By Dillon Lowery
Looking back at the second Call of Duty: Black Ops Pro Circuit Event in Columbus, we can see that the excitement and competition is only getting better. Quantic Leverage were able to run through the field in MLG Dallas, but at MLG Columbus, Optic Gaming proved they were the real deal. By eliminating the reigning Champs and sweeping Force in the Finals, Optic Gaming earned their victory and show no signs of slowing down. We sat down with the MLG Columbus Champions for a brief post-Event interview. From how Pool Play affects the tournament, to rumors flying around the Black Ops community, to tips on what traits a Championship team needs to have, we covered it all.
Meet the Team
Real Name: Raymond Lussier
Hails From: Montreal, Quebec
Favorite Map/Game Mode: Summit, Domination
Real Name: Jordan Kaplan
Hails From: Marlton, New Jersey
Favorite Map/Game Mode: Firing Range, Capture the Flag
Real Name: Will Johnson
Hails From: Marked Tree, Arkansas
Favorite Map/Game Mode: Summit, Domination
Real Name: Joe DeLuca
Hails From: Seven Hills, Ohio
Favorite Map/Game Mode: Villa, Search and Destroy
MLG: First and foremost, congratulations on winning MLG Columbus and providing some of the best competition we've seen.
All: Thank you.
MLG: Coming into the Event, did you guys feel you were the team to beat, an underdog, or a team that had a ton to prove after MLG Dallas?
Rambo: I think since I wasn't part of the Dallas team due to my sickness, we sort of had a point to prove: that my not showing was a big reason [for] the team not winning.
BigTymer: I felt like we were the #2 team coming into the tournament. Leverage had won just about every tournament prior to Columbus, so we definitely needed to come out and prove we were a contender to win.
MLG: Did you guys feel that having Pool Play to start off the tournament provided more action, competition and excitement for the fans? How was it from a player’s perspective?
Merk: It was definitely more exciting and competitive. Some of the first matches were some of the best. From my POV it was exhausting, but I liked how we were challenged early.
BigTymer: It's definitely tougher on the players; the matches you play on Friday set up the rest of your tournament. If you come in having a bad day, you can find yourself in a bad spot really fast.
Rambo: I agree with Merk on the exhausting part… definitely takes more from the players mentally.
MLG: Sometimes that’s how you find out who the best team is though: through endurance races.
Merk: 10 hours without food sucks though, especially on Sunday.
MLG: Everyone knows that Rambo's absence in Dallas was a huge loss for Optic Gaming. Just how important was his presence in Columbus?
Merk: His leadership role was important and that was lacking in Dallas, but no one will ever know how far we could've gotten with Nadeshot had we played with him for more than five hours.
BigTymer: We knew that we had much more chemistry with Rambo coming in, and the only other time we really got to play with him was the Dallas Qualifier, where we went on a 40-game win streak. Our confidence level was higher than most teams.
MLG: Rambo, how did it feel to watch Optic Gaming and be away from the team during the first MLG Pro Circuit stop? Did you feel any extra pressure to perform well in Columbus?
Rambo: I can't even lie; it's more stressful watching a team you care for than playing for it. To be honest, I didn't really feel pressure coming into Columbus to perform well—everyone knows what I am capable of. I just went in and did my thing.
MLG: In Pool Play, you guys faced off against Optic Nation, who eventually won the Pool despite your victory over them. How was that match, and how was it being beaten in the tiebreaker?
JKap: The match against them was crazy. It was the first match of the tournament for both teams and they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The tiebreaker, although I understood it, was annoying because of the fact that we went 3-1 in our Pool but still got 3rd Place.
Merk: The match was awesome, but getting beat in the final standings was horrible. I was never so mad in my life—I must have walked around the venue for at least 20 minutes.
Rambo: Yeah, we had a rough start, brought it together and came back. Losing the Pool to a team you beat is quite frustrating, I must admit.
Merk: I blame nV.
Rambo: I blame Fear.
BigTymer: I personally wasn't playing very well in that series, so the fact that we even won it was remarkable to me. The tiebreaker rule sort of bothered me at first, but we still ended up playing them later on with a lead coming from the Losers Bracket, so it all worked out in the end.
MLG: When Pool Play was all said and done, and Merk was done blowing off some steam, how did you guys regroup and steamroll through the Losers Bracket? How was the match against Leverage?
BigTymer: The Leverage match was intense. We played it as if it were the Finals, because both teams knew that whoever won that match had the best chance of winning the tournament.
Merk: I knew after we won SnD it was over.
JKap: On Sunday, everything just clicked for us. The match against Leverage was easily one of the most intense matches of the tournament.
Rambo: After every win, we just started getting more and more comfortable with the situation we were in. We knew what was ahead wasn't going to be easy.
MLG: What are your thoughts on Force’s run to the Finals, where you ultimately swept them in 6 straight games?
Rambo: I wasn't even sure what to say when I looked at the Main Stage and saw Fear vs. Force in the Winners Bracket Finals. [I’m] not taking anything away from those two teams who played great to get there, but I think everyone can agree they weren't the favorite teams to reach that point in the tournament. As for the 6-0 vs. Force, it just capped a great run with conviction and showed everyone we were the real deal.
Merk: I thought it was a pretty good run; sometimes it's just a team’s day to play their best and upset top teams, and Saturday was their day. Unfortunately for them, Sunday was ours. Sweeping them felt great. We weren't underestimating them—we just wanted our trophy.
JKap: I was amazed at Force's run. When we played them, though, the loss in overtime on Havana CTF took away some of their confidence, then the Summit Domination just deflated them.
BigTymer: We've played against some of those guys online over the years, and I wasn't really surprised seeing them in that spot. Events are funny like that.
