FraNChiS: “I’m most excited to play Optic. They are our rivals and we both know we are our biggest competition.”

Below is an interview Nick ‘Icy’ Cope and I did prior to the Gears Pro Circuit Dallas Open, which was meant to be released during the week leading up to the major but due to poor timing on my end, it was never released. I thought it would be a shame for me to keep this to myself so here it is.

We saw you guys make one of the more radical changes of the Gears esports offseason, leaving Team EnVyUs to join Echo Fox, replacing Jourdan ‘Ribs’ Ribiero for Kyle Mason. Can you tell us what went into that decision?

After giving our roster an entire season, we knew a change needed to happen if we wanted to consistently beat Optic. We felt replacing Jourdan with Kyle was our best option. Kyle was deeply emotionally tied to Echo Fox and decided to bring us on board rather than joining Team EnVyUs. Personally, it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make but as a team, we felt it was the only way we could play with the fifth we actually wanted. We then joined Echo Fox and its been smooth transition. Echo received us with open arms and was extremely proud to be a part of the organization.

What’s different with this Echo Fox? Yes, you have a new dynamic player in Kyle but do you believe that one change will be enough to take the top spot in Season 2 of Gears esports? Are you guys working on different styles of play, strategies or has this been a simple plug and play type of move?

Two of our biggest downfalls last season was consistency and passiveness. Kyle brings both to the team. Not only is he great secondary weapon player, he’s a dependable slayer and a great co-leader. With Jourdan, Jamie had a more vocal role and I felt like it affected his gameplay. With Kyle taking on the secondary leader role, Toy has been slaying more consistently. We seem to play our best when Toy is being aggressive and we make sure to remind him every time we start a match.

We noticed some renewed confidence in the team after the roster change but we haven’t quite seen Echo Fox rise to the top of the rankings, even with OpTic Gaming playing with substitutes leading up to Dallas Open. Can we cite these to growing pains with a new player or are their other issues that had to be addressed?

Every new team goes through what we call a “honeymoon stage.” Ours happened soon after season 1 ended and we had great success all throughout the offseason. Once that was over and some of these online 2ks started, we kind of lost that drive. After playing together on LAN for the first time, I finally got to see the team we were in the offseason. I feel that regional has re-lit our passion and we have seen steady improvement in scrimmages online going into Dallas.

Ghost Gaming, in particular, have seemed to have your team’s number lately. Albeit, you’ve only faced each other online, do you think the results are purely online and won’t translate to LAN or do they provide a solid matchup against you guys?

We have played Ghost four times in 2k finals and our record is 2–2. I do feel they benefit from the online aspect more than us since we have proven time and time again we are a better LAN team. With how they were performing online, they should have won the NY regional, instead, they lost to Optic with a substitute. Going to Dallas, were extremely confident in our matchup with them.

Is there any added pressure when facing Ghost Gaming? After all, they did pick up a player you guys decided not to play with anymore and no one likes to lose to a team rostering a player they dropped.

There’s always going to be a bit more pressure when you’re playing someone you’ve replaced but we’ve dealt with that before. Before Season 1 officially began, we replaced Soto with Ribs. We went on to play him several times and never lost so this situation is somewhat familiar to us.

What about OpTic Gaming? Nick ‘Icy’ Cope was initially expected to miss the season opener in Mexico City due to the suspension which everyone led to expectations for your team to take an easy…easier major win. However, Mexico City was postponed and Icy will be back with the Green Wall in Dallas. Does this change expectations or did it affect your team’s preparation for the event?

Our preparation wasn’t affected in any way. Optic with or without Icy is no slouch. They’ve proven they can win without him. We know our rivals very well and we’re going to do our best to win this major regardless of who is sitting in the chairs across from us.

Let’s shift the focus a bit. We saw some new team changes outside of yours and Ghost Gaming. eUnited, Red Reserve, Allegiance, Ronin, etc. Any teams you see for potential breakout performances?

I’m interested in seeing how Worlds best and Xhite gaming do. Worlds best give Ronin trouble every 2k so I can them upsetting someone in Pool play. Xhite had a good showing at the NY regional. If they can build on that, they’ll definitely be a team to watch in Dallas.

Lastly, any particular teams you’re excited to face in Dallas and why?

I’m most excited to play Optic. They are our rivals and we both know we are our biggest competition. Aside from them, I would also love to play Ghost. They talk a lot of trash and we feed off of that kind of energy.