OpTic Gaming one step closer to a new Call of Duty dynasty
This weekend OpTic Gaming took the Major League Gaming (MLG) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare League season one title, their second major live tournament victory in a row. Missed it? Heres's what you need to know.
OpTic is the best in Call of Duty, but they're beatable
During Complexity’s reign as the top team in Call of Duty, they were an unstoppable force, a team that instilled fear in every foe. OpTic is an amazing team featuring a ridiculous amount of slaying talent in Ian “Crimsix” Porter, Seth “Scump” Abner, and Matt “FormaL” Piper. Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag himself even pulled above his weight this weekend. But OpTic just doesn’t have the same intimidation factor that Porter’s old team did, and it showed a little this weekend.
There was talk of OpTic pulling off the perfect tournament heading into day one, but Aware quickly killed that dream by taking a round off OpTic. Then Team KaLiBeR, the sixth-ranked regular season team and one of those rosters that looks good enough to place in the top four or six every event, but not much higher, took OpTic to their last breath. In the fifth game of the series, Team KaLiBeR jumped out to a 3-1 lead on Search and Destroy before OpTic stormed back to win.
In the final, OpTic crushed Denial. But they still showed a few chinks in their armor.
Of course, one of the few tournaments Complexity ever lost was the regionals right before the most dominant tournament performances ever seen when they won the Call of Duty Championship.
One of the more interesting storylines heading into the tournament: Denial vs. EnVyUs. The two teams made a surprising high profile player swap midway through the season, with Denial sending team captain Tommy “ZooMaa” Paparratto and top slayer Renato “Saints” Forza to EnVyUs in exchange for veterans Clay “Clayster” Eubanks and Jordan “JKap” Kaplan. At the time, Denial looked like one of the top two or three teams in Call of Duty, but Paparratto believed a change was in order.
Apparently, it wasn’t the right change. Denial’s highest placing in Advanced Warfare is now without Paparratto in the lineup.
While EnVyUs got the better of Denial in their first round match, with EnVyUs sending the number two seeded Denial to the lower bracket after a 3-1 series, Denial shined afterwards. They beat Prophecy, Aware, FaZe, and Team KaLiBeR on their way to the finals against OpTic Gaming. EnVyUs, on the other hand, faltered against KaLiBeR and FaZe clan to finish a disappointing top six.
Denial were swept in the finals by OpTic Gaming, but Haag said after the match he believed they were OpTic’s toughest competition going forward in Advanced Warfare, and that the maps in the finals favored his team. Denial agreed.
Of course that doesn’t mean things will go differently next time, but it was a promising weekend for Denial.
FaZe: Will they turn it around for regionals?
While many people don’t like to admit it considering his poor attitude, Chris “Parasite” Duarte played like one of the best individual players at the entire tournament. His teammates Austin “SlasheR” Liddicoat and Ian “Enable” Wyatt also clocked in solid weekends. But FaZe struggled to live up to the potential of what should be the most talented roster this side of OpTic for one main reason: they didn’t play as a team.
Much of that comes down to Patrick “ACHES” Price, the winningest player in Call of Duty history. Price isn’t putting in the practice he must have while winning those previous 19 championships over his career, and it shows in his individual gameplay and the play of FaZe as a whole. The team needs more practice to figure out how to mesh as a cohesive unit, and Price needs a little work to touch up before the most important events of the year.
As we saw at MLG Columbus in November, Price is still capable of putting in a championship caliber performance, even with an injured hand. But he needs the motivation to make it happen. Is the Call of Duty Championship, the allure of becoming one of the few players to win two of them, and its $1 million prize, enough for Price?
We will find out soon, but if any team is built to be an OpTic dynasty-killer at Champ, it’s still FaZe, even if their losses to Team KaLiBeR and Denial this weekend were disappointing.
Age limits suck
It’s understandable that Activision implemented an age limit at Call of Duty Championships, considering the series features an ESRB rating of mature. But it’s disappointing to fans and players who want to see the best players and teams play. This weekend, Aware, featuring the young duo of Cuyler “Huke” Garland and Tommy “TJHaLy” Haly placed in the top six at the tournament, reprising their second place finish as members of Stunner Gaming at UMG Orlando.
The pair shifted teams after that event as squads angled for the Championships, changing lineups to fit them under Activision’s age restrictions.
Aware took a map off OpTic Gaming and took Denial to five games before falling out of the tournament. Their youngsters can play. When OpTic Gaming’s Crimsix was asked what happened to their shot at a flawless tournament, he said “fifteen year olds did.”
Call of Duty continues to grow
Over 100,000 concurrent viewers tuned in to watch OpTic Gaming begin their dynasty. The win pushed Matt “Nadeshot” Haag’s ridiculous popularity even higher as he broke 1 million followers on Twitter today.
As an esport, Call of Duty is still often sidelined against titles like League of Legends and Dota 2. But it’s clearly one of the bigger titles. There’s a reason why Call of Duty organizations are able to branch out into games like Counter-Strike and Smite, and it's not because they're trying to escape Call of Duty. It's because they can afford to pay them.
Now with the biggest tournament of the year on the horizon, Call of Duty is only going to continue its esports rise.
Screengrab via Optic/YouTube