Dune data shows that since July 25th, the number of on-chain transactions on Optimism has started to “counterattack”. In the past week, the number of transactions has remained around 600,000, surpassing Arbitrum, which has always dominated the entire L2 track and kept Optimism under pressure, setting a new historical high.
The boost from World App can be said to be a key factor. As of the time of writing, the number of World App wallets has exceeded 1.1 million, of which the number of Optimism wallets holding WLD has reached 425,000, accounting for nearly 40%. The number of independent addresses on Optimism has also exceeded 7.5 million, and TVL has also seen a significant increase since the launch of Worldcoin.
Whether it is Worldcoin, which is highly anticipated inside and outside the industry, or Base, which has triggered a myth of overnight thousand-fold, they are all built based on OP Stack. The endorsement of these leading projects has also begun to present Optimism’s multi-chain universe vision to the market.
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OP is still the absolute winner in the Layer2 track
Currently, the Layer2 market is mainly dominated by the two mainstream scalability solutions, Optimistic Rollup and ZK Rollup. From the data perspective, OP-type projects still occupy the majority:
There are a total of 7 Layer2 projects with TVL above $100 million, and although OP-type projects only occupy three seats, their market share is above 85%, far exceeding the 15% market share of ZK.
Among the three OP-type projects, Arbitrum is in an absolute leading position- Arbitrum alone occupies more than half of the market share of the entire Layer2 market, which is equivalent to twice that of Optimism.
Therefore, as of now, the competition in the Layer2 track is still dominated by OP-type projects, and ZK is still in a catching-up position, and the competition between Arbitrum and Optimism is the most critical among the OP projects.
Now let’s compare the trend of Arbitrum and Optimism from a data perspective.
Unique address number
According to Arbiscan.io data, as of August 7th, the number of unique addresses on the Arbitrum network has exceeded 10.64 million (469,290), an increase of over 400% compared to the 2.39 million at the beginning of this year on January 1st.
At the same time, according to Optimism browser data, as of August 7th, the number of unique addresses on the Optimism network has exceeded 7.62 million, more than tripled compared to the 2.4 million at the beginning of this year on January 1st.
Among them, the most noteworthy thing about Optimism is that it started to accelerate significantly on March 13, 2023, with an average increase of over 1 million unique addresses per day. On June 19th, it even added 435,719 unique addresses in a single day, setting a new record for daily additions.
It is clear that Optimism has been lagging behind Arbitrum in terms of absolute quantity and early development, but since the middle of this year, Optimism has clearly begun to accelerate.
Total Value Locked (TVL)
At the same time, Optimism has also entered an acceleration period in terms of TVL since mid-June:
According to L2BEAT data, as of August 7th, Arbitrum has a TVL of about $6 billion, ranking first in TVL among Ethereum Layer2 networks, but it has remained stable in this range for about 4 consecutive months with minimal fluctuations.
On the other hand, Optimism has grown from $1.9 billion to $3 billion since mid-June, an increase of over 50%.
Growth of Optimism network
It is worth noting that on September 2, 2021, shortly after the launch of Arbitrum’s mainnet, the TVL exceeded $20 million and then increased more than 20 times within a month, leaving Optimism far behind in terms of quantity. Nowadays, the gap between Optimism and Arbitrum has narrowed to two times.
In addition, the Base blockchain mentioned earlier in the OP category projects, although it only has about 1% market share, is an indispensable factor in its gradual catch-up with Arbitrum as it is built on the OP Stack.
Optimism’s Super Circle of Friends
So, although Optimism has always lagged behind Arbitrum in terms of on-chain data, it has recently shown a clear trend of counterattack with its growing circle of friends.
This “circle of friends of Optimism” mainly refers to the superchain network built on its OP Stack. So what is the OP Stack?
It can be understood as a set of open-source software components that developers can use to assemble a customized Layer2 network according to their own needs and scenarios.
Two years ago, when application developers decided which chain to deploy their applications on, they only had a relatively simple choice: Ethereum, Solana, Cosmos, Polkadot, or other Layer1 blockchains. At that time, Rollups had not yet launched their mainnets, and few people had heard of the term “modular stack”. The differences between L1s (throughput, fees, etc.) were very clear and relatively easy to understand.
Now, with the maturing of the Layer2 track, developers are faced with a richer set of choices, including the OP Stack route – directly launching a chain through OP Stack and occupying a place in Optimism’s superchain ecosystem.
So far, a large number of institutional friends have already joined or plan to join the OP Stack circle of friends, including leading projects in CEX/DEX, public chains, NFT, etc.:
First and foremost is the Base public chain launched by Coinbase based on the OP Stack. On June 19th, BNB Chain also announced the launch of the opBNB testnet, a Layer2 network based on the OP Stack. With this, both major CEXs have joined the superchain battle of Optimism.
