CWL Atlanta: One of the best Call of Duty events to date
CWL Atlanta is over and another weekend of Call of Duty esports has come and gone. As we look forward to the next major event - CWL Paris Open - just a few days away, let’s recap this weekend’s event.
I want to give massive props to MLG for putting on one of the best events I’ve seen in a long time. It seemed as if the entire event went off without a hitch: matches were played on time by the schedule, there were minimal mistakes made and minimal stream downtime. The only obvious technical glitch was the presence of the distracting yellow spinning shapes because icons wouldn’t load, which isn't MLG’s fault. The only improvements I’d like to see in future events are small and simple: I would like the ability to watch open bracket and loser’s bracket matches that weren’t present on the Alpha and Bravo streams; they don’t even have to be casted or have any production quality to them - I just want to watch them play out. Starting games a day early (usually a Thursday) could be an asset in making sure all the biggest games are streamed. Additionally, the player features should have been better than they were: the Crimsix one was the only one that was passable, and even that one was robotic and cheesy. For example, the Studyy one should have been heartfelt and touching, and it came across as robotic. All they should do is let the players talk a bit off the cuff about what drives them and edit it into the feature. All things considered though, this was one of the most polished events I’ve ever had the honor of watching, and I’m very pleased with the job that MLG did in putting on the event.
The community engagement around this event was massive and I couldn’t be happier about it. The viewership was considerably higher than expected. According to Adam Apicella of MLG, it reached a peak of 155,000 viewers and it was widely discussed on social media, both details are good for the community. The most notable part of all of that for me, though, was seeing the crowd at the event - it was pretty much packed. At the past few events, the crowds have been smaller and less energetic; in fact, that was one of my biggest concerns going into this event and for events in our future. This crowd, though, was possibly the best crowd I’ve seen since that ESWC event in Paris with all of the passionate French CoD fans. Seeing a loud, hyped crowd pack in for Call of Duty matches again makes me, as well as many others, quite happy. My hope is that MLG will be able to repeat the feat and pack a ton of fans in for the event in Dallas, despite possible logistics issues.
Moving on from event logistics talk, this event had some seriously intense, entertaining gameplay. Every single one of the 143 teams that showed up played their hearts out and it made for a fantastic event. eUnited, the champions, put on a dominant performance that permanently silenced the people who believed that they were an online-only team. They are going to be a serious opponent to anyone else that wants to win an event going forward. That being said, OpTic Gaming put on one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from them, and I genuinely believed that they were going to win until it all fell apart in the last half of the second best-of-five in the Grand Finals. They beat their way through one of the toughest loser’s brackets ever seen to make it into the final round of the tournament, and they even took the first best of five in the Grand Finals in a decisive 3-0 manner. No one should be giving them any guff about their performance. While I think they could have won the event if they hadn’t gotten complacent and allowed eUnited to regain their momentum, they have nothing to be ashamed of after that performance. Furthermore, I believe that it will be OpTic Gaming that will be the team to beat in Infinite Warfare if they can keep their heads about them and continue to improve.
The remainder of the top eight finishers at Atlanta have nothing to be ashamed of either. EnVyUs performed admirably throughout the tournament: they managed to beat every other team in their way, even OpTic Gaming, except for eUnited, who first knocked them into the second place pool slot and then knocked them into the loser’s bracket. While they were dispatched in the loser’s finals by a fired-up and focused OpTic Gaming, I firmly believe that they are a fantastic team who we’re going to see in more than a few Grand Finals this year. FaZe Clan and Luminosity Gaming are much the same: they’re amazing teams who played well, but just couldn’t pull through this weekend. Look for them to come back with a vengeance at Dallas. EU teams also had two teams in the top eight - Infused at top-six and Splyce at top-eight - and they both performed extremely well, even to the point where I believe that we could again see an EU team contend for the Call of Duty Championship title this year. The last spot in the top eight was taken by PNDA Gaming, a team that not very many people saw coming. They fought their way through the open bracket and managed to grab themselves a slice of the prize pool while other better-known teams did not. They took OpTic Gaming to a game five both times that they faced off, with round 11 deciding the game five that allowed OpTic to move on to face FaZe and knocked PNDA out of the tournament. I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing them again - and their guy in the panda mascot costume - at Dallas and beyond.
Sadly, not every team can finish in the money. Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, Team Kaliber, Enigma6, and Rise Nation (who won MLG Vegas) were all top North American contenders going into this event, and none of them finished better than ninth-12th; in fact, Team Kaliber, Cloud9 and Evil Geniuses finished a lowly 17th-20th, often considered a placement reserved for AM teams at past events. Team 3G, Mindfreak and Elevate all finished better than expected - as they were international teams that weren’t considered to be the favorites hailing from their regions - but still failed to finish in the money. Team Gosu Crew Blue was a loser’s bracket surprise that knocked out a few top teams (finishing ninth-12th), and they’re likely to make a decent play for the winner’s bracket at Dallas; however, they failed to finish with any pro points for their trouble, which means that they’ll have to brave another tough open bracket challenge at that event one month from now. Orbit - winners of the CWL London event just a couple weeks prior to this event - were projected to be the top UK contender, but fell short at 13th-16th.
Going forward, I’m very excited to see the storylines that were developed at CWL Atlanta continue to blossom. There were more than a few teams that came out of nowhere to a surprisingly decent finish, and there were also more than a few who fell far short of their goals. Dallas and the upcoming CWL LAN League are going to be insanely entertaining, and I cannot wait.
What did you think about CWL Atlanta? How do you think it could improve? What teams are you rooting for going forward? Comment below or hit us up on social media and let us know, and make sure to stay tuned to @GAMURScom for all your esports news.