In this new weekly series, we’re going to look at some of the key storylines surrounding ESL Pro League Season 7. This week’s focal point is OpTic’s new CS:GO roster.
Nobody saw this one coming, but H3CZ (OpTic’s CEO & owner) sure likes to make it interesting. When he pulled friberg, allu, Magisk, mixwell and HS out of his hat past season, people were speechless. A move no one saw coming, assembling five European fan favorites under the GreenWall banner, sending them to play in NA’s EPL and hoping for the best. The project unfortunately didn’t pan out the way the players & org had hoped and after only one EPL season the team disbanded.
But here we are, a new EPL season and a new H3CZ bomb dropped, trumping his own efforts with an even more exciting squad.
What made the friberg version of OpTic so compelling, was that most CS fans around the globe genuinely wanted the project to succeed, yet that unpleasant certainty that their journey was doomed for failure lingered deep down.
And the same holds true for this new GreenWall iteration, consisting of stanislaw, ShahZaM, k0nfig, gade and cajunb - just that this time, success seems a much more likely outcome.
OpTic’s New Five
In cajunb, they have a true CS:GO veteran of six years. He knows how to win, with several tier-one trophies in his cabinet that he has collected throughout the years. In 2015, he even made HLTV’s top 20 list, ranked as #15.
With the experience he gathered from playing with the Astralis and North boys, he is the perfect calming presence on this otherwise younger roster.
cajunb was a rifler/support player for most of his career, but then started to take over the AWP on North. A role he was forced into but never truly excelled at, which is good news, because in OpTic, ShahZaM will take over sniping-duties, allowing cajunb to return to what he’s more comfortable with anyway.
His form in the dying months of North has been on decline, mainly hovering around a ~1.0 HLTV-rating. Responsible for that dip were probably internal problems that caused not only him, but his entire team to perform on a subpar level. He should be able to improve upon his form again on a young, hungry team as one of the key figures.
The first returnee and the one to pull the strings - stanislaw. During his first tenure with OpTic, he famously lead the team to one of NA’s very few international T-1 titles at ELEAGUE Season 2. In the aftermath, stan and his boys weren’t able to meet their own expectations and it wasn’t long before he accepted an offer from Liquid – a short-lived, unsuccessful stint.
stanislaw is regarded as one of NA’s top IGL’s, and when he wasn’t able to lift Liquid to new heights, he was cut from the roster. Retrospectively, it all went a little unlucky for the Canadian. Pretty much all of his former teammates are currently enjoying tremendous success. tarik and RUSH of course as Major champs, and Liquid a serious contender for a top 5 spot world-wide, with stanislaw the one left behind, forced to build from scratch again.
A challenge, but also an opportunity someone with his work ethic and dedication to the craft will welcome with open arms. He’s the perfect man for the job with his great mind for the game. His former teammates bathing in gold right now will certainly trigger a ‘Now more than ever’ attitude from stan - a powerful attitude that can lead men into new, higher spheres.
Wielding the AWP under stanislaw’s reign will be none other than ShahZaM. Love him or hate him, you cannot deny his prowess as a sniper. He’s come a long way since the beginning days of his international CS:GO career with C9.
He has matured into an intelligent, consistent player who still has plenty of room to improve. It feels like ShahZ frequently gets overlooked, branded as one of those slightly above average NA pros. I believe that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe he has that superstar potential and that once he becomes a fully formed player, NA will have an AWP that shoots with the best.
His time with Misfits wasn’t too bad. The team in general probably over performed, with a solid showing at last season’s Pro League Finals in Odense. ShahZ was instrumental for the team’s success, and it’s his time to shine in this far more skilled OpTic roster.
The second player of the Danish trio is k0nfig, one of the world’s best aimers. For the first half of 2017, the trash-talking, extremely confident Dane played like an international superstar, frequently disposing of opposition through sheer power of will and that clean, crisp aim of his.
Then the second half of 2017 happened and that was, well, abysmal for his standards and even lead to his demotion to North’s bench. k0nfig still made it onto HLTV’s top 20 list as #14 but he was on course for a top 5 placing.
I’m certain k0nfig didn’t simply lose his skill overnight. From an outsider's perspective it looks like differences in playing philosophy between him and the rest of the team contributed to his shortcomings. This shouldn’t be a problem in OpTic’s younger, more explosive environment.
The third and final Dane is gade, a lesser-known player on loan from North Academy. gade’s numbers in 2017 have been impressive, averaging a 1.12 HLTV rating throughout the year. Of course, those are mostly against lower-tier teams. Some of the opposition gade will face with OpTic will be a lot tougher, not too mention the nerves you have to deal with when facing an international top-tier opponent on LAN. He has good aim and understanding of the game, but only when he faces the likes of FaZe, and he’s battling someone like NiKo in Banana, will we know how good he really is.
Predicting OpTic’s Future
I really want the project to be a success, but that unpleasant certainty lingers deep down, that their journey is doomed for failure.
So many variables you cannot account for need to fall into place perfectly. Three young Danes moving to America to play Counter-Strike. If only one of them realizes he’d rather be at home, you have a problem.
Magisk mentioned in a recent interview, that the language barrier was indeed a problem when he first moved to NA to play for OpTic, it’s not going to be any different for cajunb & his boys.
ShahZaM and k0nfig on the same roster is a pretty explosive, unpredictable mix. At the end of the day, no one knows what’s going to happen.
I just hope that they’re in it for the long haul, so stanislaw can implement his vision of the game and form a functioning unit.
Don’t get it mistaken, this squad possesses a lot of skill and if they can develop true team chemistry, we can and should expect big things of them, which is why I’m a believer in the project.
Yesterday OpTic had a great start into ESL Pro League Season 7, winning both maps against compLexity. And tonight they face Cloud9 in what will surely be a tight series that you shouldn’t miss.
Let’s go GreenWall!