The story of OpTic Gaming's recent CS:GO roster is a tragic one.
It all started when North's offcuts crossed the pond in a failed North American Scandinavia crossover in 2018 following the ELEAGUE Major in Boston.
The ambitious project put three Danish players with North American veterans Shahzeeb "ShahZaM" Khan and Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz.
Two of these players came from North's main team in the form of René "cajunb" Borg and Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke while Nicklas "gade" Gadewas 'a loan' from the since-ceased North Academy project as a highly-touted aim star.
Tension between the NA and EU halves of OpTic saw the project implode resulting in accusations from stanislaw of the Danes being difficult to work with, refusing to speak English and showing up late to practice. The Danish players did not go to such lengths, simply responding that the truth was not so black and white and later stating the calibre of the North Americans 'wasn't what they expected.'
The organisation sided with cajunb, gade and k0nfig in this less-than-civil war by signing the Heroic duo Jakob "JUGi" Hansen and Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer, the most sought after AWPer and IGL outside of Astralis for growing Danish rosters. Now fully Danish, the pressure was on for their stars.
In 2017, k0nfig had established himself as not just one of the best players of the year but a player with potential to be one of the best in this era of CS:GO. A solid rifler, strong AWPer and a man with clear confidence in himself, OpTic was his chance to shine.
Unfortunately, his impact in games took a nosedive. Poor decisions in the server often felt like a sign of improper management and lack of thought, often costing his life in a round. Duncan "Thorin" Shields wrote about 'The tragedy of k0nfig' for Dexerto that elaborates on just how much k0nfig has the capability of winning the aim game in the server but often loses the mental game that sees matches slip through his fingers.
As for the other expected star on the roster, JUGi was not OpTic's answer to Nicolai "device" Reedtz. A far flashier player than his Astralis counterpart, this flair rarely paid off in-game. JUGi was dominating at a lower level of Counter-Strike but struggled to adapt to the harder opponents under OpTic while also crumbling in the face of easy opposition too.
Gade left for North in September, with niko joining the team for his first stint before refrezh was also signed at the end of 2018. A brief back-and-forth with Rogue saw niko leave and return to OpTic, bringing Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen with him the second time around as a replacement for a Cloud9-bound cajunb.
The reunion between MSL and k0nfig was promising. It was MSL that had led k0nfig during his surge in 2017, seemingly aware of how to utilise and motivate the star.
After well over a year for the Danish team, changes had minimal impact on results. Qualifiers were still a hurdle and there were no LAN wins even when attending smaller LANs with teams that should have been no issue.
JUGi too was poached by North in the days leading up to the confirmation that OpTic's parent company Infinite Esports & Entertainment was sold to Immortals Gaming Club in May 2019. Snappi then also parted ways with the organisation in this time.
Thank you to Marco "@SnappiCSGO" Pfeiffer for his time on our CS:GO team. Today we part ways, per his request. We appreciate all of his hard work over the last year and look forward to seeing his continued success in the competitive scene. pic.twitter.com/W6jz0pvI3W— OpTic Gaming™ (@OpTicGaming) June 18, 2019
This left the CS:GO team in the lurch initially. Immortals already owned, and had made a huge investment into, the MIBR team that was formerly under SK Gaming. This meant OpTic CS:GO would have to be sold and find a new home. The following month Immortals confirmed via a statement that OpTic CS:GO would be 'divested' as a result.
Their players were still under contract, but any new additions were not able to be contracted. When René "TeSeS" Madsen joined the team, he was an uncontracted player for the months he was there. No other organisations expressed serious interest in the team, even with 100 Thieves, Dignitas, OG and supposedly TSM all expressing interest in acquiring a roster for next year.
DreamHack Open Summer 2019 looked to be one of the last outings for the 'OpTic' name and in a bittersweet twist of fate, the Danish roster claimed the trophy. The GG.Bet New York Invitational once again saw the players find success, replacing refrezh with an uncontracted cajunb after the latter returned to stand in for the event that saw them through to ESL One New York.
What should have been an advert to any potential organisations led to nothing and the remaining players split off into other organisations or benched themselves earlier this month due to a lack of opportunity now as 'ex-OpTic' players.
