Call of Duty’s biggest league has a new winner.
After taking the first and second seasons of the Major League Gaming (MLG) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Pro League, OpTic Gaming couldn’t secure their third title at the Season 3 Playoffs this weekend. Instead, FaZe returned to their winning ways by taking down OpTic in two straight 4-1 series at the MLG Arena in Columbus, OH, securing the $40,000 top prize.
The FaZe vs. OpTic Gaming final continued a rivalry that’s developed over the last four live tournament, ever since FaZe pulled off a blockbuster trade that saw them acquire James “Clayster” Eubanks and Dillon “Attach” Price from Denial. FaZe has now won three of four tournament since then, beating OpTic Gaming in all three finals. Their lone slip came at UMG Washington DC earlier this month, where OpTic Gaming took the title.
“We shut up all the haters,” Clayster said in a post-game interview. “There was a lot of people that have been roasting us, talking a lot of smack. We came here to just perform and do our best. That’s what we did and the resilience of this team is amazing.”
But in some ways, the real story was the emergence of a new challenger.
Epsilon eSports took third at the tournament with a roster featuring two of the Call of Duty Championship runner-ups Remington “Remy” Ihringer and Jared “Nagafen” Harrell backed by impressive slaying from fiery veteran Chris “Parasite” Duartes and up-and-comer Matthew “Royalty” Faithfull. Famous for his extremely high sensitivity, Royalty made a name for himself when Epsilon qualified for the Pro League in the relegation tournament. For his part, Parasite—infamous for his inability to get along with teammates—seems to have found a welcoming home in Epsilon, and it showed in Columbus.
The team played through the toughest bracket in the event and placed third. They first beat Denial, the runner-up at the recent UMG Washington DC event, 4-2 before taking out Elevate 4-1. Then they faced the eventual champions, FaZe, and beat them with a convincing 4-1 score, landing them in the upper bracket final against OpTic Gaming. They fell 3-4 to OpTic Gaming and then 3-4 to FaZe in a rematch, but those results show Epsilon was just two games away from winning the entire event.
That creates an interesting dynamic at the top, if Epsilon can maintain that level of play; their first event with Parasite, UMG Washington DC, saw the team exit early in the group stage with a 1-3 record.
That should add a little more drama heading into the MLG World Finals, set for Oct. 16 to 18 in New Orleans. What will likely be the final major tournament in the Advanced Warfare generation of Call of Duty features a $250,000 prize pool, with the top team taking home $100,000. And for the first time this year, it seems like there are more than just one or two favorites to take the title.
Will FaZe continue their recent run of form, or can OpTic Gaming finally topple the team that’s bested them in all four of the previous series they’ve played? Will Epsilon show that this weekend was not a fluke, and take the next step to become champions? Or will another new challenger emerge?
Just one day after season’s end, rosters are already in flux as teams try to find magic for the game’s biggest tournament outside the Call of Duty Championship. It looks like the top three finishers may be the only teams to avoid making a move heading into the big event in New Orleans. Teams like Denial, Team Kaliber, OpTic Nation, and Rise Nation have seen players leave their roster in the hours after the playoff event.