By: James Mattone
The 2018 Call of Duty World League Championship, Presented by PlayStation 4, walked the fine line between genius and insanity, and ultimately, the Evil Geniuses prevailed.
After nearly being knocked out of the tournament by a single map in the event’s group stage, the Geniuses overcame a three-way tiebreaker and a Grand Finals bracket reset by Team Kaliber to forge their legacy into CWL history.
Here was the Evil Geniuses’ journey to the first CWL Championship in organization’s history:
2018: The Year of the Upset
Thirty-two of the best teams in Call of Duty esports came to Columbus to participate in the 2018 CWL Championship, with half the field coming from the CWL Pro League and the other half earning their way in through the CWL Championship Last Chance Qualifier.
By Friday, six of those Pro League teams were out of the tournament.
Two of the most shocking upsets came from Team Sween, a group of veteran European journeymen who forced eUnited and Splyce to fight for a place in the Championship Bracket. Despite having no organization, coach or team jerseys, Team Sween captured first in Group D.
As for the eventual champions, they came close to missing the Championship Bracket stage entirely due to a loss against Elevate in Group H. Their fate came down to a series against OpTic Gaming, where they got the sweep they needed to continue their championship journey in Columbus.
For the Green Wall, this match meant their surprising exit out of the CWL Championship and the continuation of the rivalry between OpTic and Patrick “ACHES” Price, which he detailed in a CWL exclusive editorial.
The upsets did not just happen in Pool Play; among those who were knocked out in the Championship Bracket early were three-time Global Open Champions Rise Nation, who lost back-to-back matches and placed top-16.
EG Charge Through Winners, tK Rebound to Grand Finals
The Evil Geniuses continued rolling as the competition shifted from MLG Arena to Nationwide Arena, sweeping Team Vitality and Lightning Pandas in their first two Championship Bracket Winners Rounds. Then came the Winners Semifinals, where they dropped the first two games to Team EnVyUs before pulling off the reverse sweep.
.@ACHES WINS THE GUNFIGHT!!!— Call of Duty esports (@CODWorldLeague) August 18, 2018
He completes the reverse sweep for @EvilGeniuses over @Envy and puts them through to the Winners Final at Champs! https://t.co/NKHQShcI4R#CWLPS4 | #CWLChamps pic.twitter.com/b6ZQRUBRM4
On the other end of the bracket, Team Kaliber won the rematch of the CWL Pro League Stage 2 Grand Finals against Rise Nation 3-1 in the first round, swept Elevate, and beat eUnited 3-1.
In what would be their first of three series on the weekend, EG and tK met in the Winners Finals. Despite a rough round 11 loss in a Search and Destroy on Ardennes Forest, EG still had a decisive series and punched their ticket to the Grand Finals.
Down, but not out, Team Kaliber won a Losers Finals match against FaZe Clan, who rallied through five straight Losers Bracket rounds to get this far, thanks to stellar play by Kenny “Kenny” Williams, helping to turn around a 2-1 map deficit.
.@TeamKaliber into the Champs Grand Final!— Call of Duty esports (@CODWorldLeague) August 19, 2018
They win the five-game series over @FaZeClan to set up a World Championship matchup against @EvilGeniuses!https://t.co/NKHQShcI4R#CWLPS4 | #CWLChamps pic.twitter.com/bUZEpB7zcd
Team Kaliber Force Bracket Reset, But Evil Prevails
In the first Grand Finals series, Evil Geniuses were on the receiving end of a reverse sweep, as they were unable to close out an initial 2-0 game lead.
NEW SERIES!!!@TeamKaliber REVERSE SWEEP @EvilGeniuses; the 2018 CWL Champs Grand Final will be decided in a second and final Best of 5!https://t.co/NKHQShcI4R#CWLPS4 | #CWLChamps pic.twitter.com/1oQZSYFbod— Call of Duty esports (@CODWorldLeague) August 19, 2018
This was the second straight CWL Championship where Bryan "Apathy" Zhelyazkov, a former member of 2017 runners-up Team EnVyUs, had to play back-to-back Grand Finals series. In 2017, his team came up short but history would not repeat itself.
Evil Geniuses took a close 250-236 Hardpoint on Gibraltar in the second Grand Finals series’ first game, then took the following S&D on Ardennes Forest in convincing fashion.
Although Team Kaliber threatened the beginning of another reverse sweep in game three, EG slammed the door on tK in the second half of a Capture the Flag on Flak Tower and took home the CWL Championship.
Along with this championship being the first in EG’s history, the win gave ACHES and Apathy their second championship rings, as well as Adam “Assault” Garcia and Justin “SiLLY” Fargo their first.
Congratulations to Evil Geniuses for winning the 2018 CWL Championship, and for Adam “Assault” Garcia for winning the 2018 CWL Championship ASTRO MVP. We’d also like to thank and congratulate the other 31 CWL Championship teams for a hard fought season, as well as all of those who competed this past season. And, of course, we’d like to thank all the fans for coming out to Nationwide Arena and tuning into all the action on the official CWL streams.
We’ll see you all on September 19 for the 2019 CWL Season reveal!