OpTic Will Exceed Its Predecessor - Heroic
This article is in response to a tweet made by Wallabeebeatle on the day the new OpTic line-up was announced.
This is a statement I happen to disagree with. Although not stated in the tweet, I predict OpTic to exceed the heights attained by Heroic’s original line-up.
As OpTic has formed in a way that I find similar to the original Heroic line-up, I see them as the spiritual successor to the team. Heroic was a team formed by the players who were rejected by SK Gaming for the Luminosity players. Although Maelk surely had a hand in picking and politicking for this team, they are still a band of rejects. The clean, official line was that k0nfig left due to “personal reasons.” Knowing k0nfig and viewing that team’s problems from the outside, k0nfig didn’t leave North to pursue his lifelong passion of being a park ranger just to reverse the decision and join OpTic. k0nfig’s departure from North was no doubt a mutual one, and by that I don’t mean an amicable parting of ways but one of mutual irritation and disdain. The North core no doubt had similar feelings about cajunb when removing him, but more than just his fiery attitude being an issue, cajunb wasn’t able to make up for it in the same way that k0nfig and his impeccable skill could.
Snappi and JUGi were the most recent acquisitions of OpTic, and while they are not rejects as k0nfig and cajun are, as far as I know, they have been relegated to the outskirts of the Danish scene. When MSL started to fall short, was Snappi recruited? No. North has a clear weakness in AWPing, and while it was a good idea that they try out mertz, they have experienced a whole year of failures with aizy without considering someone such as JUGi to replace aizy and end their AWP drought. Who knows why these two players have failed to make inroads to the premier Danish teams? But the fact remains that they haven’t.
gade is the final player in this line-up. He is particularly important to this discussion not because of his skill but his role in this roster. gade is not officially part of OpTic; he is a player on loan from North. Considering his age and ability, it is doubtful that he will play for OpTic in the long-run. If by “this new OpTic line-up” Wallabeebeatle meant the four contracted players and someone else, then they absolutely have the semi-finals ahead of them. If he meant this line-up with gade, then that is a little more questionable, but I still believe this line-up to be capable of a top four at a top-level LAN. This much is obvious, but gade’s best team was North Academy. He— like Snappi and JUGi, but worse off—has yet to enter the ranks of top Danish CS. It would be a stretch to call him a reject, but his status in Danish CS perfectly complements the rest of the OpTic crew.
Above is the original Heroic line-up and the current OpTic line-up. I began to link these teams together when I realized Snappi was the common thread between them, but the other attributes of these teams link them far more tightly that just the name of a single player. Snappi was the in-game leader of Heroic and will presumably be leading this team. His neatly arranged system on Heroic will no doubt be transplanted to accommodate stars, such as k0nfig, cajunb, and JUGi.
This issue of stars came up when Wallabeebeatle added some context to his original tweet. Replying to a follower, he said that their issue is a lack of rifle depth. I agree that this team is not going to be the next SK, but during this time of internal conflict and confusion within SK, OpTic has an opportunity to do better than them, which isn’t going to be tough if they go out in 13th-16th place. Considering that they are starting out fresh as a team and are being led by Snappi, there is a good chance that they will be able to make due with less than SK because they have a better organized team. SK is certainly capable of being the best team in the world after a rebuilding phase, but their problem is that they don’t even realize that they need to rebuild, which is preventing them from moving forward. Right now, almost everything is up in the air and no one knows where it will land. OpTic has a more humble line-up as far as individual skill, but they have landed on the ground. SK and many other teams are still falling and scrambling to fix their issues. Having this advantage in this era of uncertainty means a lot.
That term, uncertainty, is a bit of a hot button topic. Over the past couple years, there have been debates over parity and uncertainty, which term best describes this era. Right now, I would say that this era is uncertain, hence the success of teams like Mousesports. Mousesports is definitely a good team, but is the quality of Counter-Strike coming from them today on the same level of Counter-Strike being delivered from top teams last year? That answer is no. There was SK, G2, FaZe, and Astralis all fighting for number one, and they were all good teams—teams with Counter-Strike legends at peak form playing in them. That was a period of parity. When the original Heroic line-up competed, Virtus.pro resurged, SK had just won two Majors in a row, Cloud9 had won America’s first event and was contesting in tournaments, Dignitas could be impressive and win tournaments, Na’Vi with s1mple was a great threat for a while, and NiP was able to maintain their relevance for another year. Heroic’s victory at the Danish domestic Power-LAN, their deep runs at the Northern Arena events, and their play at the few premier events they attended showed great promise. People like to dismiss Heroic’s success at this time, purely based off of their performance after the departure of gla1ve, but many community members had their fingers crossed in the hope that Astralis would not snatch up one of these players thereby ending the experiment for naught as the recruited player would be likely to wither in Astralis. Obviously, the narrative at the time was not entirely correct; Astralis went on to do great things with gla1ve and still do. But if you take the mentality at the time for what it’s worth, that it would be a shame if a team with a potential such as Heroic’s were to be cut short, then the point about Heroic stands. Actually, the success of gla1ve on Astralis only gives more credence to the idea that Heroic was a team with great players with great potential.
