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Opinion: OpTic Chicago Is a Shadow of Its Former Self




Cody Perez
in Call of Duty | Apr, 19th 2021

OpTic Chicago has been one of the most popular and beloved teams of the entire Call of Duty League 2021 season. This is no surprise to anyone at all, given that this is the team that brought in the most fans and viewers when it was formerly known as the Chicago Huntsmen last year.

This team has been part of the top teams in the league for a long time, and it looks like that is continuing this year. However, what if this is not going to be the case for much longer? What if we are beginning to see the end of the current Chicago pro team as we know it?

Call of Duty League Has Several Teams That Have Worsened This Year

Without a doubt, one of the most complicated parts of the 2021 season of the Call of Duty League is the switch from Modern Warfare to Black Ops Cold War for the game of choice. With this change has come something else: the switch back to the four-man squads that we had in previous esports years.

The Modern Warfare season saw the unique five-on-five approach take center stage, but it was met with controversy and disdain from many teams. Though the return of four-player squads is a welcome change for many, it has also resulted in some teams doing worse than they did before.

While some teams like the New York Subliners, Minnesota Rokkr, and Toronto Ultra are arguably better than ever before, other teams are worse than they were during the 2020 season. Several teams have been affected by this throughout the second season thus far.

At the time of writing this, we are going into the third stage of the season and are nearing the halfway point of what has been a crazy year so far. Though it has taken a bit to really get going, it seems like we are moving towards some shifts that are unlike anything we saw last year.

Instead of having the teams who all dominated last year continue to dominate in the same way, there are some new challengers approaching who are turning the Call of Duty League upside down. In the process, I feel that OpTic Chicago has been one of the teams on the receiving end of the more negative changes and results.

Opinion: OpTic Chicago Is a Shadow of Its Former Self

In fact, I would argue that OpTic Chicago is a shadow of its former self from the Huntsmen team that we saw last year. This will be potentially a controversial opinion, but it is my personal opinion, after all. However, I think it is important to point out that something is going wrong with this team.

Chicago Huntsmen | Chicago Home Series Update
The Huntsmen dominated the CDL’s inaugural season

Perhaps more than any other team in the league to date, I feel that OpTic Chicago is the biggest possible disappointment in 2021 compared to the team that it was last year. Sure, Dallas Empire has had its moments this season and definitely needs to reevaluate certain areas, but it has maintained some solid moments nonetheless.

On the other hand, Chicago is constantly appearing to shift between the powerhouse it was before (and can be) and a team that can fail in the most awkward and unfortunate ways possible. This is a team that should, for all intents and purposes, be dominating this season.

However, instead, we are getting a team that is no longer what it once was and could be getting worse by the minute. I am not here to bash Chicago, even though I am admittedly not the biggest fan of this team, but, rather, to criticize the performance and give my personal opinion on what it can do next.

Without an OpTic Chicago that we had last year, the league is missing that important link; that massive team that is scary to fight against and something that can shake teams like the Empire and sometimes even Atlanta FaZe to its core.

That is why I am here to offer my reasons for why OpTic Chicago is a shadow of its former self, what has led to this point in time, and what can change moving forward to ensure that the correct path doesn’t continue. Let’s get started.

Performance Has Been Steadily Decreasing

It all starts with the general performance of the team as a whole. In general, I would say that Chicago is steadily decreasing in its performance as time goes on this season. It started out stronger than possibly ever before in the first stage and has been decreasing in strength ever since.

Let us take, for instance, the first stage of the 2021 season for OpTic Chicago. In that stage, it was paired up with Atlanta FaZe and the other teams in the group that was potentially the group of death then. Atlanta is like the weakness for this team, so I definitely didn’t expect Chicago to take them down, so it was no surprise when FaZe came out on top in the normal weekly matches.

With that particular match aside, Chicago actually did quite well for itself, easily dispatching Paris Legion, Toronto Ultra, the Los Angeles Guerrillas, and the Florida Mutineers to come out as the second-best team in the group. This put them in the winners bracket with a solid chance of winning the whole thing.

Then we came to the first Major and the team did great, decimating the New York Subliners before losing to Dallas Empire in a pretty close match. This was all in the expected performance, though. It was able to defeat the LA Thieves but was then upset in a rematch against the Subliners where they lost three to nothing in the opposite situation.

Still, they finished fourth in the tournament, which is great and roughly what you would expect from the third-best team of the 2020 season. All in all, this was great for Chicago. But rather than improve from here and be a true contender for the championship, they seemingly started to show some cracks in the armor.

