Sam ‘Octane’ Larew has been playing Call of Duty at the highest level ever since Advanced Warfare released in 2014. In six years he’s become one of the most sought-after slayers in the esport, with his AR skills making him attractive to the very biggest teams.
However, despite being an in-demand player, Octane has never really been able to settle on any team for long, and he has had to endure more than his fair share of drama in his career. But that hasn’t stopped him from becoming the best AR in the game – during the last 12 months, in particular, he’s completely bossed it. So how has he managed it? How did Octane go from humble beginnings, flitting from team to team with mixed results, to becoming an AR master?
Going all the way back to the beginning, Octane’s first team was iSolation eSports, but he was only with them for a month before moving on to Dream Team in December of 2014. Then he joined Team JusTus a few months later in February 2015. With JusTus, he placed just 12th in Season Two of the Pro League, and then moved on to Prophecy NA in May for their Season Three Relegation Tournament matches. They didn’t make it to Season 3, and Octane moved on again after a month.
Next, he joined Team EnVyUs in June of 2015 alongside his Prophecy team-mate, Aqua, but once again, results didn’t go the way he had planned. Envy didn’t win an event for the rest of that season, and placed just 7-8th in the Season 3 Playoffs. However, the young player didn’t get discouraged. His teams weren’t performing, but Octane, and everyone else in the scene, knew that he was on another level.
During this time, even if wins were hard to come by, Octane was putting up good numbers, and was being considered as one of the top rookie players of the year. Other players in the conversation included the likes of Huke and TJHaLy, who had started competing at minor LANs during the Ghosts season but were now performing on the biggest stages, and Temp, a new breakout star. Not bad company to be in. He was also playing with, and earning the respect of some of the game’s best players, like ACHES, Aqua, and JKap.
In September, Octane joined Elevate for the MLG World Finals, and, at last, the wins started stacking up. They scored victories over FaZe and Denial, but fell short against Optic, and then fell to third place after coming up against Denial again in the Final Bracket.
In October, Octane joined Rise Nation, and finally he was able to settle down as he started to get some tournament wins under his belt as Black Ops 3 was getting underway. He stayed with Rise for a full year, and they were considered one of the top Call of Duty teams at the time.
However, results did start to slip towards the end of the year, and they could only manage a 5-6th place finish at the Call of Duty World League Championships 2016. That was Octane’s last game for Rise as the team broke apart. Together with former Rise teammates Slacked and Classic, he joined Luminosity Gaming at the beginning of the Infinite Warfare season, where they were joined by Saints.
Things started slow as they got used to playing with Saints, but as time went on, they started to improve, particularly as the 2017 CWL Global Pro League Stage 1 went on. By the time Playoffs rolled around, Octane was in the form of his life, and they took second place. Shortly after that, Luminosity bossed the Anaheim Open, with Octane picking up the tournament MVP award and finally earning a win over Splyce in the final, a team who had been a thorn in his side during the knockout stages of big tournaments in recent times.
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Already known as one of the best AR players in the game, these performances, which included a third-place finish at the World League Championship in 2017, really put Octane on the map. Luminosity continued their success into WWII, putting up great numbers and results, and winning the Birmingham Open in April.
In May 2018 he got what seemed like his big break with OpTic Gaming. When the biggest Call of Duty team in the world it’s tough to say no, and Octane had no way of knowing the drama that would build over the next few months.
It was OpTic’s first roster change in three years, as Octane and Methodz replaced FormaL and Karma. That lineup had won 13 LAN titles together, the most impressive of which was the $1.5million Worlds win in 2017, where they had knocked out Octane’s Luminosity in Round 6. However, the wins dried up at the start of WWII, and by the following May, OpTic needed a change. Enter the hot young star, Octane.
During a Reddit AMA right after joining the team, Octane revealed just how excited he was to be the newest part of the Green Wall.
“It’s one of the few times in my life I can say I’m genuinely proud of myself and it feels so damn good,” he said. “It’s a genuinely life changing experience and I’m happy as hell to be here.” However, within a few months, he would be on the move again.
