OpTic Gaming has long been a powerhouse in both esports and gaming entertainment and when Neil Leibman, Co-owner of Texas Rangers invested in the organisation in November 2017, fans of the Green Wall were mixed in opinions from the get-go. It meant Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez, CEO of OpTic Gaming would take a step back to allow new faces – who would never really be seen – to take over the reins.
This investment saw the inception of Infinite Esports and Entertainment – a new parent company that set up a set of accompanying companies – but it wasn’t long before things went downhill in terms of fan perception. Many of the following moves made by OpTic Gaming under control of this new company may have lost the organisation more supporters than it made.
Let’s take a look at some of the actions undertaken by OpTic Gaming over the last year.
OpTic Global was Infinite Esports and Entertainment’s big push into making OpTic Gaming a true global entity. Picking up teams in India, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Brazil over the span of a few months, fans already became alienated. OpTic Gaming became so popular partly because of its family feel.
Content was an anchor of the organisation, and in videos such as the docu-series Vision and OpTic Trivia was players from a number of teams – who typically inhabited the OpTic SCUF team house – coming together and having fun. This fostered a family feel and showed a unity among the organisation’s players, no matter what title they competed in.
Bringing in players from different countries under the OpTic Gaming banner went against the ethos of family. It meant there was players representing the organisation that fans would never get to see in content, mingling with other players. When you factor in the lack of output from OpTic SEA and the cheating scandal involving OpTic India, then this was a very different OpTic Gaming than the Green Wall have grown up with.
Vision was a behind-the-scenes look at what was happening in OpTic Gaming – from content creators to its top tier competitors – and it was the cornerstone of the organisation’s content. When Davis “Hitch” Edwards and Aaron “Create” were forced to step down from the series (despite Hitch winning back-to-back awards as ‘Videographer of the Year’ at the Esports Awards), fans weren’t happy. Hitch and Create themselves were very vocal about their thoughts on the decision and other ‘mismanagements’ made in the organisation – such as the end of OpTic Halo.
The unceremonious release of OpTic Gaming’s World-Championship-winning Halo roster was another chink in the organisation’s armour. On March 8th, OpTic Gaming inexplicably released the roster and withdrew from the game in its entirety. After an uproar from the Green Wall, an explanation was promised – but that never came. This left a bad taste in the mouth of those both in and out of OpTic Gaming.
A handful of major, longstanding OpTic Gaming members have left over the span of the last year, too. Both Austin “Pamaj” Pamaj and Jack “CouRage” Dunlop have parted ways with the organisation over the past few months, albeit for different reasons. Nonetheless, for a team known well for its content creation, these were big blows. This is just yet another factor in the degradation of the Green Wall.
In October, Infinite Esports and Entertainment had a mass culling of staff. If nothing else pointed towards internal turmoil, this was clear evidence. A report stated 19 members of staff from a number of companies and departments under the parent company had been let go. This included Chris Chaney, Founder, President & Co-owner of Infinite Esports and Entertainment. He remains an investor and board member for the company, but no longer oversees the day-to-day operations.
Many see this unfortunate move as the turning point for Infinite Esports and Entertainment and OpTic Gaming. It showed a clear indication that those behind the company have acknowledged there are internal problems and they were committed to sorting them out.
All in all, it’s clear that Infinite Esports and Entertainment tried to make OpTic Gaming grow too big, too fast. Having a global presence in an emerging, promising industry is likely to be desirable for all companies in this space, but it has to be done properly or it’s merely an exercise is wasting money and alienating fans.
Under the guidance of Ryan “OpTicJ” Musselman, who has taken on the role of President of Infinite Esports and Entertainment, faith in OpTic Gaming is slowly being restored. A new partner in the form of Mountain Dew has been announced, OpTic LoL has recruited strong players, the Gears of War and Call of Duty teams are performing well, and a content schedule is being prioritized once again.
OpTic Gaming is too big of a brand and entertainment vehicle to completely drop off the map in the space of a year, but a course correction seems to be in place. The Green Wall are already showing an outpouring of support and encouragement on social channels and on Reddit, but for now it’s a case of the organisation treading lightly in 2019.