Five Years Ago: 2011 MLG National Championship

On this date five years ago, MLG hosted their sixth and final official LAN event for Call of Duty®: Black Ops in Providence, Rhode Island: the 2011 MLG National Championship.

On Oct. 16, OpTic Gaming raised their second championship trophy of the Call of Duty®: Black Ops Major League Gaming Pro Circuit season at MLG Orlando 2011. Following Orlando, everyone was rife with anticipation for the sixth and final event of the season in Providence, Rhode Island: the 2011 MLG National Championship.

Teams only had four weeks to prepare for the biggest event of the year, where the prize pool swelled from $28,000 to $140,000; first and second place would be taking home more money than any previous event gave out in total. With such limited time to practice and get ready for Providence, no roster changes occurred between Orlando and the National Championship.

Unlike the past few events during the Black Ops season, this event did not have a pool play system. The top-16 teams were already established and seeded into the championship bracket, while everyone else had to battle it out in arguably the toughest open bracket of the year. The four teams who managed to claw their way through the open bracket were mG Notorious, abV, Brain Dead and the European underdogs, Team Infused.

Finally, it was time for some championship bracket action. Round one kicked off with the four open bracket teams taking on the 13th through 16th seeds. mG Notorious and Brain Dead both continued their momentum from the open bracket, sweeping Redemption and yunGunZ 3-0 respectively. However, the other two matches were won by the championship bracket teams, as 13th seeded IcoNs Elite 3-0 swept abV and the 14th seed Obey defeated Infused 3-2.

Moving on to round two, Brain Dead continued their run from the open bracket, defeating 10th seeded GenesiS 3-1. However, mG Notorious did not have as much luck, as the other open bracket team fell 3-2 to the ninth seeded Force. JuKeD, the 12th seed, came in and knocked off IcoNs Elite 3-1, while TGN Vendetta, the 11th seed and runners-up at MLG Orlando 2011, defeated Obey 3-1 as well.

Round three is where some of the top teams started to make their tournament debuts. Seventh seeded Quantic Nex-TT-hreat put an end to Brain Dead’s run in the winners bracket, defeating them 3-1. SvG Collapse, the sixth overall seed, took down Vendetta 3-1, and Team EnVyUs, the fifth seed, made their Providence debut with a 3-0 sweep of JuKeD. Force was the only team from round two who won in round three, as the ninth seed defeated the eighth seeded Surreal Legacy 3-1.

Despite the action-packed matches in round three, Call of Duty historians, such as myself, will say that the real tournament began in round four, when all of the top-four seeds graced the stage in Providence with their presence for the first time. Following their second championship of the season at Orlando, OpTic Gaming, led by Will “BigTymeR” Johnson, Jordan “JKap” Kaplan, Joe “MerK” DeLuca and Jordan “ProoFy” Cannon, entered the National Championship as the top seed and made quick work of Force, defeating them 3-1. The only other team to win two championships in 2011 was Quantic Leverage, and they entered this tournament as the number three seed. The roster of Patrick “ACHES” Price, Tyler “TeePee” Polchow, Seth “Scump” Abner and Damod “FEARS” Abney easily disposed of Collapse, defeating them 3-0.

Additionally in round four, IcoNs Xtravagant, the fourth seed at this event, took a thrilling 3-2 series win over EnVyUs. Even though Xtravagant was the higher seed, it still seemed like an upset for the roster comprised of Ray “Rambo” Lussier, Bob “Bobby” Hamwi, Damon “Karma” Barlow and John “Revan” Boble to knock the boys in blue down to the losers bracket. In the final match of round four, the number two overall seed, Team FeaR, made their tournament debut against Quantic Nex-TT-hreat. Using the momentum from their win in round three, Nex-TT-hreat shockingly upset the Raleigh champions 3-2, sending FeaR down to the losers bracket.

The conclusion of round four meant that it was now time for the winners bracket semifinals, where OpTic would square off against Xtravagant, while Leverage and Nex-TT-hreat were set up for a battle of Quantic pride. The number one overall seed absolutely dominated as OpTic swept Xtravagant 3-0. However, the battle between the two Quantic teams was definitely one to remember.

As I pointed out in my last article about MLG Orlando 2011, throughout the year, Leverage always got the best of Nex-TT-hreat. In fact, Leverage was a combined 4-0 against Nex-TT-hreat in the other five events throughout the season leading up to the National Championship. But, this time, things were different. The roster of Doug “Censor” Martin, Blake “Vengeance” Campbell, “Virus” and Sean “MuTaTioN” Ellis was tired of playing second fiddle to their Quantic brothers, and in one of the biggest upsets of the year, Nex-TT-hreat defeated Leverage 3-1, sending ACHES and company down to the losers bracket.

This set up our winners bracket finals between OpTic and Nex-TT-hreat. Everyone wanted to see OpTic vs. Leverage or OpTic vs. FeaR in the finals, but Nex-TT-hreat had just beaten both of those teams. OpTic came out firing on all cylinders as they took a 2-0 lead to begin the series. But, using all of their built up hype and momentum as fuel, Censor and company were able to break the Green Wall with a reverse sweep, defeating OpTic 3-2 in an exhilarating series to send the defending champs down to the losers bracket finals.

While Nex-TT-hreat was anxiously waiting in the grand finals for the first time all season, a lot of action was going down in the losers bracket. Several teams started to make that tough and rigorous losers bracket run, as everything was on the line in the final event for Black Ops. mG Notorious, led by Steve “Mochila” Canle and Josiah “Slacked” Berry, picked up where they left off in the open bracket, defeating Limitless 3-0 in losers round four. Notorious went on to earn another sweep, this time against Brain Dead, before they ran into Force, who previously defeated them 3-2 in the winners bracket. But, Notorious was able to exact their revenge, defeating Force 6-5 in their best-of-11 continuation series, to advance to losers round seven.