I have decided to bench myself. When I joined Optic, the plan was to build a strong team and buy out strong players, but because of optic getting sold, that changed and we have constantly been in a position where we couldn’t build a proper team. 1/2— Mathias Lauridsen (@MSLcsgo) October 11, 2019
North claimed yet another of OpTic's players, Cajunb re-signed with North once again after a year's absence following his removal.
Tricked have seen niko stand in for IGL Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen in recent matches, but this is not likely to be a long-term home for him.
Young prospect TeSeS has been a stand-in for Copenhagen Flames, a team that overcame North, now with three OpTic alumni, 2-0 in the qualifier for this year's DreamHack Open Winter.
After nearly joining Cloud9 earlier this year with JUGi, k0nfig has joined forces with other European players on the bench or free agents. As 'Meanwhile', the team looks set to be a stepping stone as he has been tipped to be part of the Complexity juggernaut in the near future. This comes as the organisation has removed Rory "dephh" Jackson and, coincidentally, benched ShahZam.
Jason Lake, CEO of Complexity, had previously said that any top player wanting a fresh start would see their buyout paid which means any OpTic contract would be no issue.
I love our players as individuals but these results won’t be tolerated.— Jason Lake (@JasonBWLake) August 25, 2019
If you’re a Tier 1 player looking for a fresh start at the best facility in the world, HMU. I’ll pay your buyout and give you the world’s highest salaries.
Let’s build a juggernaut.
Spread the word.
With Benjamin "blameF" Bremer taking the leadership reins and Valentin "poizon" Vasilev the likely fifth, the new Complexity roster would be the perfect place for k0nfig to return to his former glory and prove he is willing to put his all into the game.
Snappi had since returned to Heroic, refrezh is on the OpTic bench and the North American
There is still one player unaccounted for so far in the OpTic fallout.
MSL has shown he is more than willing to play in North America if there is not a suitable EU offer as he previously joined Rogue for six months after his removal from North.
Some have suggested MSL return to North after their string of IGL endeavours have failed to be as successful as his 2017 reign. This would see the old 2017 core of Philip "aizy" Aistrup , cajunb and MSL reunited, with OpTic alumni making up four out of five players.
The main barrier for MSL is the length of his contract which is apparently significantly longer than k0nfig's remaining tenure. This will see niko in the same position as they signed to OpTic at the same time.
Very few organisations look willing to pay a substantial buyout which could see a long wait for the esteemed IGL who is 'in no hurry' to join a new team.
Im open for all offers both NA & EU. My DMs are open. I believe that structure, reflection and hard work is what will bring u to the top and I bring all those. I expect the same from the next team I will play for. Im in no hurry, this time I want a team that I can believe in. 2/2— Mathias Lauridsen (@MSLcsgo) October 11, 2019
Fellow Danish IGL cadiaN recently spoke with HLTV.org and warned about the danger of sitting out for significant periods of time - 'It is rough when you cannot play because the longer you are out the less attractive you are, people forget you in this game.'
Many seem willing to forget the impact MSL has managed to have on Danish Counter-Strike. His DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018 MVP award might often be seen as a joke, but the reality is that as a player many saw as mechanically poor managed to reinvent himself in the last year or so as an AWPer capable of taking down the likes of s1mple while also dragging his team back after a devestating 16-0 on DustII in the semifinal against mousesports to win the series 2-1.
A victory over Astralis in 2018 at a time where they were once again the most formidable team and were about to then go on a dominant run that left every other team in the dust being unexpected would be an understatement.
Jacob "Pimp" Winneche said in a Rush B Media interview earlier this year that the dominance of Astralis could well have pushed the motivation of OpTic, as well as other domestic rivals, down. 'They know that even if they elevate their level just a tiny bit, they won’t even get close to Astralis.'
As a few other Danes float in a benched/free agent purgatory, as well as other EU players, there are chances for a brand new team to be established with MSL at the helm to break this mentality. Instead of looking at Astralis, MSL could lead a team that simply seeks to be the best it can be without getting hung up on how much better another team is.
OG apparently hitting contract issues with their targetted players' organisations and potential pickup poizon set to join Complexity instead, perhaps the opening will be there for the Danish IGL to not be forgotten but instead cement a legacy in a European lineup. This would take away the comparisons to Astralis, removing distractions and allowing a focus on what truly matters.