The first week of the new stage, Chicago once again beat Paris Legion but then lost to both the Minnesota Rokkr and Florida Mutineers in the next week. And they didn’t just lose to both teams, but they lost badly, three to nothing in both of those matches.

This was slightly understandable for Rokkr but a little bit shocking for Florida. Then week three saw a bit of a recovery with an easy win over Seattle as expected and a close win against Dallas to close out the stage of normal matches.

But, once again, the cracks began to spread even more when we came to the Major most recently, where the team lost in the first round of the upper bracket to Toronto Ultra. They recovered with a win over Seattle, again as expected, but then lost to Rokkr in the most insane way possible.

The second stage is a totally different story for Chicago compared to the spectacular first one. Couple that with the other reasons below, and you have a team that is currently a shadow of its former self.

Roster Decisions for the 2021 Season Were Not Great

For one, the roster changes for OpTic Chicago were not great when coming into the 2021 season. I really like Dashy, and I think that he brings some interesting strategy to the team that really grounds it and brings something that is missing.

But my problem is that he shouldn’t have had to join the team in the first place if it kept at least one more of the players from the past roster. The twins were a great duo and, while I get that choosing one over the other would have sucked, it was a missed opportunity for the team.

I would even, personally, argue that you could have gotten rid of another player instead, and then you could have kept both of them on the roster for the 2021 season. This roster change was one that was understandable, though, given the switch to the four-person squads.

But it definitely feels like Chicago is a team that thrived better when it was the five-person team it was last year compared to this year. It still has the chance to reclaim the former glory, but we will have to wait and see for now as there are more pressing issues than just the roster.

Chicago Has the Worst Sportsmanship Out of Any Team

By far, my biggest issue with the Chicago team is that it has the worst sportsmanship out of any other team in the league. Some of the players have the worst attitudes around, and they are not afraid to show it in the slightest when it comes to public podcasts and reactions.

I personally see OpTic Chicago as 2021’s villainous team of the league, but not necessarily in the cool and alluring way that you might think. Instead, they are the cursing, offensive, and downright frustrating team that feels like they think they can say whatever they want about whoever they want.

And, unfortunately, there really is no one to stop them. While other teams and players have been treated with warnings and reprimands for certain remarks in the past, it feels like Chicago is the exception who is able to do whatever it wants at all times.

I don’t put the full blame on the players themselves. In many cases, like this one, it does fall to the leadership. If the leadership was more strict and punishing, then we wouldn’t have the terrible sportsmanship and attitudes that this team largely has.

They are led by one of the most offensive CEOs in the industry who has basically built his reputation on these lame gimmicks that are rarely ever as funny as he potentially thinks it is. With him leading the pack, it’s no surprise that it almost feels like this team is a rogue squad that is hard to like these days.

What OpTic Can Do Now

In the end, I would like to say all of this with the intention of offering some advice to the team and the fans as well. For the team, there are some things that OpTic Chicago can do to recover from this potential rut that it is slowly digging itself into in 2021.

While it is still near the top of the leaderboard, that will change very soon if they continue down this path in stage three and beyond. To help change this up, first and foremost, the team needs to focus on the maps and modes that it once dominated in but has been slipping lately.

It needs to hone in on those weak parts and not ignore them or pretend like it was just a fluke that the other team somehow got that upset because it wasn’t a coincidence at all. The team also needs to make sure that every fight gets the attention that it needs.

Don’t just focus on the bigger picture and the huge teams that are in front of them, and forget about the smaller teams that can swoop in and get an unexpected win. Then there are the attitudes. It is time for some serious change in this department as it can be hard to focus on the problems that you and your team have if you are getting so angry and being offensive towards others.

Tackle those behavioral issues, and that can affect the team synergy as a whole, leading to better performance and coordination. As for the Chicago fans, if you feel burnt out, there are a couple of teams that we recommend you keep an eye on this season.

There is Toronto Ultra who is steadily rising but it remains to be seen how long this will continue. As such, I would present Minnesota Rokkr and New York Subliners as the teams to watch, instead. Roker, in particular, is fantastic for quickly becoming the new OpTic for me.

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Valve opens submissions for $40,000 Dota 2 Short Film Contest




The International is back, and with it, Valve is bringing back many of the supporting events that showcase the best aspects of the Dota 2 community, starting with the Short Film Contest.

