On March 27th – 29th, the Call of Duty Championship playoffs were held in Los Angeles, USA. Each year, the best Call of Duty teams in the world meet here to battle it out for the $1 million prize pool and the chance to be named world champion. Since its inception, the Championship game has only been open to two teams from the Australasia-Pacific region. In 2015, a third spot opened up. After a gruelling online round and a live qualifier event, the teams who came out on top were Exile5.T1Dotters, Integral Nation, and Mindfreak.
The Exile5.T1Dotters team are no strangers to the Call of Duty Championship competition. Last year, under the organisation Trident eSports, this team competed at the Call of Duty Championships and skyrocketed to a 5th place overall finish. One member of their line-up has since changed, and Exile5 are keen to make a name for themselves with their new team.
Exile5’s first series of the tournament was against Gamers2, an as-yet untried team from Spain. Straight away Gamers2 proved why they are the number one team in their region, taking the first Hardpoint map with a lead of just under 100 points. The Spanish team’s winning streak continued over the next two games, sweeping Exile5 in a 3-nil series.Next up for Exile5 was SSOF Gaming, a Brazilian team who have qualified for the playoffs three years running. After a shaky start and the loss of the first map of the series, Exile5 turned their luck around to take the next 3 games in a row. Interestingly, Exile5 won all games in this series by at least double the score of SSOF. The final series score was 3-1 to Exile5.
Last of all Exile5 faced off against OpTic Nation, the secondary but no less intimidating team playing under the OpTic banner. Ultimately the OpTic Nation team proved too dominant. After four close games, OpTic Nation won the series 3-1 over Exile5, unfortunately disqualifying the Australian team from the playoffs and securing Exile5 a top 32 placement.
Meanwhile our second Australian team, Integral Nation, were battling it out in the infamous ‘pool of death’ against powerhouse teams Strictly Business, Team Kaliber and Epsilon. Integral’s first series was against the formidable Team Kaliber, a professional North American team with multiple top 3 placements under their belt. Team Kaliber won the first series convincingly in a 3-nil sweep against Integral.Integral’s second series was much the same, ending in a 3-nil loss to Strictly Business: although the games were lost by a narrower margin, Integral were not able to close the gap with the North American team. Their last match-up was against high-ranking European team, Epsilon. Integral and Epsilon traded maps to a 2-all series tie; with the last match, Search & Destroy on Terrace, going all the way to round 11. In the end Epsilon came out on top, winning the last map 6-5 over Integral and taking the series 3-2. Integral placed within the top 32 teams.
Last but not least was Plantronics.Mindfreak, Australia’s premier Call of Duty team and the first to qualify at the APAC regional finals. Mindfreak played at the Call of Duty Championship last year under the organisation Immunity, finishing the competition within the top 16. This year marked the first time Mindfreak have attended an international event with their full core line-up.Mindfreak’s first series of the tournament was against UnderratiX Gaming, an untried team from Germany. Mindfreak won the first Hardpoint game decisively, then quickly took the series to 2-nil after the second game. After losing the third map by one point, Mindfreak smashed UnderratiX 17-1 in Uplink on Bio Lab, taking the series win 3-1. Series two was against the renowned Team EnVy, a distinguished team from North America. Mindfreak stepped up to the challenge, playing toe-to-toe with EnVy and only just losing each map after a hard-fought battle. The series win went to EnVy 3-0 after some very close games.
In their final pool play match, Mindfreak contested Team Menace. Mindfreak took the first game with a strong lead, but Menace took round 2, tying the series up 1-all. The Australian team rallied and came back to win the next two games in a row, giving them a series score of 3-1 and securing them a spot in the second day playoffs – making them the only Australian team to advance to day two at the 2015 Call of Duty Championships.
The playoffs began on the second day of the competition. Mindfreak’s first match was against Team Revenge, a Canadian team who placed 8th at last year’s championship tournament. Revenge and Mindfreak went head to head in all 5 games of the series, trading map wins back and forth. The final map was won by Revenge. With the series score at 3-2 Revenge’s way, Mindfreak found themselves knocked into the loser’s bracket.Undaunted, Mindfreak won their first Loser’s Round matchup over Gamers2 with a score of 3-2, before swiftly taking out UK team Aware, 3-1. Team Kaliber was next, but even the prestigious US team could not halt Mindfreak’s forward momentum, going down 2-3 to the Australian team. Mindfreak were finally knocked out of the competition in the last Losers’ Bracket round, beaten 3-nil by Prophecy. They finished in 6th place overall, earning themselves a $50,000 share in the overall $1 million prize pool. Plantronics.Mindfreak were the only non-US team to place within the top 8. It’s safe to say that the Australian Call of Duty scene as a whole is immensely proud of the teams that competed at the Championship tournament. Australia continues to make waves in the international Call of Duty arena, and there will be no stopping any time soon.
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