Having not placed outside the top three and only losing twice on LAN since the their inception, OpTic Gaming's current Gears of War roster may be the most dominant and most consistent team in Gears of War history.
Gilbert "Xplosive" Rojo, Chris "Lava" Anderson, Billy "MentaL" Putnam, Justin "Kenny" Kenny, Alex "SuMuns" Ascencion and their coach Nick "Ashes" Ridgeway have been teaming together since the start of Gears 4 and are yet to lose on LAN, making them considerably the best team in Gears of War during 2016.
The core three, Xplosive, MentaL and Lava, first teamed on LAN in August of 2015 at Hyperfestation 4 under the team Swarm. These three players went on to place third at that event, and that would begin this run that the team currently holds as being the most dominant team in Gears history.
At the begining of 2016, the team's roster was aquried by Denial Esports. The core three, alongside Brian "SoLuRs" Valenzuela, won the first LAN of 2016 at the ESL Pro League Season One Playoffs. While only winning each of their matches 3-2 against Onslaught in the semifinals and Team EnVyUs in the finals, the team was finally starting to find an identity and get comfortable with one another. Three months after the ESL Season One Playoffs, that same roster competed at MES Gamefest and only dropped three maps the entire event, beating Mercanaries for Hire 3-2 in the grand final.
This roster was looking stong and they just could not be beaten by any team on LAN. However, shortly after a strong start to the 2016 campaign, this roster had a personal issue just before the ESL Season Two Playoffs when SoLuRs didn't show up for the event and completely gave the team no notice or reason, forcing them to play with their current coach and player manager Ashes. The Denial roster went on to win their semifinals match, sweeping Notorious 3-0. But in the finals, this roster faced Team EnVyUs. After disappointingly losing 4-0 to Team EnVyUs, the team placed all the blame and loss of money on SoLuRs for not showing up, which fueled them to create the strongest Gears team ever assembled.
Denial Esports then released the entire roster after the dissapointing second place finish at MES Gamefest. After being dropped, the core three of Xplosive, Lava and MentaL were searching for their much needed fourth teammate and they received just that after being aquired the very next day by Team Enemy. Along with picking up the old Denial roster, Enemy would also bring the next core feature to the current roster, as Kenny joined Enemy the same day the Denial roster was acquired.
Once formed, the new roster had three weeks to practice and build team chemistry before the final LAN of the Gears Ultimate Edition season. Going into the LAN, the current Enemy roster was considered to be the most skilled roster, with their only competition being the powerhouse that was Team EnVyUs. This roster feautured experienced and very elite competitors, such as Jose "FraNChis" Mavo, Arody "Praized" Dipre, Kevin "Soto" Soto and Jamie "ToySxldier" Rivera.
Enemy breezed through the first four rounds, only dropping one map the entire time to Vexx Gaming. Once making it to the final bracket, the team faced their most formidable opponent in Team EnVyUs, who they beat in a game five to take the 3-2 series win. Now in the grand finals, Enemy faced off against Dream Team, who did not put up much competition, allowing Enemy to sweep them 3-0 to take $50,000 in prize money from the tournament. The team was feeling strong, and after their next acquisition, the team would only grow in experience and skill.
On Aug. 23, Enemy released their roster and the current team was looking for a new organization to represent for the upcoming Gears of War game. On Sept. 14, in their weekly behind the scenes YouTube series, OpTic Gaming announced that they acquired a new Gears of War team consisting of the old Enemy and Denial roster. Then, Gears of War announced that they would no longer be playing the game mode Execution and would instead be playing the new game type Esclation, requiring a fifth team member. The team decided to pick up SuMuNs to complete the new OpTic Gears roster.
The first event the team was tested with was the Gears of War 4 Kick-Off Live Showcase, as OpTic faced Infinty in a live streamed best-of-one showmatch. The team proved their strength, beating Infinity in one game 7-1. This event proved the true potential and strength of this OpTic team.
Their next challenge was a community hosted online tournament featuring some of the more elite Gears 4 rosters. OpTic would once again flex its muscle, not dropping a map the entire tournament, as they took home a small $1,000 prize pool, yet more importantly, they took home confindence.
Having now won two online showcases, the team traveled to the MLG Studios in Columbus, Ohio for the first LAN event of the Gears 4 season. This tournament was only for invited teams, so it featured the top rosters in the Gears scene. In Columbus, OpTic once again came out in dominating fashion, never dropping a map the entire event, even in the grand finals against rival Team EnVyUs.
The team went on after the tournament and only lost one of the next four MLG 2000 series online events, setting them up with the most pro points and the first seed going into the MLG Columbus Open in late November. Going into the Columbus Open, the OpTic roster seemed unmatched in terms of skill and game knowledge, and as most of the community predicted, OpTic went on to win the tournament. The team won their group 3-0 and advanced to the winners bracket. They beat Vexx, BOT Empire and EnVyUs through their winners bracket run without dropping a map, and placed themselves in the grand finals.
During the finals, OpTic faced Team EnVyUs once again. During the finals, EnVyUs won the first best-of-three, forcing a second best-of-three and shocking everyone as OpTic had not lost a map on LAN up to this point. Nonetheless, OpTic swept nV in the next best-of-three, giving them the trophy and the $120,00 prize.
Proving once again that they were the strongest team on the Gears Circuit, the OpTic roster had only two weeks to prepare and finalize any adjustments before their next LAN event at the Gfinity London Open. Once again, going into this event, the OpTic squad was heavily favored to take the win, and once again, they did not disappoint. Sweeping their group 3-0, the team looked to make another strong winners bracket run straight to the grand finals. But this time, it was not as easy as everyone thought it would be.
After beating Enigma6 and Echo Fox 2-0 each, the unit faced eUnited in the winners bracket finals, and for the first time since the five man roster had formed back in early October, they had been pushed into the losers bracket of a LAN tournament. OpTic bounced back by defeating Team Allegiance in the losers bracket finals 2-0, but they had to face eUnited once again in the grand final. Going into this matchup, everyone was skeptical if the OpTic squad could come back and win two best-of-three series to take home another trophy. Without skipping a beat, they swept both best-of-three series to take home the London trophy and $60,000.
Once again, OpTic showed their dominant skill and game knowledge and won their second major LAN of the Gears of War 4 season. With all of these accolades, it is very difficult to deny the fact that this team is on another level in terms of power rankings, and after this long run of first place finishes, it is easy to state that this roster may be the most dominant in Gears of War history. OpTic will face their next challenge on Jan. 21 at the Mexico City Open.
Do you agree that OpTic is the most dominant team in Gears history? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @GAMURScom.
Photo credits: Tyler Lench