After a season derailed by injury, a healthy OpTic Texas head to CDL Champs as the second seed. Finishing fourth at Major IV wasn’t ideal, but for the ‘Green Wall’, it was a chance to pick up form before the Call of Duty League postseason.
Formed for the CDL’s 2022 season, OpTic Texas rose from the ashes of the disbanded-then-merged OpTic and Envy franchises: OpTic Chicago and the Dallas Empire.
Combining the 2020 champion Empire’s Anthony ‘Shotzzy’ Cuevas-Castro and Indervir ‘iLLeY’ Dhaliwal with OpTic’s iconic Brandon ‘Dashy’ Otell and Seth ‘Scump’ Abner, the team surged into the year with a championship at Major I.
But those lofty expectations soon gave way to concern as OpTic placed 5th-6th at Major II before iLLeY – known by many as ‘The Undertaker’ – left the lineup for two months due to injury. During his absence, the team failed to improve on their previous placing at Major III.
Major IV marked iLLeY’s return to the lineup and, with him, a quasi-return to form. While fans may have been disappointed by a fourth-place finish, the team simply described the tournament as “practice for Champs.”
‘The Undertaker’ returns
While Scump needs no introduction, Shotzzy is a 2020 MVP, and Dashy is living up to his ‘Bruce Wayne’ moniker with a heroic MVP campaign of his own, iLLeY presents a more nebulous figure to the average viewer.
But during the return of ‘The Undertaker’ return at Major IV, Dashy was quick to address misconceptions: “It’s no secret that Inder is the heart and soul of our team. He leads us in-game, he keeps us all motivated, he keeps us on the right track, on the right mental state. It’s not something you can just replace.
“A lot of people were thinking, ‘Oh, a one-player swap … we still got Ant, we still got Seth,’ but at the end of the day, if you miss your in-game leader and pretty much the core of how your team is running, it’s going to affect all of us. It affected me for a little bit.”
That sentiment was corroborated by Shotzzy, who simply contended that “without Inder there is no team.”
Returned from a thumb injury, iLLeY’s presence near-instantly helped OpTic finish fourth at Major IV – their highest placement since Major I. Asked about his health, he explained that he is at “100%,” but his principal focus is “getting the team on the same page and just doing what we do, getting better every day and becoming a unit again.”
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Dashy, conversely, was less humble about his teammate’s form: “He’s back now and he’s taking over and I’m super glad that my duo is back in form. He’s disgusting.”
Dashy becoming “unstoppable”
While Dashy heaped praise on iLLeY, it’s impossible to discuss OpTic’s march to the second seed without taking a moment to appreciate Big Bruce’s season. This year, Dashy has posted the league’s second-highest overall K/D (1.20) as OpTic’s premier gunner.
That output may not surprise some, as the AR has always been known for some of the purest mechanics in CoD history. The difference, though, has come in his coordination with the team.
Asked about Dashy’s presence, in light of the mindset questions that have consistently plagued his career, iLLeY returned the praise:
“He’s always just mechanically gifted in honestly everything he does and this year, mechanics isn’t a problem, we’re basically just trying to be a unit with the intangibles that make a team win. And Brandon, from the start of the year until now, it’s just crazy progress in those intangibles and he’s literally going to be unstoppable… We’re going to be unstoppable.”
All eyes on Champs
OpTic’s AR duo is in fine form and their SMG duo can’t be discounted, either. Shotzzy, known as ‘The best POV in CoD’, has averaged a 1.06 K/D this season, and Scump, known simply as ‘The King’, a 1.02.
At 27 years old, Scump’s form has been particularly fascinating this season. As Dashy explained, “it’s kind of insane to me how he gets better every year.” Putting it more simply, iLLeY elaborated that ‘The King’ is “aging like fine wine.”
Although the individuals are noteworthy, OpTic’s attention has remained on the collective and their coalescence for CDL Champs. At Major IV, OpTic went 3-1 with two games going the distance to a Map 5. At Champs, they’ll hope to bounce back as the No. 2 seed against the Toronto Ultra in Winners Round 1.
For those inclined to worry about the close calls and disappointing finish at Major IV, iLLeY was sure to dismiss concerns: “It was honestly just good … just getting the reps for Champs, which is what we’re trying to win. That’s what we’re practicing for.”