OpTic’s history at the Valve Majors is a short one, as they’ve only fielded a squad for the past two years. In 2016 they placed 13th-16th at ESL One: Cologne and in 2017 placed 12th-14th at ELEAGUE: Atlanta, both as North American teams. Now, one year and seven months after their last Major appearance, OpTic will take to the Major stage in London with a completely different roster from a completely different region looking to prove themselves as one of the top CS:GO teams in the world.
Getting to this point wasn’t very difficult for the team, as they advanced to the European Minor by decisively placing first in the closed qualifier, only dropping one map. The Minor itself was also a relative breeze, competing through the upper bracket but ultimately losing to Ninjas in Pyjamas in the finals. Despite not picking up the LAN win, the team qualified for the Major and took a much-needed competitive break before they began their most strenuous competitive tour to date. The coming weeks will be the harshest the current iteration of OpTic CS:GO has faced since its formation.
The performance at the Minor shows the ability of the team when they’re in top shape against competitors at a similar level, but factors outside of their control could come into play as they head to London.
While the team had a break after the Minor they began three back to back tournaments with the Zotac Cup in China last weekend, DreamHack: Masters in Sweden this week and the beginning of the FACEIT Major in the United Kingdom next. Competition this close together in three different areas of the world sounds hectic, especially with adjusting time zones.
Back to back tournaments certainly have the potential to weaken OpTic, along with MiBR and TyLoo which will also be competing in all three, but as the Major will be the final competition and Stockholm and London only one hour apart, there will be ample time to acclimate.
DreamHack completes a mere three days before the Major begins and with a piece of $250,000 on the line and 12 of the 16 teams participating also competing in the Major, it will be the ideal proving grounds as teams prepare for the final Valve event of 2018.
While DreamHack has a decent prize pool, the Major obviously has a larger one with a massive title attached. Both have hugely different formats, but that difference will keep the team alert and on their toes. DreamHack will have 16 teams total competing with four GSL double-elimination groups, while the Major will have three separate stages, two with a Swiss format and the last as a single-elimination bracket. The format difference avoids a “one and done” situation in the early stages with DreamHack offering more of a comeback opportunity.
The format, along with OpTic essentially starting from the bottom, makes it a guessing game as to who will they will face against first at the Major. In the New Challengers Stage, with fellow Minor second-placers, there’s a strong chance of coming against Astralis or Gambit, both of which will be at DreamHack: Masters. Aside from paying close attention to those, they’ll have to keep an eye on the nine others that will also be in both tournaments: FaZe Clan, Natus Vincere, MiBR, Mousesports, Fnatic, North, Ninjas in Pyjamas, HellRaisers, TyLoo, and especially Gambit and Astralis as a stronger likelihood to play either of the two to begin the New Challengers Stage.
In DreamHack’s Group C, OpTic will face off against FaZe Clan, Fnatic and Heroic, avoiding top teams like Astralis, Natus Vincere, mousesports and MiBR early on until the bracket. FaZe and Fnatic will also be present at the Major, so the team is hoping to make a strong start to get out of groups and advance.
The DreamHack bracket and the Major’s New Challenger Stage will have strong potential of the team facing their European counterpart, Ninjas in Pyjamas. The two met at the European Minor, and while OpTic dropped Ninjas to the lower bracket in the semifinals, they faced off again in the finals with Ninjas taking the win in two games on Dust II and Nuke. NiP have fought just as hard as OpTic to make it to this Major and map choices will be be a large factor in who wins and who goes home if the two compete against each other again.
If OpTic can at least make it out of the group stage at DreamHack, this will show they have a decent chance of advancing past the New Challengers Stage to the New Legends Stage at the Major, which will also consist of five teams from DreamHack.
Advancing to the New Legends Stage will guarantee OpTic Top 16 in the event at minimum, a direct invitation to the next Major-IEM Katowice in February 2019, and at least $9,000 in prize money. Passing the New Legends Stage and into the single-elimination Champions Stage will guarantee Top 8 and at least $35,000 in prize money.
Typically, at least the Top 16 teams in the Major are invited to other prestigious events throughout the competitive season, outside of the Valve-sanctioned Majors. These further opportunities will give the team the spotlight and ability to continue competing at a high level from here on out.
DreamHack: Masters in Stockholm, Sweden will commence August 29th - September 2nd and the FACEIT Major will be a lengthy competition three days later: September 5th - 23rd beginning with the New Challengers Stage.
After the Major, OpTic will be in Season 6 of StarSeries & i-League in Kiev with $300,000 up for grabs against familiar opponents like Fnatic and Ninjas in Pyjamas. Preparing for ESL Pro League and the next Major will be a priority no matter the outcome in London.