In addition to CEXs, NFT marketplace Zora has also launched the Zora Network, a Layer2 network based on the OP Stack. a16z also announced the launch of Magi, a Rollup client solution based on the OP Stack, in April.
And recently, the star project Worldcoin, launched by the founder of ChatGPT, has also chosen Optimism: Worldcoin ID will build an application chain based on the OP Stack to construct an ecosystem related to on-chain identity systems.
In addition, some old-school Layer1 public chains or projects have also begun to join the OP Stack camp and shift towards the Layer2 track:
On July 7th, Public Goods Network (PGN) supported by Gitcoin announced its construction based on the OP Stack.
On July 12th, Manta Network, a ZK-based Layer1 public chain, announced the launch of Manta LianGuaicific, a Layer2 network designed specifically for zero-knowledge proof (ZK) applications, based on the OP Stack.
On July 17th, cLabs, the development organization behind Celo, proposed transforming Celo from an independent EVM-compatible Layer1 blockchain to an Ethereum Layer2 based on the OP Stack.
On August 11th, DeBank tweeted that it had launched the DeBank Chain L2 testnet built on the OP Stack and plans to launch the mainnet in 2024.
This has led to a bizarre state for the two OP giants in the Layer2 track, where Arbitrum is clearly ahead of Optimism in terms of TVL, active users, and other data in the conventional ecosystem, but Optimism is sprinting ahead in terms of institutional adoption, cooperation, and investment.
Perhaps because of this, various Layer2 projects have also accelerated their own superchain ecosystem processes: For example, Arbitrum has laid out a new network called Arbitrum Nova designed for gaming, social applications, and high-throughput DApp use cases, as well as an open-source toolkit called Arbitrum Orbit for building L3 networks, supporting developers in deploying and creating their own chains.
The ZK track is also accelerating its own superchain ecosystem: In addition to zkSync announcing the launch of ZK Stack, a modular open-source framework for building custom ZK rollups, Eli Ben-Sasson, co-founder of StarkWare, also announced at the Paris EthCC conference that Starknet will soon launch Starknet Appchains, which can be launched by applications using the Starknet stack and have characteristics such as customizability and decentralization.
From this perspective, stimulated by the expanding circle of Optimism, the scalability battle of Layer2 is also accelerating its evolution towards an ecosystem battle, and whether OP Stack, which has a first-mover advantage in applications, can maintain its lead in such a challenge remains unknown.
The Multi-chain Universe Vision of OP Stack
The narrative of Optimism’s superchain is not actually new. Projects like Cosmos have long been working on “one-click chain deployment + modularity”. However, compared to the high-profile OP Stack that has been launched, Cosmos’ application chain has performed lukewarmly this year.
The main reason is that in today’s competition for Layer2 solutions in the public chain, which is dominated by Ethereum, OP Stack happens to provide an alternative path:
By relying on the Ethereum ecosystem, it helps ecosystem partners who join to share resources with Ethereum, enjoy Ethereum’s high security, and still have the option to use their own native token as gas.
It can be said that in the early development of the Optimism network, it was mainly dominated by the Synthetix ecosystem, which resulted in a lack of strong competitive advantages in the competition with Arbitrum, and it has always been in a catching-up stage.
Starting this year, Optimism has found an effective differentiated competitive path with the new narrative of the OP Stack superchain, gradually gaining a foothold.
Especially with the support of partners like Base and op BNB, it not only gives the Optimism superchain ecosystem a strong brand endorsement, but also provides a source of continuous growth in users, transaction volume, etc. for Optimism in the future.
After completing the mainnet upgrade of Bedrock on June 7th, the network fees of Optimism have been reduced by about 50%, making Optimism closer to the vision of being a “superchain”.
Overall, this is a win-win choice for Optimism and its ecosystem partners. After all, under the lessons learned from many predecessors, the competition in underlying performance is no longer the mainstream narrative point that the public pays attention to in the Ethereum L2 ecosystem:
Compared to improvements in scalability and performance, how to attract more developers, projects, communities, and markets to create a prosperous ecosystem with various use cases in DeFi applications, NFTs, GameFi, etc. is the key to avoid the awkward situation of being “overvalued” but having a stagnant public chain development.
“Relying on the Synthetix ecosystem in the early stage and leveraging the OP Stack in the later stage”, OP Stack, which relies on the Ethereum ecosystem, has taken the first step in this regard and is becoming a “Cosmos universe based on Ethereum”, attempting to build its own “application chain narrative”.
Overall, although Optimism lags behind Arbitrum in terms of on-chain data dimension, it has made significant progress in ecosystem partnerships, application areas, and collaborations due to its superchain network built on OP Stack.
Although it falls slightly behind in terms of data, it continues to attract institutions and partners, shifting its focus from performance to ecosystem development, and has great development prospects.