The Greatest Series in the History of COD eSports?

The stage was set at MLG Dallas as the world’s two most lethal teams matched up in the grand finals. Optic Gaming had stormed through the winners bracket, sweeping aside top teams including their main rivals Faze Clan. EUnited had lost narrowly to Optic earlier in the tournament, but went on a fantastic losers bracket run where they beat both Faze and EnVyUs to make it to the finals. For EUnited, the MLG Atlanta champions, they had their work cut out if they wanted to lift the trophy. They would have to conquer the Greenwall in not one, but two best of fives.

For Optic, their main man Scump had been on fire all weekend, leading the team with great performances and great leadership. In Gunless, EUnited had the young superstar to thank for making it to the final, thanks to his tremendous slaying ability. So the stage was set, in what would be a repeat of the final in Atlanta.

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The first game was Breakout hardpoint, and Optic took it with conviction. The final score was 250-67 and it looked as though the boys in green were going to wrap this one up early. If the first game was great to watch, the second was even more spectacular. EUnited were 5-1 up in Throwback search and Destroy and needed only 1 more round win to tie the series 1-1. However, Optic had other ideas. A run of 5 straight rounds gave the Greenwall a massive comeback. The crowd were going wild and it seemed to everyone that one more game and Optic would be champions. Their rivals, led by the veteran leadership of Silly, had other ideas however. EUnited seemed to come to lifer and went on a run of 3 straight game wins to win the series and take us to a second best of five.

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The crowd couldn’t believe it, Optic couldn’t believe it, and the hundreds of thousands watching at home certainly couldn’t believe it. This final had already gone on much longer than most people expected it to, and we were only just getting started.

The second best of five was almost a mirror image of the first, Optic went 2-0 up in the series with comfortable wins in Hardpoint and Search and Destroy. And then, just like the first series, EUnited came storming back. They scraped through the Uplink in overtime and dominated in the hardpoint, so it really was anyone’s game. As the deciding game started, the atmosphere was tense. Nobody knew who would come out on top.

In the end, it was actually very anticlimactic. Optic, led by the veteran Karma, claimed victory in the last game with ease, playing their best Call of Duty of the whole tournament to win the Search and Destroy 6-0. And so after 3 hours of the greatest grand final Call of Duty has ever seen, the Greenwall prevailed, and added to their win at ESWC Paris last month.

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eSports’ Biggest Personalities

Matt ‘Nadeshot’ Haag

Matt Haag, otherwise known as Nadeshot, is a former professional Call of Duty player. He played for eSports giants Optic Gaming between 2010 and 2015. In fact, he was the captain of the team from 2013 onwards. His name derives from ‘grenade shot’, which is a term from the popular Halo series.

He made his professional Call of Duty debut when he was just 16 years old. He played for Genesis between 2009 and 2010 before making the switch to Optic. His first major win came in 2012, when the team won COD XP, where the prize pool was $1 million. Optic won the tournament, meaning that Haag took home $100,000, even though he was only 19 at the time. This led on to the next game in the COD series, Black Ops 2. In the first event of the season, UMG Dallas, the Greenwall triumphed again. Nadeshot’s next biggest win was in 2014, when the team won the gold medal at MLG X Games in Austin.

However, during the next season of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the Optic team disappointed and Haag retired towards the end of the year. This was a huge shock to the whole COD community, as it is rare for a player of his calibre to retire so suddenly. During his time in the competitive scene, Haag had been building a large following on YouTube by posting videos of himself playing, among other things. Because of his charisma and charm, as well as his achievements in the competitive scene, he was voted eSports Player of the Year in 2014 by the community. His YouTube channel currently has 2.9 million subscribers and this is growing rapidly every day.

Chris Puckett

Chris Puckett is possibly the best known caster and commentator in eSports. A former Halo player in his youth, Puckett is a caster of games including Call of Duty, Halo and Counter Strike. He is employed by Activision to broaden the appeal of eSports to a wider audience. He does this with his great energy and charisma when commentating over games. He has also been a host on American television such as TBS. Puckett was already involved in eSports when he was at university, helping out at tournaments run by MLG. Now, he is on the biggest eSports stage in the world, and is one of the most recognisable faces in the community today.

Dexerto

Dexerto are the main source of eSports news and opinion right across the globe. They formed in early 2015 and even in this short space of time have enjoyed huge success. They already have hundreds of thousands of fans on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Twitch. They also get 400,000 views per month on their website dexerto.com. All of their news can be viewed in either English, German, Spanish, Italian or French.

