The current iteration of OpTic Gaming is, by almost every conceivable metric, the greatest Call of Duty team of all time.
They’ve played in the finals of thirteen of the seventeen events they’ve competed at together, collecting nine trophies. To put that into perspective, the most successful iteration of compLexity by number of titles, that of James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks, made eight finals and won seven.
The team is a perfect storm of individual skill. They have arguably the greatest SMG player of all time in Seth ‘Scump’ Abner. Matthew ‘Formal’ Piper is a contender for the greatest Assault Rifle player to ever grace the game, and in Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter and Damon ‘Karma’ Barlow, OpTic Gaming have two of the most versatile players Call of Duty has ever seen.
Each member has, at times, been unquestionably among the greatest in the world. Going all the way back to the original Black Ops, Scump’s break-out game, the young prodigy was a contender for the best in the world – a title he solidified on Modern Warfare 3. Going into Black Ops 2 it was Karma that took the crown, an utterly superior talent that helped lead his team to victory at the inaugural Call of Duty Championship.
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Towards the end of Black Ops 2 and moving into Ghosts it was Crimsix’s turn, his dominance a driving force in building the legendary compLexity dynasty. By Advanced Warfare, Formal had gained enough experience in Call of Duty to develop into one of the most impactful AR’s in the game.
There’s never been a roster quite like this one, and there are no four players outside of this team that could match the individual pedigree OpTic possesses. They’re the god-squad that worked. The super-team that lived up to its billing.
Since the creation of this squad they have been Call of Duty’s final boss, the gatekeepers to major trophies. Other teams that hoped for glory have faced the challenge of scaling the green wall, knowing that it would be the greatest obstacle in their path to success.
While there have been several great teams that have challenged for and even won titles over the last two years, their chief opponent has always remained the same. OpTic vs Denial. OpTic vs FaZe. OpTic vs Rise. OpTic vs EnVy. These have been the principle stories of Call of Duty, the headline battles, the most explosive showdowns. The question has simply been who will play David to OpTic’s Goliath.
The expansion of the OpTic empire has been inevitable and unstoppable. They have annexed every province of the Call of Duty landscape. The green flag has flown over UMGs, MLGs, ESWCs, and X Games. All of it belongs to OpTic. All except for one.
It’s the ultimate black mark on an otherwise near spotless record. A shortcoming so significant it cannot be casually brushed aside, a failing large enough that it may even draw into question OpTic’s otherwise unassailable position as the greatest team of all time. In Call of Duty, there’s one competition that matters more than the rest, and at the Call of Duty Championships OpTic Gaming have failed to deliver.
The Call of Duty Championships isn’t just another event. It may boast the biggest prize pool, but it’s not just about the money. It’s about the prestige. It’s about earning the title of Call of Duty Champion, and the ring that will always prove thereafter that you stood on top of the world.
Even qualifying for the Call of Duty Championships is a more rigorous test than for any other tournament. Once there, teams face a greater number of elite opponents, each of whom is more focused and driven to succeed than for any other event of the year. There is little room for error at the Call of Duty Championships – only one team has ever managed to take the title having lost a match in the winner bracket.
The unworthy stand no chance here. No team has ever won the event without having proven themselves amongst the very elite, those teams that either held or contended for the top spot. Impact were unquestionably the dominant team of their day, as were compLexity. Denial had been clashing with OpTic frequently in finals prior to their victory, and EnVy had become champions prior to theirs.
Such a history makes OpTic’s failure even more damning. Twice now, the core three of this team have fallen short in their most critical test. They were the first clear favourite not to win the event in Advanced Warfare, a result they repeated in Black Ops 3.
It is a fault that must be remedied, else the legacy of the greatest team of all time will remain forever tarnished.
They didn’t have the start to this new game that they might have hoped for, a disappointing top six at MLG Vegas, but that matters little if they can recover quickly. They will learn to win in Infinite Warfare, because they must. The only challenge that really matters is almost an entire season away, and everything in between is merely the road to get there.
For OpTic Gaming, there can be only one goal for this year. The trophies they collect along the way are a bonus, but this team has more than enough already to exceed any team in history by that metric. The Call of Duty Championships is the only tournament that may still haunt their legacy.
To fall short once is a forgivable mistake. Twice is more concerning, although Black Ops 3 was the first Call of Duty Championship attempt for this exact line-up – and a single player can make a significant difference to a team. They may still be redeemed, then, by a victory in 2017.
To succeed would mean to launch them beyond reach for the title of greatest of all time. Possessed of every possible accolade in Call of Duty, OpTic Gaming would secure a legacy that is unlikely to ever be surpassed. A dominant force over three years in a game in which teams have, historically, rarely lasted more than three months. Winners of every event on the circuit, collecting more trophies than any other across three different games, and a Call of Duty Championship as the ultimate crown.
To fail, however, throws a distinctly different lens over their legacy. All of those championships can never be taken away, but while they will always be that most successful of teams by number of titles, they will always be marked as the team that couldn’t win the big one. The team that had proven themselves capable of winning, but lost when it mattered the most.
Is it possible to be the greatest team of all time despite having failed, repeatedly, at the greatest tournament? How many additional championships must OpTic win to equate to that single victory that matters more to players and fans alike? These are the questions that will hang over OpTic Gaming like a spectre should they fail again.
OpTic’s empire is fracturing, in more danger than ever of falling apart. They enter the new season having failed, for the first time ever, to make the final of two consecutive events. They’re not insignificant events either, the biggest of all time followed by the first major of the new game. OpTic are slipping from their thrown, with more challengers for the crown appearing than ever before.
Time and probability are working increasingly against them. It is rare for any team, in any esport, to maintain dominance for such a lengthy period without team changes. Nobody can rule forever, and the inevitable countdown to OpTic’s fall may already have begun.
Ahead, the coming season looms as perhaps OpTic’s greatest challenge yet. To fail may mean the end of the OpTic era, yet success may see them reach greater heights than any in Call of Duty history.