When looking at the team role-by-role, I can’t help but feel that OpTic is an improvement. JUGi is certainly better than Friis, and JUGi’s style is more in line with that of an upset/contender team, which is where this team will get their success.
Snappi cancels out himself as a player on both line-ups although his experience should have gone up with time, but when looking at the in-game leader as a role, OpTic is lacking. This is due to gla1ve obviously not being able to help out with leading as he was known to do on Heroic. All in all, there is but a small decline in terms of in-game leadership.
The second/third stars of these two teams are MODDII and cajunb. An important thing to mention in this particular comparison, a player traditionally associated with Swedish Counter-Strike and a player playing in his home country, is that there is no language barrier for MODDII as he speaks Danish in the teams he plays on. Other than that consideration, the way in which cajunb and MODDII affect the team is important to evaluate. Both of them have been known to have rage issues. Perhaps, that is no longer an issue for MODDII, but cajunb has appeared tilted many a time on North. Nevertheless, cajunb has played on high level stages, sometimes being the difference maker for North. If nothing else, then they are fairly equal players.
The natural comparison for k0nfig would be valde. Although they have different roles, they are both far and away the star players of their respective line-ups. valde was most certainly a unique player who showed great promise in reinventing the lurk role and being the next GeT_RiGhT, at least as much as one can be in the modern era. valde had great map awareness and utility usage. All that was needed was for him to play at a couple more big LANs to prove that his cool, clutch ability would not melt in high pressure games. I have no doubt that under the right circumstances, which North does not appear to be able to provide anytime soon, that valde will be a top ten player, but k0nfig has already shown that. In his top ten players list of 2017, Thorin ranked k0nfig tenth. Even though valde could be a great player, k0nfig has been a player who has made his skill materialize, which is why I consider k0nfig’s presence as an improvement for Heroic’s spiritual successor.
Finally, when we look at the supportive players of these teams, gade and gla1ve, gla1ve is clearly the superior player. Like I said before, gla1ve contributed to in-game leadership, and is one of the best in-game leaders in CS:GO in his own right. gade is just an inconsistent and fairly mediocre rental player. The one saving grace when comparing OpTic’s fifth to gla1ve is that, depending on the meaning of Wallabeebeatle’s tweet, gade might not necessarily count as an OpTic player, thereby nullifying a glaring weakness in OpTic.
While Heroic was successful by playing under a well-developed system with players who do best under those conditions, OpTic will garner their success through their individuals. Ideally, you understand the method to your madness, but players who can make insane plays speak for themselves. Additionally, the individually skilled teams are more likely to have higher results because their performance will fluctuate. If a team with a system hovers around 10th best team, they will very occasionally get into the playoffs, but if there is a skill-based team that is ranked 10th, they will occasionally make it to the semi-finals. This sort of form is why Virtus.pro goes on inexplicable championship-winning streaks. Granted, this OpTic line-up is no Virtus.pro, but in addressing Wallabeebeatle’s tweet, we are only talking about semi-finals, not winning a tournament, not going on a tournament-winning streak.
To make a top four, all that needs to occur for this team is for k0nfig to play at the level he did before his decline late last year, which has only occurred for three tournaments. I say “has” because we have yet to see k0nfig play at LAN since the ELEAGUE Major, but if we look at his online form in 2018, it is no worse than his online form in 2017. Even though online CS is an inferior metric in rating a player’s skill, fluctuations in online form act as a litmus test of where the player’s overall form is going. On that account, it is not outrageous or expecting too much from k0nfig to see him return to his old form while playing under the OpTic banner.
In addition to k0nfig, playmaking, to a lesser degree, will be coming from JUGi and cajunb. Both k0nfig and cajun are stable players in the skill that they bring to the roster, but JUGi has a lot more inconsistent of a style. In keeping with the theory of a lower ranked team with great fluctuations in skill-ceiling placing deeper than a stably mediocre team, JUGi’s presence on the team in comparison to other Danish AWPers available works well with the win conditions of OpTic.
A team that began as a disappointing and hopefully temporary home for k0nfig is shaping up into being Denmark’s second best team. And instead of being a team that depresses you like s1mple’s Na’Vi prison of last year, OpTic should give room for k0nfig to show all the best that he can be and do fairly well at the same time.
Image credit: JOGAKAH.COM and Lifant, Esports-Betting-Tips.com
Follow the author for more on Twitter at @Bleda412.