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NAF on OpTic’s improvement: “When ELeague comes around and hopefully we qualify for Brazil, we should be prepared.”

The surprise story of the weekend for many at ESL One New York was OpTic Gaming’s over-performance against G2 Esports, Astralis and a close loss (16-14) to Virtus Pro. Despite starting the tournament 0-2 against SK Gaming and Fnatic, Optic bounced back to take a pair of wins before narrowly missing the cut for the semifinals.

“It seemed like everything went right this morning. I don’t know if was just G2 playing bad. I didn’t expect it to be that convincing, it was honestly pretty surprising. Playing in front of that stadium and getting that win felt awesome,” OpTic Gaming’s lurker Keith “NAF” Markovic said after beating G2. “For me personally, I love playing in front of a crowd. In the past two games when we played SK and Fnatic, we were behind closed doors and it’s quiet. We’re a really quiet team, we don’t get amped up or anything like that, so having the crowd support us was really nice.”

Their match against G2 started with a 7-2 lead for OpTic on the T side of cache. G2 called one of their tactical pauses — thanks to new coaching rules from ESL — to slow OpTic’s momentum but ended up still down 12-3 at half time. “We knew that on T side we are really strong and we can control the game because their economy wasn’t really that great. We were winning those clutches and we kept their money down and had control of the game. In our past matches we’ve had like 12-3 or 11-4 leads and we would just lose them. We never feel safe it isn’t over until it’s over.”

After beating G2, OpTic moved on to play Astralis took down the Danish squad 16-12 on Overpass, securing themselves a fifth-round matchup with eventual finalists

“I’ve never played in front of a big crowd like that, it’s a new experience for me,” NAF said. “Especially to win (early) felt so much better, it’s amazing playing in front of that crowd!”

After several roster changes in the last two months, Optic has settled into a rhythm with the addition of Tarik “tarik” Celik in place of Damian “Daps” Steele. “It honestly just came down to calling styles. A lot of us didn’t really like the way daps called. They are just two different callers, that’s pretty much what it came down to. For our players and our play style we felt that Stan would be the better fit,” NAF said.

Still, he seemed unsure of the team’s future despite their performance this weekend. “Honestly, I don’t know. I feel like we are improving and doing really well with Tarik. We just picked him up like a month ago or something like that. So far it’s been really good. When ELEAGUE comes around and hopefully we qualify for Brazil, we should be prepared. If we lose, I don’t want to think about that, but it will be disappointing for sure.”

Optic currently sits in second place in ESL Pro League with a 16-6 record and with NRG Esports and SK Gaming left to play and are nearly guaranteed to head to Brazil at the end of October followed by ELEAGUE in mid-November.

“We’re just trying our best, practicing and doing everything we can,” NAF said. “We don’t want to have North America just always being the bad place.”

Cover photo courtesy of