The event was organized at League of Extraordinary Gamers (LXG) esports arena in Bangalore, which is one of India’s finest gaming cafes. The cafe operations had been shut down for these 2 days and the entire place was dedicated to the OpTic India event. They had prepared 2 5v5 setups with premium hardware. In addition to the PC setup where the practicals were scheduled, there was also a viewing area for theory session, a casting studio which was converted into an interview room and the console section which was used by the selection committee for discussions and reviewing purposes.
The first day was dedicated to the candidates who were shortlisted from the open evaluations. Roughly 55 people showed up and they were divided into 2 batches. Jesal Parekh (Player Support Coordinator, OpTic Gaming) and Prashant Prabhakar (Co-Founder & CEO, SoStronk) did the opening with an orientation session explaining the evaluation parameters to the candidates and setting basic expectations.
Immediately after, batch 1 was set up for the theory test. They were to watch 2 rounds of a Faze vs Astralis match on Overpass and answer a few questions based on their understanding of those 2 rounds. The test was carefully designed by the SoStronk team to best assess the depth of the player’s understanding of the game.
Meanwhile, batch 1 was set up into random teams for 5v5 scrims. The 2 teams had to play each other on 2 maps – Inferno and Cache – in MR30 mode. The players were evaluated on the basis of their gameplay, understanding of the game, their ability to adapt and most importantly, communication skills. Each team was assigned experts / coaches who analysed their games and gave feedback wherever they felt necessary. The coaches and selection committee emphasised on the fact that the result of the match was irrelevant and that the players were only being assessed on their individual skills in their respective roles.
Every match was followed by a detailed hour-long deliberation. Coaches, scouts, management and partners contributed immensely to the discussion as everyone clearly and visibly understood that they were deciding the fate of an aspiring Counter Strike professional.
The 2 batches were later reversed for each test.
At the end of the day, 13 people were shortlisted for day 2 to prove themselves amongst some of the most established and celebrated Counter Strike professionals of the country, who were called via the closed evaluations. Will they be able to hold their own among such an experienced crowd?
The second day began with an orientation ceremony similar to Day 1, only this time, we had some very popular faces in the audience.
The second match of the day deserves a special mention. It is not often that we get to witness passionate and quality Counter Strike in the country, but this match far surpassed some of the best games we have seen in India so far. The game was played by Marzil, Blackhawk, Excali, HellrangeR and Formless versus akCeReBrO, Rexy, StiNG, psy and forsaken. Marzil dropped casual 38 kills in this game! As I mentioned earlier, who won the game is irrelevant. It was the sheer display of skill and passion in this game that blew everyone’s mind away. You could tell that the 10 players truly wanted to secure their spots in the OpTic India squad.
After a very long discussion and reviewing each player for each role, the committee finalized the top 8 candidates. Everyone else was let go, albeit with a very heavy heart. Some of the newer players showed great skills and potential and have been kept on a watchlist for future.
These 8 shortlisted candidates, popularly going around with the hashtag #OpTicIndiaTop8, were finally called on for an interview with the selection committee one-by-one to understand their mindset and fitment into the organization. They were questioned about their commitments along with basic expectation setting on both ends. At this point, however, to everyone’s surprise, HellrangeR and Psy gracefully backed out and decided to continue with their current organization, Entity Gaming. Their decision was respected and loyalty, admired. These two were then suitably replaced in the final 8.
OpTic India Squad
I also want to highlight the beauty of a selection process of this sort. It completely eliminated any possibility of nepotism and bias as the players were selected solely on the basis of merit, and by a committee comprising of Counter Strike experts, ex-team managers and OpTic Gaming management. As a result of this, we even unearthed 2 gems – StinG and HaiVaan – who made it to the Top 8 from the open evaluations.
It has been a immense learning experience for me personally and I am genuinely looking forward to what this team has in store for us. Who will you be rooting for, for the final squad?
My name is sina and thanks for reading :) You can find and follow me at www.facebook.com/OfficialS1NA. See you around!