Four weeks. 16 teams. 56 games. That’s how much the CWL Global Pro League has delivered, and we’re only halfway through Stage 1. The new format -- two division of eight teams playing round robin matches -- has been excellent for competitive Call of Duty. It has led to some very interesting stories as teams slowly built strategies against each other, finally being able to both practice and study the opposition without worrying about the next LAN tournament.
The one flaw that’s frequently cited, that being a lack of map diversity, is being fixed for the upcoming half of Stage 1 with the inclusion of Valkyrie for Hardpoint and Search & Destroy rounds. But with so many games, it’s worthwhile to look into the developments so far.
OpTic Gaming Tops Division A
OpTic Gaming, Team Kaliber, eRa Eternity, Rise Nation, Echo Fox, Red Reserve, Mindfreak and Team Vitality were all pooled into Division A. The top-four placement of OpTic Gaming, Team Kaliber, Red Reserve and Rise Nation were never in question. All four teams easily separated themselves from the rest of the division with Red Reserve, the fourth seed, having three daunting wins over the fifth seed, Mindfreak. But how these four teams fought each other is the more interesting tale.
OpTic Gaming (6-1) took the top seed from Team Kaliber (5-2), the back-to-back winners of CWL Dallas and CWL New Orleans. While it’s not shocking that OpTic Gaming dominated in pools, it is surprising they did take first seed after finishing 16th at CWL New Orleans. Shrugging off that less-than-stellar placement, OpTic went through the first half while only losing a single series. The Europeans of Red Reserve (5-2) caught OpTic Gaming off-guard by playing a slower, more calculated game against the aggressive Americans. In addition to the statement win over OpTic, Red Reserve easily broke into the top four.
Team Kaliber, meanwhile, took the third seed at the halfway point. Yes, the seemingly invincible Team Kaliber wouldn’t even place in the top two. It looks as though the new Pro League format has allowed teams to study up and find ways to take down the titanic Team Kaliber with some regularity. While Kenny “Kenny” Williams and Lamar “Accuracy” Abedi still managed to clutch insanely uneven fights, it was ultimately too much for them to bear in the first half of the season.
While Kaliber seemed to falter with the new format, one team that benefited from the format was Mindfreak (2-5). The Australian team has been continually shunned from conversations about the best teams in the world due to a lack of significant practice. In the first week, Mindfreak failed to prove the doubters wrong by not winning a single game. But it quickly turned around in the second week as they sharpened their skills over the weekend, taking two series from Team Vitality (1-6) and Echo Fox (2-5) to grab the fifth seed.
Meanwhile, Rise Nation (6-1) took the second seed thanks to breakout star Thomas “TJHaLy” Haly and the rock-solid Pierce “Gunless” Hillman. The questionable trade of Ulysses “Aqua” Silva for Gunless is now a distant memory. Gunless has done nothing but improve Rise Nation by giving them some much-needed consistency. The only loss they suffered was at the hands of OpTic Gaming.
Luminosity Gaming Rule Division B
Team EnVyUs, Luminosity Gaming, eUnited, Splyce, Evil Geniuses, FaZe Clan, UNILAD eSports and Epsilon eSports fell into Division B. Unlike Division A, the fate of many of these teams were up in the air. While Luminosity Gaming and Team EnVyUs confidently took the top seeds, everything else became a bloody brawl. FaZe Clan was the only other team to emerge fairly unscathed from the massacre thanks to a surprising 3-1 against Luminosity.
Right off the bat, we’d be remiss to begin the discussion of Division B in any place other than eUnited (2-5). After being last year’s breakout team, eUnited have struggled to find steady ground this season despite placing in the fifth and sixth seed of both CWL New Orleans and CWL Dallas, respectively. The team sits in seventh place, just one spot above the winless Epsilon eSports (0-7), with a 2-5 record, with neither of their wins exuding much confidence. The team simply doesn’t look like the same one we saw during the Infinite Warfare season where they made a unique name for themselves by playing spawns rather than for KD. Now, they fail to consistently to even win 1-vs.-1’s. The team will need to quickly turn it around or risk never climbing out of this early season hole.
The mid-tier teams of Splyce, UNILAD eSports and Evil Geniuses are all tied with each other. Granted, Splyce (3-4) had a very tough first week. After Jordan “Jurd” Crowley failed to make it to America due to visa problems, Tyler “FeLony” Johnson was asked to step in. While FeLony did his best to keep up, Splyce predictably struggled in their first week of games. And when Jurd finally made it in the second week, Splyce had to go up against the fearsome Luminosity Gaming (6-1) and Team EnVyUs (6-1) after little practice, leading to a pair of tough losses that leaves Splyce in fourth place.
UNILAD eSports (3-4), Division B’s other European team, did extremely well despite the odds against them. Often considered the third or fourth best European team, the twins Matthew “Skrapz” Marshall and Bradley “wuskin” Marshall took advantage of the upset in this pool. They beat a wounded eUnited in the second week to tie with Splyce and Evil Geniuses. Evil Geniuses (3-4), meanwhile, seemed to bounce from excellent to mediocre depending on who they played. They looked absolutely limp against Team EnVyUs and Luminosity Gaming, but were strong enough to devastate eUnited with a 3-0 scoreline. All three teams will need to find wins against FaZe Clan (5-2) in order to secure a fourth team placement. Or win against EnVyUs or Luminosity, if anyone finds that miraculous upset.
The CWL Global Pro League will return on this Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET with Echo Fox vs. Team Vitality kicking off the second half of Division A play.