Two North Texas esports powerhouses that are said to be some of the largest in the industry have completed a merger: Dallas’ Envy Gaming and Frisco’s OpTic Gaming. The deal represents the union of two historic organizations and their leaders—who have been longtime friends and gaming rivals.
OpTic leader Hector “HECZ” Rodriguez will join the combined companies’ ownership group, while serving as president of OpTic Gaming, which he will continue operating. All OpTic employees and creators will continue with the brand.
Mike “Hastr0” Rufail, the chief gaming officer and co-owner of Envy, will also remain in his position.
The deal has been a longtime coming, according to industry publications, and has been in the making since the end of the 2021 Call of Duty League season.
Rufail and Rodriguez have competed against each other since 2008. As Rufail puts it, “We genuinely care about each other. We are going to be much stronger together than apart.”
Envy/OpTic will retain Envy’s 21,000-square-foot headquarters and training center in Victory Park to operate its content creator network and competitive esports teams. That includes the Dallas Fuel in the Overwatch League.
Envy/OpTic will also keep OpTic’s space in Frisco, to be designated as the primary hub for content creation from OpTic creators and streamers. It will be the destination for the new OpTic Texas Call of Duty league team.
“Organizations are going to have to attract more eyeballs and operate a business that can scale. We’re strengthening the future of what esports will be 10 years from now with the decisions we’re making today,” Rufail said in a statement. “For us, this deal means we can accomplish our goals faster. Life is too short not to do this.“
Introducing OpTic Texas
What’s resulting from the deal is a new hometown team that OpTic’s global fan base, known as the GREENWALL, can now root for: OpTic Texas.
Envy Gaming’s Dallas Empire will be rebranded to OpTic Texas for the 2022 Call of Duty league season, holding the Texas-based Call of Duty league franchise position. Envy/OpTic has also acquired, and plans to sell, the Chicago team slot known as OpTic Chicago.
OpTic Texas’ starting roster includes Seth “Scump” Abner, Brandon “Dashy” Otell, Indervir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal, and Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro.
With the deal, Envy/OpTic acquired rights to expand their marketing territory beyond Dallas for the Call of Duty league. That means embodying more of Texas and its statewide fans.
“I love Dallas, Seth loves Dallas, everyone in OpTic loves being in Texas,” Rodriguez said. “This is the best thing for OpTic. Period.”
The announcement comes at a time when the newest Call of Duty: Vanguard and Warzone map are rolling out. Envy/OpTic said they wanted to “do something truly special” for the GREENWALL and Call of Duty fans, as both have deep roots in the world of Call of Duty.
They hope the merger opens new capabilities for both creators and professional esports players. Rufail, Rodriguez, and other company leaders plan to expand into additional entertainment ventures and collaborations.
“We’re building the beginning moments of the new age of sports,” Rodriguez said. “We are inventing every day.”
OpTic and Envy have long histories in esports
Founded in 2006, OpTic is today known for its competitive edge in esports, media, and entertainment. Rodriguez took over operations in 2007, growing it to be a successful team that has won more than 50 esports championships.
In 2017, OpTic was purchased by Infinite Esports & Entertainment, which was then acquired by Immortals Gaming Club two years later. Last year, Rodriguez bought the OpTic Gaming brand from Immortals.
Envy was founded in 2007. More than a decade later, the entertainment and esports company has global reach for its network of winning gamers, content creators, and esports teams.
Today, its ownership includes some big names, like Dallas’ own mega-star Post Malone.
The rapper, singer, and songwriter will remain in the combined company’s ownership group, along with professional poker player Fedor Holz. It will also include Gray Television, Ken Hersh and Hersh Interactive Group, Rufail, and Rodriguez.
“There’s nothing I want more than having the freedom as a creator to create,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a comfort-level of trust in Mike [Rufail] and the investment group he’s put together that has been there for years and that I know from personal experience. Finding people you trust and you want to build with is the most important thing for the future of OpTic.”
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