Group Blue, or Stage 2's "group of death", stats this weekend with FaZe Clan, Ghost Gaming, eLevate and Enigma6 all facing off to qualify for the playoffs. To say each of these teams are top-tier talent is an understatement. But with recent roster swaps and tournament struggles plaguing lineups, this seems set to be the closest group of Stage 2. So much so, that it wouldn't be surprising if a team gets into the playoffs based on a single map win.
FaZe Clan has been at the center of the eUnited's Pierce "Gunless" Hillman controversy over the last few months, a saga that has only recently wrapped up with James "Clayster" Eubanks being traded to eUnited. The trade, while not surprising, brings plenty of questions marks along with it. For one, Clayster was FaZe Clan's key assault rifle player, while Gunless is an SMG player. With three players on FaZe Clan running SMGs, their distinct fast-and-furious gameplay from Black Ops 3 might make a return in Group Blue. The other question is team chemistry as Clayster recently revealed on his YouTube channel grievances with FaZe Clan. The withering trust in one another was confirmed by Ian "Enable" Wyatt in the ever delightful "Hot Mic" segment on Thursday. This weekend will show if Gunless has re-calibrated FaZe Clan's chemistry. Either way, they will have some very stern competition in Ghost Gaming and Enigma6.
Enigma6, in particular, seem the most likely team to counter FaZe Clan's new roster by fighting fire with fire. The scrappy American team have made themselves infamous thanks to their fluid map movement. Couple this with a close-range SMG playstyle and Enigma6 have found themselves gunning to extraordinary heights. However placing in the playoffs will likely come down to map rotations in key games against FaZe Clan and Ghost Gaming. This is because Enigma6 play excellently on Frost and Throwback, thanks to a map design that allows the team to flank easily, but tend to flounder on long-range maps like Retaliation.
On the other hand, Ghost Gaming have had a meteoric rise thanks to a well-balanced playstyle. Made from the ashes of Cloud9 and Gosu Crew, Ghost Gaming dominated CWL Anaheim as Bittersweet and found themselves placing in the top-12, losing only to Splyce and Red Reserve. Both Andres "Lacefield" Lacefield and Devin "LlamaGod" Tran compliment each other extraordinary well thanks to their strong slaying and their flexibility. Their willingness to adjust from short-range to long-range on a whim was what allowed Ghost Gaming to shoot into the top-12 in a long and drawn out weekend. However, it's still questionable if they can slay with the best such as FaZe Clan and Enigma6 after falling just short of the playoffs at CWL Anaheim.
Finally, eLevate look, frankly, out of their league in this group. While the Europeans have always managed to place in tournaments, it always seemed to be by the skin of their teeth. They placed in 9th-12th in CWL Sheffield, and failed to place at CWL Anaheim, losing both to FaZe Clan and Ghost Gaming. With the three other teams in the pool being some of the highest placing teams in the league, and eLevate floundering to place even in the top-12 in the EU region, chances don't look good for this team.
This weekend will be extraordinarily tight, making predictions tricky. But expect Enigma6 to take first and Ghost Gaming to take a narrow second. While FaZe Clan seem to be a stronger team on paper, their recent history doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. On numerous occasions, FaZe Clan has shown they easily peter out over long and exhausting weekends, such as in Stage 1. And this problem wasn't isolated to just Clayster as it plagues the entire rooster. Meanwhile, both Enigma6 and Ghost Gaming have proved their salt on numerous occasions. This leaves eLevate to take the middling last place while FaZe Clan takes third.
Group Blue starts July 7th at 4:00 PM EST on MLG's app and Twitch, and in-game in Call of Duty: Infinite Warefare.