The Call of Duty World League, Presented by PlayStation 4, hosted its first ever five-day Pro League Qualifier, as 28 teams fought to join OpTic Gaming, eUnited, Splyce, and Luminosity Gaming in the CWL Pro League.
After earning the right to compete here by placing between 5th and 32nd place at CWL Las Vegas back in December, these teams spent a month making changes and practicing for a gauntlet of a tournament.
What’s Cooler than Being Cool?
Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom.
After placing T-32 in Vegas, Enigma6 Group entered Group A with two big questions: Can Jordon “General” General make it back into the Pro League? Could two-time Halo Esports Champion Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom transition seamlessly to the Call of Duty World League?
The answer to both were a resounding yes.
Enigma6 began the qualifier with a statement win over FaZe Clan. Then, despite a tough loss to Team Reciprocity in Day 2, E6 swept two opponents and beat two others 3-1 for their last four matches to lock up a Pro League spot.
Frosty’s skill was impressive considering it was his first attempt at CWL Pro League qualification.
The Definition of “¡Vamos!”
“Let's go,” in Spanish, aka the battle cry for Team Heretics.
After its performance at the CWL Pro League Qualifier, CWL fans learned why Team Heretics signed four of its core players to a multi-year contract.
Heretics won 74% of their maps to go 5-1 in the pool. This incredible run was capped off by an emotional ending to a Game Five S&D on Arsenal, where a 6-3 victory made them the first-ever all-Spanish team to compete in the CWL Pro League.
༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ HERETICS TAKE MY VAMOS ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ pic.twitter.com/5ZEZ6P4dcy— Call of Duty World League (@CODWorldLeague) January 19, 2019
The Grind Pays Off
The example? Midnight Esports in Pool C.
Outside of Devin “LlamaGod” Tran, nobody on Midnight Esports had any CWL Pro League experience. Yet on day one of the qualifier, Midnight swept through a 100 Thieves team that included three players who won Stage 2 of the CWL Pro League Playoffs last year.
Midnight then went on to sweep their entire pool, securing a Pro League spot against expectations.
These five players were Open Bracket regulars for the past year. Now? They are CWL professionals.
100 Thieves eventually turned around an abysmal start to clinch the other automatic Pro League bid, going 3-0 in their final three matches.
Championship Organizations Don’t Rebuild…
… they reload.
Evil Geniuses lost their 2018 CWL Championship roster for this season and rebuilt with a core of ex-Lightning Pandas players, along with Tyler “FeLo” Johnson and Brice “Faccento” Faccento.
With plenty of experienced veterans, the Geniuses broke through a logjam in Pool D, turning around a tough day one loss to Mindfreak to win out of Pool Play. Outside of their loss to Mindfreak, EG did not lose a single S&D during the weekend, an impressive streak given that they played strong squads such as Red Reserve and Mindfreak.
On top of a three-way tie for second in the pool were UYU, a mix of young North American talent whose wins over Red and Mindfreak pushed them through.
They also had EG to thank for their spot; EG’s dramatic win against The Imperial in Day 4 sent UYU into the Pro League.
Expect the Unexpected
In what was one of the most brutal double-elimination brackets so far, household names in the CWL fell to new blood that will challenge the status quo in the Pro League. Red Reserve was the only familiar team to survive this stage, as three teams from Pool C – Overtime eSport, Team Space, and Excelerate Gaming – were other final teams into the league.
Excelerate Gaming, much like Midnight Esports, is defined by several young, scrappy, and passionate players who spent years in the Open Bracket. In bracket play, they etched back-to-back 3-2 wins against Fact Revolution and FaZe Clan, then punched their ticket into the league by sweeping Team Sween.
Meanwhile, Team Space barreled through an international slate. They swept both two Asia-Pacific representatives in Tainted Minds and Mindfreak, as well as beat Red Reserve 3-1. Including their Saturday play, Team Space went 15-2 in map count to make it into the Pro League.
Last, but certainly not least, Overtime had a different path to the pros: through the entire FaZe Clan organization. The only all-French team in the tournament beat FaZe Clan Black, the organization’s young developmental team, 3-1 in the second Losers Round, then beat FaZe Clan proper in a tight 3-2 series.
Overtime wrapped up their run by beating Mindfreak 3-1, making Team Reciprocity’s Denholm "Denz" Taylor the only APAC representative in the entire 2019 Pro League.
Here are the two divisions for what should be an epic Pro League season:
Life Outside the Pro League
The CWL Pro League isn’t the only competition happening this year; players who didn’t make the league are able to play in the Amateur Circuit, as well in the Open Bracket at CWL Live Events, for hundreds of thousands of prize dollars.
The first MTN DEW® AMP® GAME FUEL® Open Bracket will be at CWL Fort Worth on March 15 through March 17 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Team passes for the Open Bracket won’t be on sale until February 1, but Spectator Passes for the whole event are on sale now.
Before that, the CWL Pro League will kick off on February 4 with Division A play. And if the CWL Pro League Qualifier gave us any hints on the season ahead, we’re about to be in for one incredible year of Call of Duty World League action.