Are Optic Gaming destined for a 10th place finish?
With a major influx of talent coming into the scene in North America, have Optic Gaming come out on the short end of the stick this Spring Split?
Grading the squad
Before analyzing Optic Gaming as a whole, we must take apart each player as their own individual talent and where they rank across the board. Starting with Optic Gaming’s top side of the map, Top laner zig has been a player that has polarized much of the NA fanbase since his LCS debut in 2016. zig is one of those volatile quantities at Top, some games he seems like the forgotten NA messiah that can do no wrong, and other games he really fails to make his impact in any capacity if he doesn’t get it going early. That characteristic can also be used for OG’s jungler Akaadian.
In 2017, Akaadian was a bright star in his first few weeks in the LCS, overshadowing the performances of rookie junglers like Contractz and MikeYeung as his hyper aggressive style proved the difference and got valuable wins over opponents that Echo Fox shouldn’t have beat at the time. As the split wore on, his tactics began to be figured out by the league in general and he fell back into his shell as a rookie jungler with room for improvement. This season, he has another EU mid laner with a propensity to power farm and lead the way into mid and late game, if Akaadian can find a way to innovate in the early stages, there is a chance Optic Gaming can reach early success with a controlled playstyle.
The carry imports for Optic Gaming are one of the most peculiar decisions of any squad in NA. On one hand, you have PowerOfEvil, a top-tier EU mid that has solidified his play over the last few years and capped it off with a powerful showing at Worlds last season coming within one game of upsetting Korean juggernauts SK Telecom in the knockout stages. PoE is definitely on an uptick given his ability and level of competition in this region, and many NA and EU fans are eager to see him perform in a role that is dominated by import mids.
On the other hand, the acquisition of Arrow in the bot lane is a bit of a head scratcher. Arrow had a rough outing in NA last season as he had high highs and extremely low lows for Phoenix1. In all fairness, the team environment and overall talent level was not ideal for a Korean import to flourish, and this Optic Gaming roster has similar shades of grey. His support, LemonNation, has been an aging talent within the league for quite some time now, and his talents as a coach and strategic mind trump his mechanical ability to perform. Simply put, his last competitive season for FlyQuest was one of the poorest he’s had since his entrance to the league in Season 3. For this reason, it seems like the Optic Gaming roster may be one of the first to make changes either during or after the split in order to accommodate their carry positions.
When it comes to last place material, Optic Gaming will be hard pressed to excel over younger, less established teams like Golden Guardians and 100 Thieves. Still the synergistic questions remain for a team that has been hastily crafted in time for the new season.