Reigning Call of Duty World Champions Team EnVyUs have been eliminated from the CWL Anaheim Open in 21st-24th place.
It’s the culmination of a slow but distinct decline for a squad that, having claimed the greatest accomplishment in the organization’s history in Call of Duty at the end of Black Ops 3, have now added an unprecedented lowest ever finish to the ledger.
Having topped their group in Stage One of the Global Pro League, it will undoubtedly have been a disappointment for the team to have gone out of the playoffs in 7th/8th place, but facing off against eventual finalists Luminosity in round one before being felled by a surprise appearance from OpTic Gaming in the lower bracket is perhaps a forgivable lapse.
In Anaheim, however, the team have no such excuses. While their pool was arguably one of the tougher groups to have landed in, EnVyUs should still have been one of the more formidable squads.
Instead of challenging for the top spot, though, the squad managed only a solitary win over Red Reserve – the source of their only map wins of the entire group stage.
It’s a fall from grace on an almost unheard-of scale. The term “reigning World Champions” is a nice title, but in and of itself it means little this far removed from the event in question.
What’s more remarkable about EnVy’s decline isn’t that they won an event which happened to be the Call of Duty Championships – it’s that at the time of doing so, EnVy were a legitimate world-beating team.
At the end of Black Ops 3, EnVyUs went so far as to depose OpTic Gaming, by results at the very least. Over the final two months of the BO3 circuit, the Boys in Blue appeared in all three major finals and won two of them. It was a run of form the likes of which EnVyUs had arguably never seen before.
A little under a year removed from the formation of this squad, however, playing at the same event that marked their debut, and EnVy have collected their lowest result in the organisation’s history.
From a historic victory at the largest and most prestigious event in Call of Duty history, the very same squad now find themselves eliminated at a meagre top-24, suffering losses to the open bracket qualifier in pool play and eliminated by a squad that didn’t even make it to the group stage.
It’s hard to see a way back from such an enormous disappointment, and perhaps there shouldn’t be. Something has quite clearly gone wrong with this team this season – the Championship squad never truly appeared, certainly not beyond the occasional series. Sometimes a roster change is all that’s left, and that’s perhaps the position EnVy now find themselves in.
It’s a tough call to make, to break up a squad that climbed so high, and there may not even be an obvious candidate for the chopping block. Nostalgia, however, cannot dictate competition, and fresh blood might be the only way to return EnVy to winning ways at this point – especially given that team relationships appear frayed.
It would be an undignified end for a squad that made such a significant mark on the game, but the fates are not always kind – especially not to EnVyUs – and at this point hoping for a resurgence may well be wishful thinking.
Quite such a poor performance is in all likelihood an outlier, and if this roster were to remain intact they should not be expected to repeat the result, but it seems a symptom of a more general downward trend.
It’s been too long since EnVyUs have seemed like a championship threat, and that is where these players should be aiming.
This is a team that, outwardly at least, seems to have run its course. Excepting a burst of confidence and motivation from within the squad itself (which seems unlikely), it would perhaps be prudent to take advantage of the inevitable shuffle prior to the Global Pro League Stage Two roster lock, rather than see out the season with a roster that seems very much past its peak.
Despite what may seem an ill-fitting end for such an accomplished squad – if we have indeed seen the last of this exact roster – it need not tarnish their legacy too much. While the last six months of their tenure hasn’t reproduced the heights of the previous season, this is still a squad that, for a time at least, could claim to be the greatest in the world – a boast very few have or ever will be able to make.