As we approach the ultimate event at the end of the second Call of Duty World League season, with the grand finale set for Aug. 9-13 at the Call of Duty World League Championship 2017 in Orlando, Florida, the CWL landscape has changed drastically from the first event of the season held in December 2016.
Since then, several teams have been touted as the “greatest in Call of Duty,” others have seen their entire roster rebuilt, and formerly great teams have struggled to get back to glory. Almost 2.5 million dollars in prize money has gone out to winners at events held around the world, including at both stages of this year’s revamped Global Pro League.
With so much Call of Duty action packed into the past eight months, here is a taste of what has happened at every major CWL event this season so far:
PlayStation Experience Invitational
The Anaheim Convention Center in California played host to an exhibition event that informally served as the first event of the 2017 Season. The PlayStation Experience Invitational introduced a brand-new Call of Duty World League Season, providing information and outlining the excitement ahead. Along with the announcement, eight talented Call of Duty teams were invited to play for a $20,000 prize pool.
At that event, FaZe Clan came out on top of Orbit eSport, an organization that would eventually become Red Reserve, with current Red members Joseph "Joee" Pinnington, Rhys "Rated" Price and David "Urban" Marsh on the roster. Out of the eight invited teams, only two currently hold the exact same roster as they did back in December, as both Rise Nation and Luminosity decided to stick to their squads after placing within the top-four.
CWL Las Vegas Open
The first major event of the season saw Call of Duty players from around North America and Europe pack the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, all for the first opportunity to bank CWL Pro Points for Global Pro League qualification and vie for a piece of the $100,000 prize pool.
In the Open Bracket, European teams Elevate, Splyce, and Infused all punched their tickets to the Championship Bracket, while Enigma6 made the most of their grand return to Call of Duty by qualifying through to Group Play. There, E6 swept Rise, Revenge, and OpTic Gaming to take the top seed of Group B, but they wound up only finishing top-eight after OpTic had their revenge in the Championship Losers Bracket.
Meanwhile, Rise Nation rebounded from their loss to Enigma6 to narrowly edge out Luminosity and take out FaZe, setting themselves up for a Winners Finals match with Patrick “ACHES” Price and his Cloud9 squad. From that point onwards, Rise had C9’s number thanks to eventual MVP Brice “Faccento” Faccento, whose solid slaying helped Rise Nation defeat Cloud9 3-1 in the Winners Finals, and again 3-2 in the Grand Finals.
CWL London Invitational
Held at the GFinity Arena, the first overseas event of the season saw 16 of the top European teams compete for all-important Pro Points ahead of the CWL Atlanta Open. Those Pro Points came into play by directly determining the Atlanta Pool Play, with the top six European teams in terms of Pro Points automatically being placed alongside their North American peers.
Rebounding from their losses in Las Vegas and the PlayStation Invitational, Orbit came out on top of the sixteen European teams, defeating their eventual Grand Finals rivals Splyce 3-0 in the first round. Splyce then made a Losers Bracket run that saw them lose only one map across four series, including a win against Orbit, but Orbit answered back with a series sweep to take home the CWL London title.
CWL Atlanta Open
The next international CWL event was in Atlanta where new heroes rose from the pack. Those champions came in the form of eUnited, who decided to part ways with their entire Las Vegas roster outside of Justin “SiLLY” Fargo and rebuild with young talent. One of the up and coming stars was Pierce “Gunless” Hillman, whose ability to make the most of his Active Camo payload after slaying the lights out of opponents helped his team topple some of the largest organizations in esports.
In just a single Championship Bracket run, the relatively new eUnited organization took out the PlayStation Experience Champions FaZe, swept the 2016 World Champions EnVy, and were able to fight off OpTic Gaming even after they were swept in the first of two Grand Finals matches.
CWL Paris Open
The best Call of Duty teams in the world flew out of Atlanta and straight on to Paris, France, where ESWC held a CWL-sanctioned international event live from their annual gaming convention.
