This weekend, eight of the best Call of Duty: Ghosts teams will descend on Columbus, Ohio to compete in the Major League Gaming Call of Duty: Ghosts Season 3 Playoffs, a $75,000 tournament that will finish the competitive era of that game.
It’s also the grand opening of the new MLG.tv Columbus Arena, one of the first arenas dedicated to esports in the nation.
On Nov. 3, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will be released, replacing Ghosts with a newer and more futuristic game. MLG will host the first major Advanced Warfare event in Columbus at the end of November.
But first, there’s one last chance for teams to win bragging rights in Ghosts. Based off recent results, this tournament is anyone’s game—each of the last five majors in Ghosts were won by different teams.
In June, OpTic Gaming dethroned perennial Call of Duty champions Evil Geniuses to take gold the MLG X Games Invitational. Evil Geniuses answered back in July by taking MLG Anaheim, their sixth major tournament win in seven events, including the $1 million Call of Duty Championship. But their reign was over. EnVyUs took the Gfinity 3 title in August, followed by Denial pulling off a surprising win at UMG Dallas. Then, in October, FaZe took the UMG Nashville title.
The nominal favorites remain EnVyUs, OpTic Gaming, and FaZe, but EnVyUs had a dismal showing at UMG Nashville and OpTic Gaming has failed to reach the finals since the X Games.
That leaves no team the favorite to win the Season 3 championship. The $30,000 top prize could go to any of the entrants (though not to Evil Geniuses—they were narrowly eliminated by Most Wanted on the last day of the season).
Some fans blame the unpredictable results on a competitive rule change after MLG Anaheim in June that saw the game, formally dominated by the MTAR assualt rifle, switch to a more run-and-gun style favoring the Vector submachine gun. Critics claim the change lowered the skill gap, leading to a wider range of teams potentially competing for titles. The rule change coincided with the precipitous fall of Evil Geniuses.
Since then, dozens of teams have risen up the standings. Rise Nation, a squad of young players with slaying talents like Dillon “Attach” Price, ranked second during the regular season. They had their first taste of LAN success in Nashville, where they beat OpTic Gaming to place fourth. Most Wanted barely breached the playoffs, but managed to place third at Nashville, putting them in possible contention for the playoff title. Denial, FaZe, and EnVyUs changed from contenders into champions. The playoffs really are anyone’s game.
There will be one more Call of Duty: Ghosts champion, and we will find out who it is on Sunday in Columbus, during the first ever event broadcast from MLG’s new arena.
Matches being on Friday at 6pm ET broadcast on MLG.tv. The tournament opens with OpTic Nation vs. FaZe and concludes Sunday night at 5pm with the Championship.