James Mattone – CWL
At CWL Las Vegas, Presented by PlayStation 4, OpTic Gaming, eUnited, Splyce, and Luminosity Gaming all earned a spot in the CWL Pro League for the Call of Duty®: Black Ops 4 season.
From January 16 to January 20, 28 teams that placed below them will fight to prove themselves worthy of joining this elite stage of the Call of Duty World League.
These contenders were drawn into four pools on January 8, and in case you missed the show, here’s where our teams will start on their journey towards CWL Pro League qualification:
The seven teams in each group will play in a Round Robin tournament, or in other words, play each other in a single best-of-5 series until every team has faced each other once.
The top-two teams in each group will automatically qualify for the CWL Pro League, while the bottom-two teams will be automatically eliminated from contention.
As for the third, fourth, and fifth placed teams in each group, they will form a 12-team, double elimination bracket to compete for the final four placements into the CWL Pro League.
Although every team who qualified for this tournament can make a case for going pro, here are the main storylines out of all four groups:
Is Sween Really Supreme? An enigmatic Group A
Team Sween are the best team that bears no organization.
In Vegas, they nearly swept through the Group Stage and made it to the Winners Semifinals, but somehow faced every team that qualified for the CWL Pro League (save for OpTic) and finished just outside the cut. With statement wins over contenders and tough losses to Pro League qualifiers in mind, can Team Sween finally clear one last hurdle to the professional ranks?
While this European squad is considered the “favorite,” FaZe Clan comes in with not only one, but two squads with proven potential and talent.
FC Black is a young team of North Americans hungry for a place among the pros, while FaZe Clan has a new addition in McArthur “Cellium” Jovel, a recently-turned 18-year-old wonderkid who hails from eUnited’s farm system. Is he what a tight-knit FaZe Clan team needs to qualify for the Pro League? Or is the “future” of FC Black really the CWL professionals for the present?
It also wouldn’t call this an enigmatic group without Enigma6. Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom came into the CWL with plenty of hype after being picked up by Jordan “General” General’s squad, but E6 barely made it to this tournament out of Vegas. After seeing Ian “Enable” Wyatt, Matthew “FormaL” Piper, and, most recently, Cuyler “Huke” Garland become household names, is Frosty next in line for success in the CWL?
2018 World Champions Seek Redemption in Group B
The CWL 2018 Championship winners plus Cuyler “Huke” Garland finished top-12 in Vegas, but had the fourth-best game win-loss record and second-best Hardpoint record in the tournament.
A main reason why they lost out was their play in limited-life game modes — Control and Search and Destroy — where they went under .500. But if another team had to take the blame for EnVy’s misfortunes, it would have to be the Lightning Pandas.
In Group C, LP forced EnVy to place 5th due to tiebreakers, running through the pool and only losing 3-1 to Huke’s squad. Later in the tournament, when EnVy were making their Championship Losers Bracket run, the Lightning Pandas waited for them in the fourth round and dealt a 3-1 finishing blow.
Both teams now find themselves in the same CWL Pro League Qualifier Pool in Columbus, where one best-of-five series could mean the difference between automatic qualification, automatic elimination, or a long Playoff weekend ahead.
Veterans Get Back on the Grind for Pro Status in Group C
At 24-years-old, Jared “Nagafen” Harrell of Team Space (formerly Str8 Rippin’), Christopher “Parasite” Duarte of the Pittsburgh Knights, and Ian “Enable” Wyatt of 100 Thieves are among the longest-playing veterans in the league.
And, just like old times, they will all be facing each other at least once as members of PLQ Group C.
Enable and the core squad of the 2018 CWL Championship runners-up played in a tough group in Vegas under 100 Thieves, losing to eventual Pro League qualifiers eUnited and top-six team Team Sween in quick fashion.
Team Space meanwhile finished second in Vegas Group C off the back of strong respawn play. However, their slight weakness in S&D made them fall to both eUnited and Luminosity in back-to-back Championship Bracket games.
As for the Pittsburgh Knights, they fought for survival against the other two eventual auto-Pro League qualifiers in Vegas Group D, but ultimately finished top-16 in the tournament.
With talented younger players around them, these three veterans still have plenty of competitive spirit and skill to contend for a place in the Pro League in a pool full of hungry challengers.
Pre-PLQ Moves Define Group D
The top-four teams in Group D, by order of how they finished in Vegas, are the Evil Geniuses, Red Reserve, UYU, and Mindfreak. Only one of them, Red Reserve, have the same roster as they did at the Hard Rock.
While Red will have to prove their play on respawn game modes, the other three will have to lock in their chemistry with new teammates if they want to be a part of this year’s Pro League.
The Evil Geniuses brought in Brice “Faccento” Faccento, who is ready to prove himself on a new squad after disappointing with G2 Esports. As for UYU, they brought in Adian “GorgoKnight” Provenzano, a promising player who bounced around Open Bracket teams for the past two years, in the hopes he can beef up the squad’s frightening S&D play.
Rounding out the biggest roster changes for Group D teams is Mindfreak, who made the most moves at the deadline. Not only did they nab Daniel “Swifty” Hickey from Tainted Minds, they also brought in the young Australian journeyman Jai “Beastn” Boone and make 24-year-old Mitchell “BuZZO” Mader their coach. Coupled with a young emerging star in Luke “Louqa” Rigas, Mindfreak is banking on these moves to push them back into the Pro League picture.
Who will make it to the CWL Pro League? Find out when the Pro League Qualifier takes to the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio from January 16 to January 20. All games will be streamed on the official Call of Duty Twitch channel, as well as on majorleaguegaming.com.