The defending world champions in Call of Duty made their tournament debut under new ownership over the weekend—and they promptly suffered multiple upsets on their way to bowing out of the tournament early.
X Games Austin played host to the MLG Invitational from Friday to Sunday, a premier Call of Duty competition featuring eight of the world’s top teams. The debut of esports at the X Games would feature a surprising finals match-up, with two teams going down to the wire.
The heavy favorites were the team formerly known as Complexity, winners of the Call of Duty world championships earlier this year. In May, U.S. esports organization Evil Geniuses bought the team, making the X Games tournament the championship side’s first under this new banner.
Though Evil Geniuses dominated the scene over the past year, they unexpectedly dropped a match to Team Kaliber in the group stage. The squad recovered to qualify for the final day of competition, only to get knocked out in a best-of-five semifinal round by Optic Gaming by a score of 3-1.
A boisterous crowd was on hand to watch the grand finals play out between Optic and Team Kaliber. The teams split the first four games of the series to send the final match to a decisive fifth game.
Needing six rounds to win the fifth game and take home the gold medals, Optic Gaming utilized strong play from Jordan “Proofy” Cannon to build a 5-2 lead and bring themselves to the brink of a championship victory.
Team Kaliber refused to go down without a fight, and a clutch one versus two win from Team Kaliber’s Jeremy “Neslo” Olsen shrunk the gap to 5-4. His teammate, Jevon “Goonjar” Gooljar almost repeated that performance, in the following round, but he was felled by Optic’s James “Clayster” Eubanks with a shot that brought the event to an end.
The Optic Gaming team leapt up from their chairs in a celebration muted only by their soundproof booth. That emotion was still clearly evident when Matt “Nadeshot” Haag spoke during the medal ceremony following the win.
“I feel like I’m about to tear up,” Haag said. “It’s literally a dream come true.”