Optic India registered a quick 2-0 win (Nuke 16-8, Inferno 16-6) over Invictus to become the first team to enter the Upper Bracket Finals of the Direct Invite Qualifiers – Indian Phase – for Zowie eXTREMESLAND 2018.

Optic India started on the T side on their map pick Nuke. A brilliantly devised plan saw Optic ultimately take control of the A site. Haivaan sliced into the Invictus defence quite literally as he stabbed BinaryBUGG. Invictus failed to retake the site and conceded the pistol round to Optic India.

Invictus though, responded in style. Blackhawk came in huge with a 4k as they completed their retake attempt at A this time around. Invictus cleaned up the weak pistols buy from Optic but were then caught off-guard as Optic India started to delve into their strat-book.

The outer smokes strategy worked brilliantly as they managed to take outer control time and again. With the score at 2-2, Forsaken converted a 1v2 to restore Optic India’s advantage while the Bangalore-based stack added to their tally with another Outer hit.

Blackhawk converted a 1v1 to peg one round back. But, the Optic India onslaught had just begun. Their unrelenting aggression at Outer saw Invictus being unable to take back or maintain control of the area, which gave Optic a free reign to use it to their advantage.

A clean anti-eco saw Optic India rush to a 7-3 lead. Another Outer take attempt followed the round, with yB having to clutch a 1v2 to maintain the momentum. The domination at Outer did not stop as Optic secured the last two rounds of the half to make the score 12-3 in their favour.

The pistol round saw Optic India shutting down Invictus at A, with Manan unable to convert a 1v2 scenario. Optic added another round before invictus responded with one of their own. With the score at 14-4, Invictus sought to give Optic a taste of their own medicine by executing the identical Outer control smokes.

But, to give it a twist, they did not go for Outer control. Instead, they fell back and hit the B site through the ramp area, leaving Optic without much of an answer. Pashasahil then opened up the A site through squeaky door before a patient and clean Anti-eco saw Invictus pull the score back to 7-14.

A ramp take compelled Optic into a 3-man save. Invictus then went for another Outer smokes barrage. But, Optic India had the perfect counter to it. Marzil was flashed through the smoke to get a 2k, which was enough to throw Invictus off and propel Optic India to map point.

yB then recorded a 2k on the A defence as Optic India closed out their map pick with a scoreline of 16-8.

It seemed clear that Optic had a game plan in place when they started on the T side. Invictus had no answer to their continued hits at Outer while Optic India were able to successfully counter the same when Invictus did it on their own T side.

Optic started on the CT side on Inferno and seemed to be in the same groove as Nuke. Some boiler aggression saw Optic push Invictus towards the B site and secure the pistol round. A brilliant Crossfire on the A site saw Optic shut down Invictus in the round that followed.

Optic India’s early round aggression continued to rattle Invictus. On the full buy at 3-0, Haivaan was flashed through at slope to cause havoc with the MP9. So he did and secured the round for Optic India.

Ribbi took matters into his own hands at 5-0 and converted a 1v2 on the B bombsite to put Invictus on the board on Inferno. But, the dual awp from Optic India dominated the next round, with Marzil and antidote shutting down Invictus.

An A take from Invictus finally yielded the results, with antidote, the lone survivor for Optic India, forced to save his awp on the B site. Invictus were relinquishing B and mid control time and again.

And Optic India capitalised on it by stretching the lead to 7-2. The reigning ESL INDIA Premiership champions were then stopped dead in their tracks at mid by Marzil with a pristine 4k. Haivaan soon followed suit, with his usual crime partner, the MP9. A shutdown at B and A site respecitvely in the rounds that followed saw Optic race to a 11-2 lead. Invictus finally managed to shutdown Optic India’s aggression and secured a much-needed third round on the T side. Forsaken though, made sure Invictus did not get a fourth, converting a 1v2 clutch.

With their backs against the wall, Invictus captain Ribbi rose to the occasion, with a three-peat of 3k rounds to propel Invictus to 12-6. But, Optic then decided to slowly claw down the A defence.

Their success encouraged them to repeat the strategy. Consecutive A hits followed suit, with the scoreline reaching 15-6. Optic India decided to continue with the winning formula hitting the A site and closing out the map 16-6.

I remember Aditya ‘Ad1’ Shah explaining why Inferno is a map where aggression from multiple areas can yield great rewards. Optic India did their own version of that and managed to not only rattle Invictus but also restrict their choices on the map.

All in all, Optic looked the more synchronized of the two teams. Invictus are, obviously, still reeling from the departure of Excali and Huntr and it seems they need a few more weeks to rebuild their chemistry.

With the win, Optic India are the first team to book their spot in the Upper Bracket Finals, labeled the Semi-Finals as per the Brackets of the Direct Invite Qualifiers.

Optic India will meet one of Entity and Brutality in the Upper Bracket Finals, which will be played out tomorrow.

In the other match being played off-stream, Team Malhar became the first team to bow out of the Direct Invite Qualifiers, losing 19-15, 16-8 on Cache and Inferno respectively. 2ez go through to the next round.