The 2018 Call of Duty World League Pro League presented by PlayStation 4 kicked off on January 22, as the eight Stage One teams in Division A competed over 14 matches across three days of play.
The eight teams from Divisions A and B are playing in two separate double round-robin tournaments held over eight weeks at the MLG Columbus Studio, with the top four teams in each division earning the right to play in the Stage One Playoffs. The Pro League teams are also trying to avoid the bottom of the standings, as each division’s bottom two teams will face Pro League relegation before the CWL Seattle Open.
Here is what the Division A standings look like at the end of the first week:
Of course, the standings do not tell the full story of what happened over the past three days, so let’s take a look at some of the major storylines out of Stage One’s first week:
OpTic Gaming Topple Team Kaliber on Opening Day
Entering Stage One of the CWL Pro League, Team Kaliber (3rd, 3-1, 10-7) only lost one out of their 17 matches played at CWL live events (the first series to Luminosity in the New Orleans Grand Final), picking up CWL Dallas and CWL New Orleans Open titles in the process. While tK soared past expectations, 2017 CWL Champions OpTic Gaming (1st, 3-0, ,9-3) struggled, placing abnormally low, top-12 overall, at CWL New Orleans Open.
On Tuesday, OpTic looked to be back in championship form, snapping out of their past losses and winning a tightly contested four game series over Team Kaliber.
OpTic Gaming began the series with a win on Gibraltar Hardpoint, as Ian “Crimsix” Porter activated his “Crimbot” alter-ego and annihilated Team Kaliber.
Then through Seth “Scump” Abner’s consistent slaying and Matthew “FormaL” Piper’s clutch plays, the Green Wall won Search and Destroy on U.S.S. Texas 6-3, taking game two.
Team Kaliber kept the series alive by winning a Flak Tower Capture the Flag, but ultimately lost the series on a London Docks Hardpoint, where FormaL had a CWL WWII record 49 kills.
Both of OpTic Gaming’s Hardpoint victories in the series saw the Green Wall slaughter Team Kaliber, as OpTic outslayed tK by 57 kills combined. However, tK were not blown out on the scoreboard of either of those Hardpoints, as they only lost by 49 points in those two games combined.
.@OpTicGaming hand @TeamKaliber their first series loss on LAN! They take down the back-to-back champs and secure their first W in #CWLPS4 Pro League Stage 1. https://t.co/NKHQSgV6Gh #CWLPS4 pic.twitter.com/MEWd9oQMfH— Call of Duty esports (@CODWorldLeague) January 24, 2018
OpTic Gaming’s victory over Team Kaliber was an omen of OpTic’s success in week one, while tK rebounded after the loss to win over Echo Fox (4th, 2-1, 8-4) and Red Reserve (5th, 2-2, 10-7) later in the week.
How Rise Climbed to Division A’s Summit
Rise Nation (2nd, 3-1, 10-5) continued their success from the CWL New Orleans Open, as the New Orleans bronze medalists won three straight games in Division A’s first week.
Rise Nation swept Team Vitality (8th, 0-3, 0-9) on Tuesday, and dealt with some vengeance from Red Reserve on Wednesday night.
At the CWL New Orleans Open, Red made a phenomenal Championship Losers Bracket run from the third round all the way to the Losers Semifinals, as they waded through a gauntlet of North American powerhouses OpTic, FaZe and eUnited. In that semifinal, Red met Rise, who, in a heartbreaking five game series, crushed Red’s hopes at making the New Orleans podium.
Red entered the grudge match with two wins in the division, which were a 3-1 win over Mindfreak (7th, 0-3, 1-9) on Tuesday and a sweep over Vitality on Wednesday afternoon. Despite Red’s hot start, Rise Nation threw the Reserve straight into the 50-point club on Ardennes Forest Hardpoint to start the series.
Red Reserve responded with two straight wins on Ardennes Forest Search and Destroy and a Capture the Flag on the same map, but Rise forced a game five after beating Red on Gibraltar Hardpoint 250-218.
Game five, a Sainte Marie Du Mont Search and Destroy, was Rise Nation’s map to lose, as in the second round, Pierce “Gunless” Hillman swung momentum in Rise’s favor with an explosive triple kill.
