OpTic Texas players Scump and Shotzzy stand back to back against a back and green background
OpTic Texas players Scump and Shotzzy stand back to back against a back and green background

From OpTic Gaming to OpTic Texas: A brief history of OpTic

by Andrew Kulp

OpTic Gaming is the most transformational name in competitive Call of Duty -- figuratively and literally speaking after the organization officially merged with Envy Gaming. For the 2022 Call of Duty League season, that means no more OpTic Chicago and no more Dallas Empire, and instead we will now get OpTic Texas.

The other CDL orgs have begun to cultivate their own nice followings, but there’s still nothing remotely like the legions of fervent, loyal OpTic fans known as the Green Wall. It’s not a stretch to suggest the team might be more popular than the other 10 combined (or certainly was at one time), and it’s less a leap than it is accepted canon that OpTic is broadly responsible for the high level of interest in the pro Call of Duty scene today.

The latest move by OpTic to join forces with Envy also continued what has become an annual tradition of sorts with regard to rebranding. There have been three name changes in the last three years during OpTic Gaming’s evolution to OpTic Texas, and to all but the most dedicated enthusiasts, it might not be immediately clear as to why.

For the curious viewer or altogether uninitiated, here’s a brief overview of OpTic’s COD history and the team’s long and winding road to its new Lone Star State moniker.

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Humble beginnings

Photo credit: Jasen Vinlove / USA TODAY Sports

Records from the early days of OpTic are spotty at best -- online gaming was still a relatively new phenomenon and bore not even so much as a passing resemblance to the sophistication of the experience today. What we know from the book OpTic Gaming: The Making of eSports Champions, however, is the group started as a clan in Call of Duty 2 around 2006 founded by Casey “OpTic KR3W” Bartow. Shortly thereafter, Ryan “J” Musselman became its co-leader.

In 2007, the group competed in its first LAN event -- again, lacking the organization or fanfare surrounding esports competitions now -- a 10-team (or thereabouts) 3v3 tournament on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez was one of the players for OpTic at that tourney. He would take the lead on things after that and, of course, is now the president and face of the org.

In 2010, OpTic Gaming entered the emerging pro COD scene with Modern Warfare 2 and consistently has been recognized as one of the top-performing teams ever since. Seven years later, OpTic won its first and only world championship to date on Infinite Warfare.

Going to California

Photo credit: Ben Pursell for Activision Blizzard Entertainment

Here’s where things get a little harder to follow.

In 2017, Infinite Esports & Entertainment bought a majority interest in OpTic Gaming, though H3CZ initially remained as its CEO. It wasn’t until two years later, when Immortals Gaming Club acquired Infinite, that he exited the picture for a minute.

Around the same time, the Call of Duty League was in the process of being formed, and mere weeks after Los Angeles-based IGC took over, the org announced the purchase of one the inaugural 12 franchise slots.

With that, OpTic Gaming Los Angeles was born. The club went 10-17 and finished among the bottom four in the standings before mounting a three-game winning streak in the losers bracket of the CDL playoffs.

Whisked away to the Windy City

Photo credit: Activision Blizzard

Following the 2019 season, 100 Thieves swooped in to buy the LA franchise slot from IGC, renaming the team the Los Angeles Thieves. And just days later -- and only a little more than a year removed from his departure from the org -- it was announced H3CZ had reacquired the rights to OpTic Gaming.

Following his exit from IGC, H3CZ joined NRG Esports as its co-CEO and the org called dibs on its own CDL franchise, at the time known as the Chicago Huntsmen.

Now that he was back in possession of the OpTic tag, the club was free to go by OpTic Chicago.

The new OpTic fared quite a bit better than the previous iteration, finishing fourth in the CDL standings with a 26-17 record, but ultimately disappointing in the playoffs, where Chicago was immediately knocked from the winner’s bracket, then eliminated after one more win.

Everything’s bigger in Texas

Even as last season was still going on, there were rumblings H3CZ was looking to end his relationship with NRG while still maintaining possession of the OpTic name.

That led to the merger with Envy, a partnership that reportedly makes H3CZ a shareholder in the company while allowing him to still retain control of OpTic.

What that means to COD and esports fans is this. Two of the biggest orgs in North American esports are joining forces, with Envy’s legacy in COD esports one of the few that rivals OpTic. OpTic Texas will be a brand that expands Dallas Empire’s old territorial rights to include the entirety of one of the most populous and fastest-growing regions and markets in the world. The combined OpTic-Empire roster is loaded for the upcoming 2022 CDL season, featuring Seth “Scump” Abner, Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro, Inderwir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal and Brandon “Dashy” Otell.

It’s also a fitting conclusion -- if this is indeed the end of the shuffling, for now -- for the OpTic org, which has been home to just about every all-time great COD legend at one point or another. Not bad for the little clan that was established some 15 years ago.

Lead image credit: Envy / OpTic

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