CWL Anaheim had everything: It was unpredictable, had memorable matches, and some of the most exciting Call of Duty ever played.
Here are our top five stories from the final day of the tournament.
Luminosity were unquestionably the best team in Anaheim. After falling at the final hurdle at the Stage One Finals, this time LG went one further and convincingly put Europe’s top two teams to the sword in back to back fixtures. In many ways, the difference in Anaheim was the slaying superiority of Luminosity, as they edged Splyce in a series where the score wasn’t quite reflective of how similarly matched the two teams were.
Last time out Zer0 was untouchable – killing everything in his path and firing Splyce to the title. This time out, Zer0 looked human – still a slaying machine but not on the same level as rival Octane, who led both teams in the final. And that really seemed to be the difference as much as anything. Luminosity’s slight edge on the kill feed led them to their first title of the season.
Before Anaheim fans could allow a slip by OpTic Gaming in the Stage One Finals. In their group stage they looked more than a little solid, while their previous two Open outings resulted in titles. Back to back defeats to Luminosity at Major tournaments is more reflective of a pattern, though.
Results would suggest that there’s little separating LG and OG, but Call of Duty is a game of fine margins. After going to the wire, Luminosity went on to lift the Anaheim title, while OpTic Gaming were sent home after defeat to Enigma6.
OpTic are in a bizarrely unique position. As the heavy, heavy favorites with crowds throughout the world, an extra layer of expectation is added as the team go in search of their first title at a Call of Duty Championship.
Of course, we’re not there yet but two slips in the run up to the season finale is bound to take its toll. There was almost certainly a shift in mood when the tide started turning in their two decisive games, as the audience became on edge. No one would envy a team having to play under such pressure. Regardless, OpTic crumbled and their defeat to Enigma6 was a worrying sign.
OpTic undoubtedly possess the firepower to bounce back, but signs suggest that there has been a changing of the guard once again. Just like last year, the Green Wall might have peaked too soon. For now, few would argue that LG are not the best in the game.
If OpTic Gaming peaked early, perhaps Epsilon are coming good right at the right time. After spending much of the season fighting tooth and nail for every pro point they could get their hands on, Epsilon are now approaching the apex of the international standings and look like they could be a serious contender.
This weekend Epsilon’s problem seemed to be mental. Both their defeats, sweeps at that, came against teams that they had previously beaten earlier in the tournament. While their result against Luminosity could be forgiven, their game against Splyce seemed indicative of a team that couldn’t put an earlier defeat behind them.
What’s more, Epsilon looked comfortable against Splyce first time out. Second time around, the tie had a completely different complexion and Splyce looked comfortable in victory. If Epsilon are to win a Major international title, they need to show the kind of mental resolve that they boasted in Birmingham. It’s easier said than done with the world watching, though.
It’s hard to pin Cloud9 down. Anaheim was such a weird tournament that getting a proper understanding of where teams sit in the rankings is very much up in the air. After making a hash of their Pool, C9 bounced back to storm the Loser Bracket all the way to top 4.
In doing so they defeated Allegiance, FaZe Clan, eUnited, Red Reserve and Evil Geniuses before being swept by a notably superior Splyce line up. If this was Dallas, we’d be talking about the Cloud9 run as one of the greatest in Call of Duty history. Yet despite the frankly ridiculous number of scalps that C9 claimed, something feels unspectacular about their achievement.
FaZe and eUnited were anything but their best and will likely never appear at a Major tournament with the same make up of players again. Red Reserve and Evil Geniuses were good but by no means exceptional, while Allegiance were Open Bracket graduates.
Are Cloud9 the fourth best team on the circuit right now? It’s truly impossible to say. You cannot discredit C9 for beating teams at their worst; they can only defeat the opponents in front of them. Simply put, we’ll have to wait and see just how good this team can be. For now though, successfully surviving relegation and then finishing fourth, their best placing since the season opener, represents a highly successful trip to California.
Damn, what a final. We’ve had many great series over the weekend but Splyce and Luminosity really put on a show in Anaheim. Over two Hardpoint games, the aggregate score was 499 for Luminosity to 495 for Splyce. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, I don’t know what will.
Certainly the two Hardpoint games will be remembered for a long, long time, but Splyce’s near comeback in S&D was also an exciting affair. In the end, Luminosity saw out the series in four games, denying fans a final S&D and maybe even a second series. Yet despite the match wrapping so quickly, it was a match up fit for a Grand Final.
We’ve had some exciting showdowns between eUnited and OpTic Gaming earlier in the year but this one was definitely up there.