Indervir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal was the last OpTic Texas player on the stage after the team’s 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Thieves at Esports Stadium Arlington on Saturday evening. The OpTic-heavy crowd was already filing out when Dhaliwal took a look back at the stage, put his hand over his head and brushed it over his face.
It may have been a preseason match in the Call of Duty League kickoff classic, but OpTic wanted more than a first appearance. While defeat was tough to swallow at first, OpTic head coach Ray “Rambo” Lussier was optimistic after what he saw.
“It could be playing 8s on the stage and Inder wouldn’t want to lose. But, honestly, I think the loss was more positive than negative,” Lussier told The Dallas Morning News. “We went back to our room and had a healthy discussion. There wasn’t down talk and everyone was looking at how we could progress this year. That’s something we didn’t really have last year.”
GGs to @LAThieves. They played very well, props ?? Was nice to get our feet wet and get a feel for the game on Lan. Couple more weeks of prep before the season starts to get where we want to be for stage 1. Much love for the support fam, always looking forward #GreenWall
— OpTic Rambo (@ramboray) January 23, 2022
OpTic was decimating teams in scrimmages all preseason — considered by experts to be a top-three team alongside Atlanta FaZe and the Toronto Ultra. Lussier still saw that potential.
The only thing he cared about was learning something from their Kickoff Classic action. OpTic went down big early in the opening hardpoint against the Thieves. Los Angeles also punched Texas in the mouth by taking the first four search and destroy rounds as well. It’s not because OpTic was slow.
It’s the opposite, actually.
“We learned that our playstyle is very aggressive and straightforward, but we got caught sprinting a lot today,” Lussier said. “We were just playing a bit too fast sometimes when we didn’t have to. It’s gaining us position and helping us sometimes, but it’s also hurting us a lot. One thing you can’t do in this game is go four down in hardpoint.”
Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro echoed Lussier’s thought process. He was thrilled to have the OpTic fan base cheering for him instead of the usual boos he received as a member of the Dallas Empire.
Texas didn’t have jitters, but Cuevas-Castro did think Texas was sporadic.
“We weren’t working as a team that much. We were in scenarios, but we seemed to rush things a bit too much,” Cuevas-Castro said. “We just need to slow down and do the things that we practiced. That match we seemed a little too frantic.”
Lussier said his 2021 Empire team didn’t have healthy conversations the way this OpTic team did Saturday evening. Those were mostly vent sessions after losses. Saturday’s chat was more calculated and practical.
They all want to win this season. Seth “Scump” Abner didn’t have his best evening in the kill feed, but he certainly entered the season to chase a second ring as one of the most decorated players of all time.
Lussier doesn’t see that happening without losses.
“I’m totally fine with losing games as long as we are getting better from that and learning from it,” Lussier said. “Now I’m really excited for the season to start.”