The Call of Duty esports scene is eagerly awaiting the November release of the next title in its increasingly long list of sequels. But while fans and gamers alike are excited about the new competitive features available in the upcoming Advanced Warfare, there’s still Call of Duty: Ghosts to be played.
This weekend UMG Gaming hosted their Dallas event, a $20,000 showdown between most of the top teams in the game. The event was rife with intrigue, with dark horse teams performing strong, relative newcomers testing their mettle against the top teams in the game, and a bloodbath within Call of Duty’s biggest franchise.
These are the top stories from this weekend in Dallas.
Denial are your champions
Few expected Denial Esports to take the Dallas title, but they ran the table in dominating fashion. Denial won five best-of-five series through the tournament, only dropping a total of three maps. No team took more than one map off them in a series.
Denial built a new roster around Tom “ZooMaa” Paparratto after his impressive individual performance at Major League Gaming Anaheim, and it’s worked. The team’s amazing slaying power made them a nearly unstoppable force in Dallas despite just middling results in Major League Gaming’s Call of Duty League, where they have a 9-7 record thus far.
Renato “Saints” Forza posted a 1.20 KDA, second best in Dallas, while all three of his teammates ranked in the top thirteen. The young gun Jeremy “StuDyy” Astacio also played like a stud in slayer, with 25.08 kills per respawn.
The Optic Bowl
The name “Optic” is synonymous with Call of Duty esports. The brand dominates the scene. It’s players are legendary, and in turn players become legend just by donning their green and black uniforms. Tournaments make it simply by having the team attend.
So to see two teams wearing that same Optic tag battle against each other in a big spot at a major tournament was a spectacle, to say the least. The match drew more viewers than the finals.
Optic Nation ended up sweeping their brothers in arms, a surprising result in some ways but not when you consider both teams’ recent forms. Nation sits 8-3 in the MLG league, with Optic Gaming close behind at 8-5.
The match hinged on the first map—domination. A team that relies more on map rotations than slaying power, Nation usually struggles on the kill-heavy game type, as shown by their sub-1.0 KDA for the tournament, the only top four team at that level. But despite being Nation’s weakest game type, they managed to pull off a win with a flawless game, and used that momentum to sweep the series.
Nation placed third at the event earning $3,000, while Gaming took fourth with $2,000 to their names.
Gfinity sequel a fitting encore for EnVyUs
The sequel to EnVyUs’s amazing Gfinity 3 victory was a good one. The tournament after the one that made Matthew “FormaL” Piper a multi-game champion, the first ever player to win both a Halo and Call of Duty major, was a fitting encore.
EnVyUs swept their side of the championship bracket, winning three straight best-of-fives with 3-0 scores before running into Denial and losing 1-3. They’d then beat Optic Nation 3-1 before falling again to Denial in the finals.
Piper followed up his MVP performance in London with another solid tournament, with a 1.10 KDA over 20 maps and a top ten kill rate in Slayer. His teammate Jordan “Jkap” Kaplan was the bigger monster this time, with a 1.18 KDA that ranked third at the event.
It was a solid showing for the team, worth $4,000, and proves Envy will be a contender for the rest of the season.
Rise Nation falls
The top team in Major League Gaming’s Call of Duty League with a 10-2 record, Rise Nation entered UMG Dallas surrounded by questions, but with huge expectations. Were they online warriors, powered by Dillon “Attach” Price’s magical router? Or legit contenders, an emerging top team backed by the superstar Price? Well, after a disappointing top 16 finish, losing to FaZe 3-1 and JusTus 3-2 their championship bracket matches, Rise looks more like the first—especially when you consider JusTus is only 5-9 overall in league play.
Making excuses is a futile exercise after any competitive endeavor, but there were legitimate reasons for Rise to underperform in Dallas. For one, they had to play through the gruelling open bracket, chaining matches late into the night before waking up a few hours later to start championship play. Plus, as Price puts it, they might be weak on the important SnD game type, something that’s more important in a best-of-five tournament format than in league.
Won both Doms by 80 and 30 got super duper duper unlucky in the blitz and lost both SnD remember SnD wins championships fellas.
— Attach (@RiseAttach) August 24, 2014
We couldnt even communicate properly with our teammates after only being allowed to sleep for 2 hours in the last 2 days cuz of scheduling
— Jonathan Tucker (@RisePacman) August 24, 2014
One of their other teammates, Daniel “Loony” Loza, had no excuses.
Everyone was right. We are warriors.
— #LoonyDoesntMiss (@RiseLoony) August 24, 2014
The only way to drop the “online warriors” tag will be to perform at a live event. And Rise failed to do that in Dallas.
The Call of Duty esports scene continues to grow at a massive rate. It may not hit the astronomic viewer numbers its fellow first person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has somehow amassed this year, but it’s getting close, and continues to grow at every event. UMG is hardly a major event circuitl they’re more like the MLG of ten years past, a grassroots organization running tournaments fuelled by passion and energy drinks. But they’re the ones with the chutzpah to actually host regular Call of Duty events, and they’re certainly benefitting from it.
Thanks to everyone who came out to Dallas and also for helping us reach 125,000 viewers on the stream. Our growth is insane. Thank you
— Robert (@UMGRobert) August 25, 2014
That’s close to the Call of Duty live viewership record of 157,000 set at the X Games earlier this year. Not bad for a $20,000 tournament. Not bad at all.