• Anthony Vitale

Roster Dilemma: OpTic Gaming's Future

Ancient history tells of a blip in time when OpTic Gaming stood on top of not only the North American Counter-Strike scene, but conquered internationally as well. Since this era, the organization has failed to find true stability in any iteration of their multiple rosters. The only question left is - what can they do now?

Issues prior to Change

Before jumping into their future, we should first dwell a bit on their past. Following a rather disappointing year of Counter-Strike, the OpTic organization were in desperate need of a roster shakeup. The promised star power OpTic was looking for from Ismail “refrezh” Ali was nowhere to be seen following his star performance standing in for Cloud9 at BLAST Pro Series: Lisbon. That fact, combined with the expected number of kills from the in-game leader in Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer and inconsistency on the AWP from Jakob “JUGi” Hansen led to the fate of each match being primarily left in the hands of Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke and René “cajunb” Borg. This left the team in a tough position, seeing as the Danish duo in Rogue of Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen and Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen were looking to return home sooner rather than later.

Nearly Losing out to Cloud9

Multiple sources had pointed OpTic transferring star fragger k0nfig and AWP player JUGi to Cloud9 in place of and Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey and the recently departed Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro. This move never came to fruition, as many believed that Cloud9 would opt to stick with kioShiMa and retain the majority of the team that played in the IEM Katowice Major in order to hold their place in the StarLadder Berlin Major later this year. Nevertheless, JUGi remained in talks with the North American organization for some time, but things had unexpectedly fallen through with Daniel “vice” Kim getting his chance in the team instead. As negotiations with k0nfig and JUGi had finally faded, Cloud9 had settled with the signing of cajunb, as the organization and kioShiMa were no longer seeing eye-to-eye. With that, both Danes would remain with OpTic awaiting their fate in regard to their roster moving forwards.

Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen with Heroic at DreamHack Open Austin 2018 (Photo Credit to DreamHack)
Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen with Heroic at DreamHack Open Austin 2018 (Photo Credit to DreamHack)

MSL and niko join; 6 man Roster with cajunb to the Bench

OpTic Gaming seems to be the all forgiving organization, bringing back both Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz and Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan after ties had been cut initially and now allowing niko back into the roster after his removal back in December of last year. There is history between MSL and k0nfig as well, having played together in both Dignitas and North from the end of 2015 until the beginning of 2018, where both parties had shockingly decided it was for the best that k0nfig took the bench.

With that, it was cajunb who was removed in order to make room for the new arrivals. This comes as a surprise considering it was he who shined through a majority of OpTic’s mishaps during the team’s lifespan, putting up the second most consistent performances behind k0nfig himself. However, there is still no word on the status of JUGi in the team moving forwards, or whether or not they will be using him or Snappi on a consistent basis moving forwards. They had used Snappi throughout the GG Bet Sydney Invitational, where we saw them lose 2-0 in a best-of-three at the hands of forZe after being granted the high seed.

Thoughts Moving Forwards

According to multiple sources, it is seemingly Snappi who’s playing on a sort of “trial period” in a new role, while MSL acts as the in-game leader. In my eyes, the absolute best case scenario for this team would be to get Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså out from North in Snappi’s place, at some point in the future. However, whether or not valde’s contract with North is absurdly long or expensive to buyout is unbeknownst to me.

Many people rate Niels Christian “NaToSaphiX” Sillassen as a positive vocal influence, having lead many of his past teams, and is also exquisite on both the AWP and the rifle, possibly freeing up MSL of his AWP duties. The fact that NaToSaphiX has remained team less for the extent of time that he has makes some question his reputation in the Danish scene, although if what he has shown in the server is anything to go off of then he is certainly a player ready for a move up.

mertz playing under MSL's leadership in North at DreamHack Open Tours 2018 (Photo Credit to DreamHack)
mertz playing under MSL's leadership in North at DreamHack Open Tours 2018 (Photo Credit to DreamHack)

On that same note, Heroic’s own Daniel “mertz” Mertz is the best Danish AWP player under Astralis at the moment for my money, though having a rather lackluster history playing under MSL’s leadership may not bode well for him. Seeing how he is flourishing in the more free flowing role given to him in Heroic, that playstyle could certainly be harnessed and honed by MSL in a second attempt to mold the star sniper.

OpTic Gaming are now:

Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke

Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer

Jakob “JUGi” Hansen

Ismail “refrezh” Ali

Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen

Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen

Casper “ruggah” Due (Coach)


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