Optic’s struggles with WWII continued despite the roster moves, and at the World League Championship in 2018, they fell to an ignominious 17-24th place, unable to make it out of Group H despite winning the whole thing just a year before. Octane was then accused by his former teammate John of not performing at his best at CWL Seattle so that he would have the opportunity to join OpTic, something which Octane vehemently denied.
Octane left for 100 Thieves in August after crashing out of Worlds, shocking the Call of Duty world. Sure, OpTic didn’t have the best year, but do you really leave one of the biggest and most historically successful orgs after a few bad results? And why would he go to 100 Thieves, a team with barely any experience in the scene? Was something else going on?
Even before he left OpTic, rumours started to circulate, and things got personal when Octane’s girlfriend, Berta, was brought into it.
CoD Burner, the mysterious esports pro team insider, popped up on Reddit with information about OpTic’s plan for roster moves right before they were officially announced. He suggested that it would be Methodz making way, saying: “I think Methodz only stays if it is 5v5 or if Larew’s +1 pisses off the team and org more.” Larew’s +1 was clearly referring to Octane’s girlfriend, which they did not take kindly to.
Berta quickly hit back, saying: “You really have to learn that that’s not how comp CoD works and you really have to learn info before you post it online. It’s literally up to the team and managers, not if the girlfriend gets along with anyone. And I’m friends with the org, I’m a mod in stream chats, like don’t drag me into this to get some attention. You look hella dumb.” She also suggested that the claims were not coming from “the real” CoD Burner.
Octane got involved too, tweeting: “I just read that I’m leaving OpTic because of ‘relationship conflicts’ with Berta and people are genuinely believing it.”
He also added: “Berta gets along quite fine with my teammates and she has no impact on what team I’m on. For the dude that is desperately seeking attention, look elsewhere because you’re 0 for 1 here my guy.”
Just a couple of days later, and after just three months with the team, Octane announced he would be leaving OpTic and joining 100 Thieves.
Joining OpTic was supposed to be a dream move for Octane, but it quickly turned sour, as it appeared OpTic were scapegoating him for their failures that year. After saying his goodbyes on Twitter, he confirmed that he “didn’t leave OpTic by choice.” On a livestream the following week, Octane said “I don’t even know why I got dropped,” although admitted that the org clearly needed a change in personnel after their bad results.
Everyone thought 100 Thieves were a risk. The org had had a brief and highly unsuccessful run in Call of Duty a couple of years earlier, and results were certainly up and down for the squad in their early time together in 2018. They almost didn’t make the league, and were considered by many to be a laughing stock that would fade away sooner rather than later.
However, 2019 saw 100 Thieves come into their own, led by the slaying power of Octane, and suddenly, the org were arguably the best thing going. He was high up in the conversation for best AR player around, and he also had a few personal highlights along the way, given the turmoil he had been through in 2018. Almost every time 100 Thieves came up against his old team OpTic, they dominated.
Octane seemed to cancel out his opposite number, Crimsix, often considered one of the best to ever play the game. Getting one over on the team that dumped you must feel sweet, but to do it throughout the year, often knocking them out of big tournaments, must have felt like a vindication.
Octane got another MVP award as 100 Thieves won their first championship at CWL London, and then they won CWL Anaheim the following month. 100 Thieves went on to a second place finish at Worlds in 2019, Octane’s best ever performance at the tournament, and the biggest cash win of his career. The team they beat to reach the Grand Final? OpTic Gaming.
In October of 2019, Octane had to move teams again, although this time there was no doubting his ability. 100 Thieves announced they would not be taking part in the newly franchised Call of Duty League, and bowed out of the esport. Octane was picked up by Seattle Surge, the 11th team of his career, where he now hopes to forge a future. He’s playing alongside his former 100 Thieves teammate, Enable, his former Luminosity teammate, Slacked, and his former Prophecy teammate, Apathy, so there’s plenty of familiarity there already.
He has come close a couple of times, but the thing that still evades Octane is that elusive World championship title. Still just 22-years-old, and with an abundance of skill at his disposal, surely it can’t be too far away?