Two bomb threats. 208 teams. Over 800 players. Over 300 matches. One Team Kaliber. After a weekend filled with upsets, evacuations, and 15-hour days, CWL Dallas is now in the books. With that whirlwind of a weekend in the books, we can now take a step back and see what we learned at the first Open event of the 2018 CWL campaign.
Good teams can survive the Open Bracket slog
Open brackets in any esport have always been a beast of epic proportions, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult with the gaining popularity of the Call of Duty World League. This was especially true at CWL Dallas where there were 192 teams competing in the open bracket, making a trek through one hell of a task. Still, two teams emerged nearly unscathed, setting up a scenario that could affect the CWL for the rest of the season.
Of the four open bracket teams that made their way into pool play, FaZe Clan and Echo Fox overcame the odds to secure top-6 placing in Dallas, with FaZe’s fourth-place finish the longest run by any open bracket team in the history of competitive Call of Duty.
FaZe Clan’s Thomas “ZooMaa” Paparatto said the team, “played 14 hours of CoD [on Saturday,” which he admitted to being extremely exhausting. Despite this, and the fact that ZooMaa was playing in his first open bracket ever, FaZe still put on a performance for the ages, playing in 14 series across four days. Not too shabby I’d say considering the circumstances.
Echo Fox were no slouches either. A loss in their opening round Sunday against Team Kaliber could have killed any hopes of a strong finish for Echo Fox, as they would again be forced into more matches in the lower bracket. Not for this team, however. They took down Mindfreak in a close 3-2 series before dusting Luminosity Gaming, who many had pegged as favorites to win the whole tournament after a strong showing on Saturday. Their run came to an end against Splyce, but considering the European’s second-place finish, Echo Fox can feel confident in their play going forward.
With the open brackets on track to only get larger - CWL New Orleans is slated to feature 256 Open Bracket teams - the performances of FaZe Clan and Echo Fox show that Open Bracket teams are nothing to scoff at. And even more so, both teams are now back in the thick of things in regards to Pro Points, and could have very well put themselves in position to qualify for Stage 1 by virtue of their outstanding marathon of a weekend.
It’s all about the preparation
It may seem like a no-brainer, but skill alone is not enough to bring home the wins in any esport and Call of Duty is no exception. You can tell when a team is prepared versus one who isn’t. Two teams at CWL Dallas put this on display from opposite sides of the spectrum.
Ghost Gaming was a team that many were high on coming into this tournament, as they had demonstrated some high levels of preparation for events towards the end of the 2017 season. Michael “SpaceLy” Schmale has even been known to bring out a playbook in between rounds to give his team directions during matches. Despite such prep work in the past, that was noticeably absent in Dallas. The team won just a single map all weekend long, finishing with a 1-15 record in terms of maps. Rather than be at a loss in terms of what went wrong, SpaceLy could pinpoint exactly what went wrong in Dallas. “We were really slow and not playing together at a fast pace like the rest of these teams were,” SpaceLy recalled. He added in that the team hadn’t adapted to the new SMG meta, which went hand in hand with the fast pace of the other teams. These sentiments came in stark contrast to that of Luminosity Gaming frontman Sam “Octane” Larew.
Luminosity jumped out the gate during pool play with a 6-0 start that featured an incredible 9-0 Capture the Flag win over Ground Zero that featured 11 flag pulls in the one-sided match.
Octane attributed their success in that round to some heavy scouting prior to the event: “We noticed in scrims about a week and a half ago that we were much farther ahead of other teams on [London Docks]; we got more aggressive out of the block than most other teams did.”
As these teams showed, practice makes perfect when it comes to this game. While online 2k tournaments are certainly nice practice, nothing beats a good old-fashioned LAN. With the first CWL Open of the year in the books, you can expect that teams will come back even more polished when Call of Duty descends on New Orleans in January.
MLG is the best tournament organizer in the game
I don’t mean to turn this into a love letter to MLG, but it might just be what happens. This tournament was the biggest event in the history of the CWL in terms of the sheer number of teams in attendance. With over 192 open bracket teams alone, it would have been no small task to keep the event on track throughout the weekend. Once you throw in the curveballs that MLG received in Dallas, it should have been impossible.
Having to evacuate the Kay Bailey Convention Center just a few hours into the event Friday, then shutting down the day altogether should have put the completion of the tournament in jeopardy. MLG had to fit essentially three days of competition into just two days. While esports players and fans are surely used to dealing with delays and interruptions, missing an entire day is certainly out of the ordinary even in this space.
Outside of the fact that the events ran into the morning hours on both Saturday and Sunday, you’d have no idea that there was any problems if you spoke to any MLG staff member. The team took everything in stride to ensure that this event never went off the rails.
We saw some amazing Call of Duty play over the last few days, but it’s a good thing that CWL New Orleans is a month away as it gives each of us a chance to recover from the the spectacle that was CWL Dallas. To keep your competitive appetites full, however, Northern Arena Montreal kicks off next weekend featuring eight of the best teams in the world fighting for the $30,000 prize pool and the all important Pro Points.