MLG: Leaving Columbus with a firm grip on one of, if not the top, spots on the Call of Duty: Black Ops totem pole, do you feel this victory just strengthens your confidence, and hopefully your results, at future Events?
BigTymer: Can't speak for everyone else, but I never have enjoyed being seen as the best team. When you are, you're expected to come out and dominate. Playing under the radar is so much easier, in my opinion.
MLG: It's going to be tough to be an "under-the-radar" team at this point.
BigTymer: [Laughs] True.
JKap: I don't necessarily love being the best team either, but I would hate going unnoticed.
Rambo: I will never go into an Event expecting to win; having no expectations helps me play at my best. Every Event is a new one and whatever you have done in the past means nothing to a new tournament. Every game is a new game, every map is a new map, against every team.
MLG: How was getting a Technical, Rambo? Twitter blew up about it.
Rambo: Let's just say I wasn't the most likely player to get a technical,[laughs]. My mouth sort of got out of hand.
BigTymer: Against your fellow Optic team…
Rambo: Much love to all the Nation team.
MLG: Speaking of which, what is your take on Optic Nation's latest news and the rumors that they might disband?
Rambo: They finished 6th. They had the potential to do better if they stuck together, but people care a bit too much about online play when it’s completely irrelevant to MLG Events.
BigTymer: I can't knock them too much. Everyone wants to find that blend of four people who can win an Event, and that's just what they're going through. Things will work out for them in the end.
MLG: We have some fan-submitted questions we'd like to throw your way. To start off: how did you guys come together as a team and start preparing to compete?
JKap: We formed as a team before Dallas, during the Online Qualifier. The other guys were together for a while before that, but that's when I joined the team. We prepared for Dallas mainly by using the Qualifier ladder, although Rambo obviously didn't attend after all of that. For Columbus, however, we ended up just practicing against other teams in scrims.
Rambo: BigTymer and I have been teaming [forever]. We joined Optic with Merk earlier in Black Ops. A few roster changes later, we had the chance to team with JKap, a player who we played with for the most part in Modern Warfare 2, who we knew was fully capable of helping us win.
MLG: Fan question #2: how does the news of the Famas being nerfed affect you guys? Do you think it is what the game needs?
Rambo: We're all players who have proven [ourselves] able to adapt to anything the game throws at us. I'm not too worried by it.
JKap: I don't think it's what the game needs. It will result in some other guns being used, but every gun ultimately kills really quickly in Call of Duty. Whether everyone is using a Famas, or the next best gun after the Famas, nobody will have an advantage.
BigTymer: Well, I do think it is what the game needs, but not for the reason everyone thinks. It's not going to create an extremely diverse range of weapons used because there's always going to be a next best gun. However, I do think that the Famas was a bit too easy to shoot with, and using some other weapons could potentially weed out some of the not-so-skilled shooters who were hiding behind the Famas.
MLG: Fan Question #3: After each and every MLG Event or big tournament, you see teams disband and some guys team-hop. What do you think of that? And what are the major components of successful teams such as yours?
JKap: Chemistry is the major component of every successful team. And when teams disband after every Event, they ruin whatever chemistry they did have with their team and try to go build it up somewhere else. All in all, changing teams all the time is very rarely beneficial.
BigTymer: People just need to realize that it's impossible to win every single tournament. Team changes are going to happen, but people are hopping teams for the wrong reasons.
Rambo: Just like everyone in the competitive world, people want to give themselves the chance to win. I don't necessarily disagree with team changes in general, but there are just too many people who do it for the wrong reasons; instead of working on things they don't do well as a group, they [rely on] switching teammates for other players. But in the end, the team with the most chemistry is usually the team that shows more consistency. People just don't seem to notice how much chemistry means.
MLG: What are your thoughts on the growth of MLG and the Call of Duty: Black Ops professional scene? Are you guys even more excited about Anaheim after seeing the quick growth from Dallas to Columbus?
JKap: I'm excited to see Black Ops growing. I was thrilled about the growth from Dallas to Columbus.
Rambo: I do believe more and more players are getting interested in competing on the Pro Circuit, which is good for the growth of our game.
BigTymer: We're still not even close to our potential as far as team attendance. Overall, I think we're growing at a good pace, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
MLG: Are there any teams and/or players that the fans should watch for in Anaheim that might not be on their radar yet?
BigTymer: Leverage is going to just run through everyone: beware!
JKap: There are a ton of players who fans should watch for every Event. What it comes down to is what teams those players are on and how they work together.
MLG: Congratulations once again for taking home the MLG Columbus Call of Duty: Black Ops Championship trophy. Do you guys have any shout outs you’d like to share?
BigTymer: Shout out to my friends and family for supporting me throughout the years, and a big shout out to MLG/Treyarch/Sony for working together this year to help us out!
JKap: Merk had to leave, but he wanted to give a shout out to the whole Optic organization, like I'm sure we all wanted to. There are a bunch of great people in the organization. He also wanted to let everyone know that, although there is no official MVP given, he and I will gladly take co-MVP honors [laughs].
Rambo: Optic Gaming crew, Hecz, Diesel, Fwiz, Tumours, J and everyone who's involved in making our trips more fun and easier. To all the fans/supporters out there—you guys make everything we do worth it. And like BigTymer said, all the people involved in making Call of Duty competitive gaming better. Also, make sure to check out our OpticNation YouTube channel for awesome daily content!
MLG Anaheim is just around the corner, and the hype leading up to the west-cost Pro Circuit Stop keep growing. Join us in Anaheim on July 29 when Optic Gaming seek to repeat. Book your flights, grab your tickets on June 28, and keep practicing!