OpTic Gaming has signed the majority of the FNRGFE Overwatch roster as well as three free agents to occupy the roster of its soon-to-be-named Overwatch League team, sources close to the players and organization told ESPN.
The team had previously come to terms with FNRGFE's Matt "coolmatt69" Iorio and Austin "muma" Wilmot but has now also signed Matt "Clockwork" Dias, Daniel "Boink" Pence and Christopher "Bani" Benell from the same team. Free agents Lucas "Mendokusaii" Håkansson, Jake "JAKE" Lyon and Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin will also join the team.
The only FNRGFE player not to transfer to the OpTic-owned team will be Casey "buds" McIlwaine. Whether buds will find another team in the Overwatch League or will compete in future seasons of Overwatch Contenders is currently uncertain.
The roster moves come after OpTic Gaming announced its entrance into the Overwatch League on Sep. 20 with the acquisition of the Houston slot. The long-time esports team received investment from a group led by Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman and purchased into the league at a reported $20 million buy-in, to be paid over time. The organization will create a new city-named brand for the league; several teams have released the names and branding for their teams over the past couple weeks.
OpTic is expected to hire more staff but has worked with Overwatch commentator Matt "flame" Rodriguez since it was accepted into the league. Flame has helped the organization assemble this lineup and is expected to take a general management position of some form with the team before the start of the season.
The Overwatch League preseason is scheduled to begin Dec. 6, and the regular season begins on Jan. 10. The league, at least for the first season, will take place in the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California, with future seasons expected to see teams relocate to their home cities. Matches will then be played in those cities instead of in a centralized Los Angeles location.
FNRGFE -- an unsponsored team comprised of professional players formerly of Fnatic, NRG Esports and Gale Force Esports -- finished third-fourth at the Overwatch Contenders Season 1 playoffs in Burbank, California, on Oct. 7 after a loss to Team Envy in the semifinals. Buds announced the following week that he would not continue with the team.
Jake and coolmatt69 are currently on the Team USA squad, of which Jake is captain, that will compete at the Overwatch World Cup at BlizzCon in Anaheim, California on Nov. 3-4. The two have competed with each other in qualifiers for that event, including in Santa Monica, California, on Aug. 11-13.