History of CoD eSports: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

A breakdown of the eSports scene during 2008-2009 when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was played on the MLG Pro Circuit.

Call of Duty eSports is now a worldwide phenomenon with various mainstream news outlets reporting on happenings across the industry. However, it hasn’t always been this way. The explosion of growth came during developer Treyarch’s most recent instalment, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Before that, competitive CoD was a lot more niche. There were still events and tournaments and it was supported by Major League Gaming, but the idea of having a tournament with a $1 million dollar prize pool and supported by the developers themselves was nothing more than a pipedream. As a lot of the current audience was introduced to CoD eSports during or after Black Ops 2, players and so-called ‘god squads’ of yesteryear have got somewhat lost and forgotten. Starting from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, let’s take a look back in time.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

As one of the most revolutionary military-style video games of all time, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare changed the world of console first-person shooters and sparked one of the most grossing entertainment franchises of all time. It was the world’s best selling game of 2007 and won numerous awards through IGN, Gamespot, and Spike’s Video Game Awards.

CoD 4 can be said to be the foundation for everything we know and love about the franchise. This was the first time “killstreaks” were introduced as a vital part of multiplayer. The game’s engine featured HDR lighting, dynamic shadows, depth of field, bullet penetration, destructible environments, and many more features unique to its time. Unlike previous CoDs, it used a unique physics engine that allowed for better graphics and animations to make the game more life-like. It ran in 60 fps and was the basis for future game engines in the series.

Gamemodes such as Domination, Sabotage, and Search and Destroy were popular in CoD 4 and have shown to be a prominent part of CoD eSports’ history. However, Sabotage was only used during CoD 4. Matchups usually played in a best of five series featuring those three gamemodes. People praised the game for its smooth mechanics, great hit detection, and superb matchmaking system.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the only CoD game to be on the MLG Pro Circuit for more than one year. Call of Duty World at War was not played competitively on the Pro Circuit. National Championships for CoD 4 were held in 2008 and 2009.

Key Teams:


This Team FeaR roster was crowned as the first ever MLG Call of Duty 4 National Champions in 2008 after winning in Las Vegas, defeating EnVyUs in the grand final. Both teams were constantly battling online to win various tournaments and were seen as nearly equal in terms of skill.

FeaR was founded by Renegade in 2000, then Joey ‘Moho’ Moorhouse took over in 2007 and he has remained the owner since. Jonathan ‘PacMaN’ Tucker and Robert ‘ASSASS1N’ Walsh should be familiar names to more recent fans.

FeaR competed in Anaheim for the 2009 CoD 4 National Championship albeit with a slightly changed roster consisting of Moho, ASSASS1N, Punisher, and ProoFy. They placed third at that event and were unable to pull off back to back national championships.

The winning Fear roster of Moho, Assassin, Choppy, and Pacman (left to right), during the 2008 National Championship


EnVyUs was founded by Tosh ‘Stainville’ Mcgruder and Skyler ‘Foreplayy’ Johnson back in 2007. Along with Nemesis and Fierce, they participated in the first CoD 4 National Championship and took home second place. In 2009  they decided to shuffle up the roster, and brought in Mike ‘Hastr0’ Rufail and Joe ‘SiDRoC’ Rauth for the 2009 championship, where they took home second place again. That roster consisted of Hastr0, SiDRoC, Fierce, and Stainville.

Hastr0 is a name everyone should be familiar with as he’s now the current owner of EnVyUs. He can be seen as one of the most prominent business figures in the community. After his playing career, he also went on to cast events and he maintained a strong relationship with the people in the community. He also worked with Treyarch as an eSports consultant during the production of Black Ops 2.

SiDRoC isn’t playing anymore unfortunately, but he was known as one of the absolute greats, especially in SnD. He has teased a return a few times over the past couple of years, including playing for vVv at MLG Columbus during the start of Ghosts, however he hasn’t stuck around for long.


