Although New Orleans is known as the Big Easy, for the teams who want to win out of the CWL New Orleans Open Bracket it will be anything but easy.

Only eight Open Bracket competitors will have an opportunity to face the 16 invited pool play teams in the event’s Championship Bracket, and the rewards for all Open Bracket teams depends on placement:

  • By winning out of the bracket, a team is placed into one of the pool play groups and earns a guaranteed Championship Bracket spot at that Global Open Event.
  • If a team only loses a single series in the Open Bracket, then that team becomes a part of the Championship Bracket in the first losers round.
  • The top-64 teams overall at the event receive Pro Points, which are crucial for qualifying for and being seeded in future CWL online and offline events. Like any other CWL event, the better an Open Bracket team places, the more Pro Points every player on that team earns.

The CWL New Orleans Open will be the final stop before the start of the 2018 CWL Pro League on January 23, and will most likely decide the international multi-stage league’s participants due to the amount of Pro Points on offer.

This event will also settle the Pro Points picture for the CWL National Circuit, which is set to begin on January 26, where participating teams can win full travel accommodations to future 2018 CWL events among other prizes.

While we cannot highlight every team attending the CWL New Orleans Open, here are some of the Open Bracket teams who have a shot at upsetting their regional rivals and qualifying for the CWL Pro League:

Veteran North American Talent Prepare for Open Bracket Marathon

At the CWL Dallas Open, North American competitors FaZe Clan and Echo Fox placed their names in the CWL record books, as they had the two longest tournament runs out of any Open Bracket in CWL history. While their performances will be tough to match, if any North American team can equal FaZe or Echo Fox’s rallies through the Open and Championship Brackets, they will almost certainly qualify for the upcoming CWL Pro League.

Much like the CWL Global Open Event in Dallas, the CWL New Orleans Open Bracket will be packed with professional players from last year’s CWL Pro League, competitors from last year’s CWL Championship, and even a few former Call of Duty World Champions.

DooM Clan, the popular Call of Duty content creation team, made its first steps into the CWL by signing Richard “Ricky” Stacy’s team, who currently sit right below the CWL Pro League cut line. Outside of the former Next Threat member, the team is comprised of the young remainders from several Dallas pool play teams, with Embry "Bevils" Bevil and Jacob "Decemate" Cato previously playing for Enigma6, and Maurice "Fero" Henriquez coming from Ground Zero. All four of these players are on a mission to outplace their former teams, and to give DooM Clan some immediate exposure in the CWL by making the Pro League.

Another organization that will make its CWL debut in New Orleans is GGEA, who is working with former Call of Duty World Champion Tyler “TeePee” Polchow. GGEA is fielding two teams for New Orleans, with “GGEA Orange” consisting of the full Team Allegiance roster from Dallas, and “GGEA Blue” with former Rogue captain John "Johnny" Cookson and his talented squad. In their first CWL 2K under GGEA, the Blue team placed within the top-16, while the Orange team upset OpTic and earned a top-eight placement. While those online placements are respectable, both GGEA teams need to prove themselves in the New Orleans Open Bracket, as well as make a Championship Bracket run, if they want to give the new organization a place in the CWL Pro League.

Outside of those two new faces to the CWL, the Lightning Pandas are also fighting to be in the Pro League picture. The Pandas earned the first seed in the Dallas Open Bracket, but were cut down by Next Threat in the Open Winners Semifinals and eventually placed top-20 overall. A squad loaded with talent like Jevon “Goonjar” Goonjar-Lim and Nicholas "Proto" Maldonado, this team must pass the likes of Doom Clan, Enigma6 and other North American teams on the Pro League bubble in New Orleans if they want to participate in the CWL Pro League.

Evil Geniuses and Ghost Gaming, who were both Dallas Open Bracket teams, are also in this open bracket, and both squads need a Championship Bracket run in New Orleans if they want to play in the CWL Pro League. Both teams burned out of Dallas’ Pool Play in Pool D, with Ghost Gaming failing to pick up a single series victory.

Evil Geniuses may have earned a statement win over European powerhouse Splyce during this event, however, they only survived for one round further than Ghost Gaming, as EG were upset in a five game series against APAC region leaders Mindfreak. Although both EG and Ghost’s teams are filled with some of the most decorated veterans and standout championship competitors, time is running out on both team’s hopes at making the CWL Pro League.

