If there's one word to define OpTic Gaming and its captain, Paul "SnakeBite" Duarte, it's self-assurance. The two-time Halo world champions proved yet again that teams need to break through the green wall if they really want a chance at the title. Optic was dominant throughout the tournament, going 2-0 (6-1) during the group stage and only dropping one game en route to another championship victory (16-1 record).
But don't be surprised; this was the statement tournament that was months in the making. After a loss to EnVyUs in the Fall Finals, the greatest Halo 5 team went back to the drawing board to work on self-improvement. It started with a definitive victory at UGC St. Louis in January and finished with the end goal of total oppression at the World Championships.
"A loss will do that to you," SnakeBite said, on his loss to Envy. "We needed to get back on the same page. We lost track of our style and played other teams' styles. We needed to figure out our pace again and the second we figured that out, we dominated. We made a statement at this event."
SnakeBite, captain of the green wall, understands that the target is now on his team's back. He preaches an everyday grind: practice, watching film, playing individually and as a team. It's a lot of pressure to be the kings of the mountain, but SnakeBite is more than aware of what being the best entails; he's challenging the rest of the Halo world to come fight his team.
"It's about winning. We've been fortunate to win the majority of the tournaments we've competed in," he said. "Any time we've lost, we're good at shaking off a loss. Any team that's formed is formed to beat us. It's nothing personal when teams make changes because it's about getting to the number one spot."
It's not just the preparation that separates OpTic Gaming, but the clear and concise communication between teammates. Despite the title of captain, SnakeBite knows that this is a team effort and credits the rest of his teammates as much as his own contributions. He gave props to Bradley "Frosty" Bergstrom for his in-game calls and how accepting the rest of the team was with criticism.
"We are calm, cool and collected. If you listen to our communication, it's a lot calmer," SnakeBite continued. "But we know how to switch gears and play a pace that a lot teams cannot keep up or play for picks. We can switch that gear on and off and that really separates us."
Perhaps the scariest fact is that SnakeBite knows his team can still improve in strides; the sky's the limit and OpTic's aiming high. If the world champions can continue to widen the gap from the rest of the competition, this will be a dynasty that may never end until Halo 6.
"Our work ethic is the best together. Even with the wins and the money, we stay true to what we know," he said. "We can be better at figuring out the pace of the game even if we're good at it."