Rise then won five of seven rounds to secure the Search and Destroy, bring home the series over Red Reserve, and hold onto their perfect series record. Rise Nation then feasted on Mindfreak later that night, defeating the Australians 3-0.
OpTic Gaming Win Week One Finale Between Undefeated Teams
During Rise’s run to first place, OpTic Gaming won their second match of the week against eRa Eternity (6th, 1-3, 5-9), 3-1. OpTic lost the lone Search and Destroy in that series, but Crimsix defined the match with his clutch triple kill and flag capture in series’ third game.
Tonight's Play of the Game Presented by @SCUFGaming is this CLUTCH flag cap and 3-piece from @OpTic_Crimsix and @OpTicGaming.— MLG (@MLG) January 25, 2018
Go to https://t.co/nqOUdeOjdX for all of today's VODs, stats, rosters and schedules. https://t.co/lwkfrIB3S6
Both Rise and OpTic were on top of the Division A standings by the end of the week, and fortunately for those two teams, they did not have to wait long to figure out who was the better team in the division.
OpTic Gaming drew first blood on Sainte Marie Du Mont Hardpoint, 250-208, as Crimsix continued to terminate his opponents. In game two though, the cold-blooded Thomas “TJHaLy” Haly decided to take on the Crimbot kill-for-kill, and although the “Iceman” TJHaLy only earned 16 kills to Crimsix’s 17, Rise ultimately won the London Docks Search and Destroy 6-5.
Crimsix rebooted on the following game, an Ardennes Forest Capture the Flag, and helped OpTic force overtime with a well calculated flag run.
In overtime, OpTic Gaming had to waste four minutes to earn the first overtime capture, but Crimsix’ saved scorestreaks stopped Rise from winning game three.
Another masterful performance from @OpTic_Crimsix, his 30 kills and three flag caps helps @OpTicGaming take the overtime CTF win!— Call of Duty esports (@CODWorldLeague) January 26, 2018
2-1 lead over @TheRiseNation: https://t.co/NKHQSgV6Gh #CWLPS4 pic.twitter.com/mcJtcSc1bU
OpTic Gaming then slammed the door on Rise in game four, dominating them 250-128 on London Docks Hardpoint, and took hold of the top position in Division A.
Stage One, Week One Top Plays
There were only 14 matches played over the past three days of the CWL Pro League, but there are already enough incredible plays to make a full CWL highlight reel.
On top of the plays from Rise and OpTic, the other Division A teams had their own clutch moments and huge multikills throughout the week.
Echo Fox’s Wednesday match against Team Kaliber had several outstanding highlights for both teams, including Echo Fox’s last second capture to win game three on Ardennes Forest Capture the Flag.
Later in the match, Team Kaliber’s Martin "Chino" Chino showed off his Kar98k efficiency by hitting a collateral to win the series for his squad.
Trei “Zer0” Morris also had his own epic moment this week, as in Red’s Ardennes Forest Capture the Flag game against Rise, Zer0 made a clutch play with his Machine Pistol to give his team a game-tying flag capture.
While Red and tK made highlight-worthy plays on their own, both had a role in two of the week’s memorable moments, as Chino and Joe “Joee” Pinnington settled a Search and Destroy round through one of the most intense games of “Ring Around the Rosy” of all time.
Chino made up for that misplay later in the series on Gibraltar Hardpoint, as his MVP performance in that game ultimately lead to Team Kaliber’s win over Red Reserve.
Stage One of the CWL Pro League had so many other great moments during the week, and if you want to see them all, head over to the Major League Gaming website, where you can watch recaps of every single Pro League match so far wherever and whenever you want.
The 2018 CWL Pro League continues on January 30, as the eight Division A teams will jockey for position before their first mid-season break. You can catch all the action on mlg.tv/callofduty, where you can also participate in the Scorestreak prediction game and see player statistics updated in real time.
Tickets for the Stage One Playoffs, which will be held at the MLG Columbus Studio in Columbus, Ohio on April 6-8, will go on sale Friday, January 26 on the MLG website, so be sure to buy your tickets if you want to watch some of the best Call of Duty teams in the world fight for a $500,000 prize pool and bragging rights.