By: James Mattone

The 2018 CWL Anaheim Open, Presented by PlayStation®4, brought the community together for one last Global Open before the 2018 Call of Duty World League Championship. It’s the final event of the 2018 season that includes an Open Bracket, which gives any squad the opportunity to compete against the CWL Pro League teams if they can outlast hundreds of other hungry challengers in a double elimination bracket.

Among these Open Bracket competitors were six teams from Asia who traveled over 5,000 miles across the Pacific for their first ever CWL event. This group included Rush Gaming, who won last February’s Battle Conference in Japan to earn a free trip to this event, and runners-up SCARZ and DetonatioN Gaming.

Rush Gaming’s Aoi “GreedZz” Kobayashi admitted that his team is still learning how to become better competitors, as their teamwork and tactics are behind what a professional or top amateur CWL team has.

That willingness to learn is what drove them to connect and practice with multiple professional CWL players and teams, such as eUnited, in the weeks leading up to the event.

Alec “Arcitys” Sanderson said that he and the rest of eUnited scrimmaged Rush because they wanted to see this team feel comfortable and succeed in their first event outside of Asia. After giving the team feedback on in-game strategy, they encouraged them to come back to the U.S. so that they can continue to learn through playing international competition.

When they do come back, Arcitys said, he and his team hope to see them succeed in the endurance test that is a CWL Open Bracket competition.

“You have to root for them,” Arcitys said. “They traveled around the world to get here. It’s awesome to see that Call of Duty is this big and they’re trying their hearts out.”

At the CWL Anaheim Open, the three Battle Conference competitors could not find the magic to move beyond the open bracket; however, the team was appreciative of the strong community support throughout the experience.

“I’m speechless about how thankful I am about these American teams all coming to help us strangers from Japan,” GreedZz said with a laugh.

“I’m happy to be here,” said Tatsuyuki “Hunt” Yasagawa, who plays for SCARZ. “It’s a big competition, and I didn’t expect this amount of support.”

For Selena “Selly” Martinez, another Open Bracket competitor, the CWL Anaheim Open marked her first, and only, CWL competition of 2018. She admitted that she missed competing at a CWL Global Open because of its atmosphere; she loves the competitive energy felt from opponents sitting across from her, and the fans who pack the Open Bracket pit to cheer on their friends, family, or favorite players.

Echoing what her competitors from another continent felt, Selly said that getting into the CWL community is as simple as a handshake after a match or a social media message. She remembered meeting a few pick-up teams made up of locals looking for practice, or E3 attendees who decided to extend their trip to Los Angeles by competing in Anaheim, just a short trip away.

“It’s more inclusive than some people think, especially for females,” Selly said. “Everyone that I talk to is pretty open, and we’re all just people.”

That openness to new faces in the community extends to the fans, such as Silvestre from Los Angeles, California. After watching CWL events online for the past two years, he decided to attend one for the first time, waiting in a line that stretched around the Anaheim Convention Center to experience this event on its first day.

Once Silvestre found his way inside, he watched eUnited battle FaZe Clan at one of the event’s feature stations. While following this exciting Pool Play match, he stood alongside and met fellow CWL community members such as compLexity analyst Jeremy “StuDyy” Astacio, who Silvestre followed last season when StuDyy was a CWL pro player and CWL Championship competitor.

“You see them on your screen but seeing them in person is so much better,” Silvestre said. “You get to see who they are and how they love to compete. You get to be part of a community that loves all of this.”

Silvestre’s trip to Anaheim affirmed his goal of becoming a competitor next season. He said that he wants to travel around the country playing against the best in the world and plans to put in the work to ensure he can find an amateur team willing to take a chance on his rookie skill and veteran passion.

“I see myself playing competitively here in the future,” Silvestre promised. “It seems fun to compete against all of these players and having fun because you’re playing something that you love.”

For more intel about Call of Duty World League, be sure to visit CallofDuty.com/esports and follow @CallofDuty and @CODWorldLeague on Twitter.