So is my first ever esports post!
Alright before I go into my Ted Talk about this topic, let’s talk a little bit about my Call of Duty experience. I’ve been playing Call of Duty since Call of Duty: World at War released in 2008: a game that I hold dearly in my heart. I actually knew about the a little bit about the comp scene growing up, but I didn’t start watching it until the end of the Black Ops 4 season which marked the end of the Call of Duty World League aka the CWL. I loved CoD growing up, but as the design philosophy has changed, my love has matured and found a home in the comp side of the series. Since the end of BO4, I have done my best to follow the scene and all the names, which has led us to here: my first esports topic on one of the most exciting topics to date!
End side note.
If you’ve been following the Call of Duty League (CDL), the rumors were flying about the potential merger between OpTic Gaming and the Dallas Empire (owned by Envy Gaming). After what feels like years of waiting and many Shotzzy leaks, the news finally broke.
It’s about to get mixy.
Let’s break it down.
Things have been pretty crazy leading up to this moment, but let’s back track to the beginning of the CDL and the launch of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2019.
Again this is at the beginning of my time where I started paying attention, but looking back, it looks OpTic Gaming was purchased by Infinite Esports in 2017, and things were not looking good for either side with reports of Infinite losing crazy money. Infinite Esports was looking to sell OpTic Gaming to Immortals Gaming Club in June 2019, but Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez, longtime CEO of OpTic, wanted no part of that. H3cz sold his share and broke ties with the OpTic brand he helped build up. Immortals holds the spot and names themselves OpTic LA, which was home to many memes and jokes.
Fast forward a bit, H3CZ finds a new home with NRG Esports and secures a spot in the CDL for the low price of 25 million. They finish the inaugural season of the CDL under the name Chicago Huntsmen, while it was cool, it wasn’t OpTic.
November 2020. H3CZ reacquires the OpTic brand from Immortals and renames the team OpTic Chicago to compete in the sophomore year of the CDL in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. All was right in the gaming world.
The biggest piece that seemed to be missing was stability. OpTic Gaming and H3CZ were looking for the home that would provide for the players and the staff the resources they needed. Two seasons in the CDL will do that to you with the amount of finances needed to be spent in order to even secure the spot in the league.
Reports started to come up that H3CZ wanted out of the NRG umbrella that helped open up the opportunity to get him in the CDL. H3CZ was looking for suitors, and given the history of H3CZ and ENVY Gaming founder Mike “Hastr0” Rufail, this potential merger seemed to present the opportunity to get out from NRG, along with the final pieces for a CoD roster (both rosters let/lost major pieces in the offseason) going into the 2022 season and that long sought out sense of stability.
Monday November 8th, 2021 marks almost a year since the news that H3CZ got back the Optic brand from Immortals. It also marks the day the potential ENVY/OpTic merger finally got announced. OpTic Texas is now the culmination of that merger and years of HECZ and Hastr0 trying to make a partnership work out, and boy did it break the internet!
Side note; the news broke after the release of the long awaited The Proccess | Crossroads 3 the documentary on OpTic’s season. It was really well done so if you have time, check it out!
We don’t know all the details of the merger, but what we do know is a couple of things:
- H3CZ will retain his role as president of operations for OpTic.
- The roster is in place. From the OpTic side Seth “Scump” Abner and Brandon “Dashy” Otell will be joining Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro and Indervir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal. Shotzzy and iLLeY won the CDL 2019 Championship under the Dallas Empire banner. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out, but based off of the smaller tournaments, the vibes are high.
- The CoD creators for OpTic, Matthew “FORMAL” Piper and Damon “Karma” Barlow, stay while Envy creators BobbyPoff and Sebas “sebas” Beron join the OpTic team, while former OpTic coach Tyler “TeePee” Polchow returns! Also, ZLaner joins OpTic as their newest Warzone creator.
- The name was rumored to be “OpTic Dallas” for some time but was proven to be incorrect. Taking the name allows them to gain more marketing rights and claim Austin, Texas as the only team in that city.
- They will be looking to expand into more esports under the OpTic name, and that seems to be drumming up a potential hype for an OpTic CS:GO.
- This move will NOT affect the Envy VALORANT team.
- Envy now owns the Chicago spot as well as their current spot (per Dexerto).
There’s still a lot that’s left to be discovered from the merger, and Hastr0 had a solid Q&A session in which he answered a ton of questions with some interesting responses. Check it out!
The final tense to cover.
OpTic x Envy is a merger that seems to be pretty good. Optic has a home, and H3CZ and Hastr0 made a long time plan work out. That being said a couple of things this merger does leave us without knowledge of is:
The future of the CDL.
Envy owns an additional spot that they will be looking to sell, yet with the season rapidly approaching, it’s going to be tough to do. Fielding a team with only a few months left, getting the branding and staffing together can be done, but that’s a lot of stress for something that might not provide instant return on investment. If it doesn’t sell, could we see an 11 team league? Someone on Reddit commented Hastr0 is holding it for TimTheTatman and Complexity since they would be interested in making a return to CoD.
The future of the esports.
The merger does bring up interesting scenarios for all of the teams Envy hosts most notable their VALORANT team. Hastr0 was coy in his Q&A in regards to rebranding the team saying we’ll have to wait and see, as well as any future ventures into new esports. I don’t think they would rebrand the VAL team, especially after the reports saying that it’ll be the same, but if Food can change to Victor and workout better for the team, then so could a rebrand.
The end of a 2 year run.
Besides the massive announcement and rebrand, some of us are forgetting that the Dallas Empire is technically not a thing anymore with their Twitter page being rebranded to OpTic Texas. Former players and members of championship team James “Clayster” Eubanks and Ian “Crimsix” Porter weren’t too happy about the change, which is to be expected. Hastr0 did go on to say they might keep the Dallas branding if they decided to expand into the Challengers scene, but personally, I don’t think Crimsix and Clayster would like that either.
The positions of the partners.
Hastr0 and H3CZ were both the owners of their respective teams, and this merger brings forth the question of who’s who in this deal. Each side gets what they want, Envy gets the recognition they rightfully deserve and OpTic gets the stability they’ve longed for, but who’s who in this merger?
A monumental day for gaming. As mentioned this was all but confirmed, but both sides took their sweet time getting all the paperwork done and dragging out the announcement.
I think this is a great merger, and I’m excited to see what the future brings for both sides and possible expansions. Playing the bad cop for a second though, the only thing that could ruin this would be a H3CZ/Hastr0 fallout which I hope doesn’t happen.
Back to the CDL for a second, I believe almost all the rosters are set (nobody knows what Paris is doing not even Paris themselves). The competition is looking fierce with a lot of teams assembling some nice rosters to bolster championship runs. Here’s too a good year for CoD gaming, and here’s to OpTic finding a home for a long time!