.
“All CS players want to be on that top 20 list but it's all about the team effort,” he said. “If I put in the work I'm supposed to do, I expect the same from my teammates. Sometimes you have a bad game and sometimes you have a good game. If you can minimize the bad games you'll be on that list. It’s the Astralis era right now and they have five of the top 20 players on the team. I think of myself as a really good player and I like to think I can be a star but time will just have to tell and I know all four of my teammates can be on that list as well. I definitely want to prove with this team because I think we can be a top five contender. In that sense there's a lot of pressure because we want to prove that we can be a top tier team in the world and I think we have the right team to do that.”
OpTic is the first top tier professional team Gade has played for, as he was previously on North’s Academy team for about a year. Now, after roughly six months with OpTic, not only has he transferred regions back and forth, but has helped the team earn their spot in the first Valve Major since the ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta in January 2017. “For this team I know it meant a lot because I know Snappi and JUGi have tried for the past three or four minors to qualify and they never made it and I’m just a new guy that just came into the scene last year,” he said. “I don't think it really became a realization until I got home and I was like 'shit we're actually going to the London Major.' I mean we played freaking good CS that LAN so it was a really good feeling coming back and having a vacation after that.”
Vacation is now over and after some well-needed rest the boys in green are back on a hectic tournament schedule with the Zotac Cup, DreamHack Masters and the FaceIt Major all back to back. “We have five, six, days of practice then we go to Hong Kong, then Stockholm, then straight to London. So it's about getting back to the period we were at right before the minor and just remember that time, how we played there, what we did well and bring it all back together and see if we can win some tournaments,” he said.
It may be a rough schedule but Gade doesn’t think the back to back competition will faze the team at all. “I think Zotac will be like a warm up event and hopefully we can do well, but it's all about the Major. That's the main focus, our main goal.”
Gade’s loan contract with OpTic technically ends in October, closely after the Valve Major, but he hopes the organization will see the potential in him and keep him as a permanent player. “Yeah I'm definitely hoping to stay. I think I proved myself at the [European] minor.”