The most dominant team in Advanced Warfare entered UMG Dallas a heavy favorite in a tournament with $40,000 on the line. The only event they’d lost this year was the Call of Duty Championship. The start of season three of the Major League Gaming (MLG) Advanced Warfare Pro League and the roster shuffle preceding it seemed little more than a footnote. OpTic put up a 5-0 record through the first two weeks of the season.
But in Dallas, their run came to a quick end. FaZe managed to take the title, the lineup merging Call of Duty Championship winners Dillon “Attach” Price and James “Clayster” Eubanks with FaZe’s Ian “Enable” Wyatt and Thomas “ZooMaa” Paparatto accomplishing what Eubanks hoped it would when he decided to leave Denial to form the new team. In the grand finals they swept OpTic Gaming 3-0, completing a tournament run that was OpTic-esque: Over the course of the event, they posted a 24-2 map score.
In many ways, though, OpTic Gaming did not look like themselves. While they advanced through the group stage with a 12-1 map record, they lost the first bracket stage match 3-1 to Epsilon NA. The team recently qualified for the MLG Pro League by placing second in the relegation tournament behind iSolation Empire, Britain’s steady slayer Callum “Swanny” Swan, up-and-comer Matthew “Royalty” Faithful, and two of the Call of Duty Championship runner-ups Jared “Nagafen” Harrell and Remington “Remy” Ihringer haven’t won a league match in five tries so far. At UMG Dallas, though, they took down OpTic Gaming and TCM Gaming on their way to a top four finish.
That early loss put OpTic Gaming on the ropes, requiring a lower bracket run through Team Kaliber, iSolation Empire, Team Envy, and a rematch with Epsilon NA before reaching the top three of the tourney with Denial and FaZe.
Those two teams essentially pulled off a trade in the offseason, swapping players between OpTic’s most immediate challengers. FaZe acquired Eubanks and Price, with youngsters Austin “SlasheR” Liddicoat and Cuyler “Huke” Garland joining with Denial’s veteran objective player Chris “Replays” Chowder and young gun Don “Temp” Laroda.
Denial and FaZe met in the upper bracket finals, but FaZe took Denial out in a 3-0 sweep. Then OpTic Gaming managed to topple Denial 3-1, leading to the FaZe and OpTic Gaming final.
In some ways it’s no surprise that OpTic Gaming fell to FaZe’s new lineup considering they survived a gauntlet of five MLG Pro League teams after their loss to Epsilon before they even reached FaZe. But in many ways, the loss was simply FaZe outplaying the men in green. The two played Solar Hardpoint to open the series—usually a dominant game type for the slaying monstrosity that is OpTic Gaming—yet FaZe out-slayed them, hard. No OpTic player put up a positive KDA on that map. Their newest member, Damon “Karma” Barlow, put up poor numbers in the finals a weak 0.88 KDA for the tournament. In fact, the normally superb Seth “Scump” Abner did not post a positive KDA on any map in the FaZe series, a far cry from the 1.19 KDA he posted during the tournament as a whole.
That, perhaps, is the biggest sign that this victory may not just be a one-off fluke. FaZe managed to hang with OpTic Gaming in their best game types and keep up with their slaying, something no one has really managed to do even when OpTic has faltered in the past.
That doesn’t mean we’re in for another set of predictable results with a new overlord. If anything, this just means the top of the Call of Duty scene just got a whole lot more interesting.