This Xtravagant lineup has veteran players a little more known to the current audience. Will “BigTymer” Johnson, Brandon “Sharp” Rodgers, Raymond “Rambo” Lussier, and Dodgers formed the roster that won the 2009 MLG National Championship. BigTymeR is undoubtedly most acclaimed for his time on OpTic Gaming right up to his retirement after Black Ops 2, however his first success was found on IXI. BigT is in the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records for holding 13 Call of Duty championships.

Sharp can be known as one of the most tenured players in the scene. He has been part of Team Kaliber since Black Ops 2, and has seen it all. He took home the first ever MLG X Games Silver Medal with tK in 2014 after his team fell to OpTic Gaming in the Grand Finals. He has placed second multiple times with tK, but has never won a championship with the organization.

Rambo retired as a player during CoD: Ghosts, but briefly served as the coach for EnVyUs. He also previously played for OpTic Gaming alongside BigT. He’s a very well decorated player, winning several championships along the way. Dodgers unfortunately is another player who’s taken the decision to retire, despite a rumour he’d be returning to Ghosts, nothing came of it.

The winning roster of Sharp, BigT, Dodgers, and Rambo (Left to right), during the 2009 National Championship


Fnatic is the only European squad included in this for CoD4, as they won the biggest CoD4 LAN event in Europe; ECL1, now known as EGL. Tomas ‘Gunshy’ Jones is a player most are probably familiar with, having continued to play ever since CoD4 and is now currently playing for TCM Gaming.

Andy ‘DopedGoat’ Fisher at the time was one of the stars, everybody had heard of him. Leading teams for organisations like Fnatic, Dignitas and TCM, DopedGoat was a player nobody wanted to come up against. Scott ‘Mak’ Brass and Nick ‘XLNC’ Ward are both veterans in the CoD eSports scene, but both are unfortunately retired now, however Mak has stayed in the scene by becoming an analyst.

Other Important People

A player known as Halifax was known as one of the most dominant slayers in the game. Halifax played with FeaR and Team EnVyUs, but he did not travel to any of the major events. Alex “GoldenBoyFTW” Mendez called Halifax a “legend” on a Reddit post from a user asking more information about him. If you read the thread, there are varying opinions about Halifax as a person, but everyone who knew of him said he was one of the best players.

Believe it or not, Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag began his career during CoD 4 and placed 4th at the 2009 National Championship in Anaheim. He played for a team known as Genesis alongside players known as Felonies, Ster, and Flash Ketchum. While he wasn’t known as one of the best players during CoD 4, it’s important to mention that he began his career early and has been through it all.

Other noteworthy players (that weren’t mentioned above) that began playing during CoD 4 include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Patrick “Aches” Price, the winningest player in CoD history
  • James “Clayster” Eubanks, 2015 World Champion and the 2015 Call of Duty World Championship MVP
  • Chris “Parasite” Duarte, 2013 World Champion
  • Jordan “JKap” Kaplan, 2015 World Champion
  • Chris “Replays” Crowder, 2015 World Champion

(This list is not reflective of their presence or popularity in the community during the 2008-2009 seasons for CoD 4. It simply states they began playing the game during that time.)

2009 National Championship: IXI Wins Final Map

The following video shows the final map of the 2009 CoD 4 National Championship in Anaheim. The gamemode was SnD on Overgrown, and it featured Xtravagant vs Team EnVyUs. Chris Puckett and Ryan “Fwiz” Wyatt were two of the casters during the match. The pair have come a long way since the event and have grown to be two of the most prevalent figures in CoD eSports.


PCL3 2008 Grand Finals: FeaR vs Team EnVyUs

The following video shows the grand finals of a Pro Circuit Ladder tournament. FeaR’s roster consisted of Halifax, ASSASS1N, Choppy, and Punisher. EnVyUs’ roster was Nemesis, Foreplay, Stainville, and Fierce.


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