Continuing one of the most interesting streaks in Call of Duty history, OpTic Gaming won their third straight ESWC event, with OG member Ian “Crimsix” Porter continuing to be the winning member of every ESWC Call of Duty tournament ever since the first event occurred in 2013. In order for OpTic to keep their streak alive, they swept every team they faced in the Championship Bracket, which included EnVy, Infused, and FaZe twice.
CWL Sydney Open 1
The Asia-Pacific region held its first regional event of the season in mid-March, giving teams in the region that wanted to fight for the only APAC position in the Pro League a shot ahead of the CWL Dallas Open.
In this event, Mindfreak were stunned by Tainted Minds in the Winners Finals, as they lost a Search and Destroy in the fifth game and were dropped into the Losers Bracket. After regaining confidence against Validate Black, Mindfreak won back-to-back series in the Grand Finals to be crowned the CWL Sydney Open 1 Champions.
CWL Dallas Open
Dallas was the last stop before the new Global Pro League kicked off, with several teams needing to place well at the event in order to qualify for Stage 1 of the Global Pro League.
Edging out the completion by a few games, Epsilon and Evil Geniuses made their way into the Championship Bracket to earn the final European and North American Global Pro League bids respectively. Meanwhile, Mindfreak beat Tainted Minds one last time in the Championship Losers Bracket to secure the lone APAC spot.
As for the general tournament, OpTic Gaming found themselves on a Winners Bracket run to the Grand Finals, while eUnited had to wade through the Losers Bracket into a rematch with their rivals from CWL Atlanta. In that Grand Final, eUnited were able to scale the Green Wall in the first series, but ultimately fell to second place as OpTic took home the second series and the CWL Dallas Open title.
CWL Birmingham Open
Held a weekend prior to Stage 1 of the Global Pro League, the CWL Birmingham Open provided the opportunity for non-pro teams to earn a cache of Pro Points, while giving the professional teams a momentum boost before the competition kicked off overseas.
In the Winners Bracket, Epsilon Esports made a strong run, but were stopped by a Splyce team that was number one in Europe. However, after sweeping Fnatic, Epsilon were a team on a mission to dethrone the European kings, and they did so in incredible fashion, sweeping them twice to win the CWL Birmingham Open.
CWL Global Pro League: Stage 1
Nine North American teams, six European squads, and a single APAC crew represented the best talent that Call of Duty had to offer in Stage 1 of the Global Pro League, where $700,000 was up for grabs over five weekends of play.
During the first four weekends, the sixteen teams were split up into groups of four and played within each group, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the final Playoff weekend, while the bottom team faced relegation.
Group Red saw EnVy and Splyce snatch up the first two Playoffs spots, while Cloud9 was sent out after losing to Mindfreak in overall map count. The other three weekends had Evil Geniuses, FaZe, eUnited, Luminosity, OpTic and Enigma6 all advance to the playoffs, while European teams Fnatic, Millenium and Red Reserve were all relegated.
In the Stage 1 Playoffs, the regional team count was stacked seven to one in favor of the North Americans, but against those odds, Splyce became the first ever European team to win a major CWL event. This happened via Trei “Zer0” Morris’ record breaking bracket play, and the team’s ability to defeat North American challengers Evil Geniuses, Enigma6, FaZe, and Luminosity.
CWL Sydney Open 2
Sydney was the site of second open event during the season, providing another opportunity for the Asian-Pacific region’s finest to load up on Pro Points before another international event.
Once again, Mindfreak proved to be the best team in the APAC region, only dropping a single game through the entire tournament and taking the second CWL Sydney Open event. Their journey for their second straight APAC-only event saw them carve through Validate Brothers, SYF and Rage, before defeating Oracle 3-1 in the Grand Final.
CWL Anaheim Open / Pro League Relegation
Six months after hosting the PlayStation Experience Invitational, the City of Anaheim was front and center once again as the site of the CWL Anaheim Open, as well as the Relegation Tournament that offered up four Pro League spots and CWL Championship invitations.
