CWL Birmingham will go down in history as the most competitive European-only Call of Duty event to date.
With $50,000 on the line and a critical number of Pro Points up for grabs, CWL Birmingham had the potential to swing the outcome of Stage 1’s Relegation tournament and qualification for the Call of Duty Championship.
The scale of Multiplay’s Insomnia offered huge promise, and we’ve reviewed the weekend across several categories to determine an overall rating for the event. Read on to learn more.
Responsible for the experience of the vast majority of fans, the broadcast is arguably the single most important component of any competition. CWL Birmingham featured the usual European trademark talent, with Bricey heading up the analysis team, Tunny, Jonas, Momo, Cast Campbell and Stealth providing commentary, and a backroom staff team befitting of any major Call of Duty tournament.
CWL Birmingham took place at Insomnia60 and was handled by veteran organisers Multiplay, boasting near unparalleled gaming event experience and taking on their 60th live event of the Insomnia series alone. Unsurprisingly, this experience resulted in an excellent stream from start to finish.
Downtime was at a minimum, and with so many cameras offering a different point of view, only a virtual reality experience could have made it more immersive for viewers at home.
There is room for improvement, however. CWL Dallas featured unique content created around the players to help further the narratives for fans tuning in. It creates a richer viewing experience by offering insights into the pros at each new milestone of the season. Unfortunately, there was no such thing this time around.
Beyond that, more time sharing scores on the stream of other matches remains a missing component across the entire Call of Duty scene right now and is something that all organisers should look to add in the future. For the fans at home, having an understanding of the wider picture is imperative in telling the story of the weekend.
A special shout out must go to the on-screen talent, particularly the likes of Chris ‘Stealth’ Curtis who turned in a personal best weekend of commentary. Not only are the European teams improving this year, but so is the talent.
Unfortunately, as with many European events, not as many eyes were on the tournament as the competition deserved. It is tournament likes this one that should hopefully help to change that in future.
Little needs to be said about the competition schedule in Birmingham. Standards are so high these days that there’s no room for failure. Disregarding the odd blip and the somewhat strange (planned) late start on Saturday, everything was on time.
Arguably the biggest flaw was in the format itself, with Saturday becoming something of a dull day as a result of the order of events. If it wasn’t for the late arrival of the CronusMAX stock, Saturday would have featured absolutely no interesting matches. Instead, two Championship Winner Bracket games were forced to take place, infusing a bit of excitement into an otherwise mediocre day of CoD.
The format and schedule need to be reconsidered for next time to guarantee that the action is spread out throughout the entire weekend.
As far as European competition goes, Insomnia was near flawless in this category, at least at the upper end. There were no top teams absent from the event, while a significant number of teams made the trip over from the continent.
There’s a strange divide building in Europe between the various tiers of teams. As such, almost no genuine upsets took place over the course of CWL Birmingham. You might argue that Epsilon winning the competition is an upset in its own right, but you can never truly write off a team containing Joshh.
The top six favourites hit par by maintaining the status quo, which as far as they can go as a collective. The only team that really over performed was Arma, outplacing FAB to break into the top 12.
One downside was the attendance of 60 teams, with Multiplay unable to fill the maximum allocation of 96. That’s likely indicative of European Call of Duty, though, rather than the organisers themselves.
Don’t let the score line fool you. The Grand Final was a much closer affair than the 3-0, 3-0 finale would ever suggest. The two Hardpoint games were separated by 5 points and 3 points respectively, while Uplink was settled by only a single score in the first of the two games.
Unlike their first encounter against Splyce, where they lost 3-2, Epsilon simply had the edge in every contest when it came to the crunch. Perhaps on another weekend, the complexion of the result could have been entirely different, but Epsilon should still be applauded for an unprecedented double sweep that will give them huge momentum going into the Pro League.
Of course, there could have been a little more drama along the way and little beats a game 5, round 11 finish. After a long weekend of high-quality Call of Duty, the Epsilon v Splyce finale was exciting without being overly memorable for much beyond the result.
Multiplay staged one of the best value events in gaming. A ticket to Insomnia60 not only gave you access to a historic European Call of Duty tournament, but also live music, countless other esports tournaments, a massive expo with the latest games and hardware, and much more. You’d be hard pressed to find many esports experiences with so much else on offer.
The Call of Duty area itself was the best to date at an Insomnia event. It was suitably sized to provide an intense tournament experience, while the removal of excess stations increased the size of the seating area when necessary on the final day of competition.
The stage set up perhaps wasn’t as good as we’ve seen at previous events. The “big screen” while big up close, was dwarfed by what was a fairly large stage and was reminiscent of the postage stamp used for the broadcasting way back at EGL7.
No one could complain about the stage set up in general, but it wasn’t quite on the level of MLG. Still, with MLG being the standard in Call of Duty, the comparison has to be drawn.
The final blemish on the event was completely out of the organiser’s control. Problems at customs meant the Bluetooth issues that marred ESWC and UMG SC last year struck again. Not quite to the same extent, but over the course of the weekend players did their fair share of moaning about input lag issues. It’s an unfortunate situation to be involved in, and ultimately meant that CWL Birmingham wasn’t quite as good as it could have been due to an external factor.
Improvements can be made, but a couple of unfortunate incidents should not take away from an excellent event that sets a new standard for Europe. Dexerto would like to see the CoD World League return to Insomnia, and the scale of Multiplay’s flagship event could certainly accommodate an open-to-all regions tournament.
+ Broadcast Quality
+ On-Screen Talent
+ Incredible Competition
– A lack of additional broadcast content
– CronusMAX’s stuck in customs
– Undramatic Saturday
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