It’s already been something of a turbulent year for Call Of Duty esports. Teams that started out with promise – such as Elevate and Red Reserve – have somehow struggled to even dent the top tiers of the scene.
Meanwhile the likes of eUnited – coming out of nowhere after its poor results so soon after its foundation last year – are now being to show themselves as potential competitors. It’s all change, in many cases.
So with the Anaheim Open set to take place on 16 June – pairing up 12 of the top qualified Pro League teams alongside 4 from the relegation bracket and 4 more from an open bracket – we thought it was time to highlight the teams worth watching.
And perhaps these may well end up the same teams we’ll see duking it out in the Call Of Duty Championship Finals in August.
They’re a consistent name in the world of Call Of Duty esports, and this year is proving to be no different. Last year’s champions have a lot to fight for, and things began well in the opening group stage for the team.
Despite losing out to Splyce in its first match, nV soon turned things around with a strong showing in every one of its games – even following up with the final match of its group stage against Splyce with a very determined 3-0 victory over the EU squad.
But when it came to the playoffs this same team was nowhere to be seen, the pressure from an on-form FaZe Clan placing them into the Losers Bracket where OpTic, looking to prove itself against after its own surprising defeat also at the hands of FaZe, finished them off. EnVyUs now has a lot to prove, but they’ve got plenty of reason to trust that it will.
If there’s going to be any team right now to pick as the potential World League winner, Splyce is definitely it. They threaten at major tournament they enter and have long been a consistent name in the Call Of Duty scene, but this year is different.
A large part of that is the completely reworked squad. Bance is the sole player from the squad of last year, and he’s really proven he has what it takes to be the shotcaller for the team. Bundled in with him now is something of a dream team – and that’s what’s making them such a powerhouse.
Throughout the tournament so far they’ve been one of the few consistent ones, managing to pair up with EnVyUs at the top of its group but similarly follow that up with a very solid performance throughout the playoffs and into the finals – something that nV did not manage. If you were to take our word on anything, it’s that Splyce will, at the very least, be making it to the finals.
We’ve already mentioned them here, so it’s probably no surprise so see them as a team that will be fighting for the position of world champions – and it is a name that is commonly seen among the top tiers of any competition.
But it’s that simple fact that might be their undoing. FaZe Clan is often vying for top spot, consistently placing in the top three of most any competition it enters and has placed second at the Paris Open and third at Atlanta Open earlier this year. But rarely does it get further than that anymore.
It’ll need to overcome this limit – whenever it can’t handle the pressure or what – if it wants to go all the way in 2017.
Here’s a team that is such an anomaly. They’ve some considerable players in their roster especially with the likes of Reedy and Watson, but they’re often caught out struggling in situations that they really don’t need to.
In fact the team itself just barely missed out from complete elimination, if not for the failure of Red Reserve in group stage where only a single game victory was enough to solidify it.
Elevate needs to use this opportunity to make a run for dominance, and with the recent addition of Desire that could well be a possibility. It’s shown itself capable before and for that reason Elevate should not be completely overlooked, but it’ll need to do a lot more if it’s to prove its place in the World League.
While the org might often find itself dominating in other fields, in the Call Of Duty scene it’s not typically one to keep an eye on. But it’s been placing higher and higher since its roster shift late last year, a squad that seems to be finding a flow the more matches we see.
A confident showing during group stage highlighted this, but it was really the Losers Bracket gauntlet that it overcame that showed a team capable of handling itself under pressure, fighting its way to the playoff finals and – while not quite earning first place – still gave a very strong Splyce side a run for its money.
Could this be the year Luminosity finally earns gold? Stranger things have happened, and they could well be ready for it.
As one of the more exciting teams in Call Of Duty right now, eUnited has its fair share of fans calling for its ultimate victory at World League.
But its form is so erratic, it’s a really tough one to call. The team – which formed only in August 2016 and has since had a number of roster changes – flits between great success and complete loss. It achieved nothing at Las Vegas Open but went on to place first at Atlanta, 13-16th at Paris only to place second at Dallas a month later.
Part of its benefit is that it’s a team that few know much about, and that gives them an advantage. The problem is when they face some of the bigger sides in Call Of Duty esports and it all crumbles.
The recent group stage is case in point: it top its group with 5-1, ahead of Luminosity who even went on to place second in the playoffs. But this was alongside Epsilon and Millenium, consistent players in COD but rarely among the top-tier. Then eUnited faced the pressure of the playoffs, getting knocked out by LG in the second round of the Losers Bracket. It’ll be exciting to see where eUnited can take itself, but it’ll need to learn to handle that pressure to do so.
As the de facto Australian contingent of the World League, Mindfreak is fairly well known by now. They are mostly unrivaled in their region, but that’s largely because it’s a region bereft of considerable rivalry – and that’s not totally unfair to say.
Excite has since left despite only a handful of months with the team and replaced with Denz, a slayer worth watching for. But can it succeed in the global games? Our money is on no, but each year Mindfreak competes and each year we’re left wondering… what if?
Its performance in the group stage was not great though, suffering as much for its placement against EnVyUs and Splyce rather than its own inability, but by edging out Cloud9 it has another chance to once more make the world wonder if the boys from down under can take it all the way.
Players to watch
But that’s the teams… what about the players? While it’s true that we won’t be seeing some of our favourites take part in the World League any more, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some beasts to keep an eye on.
Elevate’s Watson, for example, is a considerable reason the team every performs as well as it does. He’s found a form with Elevate that has helped the squad as a whole, and while he might not be the most obvious choice as one to watch his form is shaping up to really show us something. If Elevate make it much further into the tournament, it’ll be on the back of Watson – be sure of that.
And while you could point to any part of Splyce and call him a player to watch, in particular it’s Bance and Jurd that you’ll want to focus on. Bance, in particular, has grown into his role as shotcaller and proven his value as the squad has recruited its new players for the season. He’s come into his own and finds himself standing out among the team – a team, remember, that has some impressive skills anyway.
Jurd, meanwhile, is one to watch for a completely different reason. His aggressive playstyle might mean that his overall stats suffer, but he’s nonetheless a deadly slayer that repeatedly puts his opposition on the backfoot. He’s always there on the frontlines in a moments notice, taking it to the enemy team and causing disruptions before anyone has even thought about it. His aggression is what makes him fun to play, the fact that he’s paired with a team like Splyce means their games are going to be the ones to watch.
And if Jurd is favoured for his aggression then conversely it is OpTic’s Formal that is enjoyable for the option. With some of the best stats in the game – his accuracy is among the highest out there and his K/D matches his slayer status. He’s the key threat in any game, and you can see teams react to him as such. It was his significant contribution that helped OpTic take first place at both Paris and Dallas, and if he maintains that then this recent slump of the Green Walls should soon turn around.