End of an era? Evil Geniuses out after MLG playoff race

The playoff race in the Major League Gaming Call of Duty: Ghosts Pro League came down to the final match

The playoff race in the Major League Gaming Call of Duty: Ghosts Pro League came down to the final match. When the dust settled, two powerhouses found themselves on the outside looking in.

Evil Geniuses and Team Kaliber failed to qualify for the playoffs, ranking outside the top eight teams in the twelve team league. Both finished with 20-24 records, just one game behind two 21-23 teams, Most Wanted and Noble Gaming.

That’s a major upset. No team has been as dominant as Evil Geniuses during the history of Call of Duty: Ghosts. The team racked up five major tournament victories and seven top three finishes, including winning the $1 million Call of Duty Championship in March. Team Kaliber may not have those same lofty results, but they reached the finals in three events and placed in the top eight at eight of them. Few teams have results to match.

Evil Geniuses even won the Season 2 title at MLG Anaheim in June. But this season, we’ll have a new champion.

That’s left some involved quite salty, for various reasons.

Like many console shooters, Call of Duty has a “host” problem with online play—without dedicated servers, one of the competitors has to host the match, giving them an often massive ping advantage. That can give some teams and players with stronger connections an advantage.

In fact, Team Kaliber struggled with this in the past. During the second season of the league, they barely qualified for the playoffs despite placing second at the X Games Invitational in June.

But even if that made a big difference for Team Kaliber and Evil Geniuses in particular, as Brandon “Sharp” Rodgers attests, that ignores that the tK and EG of this season are different than the ones placing in the top three at every live tournament.

Team Kaliber lost Bryan “Apathy” Zhelyazkov to FaZe before the season. It’s hard to quantify the impact that may have on the team.

Evil Geniuses has struggled with motivation and internal issues, leading to their first roster change in over 20 months. They also suffered through a self-inflicated wound, six games without team captain Patrick “ACHES” Price, who served a suspension handed down by MLG for “conduct detrimental to the league.” At the time Price wore the “detriment” epithet like a badge of honor, though now that it may have cost his team a playoff spot he was a little more apologetic to fans of his team.

Neither team looks to be at level they were when they were winning or challenging for championships, considering both their live and online results. Though with one game separating them from the playoffs, it’s easy to see how online issues can take the blame.

It is a bit ironic that the third and fourth place teams based on MLG Points, earned through event placement over the course of the year, will not qualify for MLG’s ultimate Call of Duty: Ghosts tournament.

Though there is plenty of question on whether they deserve to—there are plenty of strong new teams who have earned their spots in the playoffs.

Noble purchased eLevate despite an 0-8 start to their season. The new ownership installed a young lineup, forgoing the addition of veteran free agents that commonly crop up on mid level teams, and took a chance. It paid off. The new lineup posted a 19-15 record through the remainder of the season, and now Noble is now in the playoffs.

Rise Nation may have placed poorly at their first live event, UMG Dallas, but that’s hardly a surprise for a younger team, especially one that played through a gruelling open bracket, marathoning match after match. At the MLG playoffs later this month in Columbus, Rise Nation will try and show their 27-15 online record isn’t a fluke, now that they have an automatic berth in the championship bracket.

Teams like EnVyUs and Denial, winners of the past two major live tournaments, are showing that the level of play has improved since the era of Evil Geniuses’ dominance.

Of course, in many ways Sharp does have a point. Columbus will be the last major Ghost event before the release of the next version of Call of Duty, titled Advanced Warfare. Shouldn’t two of the game’s all-time best teams be there for one last hurrah, even if their recent results say otherwise? It’s a tough question to answer.

At least all the playoff drama has led to an exciting finish. Despite the “online” issues, despite the ominous suspense waiting the release of Advanced Warfare, MLG Season 3 has certainly entertained. That’s a good sign for next year, and for this month, at the upcoming playoffs, with $50,000 on the line.

For Evil Geniuses, the upcoming Advanced Warfare represent redemption. “No teams have ever, in four years, beaten [Tyler “Teepee” Polchow] or I in the first tournament of a new [Call of Duty] game,” Price wrote on Twitter. Evil Geniuses may be down, but you can’t count them out. At least not for long.

Screengrab via MLG/YouTube