CoD Champs: Pool Play Problems
As the pools were released this week for Call of Duty Championships, which begins this Friday, there was a lot of unrest around the community about the way that the teams were arranged into groups.
Originally, the consensus was that the top two seeded teams, OpTic Gaming in Group A and Denial eSports in Group B, were going to be accompanied in their group by teams that were not from North America. It's no secret that North America is the dominant region in the Call of Duty eSports world, so it would obviously be the preference by these two teams to bypass playing another North American team in their group if they had the chance.
During the North American regional finals, it was said on stream that the top two seeded teams heading into CoD Champs would not encounter another NA team in their pool. The CEO of Denial also claims that he was told the same thing while in Columbus.
James “Clayster” Eubanks, also from Denial, confirms what everyone else was saying on Twitter when the pools were announced.
However, this ended up not being the case, as OpTic Gaming was accompanied by Team Orbit in Group A, and Denial eSports was joined by Prophecy in Group B. This was met with immediate controversy in the CoD community, as it seems unfair toward the best seeded teams as they deserve some sort of reward for earning the top two spots.
Comparison to other sporting tournaments
A similar situation that is occurring right now is with the NCAA tournament in college basketball. An extremely popular event across the country, the top 68 teams are arranged into a bracket-style tournament to determine who is the best college basketball team in the land.
The teams aren’t thrown into the bracket randomly. The seeding it determined based on their performance throughout the entire season. There is always some banter regarding which team is ranked where, but the best teams in the country always have a few easier matchups at the start of the tournament because they performed extremely well consistently throughout the season and earned it.
And that is the key: that the best teams have earned the right to play the easier matchups at the start of the tournament. OpTic Gaming has won the last three LAN tournaments and only lost a single map at the Regional Qualifiers, yet they still have been placed in a group with a challenging team from North America, Team Orbit, consisting of TwiZz, Sinful, Lawless, and Accuracy.
Prophecy poses the same threat toward Denial eSports in their group. Prophecy’s squad, MBoZe, Ricky, Mochila, and Classic, are all players with immense talent that have been around the CoD competitive scene for years. In fact, MBoZe fell just short of capturing the Call of Duty Championship title in 2014 after finishing in third place with OpTic Gaming. Prophecy is another team not to take lightly, and is a legitimate threat to make a run in this tournament.
Here’s the kicker
While this would seem logical if there are two North American teams in each group, that is actually not the case. For example, In Group E, led by 5th/6th seed Team EnVyUs, the other three teams are from foreign countries outside of North America.
Without having a second North American team in the group, this gives Team EnVyUs an extreme upper hand in advancing out of group play at the top of their pool. Group D is in the exact same situation, OpTic Nation being the only NA team in their group.
Another instance of illogical pool placings is Group H, which is being considered as “The Pool of Death.” Team Kaliber, Strictly Business, and Epsilon eSports are all featured in one pool together. Even though the seeding from the NA Finals tournament is a determining factor in this situation, how does this make any sense?
Epsilon won the European Championship and is considered to be the strongest foreign team in CoD eSports. They have the potential to take down powerhouse teams such as Team Kaliber and Strictly Business, who have proven themselves to be two of the better teams in the game. One of those three teams will not make it out of that pool. That is a major issue.
The most important question we should ask is this: why would OpTic Gaming, the highest overall seed, not be awarded the easiest group with the best chance of advancing to bracket play? The way the groups have been arranged has been a disservice to the best teams in the tournament, and revoked the reward they earned for consistently being the best teams in Call of Duty.