After five days and 76 games of Call of Duty, OpTic Gaming emerged as the 2017 Call of Duty World Champions, coming through the lower bracket to beat Team EnVyUs twice. It was an absolutely insane week of highs and lows, victory and heartache, and some of the best Call of Duty this year.
The actions started on August 9 with group play. Nearly everyone came in hot as the hunger for victory drove every single player. However, it quickly became clear who was the top talent. Teams like OpTic Gaming, eUnited, Luminosity Gaming, Rise Nation, Splyce, Ghost Gaming, FaZe Clan and Team EnVyUs separated themselves from the pack in decisive games. Group F was the pool to watch as Fnatic, Tainted Minds, Evil Geniuses and Str8 Rippin battled it out. All eyes were on Jeremy "StuDyy" Astacio in Wednesday’s highlight match, Evil Geniuses vs. Str8 Rippin. It was a revenge match months in the making as StuDy looked to wallop Evil Geniuses for dropping him after CWL Anaheim. He’d get his revenge in a blistering 3-0. But in other groups, upsets were already happening. Rise Nation, a team that was considered “dried up” by many, took a series off Luminosity Gaming, one of the top units in competitive CoD.
Thursday was the day of heartbreak as teams began to drop like flies from the CWL Championships. The first to drop was in Group F, as Evil Geniuses fell to Fnatic’s deliberate pace. The second to drop was Tainted Minds, one of the Asian-Pacific’s premiere teams, thanks to Str8 Rippin’s streaks. More and more followed with two key games happening early on. Red Reserve vs. Allegiance carried consequences for the whole day as Allegiance narrowly won the series 3-1. It was a critical loss, as it forced the European team to miss the playoffs by a single map despite beating FaZe Clan in their group, a feat Allegiance couldn’t replicate. In the last two months, Red Reserve failed to qualify for bracket play twice due to a single map loss. In their playoff seed was, instead, Allegiance.
Later, controversy rocked Group B as eLevate was ruled to have given a technical forfeit to Mindfreak Black in their last series of the day. Halfway through Round 4 Hardpoint, Zach ‘Zed’ Denyer’s controller stopped working entirely, prompting the rest of his teammates in eLevate to stop playing. The judge ruled this meant eLevate forfeited the round since they refused to play out the map. This was layered with another ruling that the tournament staff wasn’t responsible for Zed’s controller issues since Zed was using his own controller instead of the one provided to him. In just one minute, eLevate, who had a terrible year, going 0-16 in Stage 2, were now disqualified from playoffs.
The long, grueling day ended in a three-way tie-breaker between Team Infused, Mindfreak and Lethal Gaming in Group C. The unusual tie called for unusual circumstances. The tie would be broken by three series of Search & Destroy on Retaliation with each team facing each other twice. Whoever won two series first would enter into the playoffs. The pressure was evident early on, as each team would play passively around the map, waiting for someone to make the first call. In the end, the cool and calm attitude of Team Infused prevailed over Mindfreak and Lethal Gaming.
Friday marked the beginning of double-elimination playoffs, and with that Fnatic, Epsilon eSports, Mindfreak Black and Str8 Rippin’ would drop out of the playoffs. Mostly, teams expected to do well were beginning to filter each other out and into the lower bracket. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any surprises. Rise Nation, the first seed of Group D, dropped to the lower bracket after their first playoff match against Team Infused. Suddenly, the overlooked European team was becoming one of the brightest in the region. Allegiance would also join the upset party, plowing through Fnatic and dropping them into the lower brackets. A wounded Fnatic was then stomped by Luminosity Gaming, who found themselves in the lower bracket thanks to eUnited.
Saturday was perhaps the longest day for players, despite it having the least games. This was because the competition was getting absolutely fierce. Team EnVyUs, a team who only a few months ago looked unable to compete at a competitive level, was emerging as a real contender, dropping Ghost Gaming from the higher tier. Ghost Gaming would then go on to defeat Enigma6, America’s infamous dark horse, from the lower tier. However, the two best games of the weekend - perhaps of the season - happened next. OpTic Gaming vs. Splyce was a mind-bending game that saw Stage 1 champion Splyce face Stage 2 champion OpTic Gaming. Going all the way to a Game 9 in Round 5 Search & Destroy, both teams played at their absolute heights. Unfortunately, Splyce lost the series and ran out of gas, losing their very next game.
Following up that insane series was the absurd contest between eUnited and Team EnVyUs. The series hit a climax in Round 3 Uplink on Precinct. There, Team EnVyUs was able to rally together 12 points in four minutes despite eUnited holding a 9-0 lead going into the second half. It was a dream-like game where two sides played flawless Uplink for one half. It was the kind of Uplink match that all other Uplink maps will have to measure up to. EnVy would go on to win the series, with eUnited losing its very next series to fall out of the tournament entirely. It was clear that the memorable Uplink match broke the team’s spirits. Slowly but surely, Rise Nation was building a brilliant run through the lower bracket, slowly making their way to the top. Their only roadblock into the top four was FaZe Clan. Rise Nation took the series purely thanks to their Search & Destroy skills. FaZe Clan, on the other side, had 10 straight Search & Destroy losses, a sad fact that easily pushed them out of the CWL Championships.
Team EnVyUs, OpTic Gaming and Luminosity Gaming were the top three teams going into Championship Sunday. OpTic Gaming would lose their first series against Team EnVyUs, while Luminosity Gaming survived in its series against Rise Nation. But OpTic Gaming was hungry to take the championships, with Damon “Karma” Barlow desperate for his third world series ring. As a result, OpTic Gaming ran through Luminosity Gaming. The only thing in their way was Team EnVyUs in the Grand Finals. But OpTic Gaming prevailed through sheer aggression, taking back-to-back series against Team EnVyUs to become the first team to a have a three-time championship winner in Call of Duty.
The CWL Championships marks the end of the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare season and the beginning or Call of Duty: World War II pre-season. Stay tuned for up-to-date news as draft season begins.