Dexerto do not only give the community eSports news. They also work on advertising campaigns and produce online media for companies such as Red Bull, Coca Cola and Papa John’s. They also work on broadcasting eSports events live to millions of people online. While they have already been very successful, Dexerto has marked these areas down for improvement and expansion:

• Content producers
• Smartphone application
• Commercial staff
• Increased social media activity
• On-going website development
• Evaluation of gambling and fantasy team platforms

Seth ‘Scump’ Abner

Seth Abner, more commonly known as ‘Scump’, is widely considered to be one of the best Call of Duty players in the world. He has been playing professionally since 2010 and has created a very successful career out of eSports. He is currently captain of COD powerhouse Optic Gaming, following in the footsteps of Matt Haag, another of our top 5.

He won his first major championship in 2012, when the Optic team won UMG Chicago during the Black Ops 2 season. Alongside Nadeshot, Scump won his first X Games gold medal in 2013, in what was one of his most impressive tournaments to date. Already, so early in his career, the community was expecting big things from the ‘ginger ninja’. It was in Advanced Warfare where Scump really stepped up to the plate. After Nadeshot retired from eSports, Abner became captain of the team. He then went on to lead Optic to 6 championships that season, bringing the total Optic wins that season to 12. Scump’s fast and furious playstyle, and his habit of making big plays, were a huge reason for these wins. This cemented him as one of the greatest Call of Duty players of all time.

He continued this great form into last year, during Black Ops 3, when he led Optic to win 13 tournaments out of a possible 20. This year, in Infinite Warfare, Optic started off slowly, placing badly at the first couple of events. Now however, they have picked up their form and are the top team going in to MLG Dallas, after winning ESWC Paris and placing second at MLG Atlanta.

Aside from his competitive COD, Abner also has a large following on YouTube. At current count, he has 2.1 million subscribers. He is also sponsored by several large companies, such as Turtle Beach, Gymshark and Brisk Mate. For someone of such a young age, he is a hugely successful individual and is loved by millions.

Faze Clan

Although not an individual person, Faze Clan are still one of eSports’ biggest personalities. Faze Clan are a team founded in 2010 that focused on sniping in Call of Duty games. From there, it has grown into one of the world’s biggest eSports organisations, with fans right across the globe. The organisation currently has teams in Call of Duty, Counter Strike and Overwatch.

Their most successful team is the COD division, which has consistently been performing at the top level for a number of years. They win numerous tournaments each year and their current roster is Clayster, Enable, ZooMaa and Attach. The Counter Strike and Overwatch teams were only formed recently. However, they are still playing at a reasonably high level.

Although they were only involved with three games, they have a huge following on YouTube and social media. Each individual current Faze player as well as retired players are all active on YouTube and are all known under the Faze heading, meaning that their exposure is huge.

This concludes the list of the top eSport’s personalities. All of these people and organisations are a huge part of modern competitive gaming, and are a key factor in it’s increasing popularity the world over.

 

 

 

 

 

The Greenwall Prevails in Paris

The Call of Duty community had barely recovered from the thrills and spills of MLG Atlanta last weekend, before the whole show moved east to Europe for ESWC Paris. There are only a couple of events in Europe across the season, and so each one is special. The favourites going into this one were Atlanta finalists Optic Gaming and EUnited. Faze and EnVyUs were also lurking in the background should either of these sides slip up.

It was a three horse race right from day 1, with Optic, EnVyUs and Faze all looking unplayable, and they were dominating the smaller teams from the off. Just like last week, there were some shocks and surprises from the start. Cloud9 would have been hoping for a better performance than last week in Atlanta, as they were one of the first teams to fall in bracket play. However, it was not to be as they fell at the same hurdle in the French capital.  Nobody quite knows what has happened to C9, but they need to pick up their form soon otherwise it’s going to be a long season for them.

In contrast, the European teams performed very well over the whole weekend on their home continent. Fnatic shocked everyone by making it into the further stages of the tournament. However, the biggest surprise was that British team Infused, led by Glaswegian MarkyB, came fourth overall. Couple this with their run last week in Atlanta, and this is looking like a very good season for them indeed.

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EUnited failed to replicate their success back home in the USA, and had a disappointing tournament, falling a lot earlier than expected. Rise Nation managed to rediscover the form that won them MLG Vegas, coming in at a solid third place.

In the end, it all came down to a showpiece final between the two big boys, Optic and Faze. Both teams had swept aside the competition over the weekend to reach this stage. It was Optic that had the advantage going in to it, as Faze would have to beat them in two ‘best of fives’, whereas Optic only had to win one. As it turned out, Optic didn’t need two series to beat their opponents, instead they swept Faze 3-0 to claim a third successive ESWC championship. In fact, one of the Optic roster, Crimsix, has now won the event 5 years in a row with three different teams. Watch the final moments here:

It may not go down as one of the greatest tournaments of all time, but it was still a great weekend of Call of Duty action nonetheless. All eyes now turn to MLG Dallas in a few weeks time, which is set up to be a massive battle for success where anyone has the chance of taking home the crown.

