Optic Gaming Wins Gfinity Spring Masters
Gfinity hosted their first professional Call of Duty event on Advanced Warfare, inviting 16 of the world's best teams to London, England. Their new Gfinity Arena provided multiple stages for passionate fans to watch the matches from. The tournament started in group play on Friday evening, with each team completing a single match. At the end of game play on Saturday, the stage was set for the knockout round on Championship Sunday.
The format of the tournament was a bit different than we are used to in competitive Call of Duty:
In group play at Gfinity, if you win 2 matches you move on to the knockout stage. If you lose 2 matches you are eliminated from the tournament. Essentially, this is a mini double elimination bracket and allows the 1st and 2nd seeds from each group to be decided easily. The playoff bracket is a single elimination knockout bracket, so every round is a must-win series, which increases the intensity and makes the matches more exciting to watch.
Group A: 1st-Optic Gaming, 2nd- Epsilon eSports, 3rd-Strictly Business, 4th-Gamers2
Group B: 1st-Denial eSports, 2nd-TCM Gaming, 3rd-HyperGames, 4th-Team Infused
Group C: 1st-Team EnVUs, 2nd-Optic Nation, 3rd-Vitality Storm, 4th-FAB Games eSports
Group D: 1st-Prophecy, 2nd-Aware Gaming, 3rd-Team Kaliber, 4th-MindFreak
There were really no surprises here. If the group stage was seeded, the top 2 teams moved through in every case except for Group D. This particular group was interesting because MindFreak, the lone Australian team at the tournament, had played the other three group members at the Call of Duty Championship, only losing to Prophecy. It was fitting that on the first day, MindFreak went up against Prophecy on Main Stage for a chance at redemption. Unfortunately, they were completely shut down by a new Prophecy roster which features Aches as the veteran player. He is joined by Apathy and two players from the disbanded Team Revenge roster, Nagafen and Aqua. In the same group, Team Kaliber met Aware Gaming twice and ended up in round 11 of SnD on map 5 both times.
On Championship Sunday, the knockout bracket began. A total of 7 matches were held as shown in the image below. The finals had the potential to pit Optic Gaming versus Denial in the finals again, a rematch of last week in Paris at the Electronic Sports World Cup.
In the first match of the day, Prophecy went up against Epsilon. This pitted former Team Revenge teammates Aqua and Nagafen against the other duo, Remy and Faccento, who were playing as fill-ins for Epsilon. The group had last played together just a week prior in Paris. Prophecy took the win.
Next up, Optic Nation and Denial. Most competitive Call of Duty fans would have chosen Denial to reach the final and maybe even win the tournament, but Optic Nation had other plans and defeated the Call of Duty World Champions 3-2 to move on to the semis.
TCM Gaming and EnVyUs: a great European CoD team versus a traditionally good American team. After moving to the United States and participating in the MLG Pro League, TCM has been looking even better than before. They were able to defeat nV here and they met Optic Gaming in the semifinals, who dismantled Aware in an easy 3-0.
Prophecy went into the game against Optic Nation at full speed. They had been looking great all weekend, even with a relatively new roster. In the first two maps, Prophecy destroyed ON, but on Ascend CTF, Ricky was able to capture the flag a total of 5 times and take a map back. Throughout the series, however, MBoze struggled in the slaying department and went quite negative until the last map, Detroit Uplink, where ON looked like they could pull back a tied series until Prophecy shut them down.
Optic Gaming and TCM looked like a good matchup, with Optic taking the first map and TCM decimating them on Search and Destroy the second map. The 6-1 rout didn't translate to better play on the next two maps, and Optic Gaming took the series 3-1.
The final between Prophecy and Optic Gaming was as suspenseful as any fan could hope for. Optic Gaming took the first two maps before Prophecy came back and won the next two in order to take the series to map 5, Search and Destroy on Detroit. Going back and forth in round wins, one ended up being a 1v1 with Crimsix facing off against former teammate Aches. The crowd was excited to see this, and Maven pointed out that this would be even better if it were round 11. Crimsix won that battle, and then Optic Gaming took the series 6-4, earning themselves another tournament victory! Congratulations to them, and a shoutout to Gfinity for hosting a successful event.
Gfinity will host another professional Call of Duty tournament in a month, the Gfinity Spring Masters II. The organization has also announced that they will begin hosting a European Pro League, analogous to the MLG Pro League in North America. This is fitting, as Gfinity is basically the European equivalent to Major League Gaming, as far as Call of Duty is concerned. Different from the MLG league, Gfinity plans a tiered structure, similar to that seen in English football. The top teams have the potential to advance to a higher tier and the lowest ranked teams will be relegated. It is very fitting that the top league will be called the 'Premier League'. This obviously gets many more players and teams involved in the system and should be fun to watch. The league begins in June and matches will be streamed weekly on the Gfinity MLG channel.