Every year, Valve uses the Short Film Contest as a way to highlight potential filmmakers by letting them submit their videos and letting the community decide which video they like the most. 

Submissions are now open to craters via the Steam Workshop and will remain open until July 25. Each of the top submissions will be featured in-game and put through a final voting process by the community, with the winning entries set to be showcased on the screens and stage of The International 10 in August. 

Each of the top 10 submissions will receive at least $500, with Valve awarding first place $25,000, while second and third place will get $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. 

In terms of submissions, videos need to be no longer than 90 seconds, must involve Dota 2, and need to be at least 1080p in quality. Source Filmmaker is not a requirement and any combination of animation or live-action will be accepted as long as the creation is made specifically for the contest. 

Submissions will be reviewed by the Steam community on the Steam Workshop, while Valve will decide the top entries that will make it to the in-game presentation.

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TheSpike staff members allege CEO owes over $40,000 for unpaid work




Active members of the writing staff for VALORANT coverage website TheSpike have accused CEO Artur Minacov of owing more than $40,000 to current and former contractors for months of unpaid work. 

Mostafa Hossam alleges he hasn’t been paid for months of work done for the site. He also accused Minacov of “false promises” regarding when payment would come, as well as about “promises of other projects” that would eventually fund TheSpike. Another writer by the name Germanicus said he’s owed around $2,500 CAD. These staff members used TheSpike’s official Twitter account to retweet their allegations on the account’s official timeline.

Both writers have said the entire staff messaged Minacov on Slack and issued an ultimatum that they would not be doing any coverage for Masters Reykjavik until they were paid. Minacov has allegedly not responded to them, leading to them going public with their statements. Minacov responded on Twitter, saying “all money due by me to [TheSpike] former and current soldiers will be taken care of.” 

In a Discord call, Minacov said that he had always paid “up until the past few months” and acknowledged he is “very bad with money.” He said that he’s given “over $400k of his own money” in subscriptions and donations to “small streamers in the community” over the past year, but didn’t answer why he was unable to pay TheSpike contractors.

This isn’t the first time Minacov has been accused of owing payment to TheSpike contractors. Back in early April, several former contractors spoke to Dot Esports about working under Minacov, and alleged he owed them money, frequently delivered late payments, and created an unprofessional work environment. They uniformly pointed to a pattern of excuses, sharing screengrabs of Minacov claiming he’s waiting for a “cheque [to] clear,” saying his credit card was “eaten by [an] ATM in Kosovo,” or just ignoring the pleas altogether. One also said Minacov changed currencies when paying out invoices to allegedly undercut the agreed-upon amount.

It appears most of the former contractors were paid, although Minacov faced similar allegations in 2018 when he was the CEO of EnVision Esports’ Overwatch team. Staff and players accused Minacov of owing thousands of dollars in late payments. He told Dot Esports at the time that they weren’t paid “mostly because of frustration on [his] side for investing so much cash for clearly nothing in return.” The team disbanded following a top-four finish during the 2018 Overwatch Contenders in North America.

Former EnVision pro William “Crimzo” Hernandez told Dot Esports in April 2021 that he believes players were “eventually” paid by Minacov. The other players contacted didn’t respond to a request for comment. In the call today, Minacov said the “EnVision players had something against me,” and referred to former coach Robert “Roflgator” Malecki by a homophobic slur.

During the previous investigation, former TheSpike members also shared screenshots of Minacov making several inappropriate comments in the staff’s Slack channel.

Minacov said a contractor of Afghani and Indian descent looked “like a terrorist” a couple of weeks before they joined the publication. The CEO also said he would “rape” a competing publication and made several homophobic comments, spurring one contractor to launch a complaint and threaten to quit. Minacov apologized for the behavior in a private message, saying he would keep Slack “professional,” the “work environment clean,” and guaranteed it wasn’t going to happen again.

Back in April, Minacov refused to comment on any specific remarks made in the company Slack.

While he “[doesn’t] recall saying those things,” he cautioned against any remarks taken “out of context.” When asked back then about the payments owed to the former contractors, he asserted that “money [was] not the issue,” and explained that he “needs to do better” at managing the company’s finances.

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New Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG booster set Burst of Destiny revealed, includes Borreload Ritual Monster




The next OCG Yu-Gi-Oh! Booster Set has been revealed for a July 17 release date. Titled Burst of Destiny, it appears that additional Dragon and Rokket support will be included in the early form of Borreload Riot Dragon. 