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EUnited Take It Home: MLG Atlanta Recap

The community expected big things from this weekend, but nobody could possibly have predicted just how good this event would be. From start to finish, every moment was exciting, from the very first match in pool play right up until the grand finals.

The tournament started off with pool play on Friday, with 16 teams playing each other to progress further into the weekend. There were some huge crunch matches in the four pools, which were tense and exciting to watch. For example, the match in pool D between EUnited and Envyus was an absolute cracker, and showed the community the talent that lies behind the squads. There were also numerous surprises on the first day, with Luminosity going unbeaten and MLG Vegas runners up Cloud9 losing every match and going home on the first day. EUnited started the tournament as well as they could, going unbeaten in pool play. This quickly shook off their tag as ‘online warriors’, as they had been beating everyone in the online league and 2K tournaments.

One of the biggest surprises of day 1 was just how well the European teams were doing. Splyce, In the run up to Atlanta, there had been some arguments between pro players on Twitter over the qualities of the European Call of Duty scene, and whether they could cut it against the big North American teams. Infused, Elevate and Orbit were all performing their best, and were looking good to progress through the Saturday. Day 1 had been better than the community could have hoped for, and really got everyone excited for the rest of the weekend.

On day 2, the open bracket teams entered the fray, and this really heated up the competition. One open team which really shocked everyone was PNDA (pronounced ‘panda’) who even made it out of their group. The biggest story of the day was that Optic were defeated by EnVyUs, and so would have to make a losers bracket run the next day. Rise nation, winners of MLG Vegas, also disappointed on the Saturday by losing to Luminosity, and so they too were forced into the losers bracket. It was Faze who looked on fire on day 2, easily sweeping aside everyone they came across, and they looked one of the favourites to win the tournament the next day. Friday’s surprise package, EUnited, also continued their form, beating huge opposition in both EnVyUs and Splyce. With so many teams looking towards the crown, Championship Sunday was set up to be one of the greatest ever seen.

There was two main storylines on Championship Sunday of MLG Atlanta. The heroic push of Optic Gaming, and the incredible story of ‘online warriors’ EUnited. At the start of the day, the Greenwall had to win five straight matches to progress to the Grand Finals. Firstly, they swept aside Elevate and came up against open bracket team PNDA yet again. The underdogs really took it to Optic, and really gave them a run for their money. Not only that, they took Optic to a game 5, round 11, and whoever lost would be eliminated from the tournament. It all came down to Karma vs Fastballa, and it was the former who won the gunfight, sending PNDA home. It will go down as one of the biggest moments in competitive COD history. Watch it here:

Optic soon swept aside Luminosity, Faze, and even got revenge for their loss against EnVyUs, who sent them into the losers bracket in the first place. Against all the odds, the Greenwall made it to the grand finals. While this was happening, a fairytale was slowly taking shape. EUnited were in the grand finals. Wins against heavyweights Faze and EnVyUs earlier in the day had got them there, and they awaited Optic in the final.

To win the tournament, Optic needed to win two best of fives against EUnited, while the latter needed to win only one. It all looked so good for Optic as they demolished them 3-0 in the first series. However, after 8 straight hours of Call of Duty, the Optic roster finally faltered and EUnited won the second series 3-2, crowning them MLG Atlanta 2017 champions. Watch the final moments here:

MLG Atlanta was one of the best tournaments for shocks and surprises that we have seen in a long time. It serves to prove that this year, for Infinite Warfare, anyone can surprise us.

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MLG Atlanta Day 1 in 100 Words

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MLG Atlanta has kicked off with a bang, with plenty of shocks and surprises. Faze and Optic have swept their respective pools, which was expected.

Also unbeaten are EUnited, who could be a shock contender for the title. Also in pool D are reigning champs Envyus, who have performed better than recent months.

The biggest surprise is pool C, where Luminosity are also unbeaten, while MLG Vegas finalists Cloud9 have failed to turn up, losing all of their matches so far. And can the open bracket teams shake things up on day 2? Whatever happens, it’s sure to be a belter!

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MLG Atlanta Pool Play Preview

The pools for the second event of the Call of Duty Infinite Warfare season, MLG Atlanta, have been announced. 16 professional teams and 4 amateur teams will play each other in a round robin format with the top 2 from each pool progressing through to bracket play. The event runs from February 10th to 12th and you can watch at mlg.tv/callofduty.  Here I take a look at the pools and how I think they will play out:

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POOL A

Pool A for Atlanta is what could be described as Call of Duty’s version of a ‘pool of death’. It contains number 1 seed Rise Nation, as well as the extremely talented Faze Clan. The first two tournaments of this season have been won by these teams, with Faze winning the PSX Invitational and Rise Nation winning MLG Vegas. However, while Faze have kept up this solid form in the online COD World League and 2K tournaments, Rise have failed to recapture the form that saw them take home the trophy in Vegas. It is not just these two teams to watch in pool A. Both Infused and Enigma 6 have plenty of star quality in their roster, and so can give any team a run for their money. We saw proof of this at MLG Vegas, when E6 wiped the floor with Optic Gaming in pool play, beating them 3-0 without reply. Infused have a lot of experience in their side, led by Glasgow born MarkyB, and know how to cause an upset if they want to. And don’t count out the open bracket team, some of which have plenty of skill to go toe to toe with the professionals.