Vendetta tried to regain some of their Cinderella story magic from Orlando, defeating Infused in round five, but then the clock struck midnight on them once again, as EnVyUs began their losers bracket run with a 3-0 sweep of Vendetta. EnVyUs wouldn’t stop there, as the roster consisting of Tosh “StaiNViLLe” Mcgruder, Kenneth “Dedo” Dedo, Renato “Saints” Forza and Ray “LyaR” Loftus also ran through Notorious in losers round seven, defeating them 3-1. Notorious was eliminated from Providence in seventh place, taking home $5,000.

In the other losers round seven match, Team FeaR was set to face off against Collapse. For FeaR, led by Robert “ASSASS1N” Walsh, Johnathon “John” Perez, Phillip “PHiZZURP” Klemenov and Eric “Twizz” Servello, this was just their third match of the tournament. On the other hand, Collapse, with a roster comprised of Aaron “TuQuick” Chang, Christopher “Parasite” Duarte, Bryan “Apathy” Zhelyazkov and Emmanuel “Pikachu” Correia, had only played three matches prior to their date with FeaR. But, one of these top teams was about to be sent home, and it was Collapse who escaped with the 3-2 win in this great series. This was an unfortunate turn of events for ASSASS1N and company, as FeaR was never able to replicate their success after Raleigh. FeaR was eliminated from the National Championship in eighth place, taking home $4,000.

The matches started to intensify even more as the competition was narrowed down to the top-six teams remaining. Hot off their win against Notorious, EnVyUs now had to take on Quantic Leverage. But, the two-time 2011 champions continued to struggle in Providence as they lost another hard-fought series, this time, in 3-2 fashion to EnVyUs. ACHES and the rest of Leverage were sent home from Rhode Island in sixth place, earning $7,000.

On the other side of the losers quarterfinals, Collapse used the momentum from their big win over FeaR to absolutely crush Xtravagant, sweeping them 3-0. Thus, Rambo and company were eliminated from the National Championship in fifth place, taking home $10,000.

Our final four teams were locked in, and the losers bracket semifinal was about to begin between EnVyUs and Collapse, the fifth and sixth seeds entering this tournament respectively. Both of these teams played extremely well throughout their losers bracket runs, but one of them was about to come to a crashing halt. The boys in blue would not be denied, as EnVyUs defeated Collapse 3-1. Collapse was eliminated from Providence in fourth place, earning a solid $14,000 paycheck.

With Collapse heading home, the top-three teams were set, and the beginning of a classic rivalry was ready to commence in the losers bracket finals between OpTic Gaming and EnVyUs. The scoreline doesn’t truly do justice to how close this series was, especially in the game two Search and Destroy on Villa and game three Domination on Summit. But, at the end of the day, EnVyUs was able to sweep the Green Wall, eliminating the defending champions from this event. OpTic Gaming would leave the National Championship with a third place finish, taking home $20,000, which is ironically how much they earned from their championships at Columbus and Orlando combined.

Finally, we were down to our final two teams: Quantic Nex-TT-hreat vs. Team EnVyUs. If there was a bracket challenge for this event back in the day, I can almost guarantee nobody would have predicted this grand finals matchup. Regardless, the grand finals in Providence were shaping up to be the most highly-anticipated match of 2011.

Nex-TT-hreat jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after winning Capture the Flag on Hanoi and Search and Destroy on Firing Range. But, EnVyUs would not go down without a fight. The boys in blue responded in game three with a huge performance on Firing Range Domination, followed by a tightly contested win in game four of Capture the Flag on Summit, to even the series at two games apiece.

Who would have guessed that we would get to see a decisive game five to determine the winner of the National Championship? The final map of the year was Search and Destroy on Villa. With all of the momentum at this point, EnVyUs took the first round, but Nex-TT-hreat was able to regain composure and win rounds two and three. Round four came down to a 1v1 situation between StaiNViLLe and MuTaTioN, and MuTaTioN clutched up, giving Quantic the 3-1 lead, and pushing them one round away from a championship.

Once again, EnVyUs refused to go down quietly, as they were able to win round five to make it a 3-2 Quantic lead. But, this is where it would all end. In one of the most memorable moments in Black Ops history, Virus was able to pull off an insane 1v3 clutch to give Nex-TT-hreat the National Championship. EnVyUs was eliminated from the tournament in second place, taking home $30,000, while Nex-TT-hreat earned $50,000 and the title of the MLG national champions.

This was a perfect storybook ending to the first season of Call of Duty on the MLG Pro Circuit. Nex-TT-hreat truly earned this championship, as they did not lose a series throughout the entire weekend, as well as taking down the first, second, third and fifth seeds to win the National Championship. Nobody can say that this was a fluke, as Censor and company truly played their best when it mattered most.

It’s crazy to see how much Call of Duty has grown over the past five years. Aside from all of the developer support and increase in viewership, the prize pool increase speaks for itself; seventh and eighth place at the 2016 Call of Duty World League Championship took home $50,000, as much as Quantic Nex-TT-hreat earned for winning the entire 2011 National Championship.

This was definitely a great inaugural season on the MLG Pro Circuit for Call of Duty, and it was a blast looking back on all of these tremendous moments in Call of Duty history, all of which took place just five years ago.

Were you in attendance or watching the stream for this event five years ago? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.

Justin Binkowski is the Managing Editor for GAMURS and he can be contacted by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @JBinkk.