Borreload Riot Dragon is actually a Ritual Monster with two effects that revolve around Rokket and Borrel archetype cards. 

Image via Konami
Image via Konami

First, when your opponent Special Summons a monster, you can negate its summon and destroy that card. If you use that Quick Effect, however, you will need to destroy Borreload Riot Dragon or a Rokket monster you control as cost. 

The second effect is one that activates while Borreload Riot Dragon is in the Graveyard, where you can target one Borrel or Rokket monster in the GY, destroy one card you control or in your hand, and then add that targeted card to your hand. 

Heavy Trigger, the Ritual Spell Card that will be used to summon Borreload Riot Dragon, requires you to use monsters from your hand or field whose total levels equal right or more to summon Borreload Riot Dragon. Alternatively, players can destroy Rokket monsters they control or in their hand to facilitate the summon too, as long as they hit level eight or more. 

Image via Konami

The Special Summoned monster cannot be destroyed by battle and is unaffected by the activated effects of monsters that were Special Summoned from the Extra Deck.

A third card, DualWiel Dragon, was also revealed. The Effect Monster is a level eight Dark Dragon that can be tributed from the field to Special Summon two Rokket monsters with different names from your GY in Defense Position. 

Image via Konami

You can also banish DualWiel from the GY, to add a Rapid Trigger or Heavy Trigger to your hand from the Deck or GY. 
With that second effect, it is clear Rapid Trigger will be another Ritual adjacent Spell Card to help facilitate whatever strategy Konami has come up with surrounding Borreload Riot Dragon and the other cards in this set. Right now, it is unclear if this will be a Ritual Summon-focused set, or just a general release that will add more support for the VRAINS anime cards.

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Mass Effect Legendary Edition is Exactly as You Remember It and That’s a Shame




Top Games

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a shot-for-shot remake of the first three games in the franchise.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a shot-for-shot remake of the first three games in the franchise. | BioWare, EA

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a shot-for-shot remake of the first three games in the franchise.

Since the special edition’s announcement months ago, it’s been hard to avoid the overwhelming hype surrounding the revival of BioWare’s flagship sci-fi series. It’s no secret that loyal fans have held fast to the hope that an updated version of the games would see a release in the future. Now, having finally got our wish, I can’t shake the nagging voice in the back of my brain.

So, is this it?

If you’re a new fan looking to experience this franchise: do it. Mass Effect is one of the best-written games I’ve ever had the pleasure of sinking hours into. As a veteran player, however, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly disappointed by the release.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is fine—but that’s really it. There’s nothing revolutionary about it in a way that would blow fans out of the water. It looks great, it performs smoothly, I’ve yet to encounter any bugs or serious detriments, and I’ve found my heart swelling at the nostalgia to the point of tears.

In a lot of ways, I’ve been able to step into the newly-shined boots of Commander Shepard on the Normandy as if I had never left. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the problem. The only change is that they’ve been shined.

I can’t help but look at this as a missed opportunity for BioWare and EA. Mass Effect already has a huge following of loyal fans who would be willing to purchase a remake, regardless. I was one, myself. So, it surprised me that there weren’t any inconsequential changes to the collection—let alone exciting exclusives such as the restoration of cut content.

They were on the right track allowing all weapons to be used among all specializations and implementing Mass Effect 3’s female Shepard as the complete default setting for female characters. Those choices, in and of themselves, were departures from the content released from 2007—2012. Would it have been too far of a reach to consolidate the armed combat in all three games instead of leaving Mass Effect 1 as the odd one out? Perhaps some updates to the character creation could have been made, as well, to provide a greater variety and control to Shepard’s appearance.

Something to make the remake feel stronger than the same games I already own with a fresh coat of paint.

But is it still worth it?

Honestly? 100% yes.

Listen, my taking issue with the simplicity of the remake shouldn’t be a solid mark against it. For all intents and purposes: Mass Effect Legendary Edition is the full story of Mass Effect consolidated under a single title. That’s what it was supposed to be and that’s the product that was released.

I love Mass Effect as a series, franchise, and story—so I enjoyed Legendary Edition, too. It’s the same group of games from my childhood with all my favorite characters and quests. Not to mention, EA and BioWare put every inch of content into this one purchase—making it well worth the price tag, in my opinion.

I still recommend it, sure, but I can’t help to wonder what significant improvements the “re-developers” could have made to truly bring the games into 2021.

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