PREDICTION: Rise Nation and Faze advance

POOL B

Although pool B is not necessarily as competitive as pool A, there is still huge competition for the two places to progress. Pool B contains what most would consider the most skilled team in North America, as well as the top team in Europe. Both Optic Gaming and Splyce have had some great successes in competitive COD in recent years, and will be hoping to pick up their first tournament win of Infinite Warfare. Optic have a point to prove after disappointing in Vegas, with a placing far below what they are capable of. Also in this group are Allegiance, led by veteran player Mochilla. Allegiance placed 4th in Vegas and so will be looking to build on this form in Atlanta. Making up the professional teams in this pool are Evil Geniuses. This team have been disappointing in the last few years, and will be looking to kick-start their season with a good placing.

PREDICTION: Splyce and Optic advance

POOL C

Cloud 9 will be ecstatic with the draw that they have been given for pool play. It is probably the easiest draw that they could have got, and will feel confident about progressing into bracket play. The runners up from Vegas have been looking unstoppable online and will be a good shout for a top three placing in Atlanta. The favourite for runner up in this pool is very hard to call, but it should be between Elevate and Luminosity Gaming. This Luminosity roster were predicted to achieve great thinks this year, but it has not been the case so far. The foursome of ‘Classic’, ‘Octane’, ‘Slacked’ and ‘Saints’ had performed brilliantly online at the tail end of last year, but have failed to find that same form on LAN thus yet. Elevate meanwhile are considered one of Europe’s best teams, and will be looking to upset some of America’s biggest teams in this pool. The last remaining pro team in this pool are Team 3G, a group of veteran players who are not yet signed to a major organisation, but will be looking to cause a major upset regardless.

PREDICTION: Cloud 9 and Elevate advance

POOL D

This is certainly the most interesting pool at MLG Atlanta. It is a three-way battle for the top spot, and any one of the four pro teams could clinch that second spot. Seeded highest in the group are Orbit, a European team with a lot to prove on the big stage. The team have been talking up themselves and the other European teams on Twitter recently, and so need to ‘walk the walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’. Orbit come in to this having just won a European only tournament in London, and so will be looking to keep their fine form rolling. Next up in this pool are EUnited, who have been one of the top teams online so far this year. But will this good form transfer over to LAN? We’ll just have to wait and see. Team Envyus were last season’s Call of Duty Champions, but have really struggled to get to grips with Infinite Warfare. They will be hoping to show their championship winning credentials here. Last up in this pool are Fnatic, a team who are known more for their Counter Strike than Call of Duty. However, we’ll just have to see if they have the potential to become a top COD team of the future.

PREDICTION: Orbit and Envyus advance

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What Would Improve eSports?

Over the past seven weeks of this blog, I have not been shy about praising the eSports scene. It truly is a remarkable community of like-minded people who all have the same interests and all enjoy eSports in every sense of the word. However, like everything, there are some things that could be improved about eSports, and I have outlined some of my thoughts and opinions below on how to make this remarkable community even better.

For some strange reason, all competitive events and tournaments have an age limit. This is for both playing and even for just watching the action. This is just a mind-boggling rule, as most spectators on the eSports scene are in the 15-18 age bracket, which means a lot of people are missing out on the experience of live events and getting to see their heroes in real life, instead of on a computer screen. If the age limit was taken away, the events would be much more popular than they are now.

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Continuing the theme of events, most can be very expensive and very hard for fans to get to. Tickets for events can reach hundreds of pounds, and that is before adding in hotels and travel. In addition, events throughout the year are not spread evenly across the globe. For example, COD events are held mostly in the U.S, which is a very expensive trip for fans and teams in Europe. If events were held worldwide and were cheap or even subsidised for loyal fans, then turnout would be much higher than is currently.

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In a world where equality is the buzzword, eSports is lacking in this in a major way. Women are heavily underrepresented in the community, with almost all players and coaches on the professional scene being men. It would be of huge benefit to the community if there was an incentive to attract more women, as this would increase the potential audience of eSports.

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These ideas and thoughts are just my own, but if they were implemented, I have no doubt that they would do wonders for eSports and improve what is already a thriving and exciting community.