While Cloud9, Red Reserve and Fnatic all earned their way back into the Pro League, the final spot would see a new challenger in a team that went under the name Supreme Team. Lead by 2016 World Championship competitor Michael "SpaceLy" Schmale, the squad was picked up temporarily by the Bittersweet organization, and celebrated their new Global Pro League spot by coming out on top of their Anaheim pool.
However, they were brought down by European Global Pro League teams Splyce and Red to place top-12. SpaceLy and company found a home in Ghost Gaming shortly after the Relegation Tournament, representing the organization at Stage 2 of the Global Pro League and at the upcoming CWL Championship.
This event also saw shocking placements for a few Global Pro League squads, as Team EnVyUs fell in the first Championship Losers Round, FaZe Clan only placed in the top-16, and OpTic Gaming were surprised by Enigma6, as they lost in game five, round 11 to Jordon “General” General’s team. And while some big Global Pro League teams fell, Stage 1 Champions Splyce were almost ready to repeat their championship level performance, until Luminosity struck them down 3-1 in the Grand Finals.
CWL Sheffield Open
Much like the Birmingham Open, the European region had another chance for teams to gain Pro Points and experience at the CWL Sheffield Open.
Held right before the Last Chance Qualifier Pro Point cutoff date, non-Pro League teams Supremacy, eRa and Millenium secured the top seeds in the upcoming European LCQ by placing within the top-six.
As for Pro League teams, Fnatic, Epsilon and Red Reserve made it out to Sheffield, and they still put on solid performances taking the top-three spots of the tournament. By the end of the weekend, Epsilon Esports took home their second European-only event trophy, as they took down Fnatic 3-1 in the Winners Finals, and swept Red Reserve in the Grand Finals.
CWL Championship Last Chance Qualifiers
Across all three regions, CWL Championship hopefuls who earned enough Pro Points as teams competed for the right to face the Global Pro League crews on the biggest stage for competitive Call of Duty.
In the APAC region, Tainted Minds and Mindfreak Black battled their way through 14 other competitors to represent their region, while the European region saw Millenium, MRN Black, Infused, Supremacy, Team Vitality, and Opulent eSports (later picked up by eRa Eternity) punch their tickets to Orlando in August.
The final eight spots were determined in a 16-team double elimination tournament held in the MLG Arena right before the Global Pro League Stage 2 Playoffs, as North America’s best non-Pro League teams duked it out while being surrounded by fellow competitors and pros. Projekt Evil, Echo Fox, Str8 Rippin and Team Allegiance all qualified through the Winners Bracket, while Lethal Gaming, Team Kaliber, 3sUp and Rogue earned their CWL Championship spots by surviving the Losers Bracket.
CWL Global Pro League: Stage 2
Almost every team who qualified for the Stage 1 Playoffs won the right to play for the additional $500,000 on offer in the Stage 2 Playoffs, with the exception of Evil Geniuses who fell to Fnatic in the Red Group.
Despite Europe having an extra team represented from their region in the Playoffs, the North American region took hold of the top-four positions in the tournament, with Fnatic placing the best out of the two European teams by landing in the top-six. Out of the top North American teams, Team EnVyUs appeared to be back in their World Championship form by making it to the Grand Finals through the Winners Bracket, however OpTic Gaming were also hungry for a title.
Besting eUnited, who picked up their old rival James “Clayster” Eubanks, OpTic Gaming put themselves into another installment of “eClasico” with Team EnVyUs. Resetting the bracket after taking EnVy down 3-1 in the first series, OpTic Gaming completed their Championship Sunday run by taking down Team EnVyUs one more time to become the Global Pro League Stage 2 Champions.
And that brings us to the present day, where we anxiously await the start of the Call of Duty World League Championship 2017 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Be sure to tune into the CWL Championship from Aug. 9-13 on mlg.tv/callofduty, on the official MLG Facebook page, on the official MLG Twitch Channel, or on the official MLG YouTube channel. If you’d like to be in the arena live for the final three days of the Championship, limited general admission tickets are still available to enjoy the bracket from August 11 - 13. Either way, we can’t wait for you to join us for all the action as we crown a brand-new Call of Duty World League Champion!