Those six teams only scratch the surface of the current North American CWL landscape, as the region is set to have the majority of teams in the CWL New Orleans Open. From the hardened veterans of Pure to the dark horse challengers in eRa and Rockets Esports, a stacked deck of familiar North American faces will compete throughout the New Orleans Open Bracket, as they hope to have their personal storylines continue through the 2018 CWL Pro League or the CWL National Circuit.

High Stakes for European Open Bracket Competitors

In the current European Pro League standings, Epsilon rank in fifth, and if they hold that position after the CWL New Orleans Open, they will qualify for the CWL Pro League. However, their lead over the next five teams in the hunt is shrinking, and less than 10,000 Pro Points separate Epsilon from the top-five teams below the Pro League line in Europe.

Three Open Bracket teams from the United Kingdom are currently in that hunt, and they are Team Infused, exceL and Millenium.

Millenium were the more successful team in Dallas out of the three United Kingdom challengers, as they qualified out of the Open Bracket with a win over Amity Esports. The team also earned a 3-1 series win over exceL online during the final CWL 2K before the New Orleans Open. With three 2017 CWL Championships and a returning European legend in Tomas "GunShy" Jones, Millenium have both the experience and talent to compete for a CWL Pro League spot in New Orleans.

Although Infused finished within the top-32 teams in Dallas, they immediately remedied their poor placement by earning 8,000 Pro Points in the December 17 European CWL 2K. They earned those Pro Points by defeating Red Reserve to win that online tournament. With a meaningful win over New Orleans pool play team Vitality in the most recent EU CWL 2k event, Infused definitely have the skill to beat their European peers, but must overcome other international threats in order to challenge their rivals for a Pro League bid.

exceL were also a top-32 team in Dallas, as they defeated two promising North American teams in Amity and Lethal Gaming to earn that placement. exceL were also consistent in nearly every EU CWL 2K event, only placing below top-32 once out of the seven regional CWL 2K events so far. Although consistency translates to consistent Pro Points, excel needs to succeed in New Orleans and make the Championship Bracket if they want to punch their tickets to the Pro League.

Finally, Spain may have its first ever CWL Pro League representatives if Giants Gaming or Team Heretics can make a run in New Orleans. While Giants have made the most noise by earning a CWL 2K title on December 30, Heretics had the better placement out of the two teams in Dallas, and defeated Giants 3-2 in the January 7 CWL 2K tournament. Neither team made it to the CWL Dallas Championship Bracket though, and if either team wants to make their country proud in the Pro League, they need to find a way into the championship bracket in New Orleans.

The European region will also be represented in New Orleans by the likes of Overtime eSport, Renegades, Brash eSports, and Supremacy. While all of these teams are well outside the lines of the Pro League picture, one New Orleans run out of open play and deep into the Championship Bracket could see any of them sneak into the Pro League.

A Long Road Ahead for Mindfreak’s APAC Open Bracket Challengers

Mindfreak are ahead of their regional rivals by over 30,000 Pro Points. That much of a lead almost seals their bid to the Pro League, as a regional rival would have to outplace them by several Championship Bracket rounds at the CWL New Orleans Open in order to steal the lone APAC Pro League spot.

With that opportunity in mind, Mindfreak has earned a serious head start with a pool play invitation. That invitation gives Mindfreak an automatic place in the event’s Championship Bracket, as every other APAC team that will attend this event must go through the Open Bracket if they want a shot at beating Mindfreak.

Although all of their chances are slim, the three teams that would have the best chance at ruining Mindfreak’s Pro League hopes are Taboo ESC and Tainted Minds. Neither of those teams placed into the Dallas Championship Bracket though, as Taboo placed top-48 overall, and Tainted Minds had a top-64 placement.

Despite their play in Dallas, Tainted Minds have shown one sign of hope in New Orleans; in the final 2k before the CWL New Orleans Open, Tainted Minds beat Mindfreak in the semifinal and won the tournament outright by beating Taboo ESC. Like Taboo, Tainted Minds must prove themselves against international competition in New Orleans if they want to write their own Cinderella story that ends in the CWL Pro League.

The CWL New Orleans Open will run from January 12 through January 14 at the Ernest Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. General Admission, Premium, and VIP tickets are available on the MLG website, and the event will also be streamed live across three streams on MLG.tv/callofduty.

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