Prior to the beginning of the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 season, Evil Geniuses shocked the world by taking home the 2018 World Championship. Now under Team Envy and joined by star player Cuyler “Huke” Garland, the team hoped to continue their momentum into Black Ops 4.
With several teams making changes during the offseason, many organisations took the plunge on young, emerging talent, with players like Tyler “Abezy” Pharris and Brandon “Dashy” Otell making their way on to eUnited and OpTic Gaming respectively.
Black Ops 4 marks the first season of mixed-nationality rosters being allowed in the CWL. Irish sub-machine star Jordan “Jurd” Crowley was joined by four other North American players on Splyce while Australian Denholm “Denz” Taylor made the trip to Europe, joining Team Reciprocity.
Some teams went in with high expectations, there have been several unexpected success stories and a decent amount of drama and controversy, forming the foundation of a great year of Call of Duty.
But where are we at now, nearing the end of the season with the three biggest events of the year on the horizon? Let’s take a look.
Pro League: The good and the bad
Now in its third year, the CWL Pro League has come on leaps and bounds since its inception in 2016. All league matches are played offline in order to offer the most balanced playing environment and the revised format gave the fairest possible way of qualification into the league.
The format has enabled the presence of new talent that some fans may not have been familiar with. Current Denial Esports player Carson “Brack” Newberry and Gen.G slaying star Dylan “Envoy” Hannon both made their mark qualifying under Midnight Esports with a flawless record and one of the hottest starts to the Pro League in history, defeating championship winning rosters thanks to their unrivalled team chemistry.
The league has certainly elevated the standard of competition throughout the CWL. Regular offline matches against the very best along with practice against the top teams has benefitted the likes of Team Elevate and Heretics in particular. As the league has progressed, it has been great seeing the underdogs put up a fight against the favourites unlike previous seasons where the skill gap has been much bigger.
Despite all the good, there have been some questionable occurrences during the season. Accusations between players and organisation owners surrounding payments and disagreements with roster changes left a shadow over what has been one of the most competitive seasons of Call of Duty in history.
A changing of the guard in Europe
At the end of the 2018 season, Red Reserve were at the top of the European Call of Duty scene after numerous second-place finishes on World War 2. Heading into Black Ops 4, most were expecting them to contend at the top once again and their top six finish in Fort Worth confirmed they were still in contention. After the event, Ben “Bance” Bance announced his free agency, ultimately leading to the team disbanding and a chance for another team to take their place at the top of Europe.
There have been numerous shocks and surprises throughout the season so far. At the start of the year, the Europeans looked to be able to contend with the North Americans once again as Lightning Pandas and Team Sween placed in the top six at CWL Las Vegas. Move forward a few weeks and both teams were unable to qualify whereas continental Europe shone.
Spanish side Heretics and the French team Overtime Esports both qualified for the Pro League, beating the likes of G2 Esports, FaZe Clan and Mindfreak to get there. Once the league started, Heretics began to shock the scene, taking down North American powerhouses eUnited and Splyce respectively.
Historically, mixed-nationality rosters have frequently failed to deliver strong performances on the big stage due to the language barrier but Elevate have proved that theory wrong.
Since their top 16 placement at CWL London, their return to the Pro League has been nothing short of phenomenal, defeating Splyce, Denial and Enigma 6 in week nine of competition.
100 Thieves and their path to the top
It has been an eventful year for 100 Thieves and their return to Call of Duty. Kicking off the year with a disappointing top 12 finish was not what owner Matt “Nadeshot” Haag had in mind, going into the season as tournament favourites. Fort Worth was a matter of “what if” as Preston “Preistahh” Greiner fell ill during a match and had to be rushed to hospital, leaving substitute Maurice “Fero” Henrique to fill in on a moment’s notice. Despite the last-minute roster change, the team still managed to place in the top four but if Priestahh had not fallen ill, it could well have been a different story.
Since acquiring coach James “Crowder” Crowder, the team has rectified its issues and has risen to the top of the CWL, winning CWL London and asserting their authority on the Pro League.
Thus far, the 2019 CWL Pro League has been a rollercoaster. We’ve seen so many surprises and some of the highest-level Call of Duty gameplay we’ve ever seen. What could possibly be left for the rest of the season?