For six teams, the CWL Birmingham Open was a tune-up opportunity before Stage 1 of the Global Pro League begins. For the other hundreds of players in attendance, it was the chance to gain crucial CWL Pro Points before the Stage 2 Relegation Qualifier.
But for every team in attendance, this weekend at Insomnia60 was about taking home the largest share of the $50,000 prize pool, and it was Epsilon Gaming that did just that.
Here’s how the action went down this weekend:
With hundreds of players registering for the open bracket, CWL Birmingham gave eight teams the opportunity to play the 12 Pool Play teams in attendance.
The French ArmaTeam, British organization Zealous eSports, German-French Eraiize Gaming, and Spanish-Belgian hybrid team Movistar Riders all advanced through the open winner’s bracket. Meanwhile, top Spanish team Giants Gaming, along with Bulldog, Underworld, and Vendetta Nation showed resilience by qualifying for the Championship Bracket through the Open Loser’s Bracket.
Pool A saw Splyce shut down their competition, completely sweeping their group with a 9-0 game record and securing pole position with iGame taking second. Millenium proved to be the better French-owned team in Pool B, sweeping Supremacy 3-0 and taking the top spot.
Pool C saw Epsilon and Fnatic advance to the Championship Winner’s Bracket, with Epsilon edging out Fnatic in a five game series to take the top seed. Elevate and Red Reserve painted Pool D red, as they both made it to the Championship Winner’s Bracket with Elevate being the number one team in the group.
Although all Open Bracket teams that qualified through to the pool play stage did not win a series, it’s worth noting that Movistar Riders took a single game off of iGame and Black Forest Green.
Championship Winner’s Bracket
The first round was all chalk, as every better team in terms of CWL Pro Points advanced to the winner’s semifinals.
Splyce kept sweeping their way to the Winner’s Finals, claiming Elevate as their next victim, while Epsilon kept their strong run alive by taking down Red Reserve.
These two squads met in the Winner’s Finals, where Epsilon, regarded as a dark horse for the CWL Birmingham Open, had Splyce on the ropes after three games. Then, Jordan "Jurd" Crowley decided to put the Splyce squad on his back, dropping 34 kills and over 100 seconds of hill time in a crucial Throwback Hardpoint, which led to Splyce taking home a decisive Game 5 win.
Championship Loser’s Bracket
Despite a tough Pool Play run, ArmaTeam bounced back by taking down Pool Play team Black Forest Green in five games to secure top-12 in the tournament. This does wonders for their Relegation chances, as an 8,800 Pro Point boost will help them qualify for the Stage 2 EU Relegation Qualification tournament.
Supremacy, Fnatic, iGame and Millenium all bounced back after losses in the first Winner’s Round, with Fnatic and iGame sweeping their competition. Both teams would follow this up with sweeps of Supremacy and iGame to secure top-6.
In the loser’s quarterfinals, Fnatic took a close five game series over Red Reserve, while Millenium defeated Elevate in four games. They would meet in the loser’s quarterfinals, and an overtime Uplink game set the tone for this intense matchup. Fnatic were able to pot in a one point shot 19 seconds in overtime, and while they dropped their next match on Breakout Hardpoint, they downed Millenium with a strong 6-1 win on Throwback Search and Destroy.
Fnatic had a date with Epsilon Gaming in the Loser’s Final, and Epsilon were ready to comeback after a tough loss to Splyce. A three game sweep seemed like Epsilon outclassed Fnatic, but every game saw Epsilon fight for their win. A strong run late on Throwback Hardpoint gave Epsilon Game 1, they would follow this with a close 6-4 win on Retaliation Search and Destroy and then double up Fnatic 6-3 on Frost Uplink to take the series.
Although they did not make it to the Grand Final, Fnatic still took home a $8,000 payday, which should be some nice spending cash when they head to Columbus, Ohio for Stage 1 of the Global Pro League beginning on Friday, April 21.
Throughout Call of Duty eSports history, the odds are against a team who wish to come back from the Championship Loser’s Bracket and win an event in the Grand Finals, as that team has to take two series in order to take home a title.
Epsilon decided to go against those odds with style, sweeping Splyce, regarded as the number one team in the European region, twice to take home the CWL Birmingham title.
To say that Splyce laid down to take two straight sweeps is a disservice to the team that placed second, as Epsilon only won the first game in each series by five and three points respectively. The second best-of-five almost came as a loss for Epsilon, but a crucial rotation and contest by Billy "Hawqeh" Harris got Epsilon their last point on Breakout Hardpoint.
The CWL Birmingham Open did not have an official MVP, but if there was an individual award to be given out, it would probably to go to Epsilon’s David "Dqvee" Davies for his phenomenal respawn play. Leading his team in kills in every Hardpoint and Uplink in the Grand Finals, and scoring seven of the team’s nine points in the final Uplink, the Welsh slayer truly went above the Call of Duty in this Grand Final to help his team secure the CWL Birmingham Open along with $20,000.
Splyce will take their $12,000 share of the CWL Birmingham Prize Pool and head over to the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio for the first weekend of the CWL Global Pro League starting on April 21, while Epsilon has a few weekends to prepare until their Yellow Group plays from May 5-7.