CWL Fort Worth is finally upon us, with action beginning on Friday, March 15. Both the open bracket and pool play teams are set to start their run for the combined $400,000 prize pool. It is the second major tournament for the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 season and comes on the heels of a crazy roster change period.
There were some notions that the first roster change period following the first stage of the Pro League was going to be hectic. However, very few expected the onslaught of rumors and changes that occurred. The Midnight Esports and Excelerate Gaming management debacle started it all, and things only grew crazier from there.
So with Fort Worth upon us, where do these newly formed teams stack up against each other? Note: these rankings only include pool play teams and exclude open bracket teams.
It should be no surprise that the CWL Las Vegas champs come in at number one. They are as dominant as ever in scrimmages, and their stage 1 Pro League performance was nothing to scoff at. A 4-3 performance without their superstar Assault Rifle player Brandon “Dashy” Otell was better than most expected. Substitute Tommy “ZooMaa” Paparatto filled in valiantly, but OpTic Gaming’s success is hugely dependent on Dashy. With the young phenom back in the States and a Maddox RFB in his hands, OpTic is the clear favorite to take home their second major championship in Black Ops 4.
eUnited’s lackluster performance in the second week of the stage 1 Pro League is a bit concerning. Alongside this comes the possible dysfunction that arose out of the roster change period. They faced serious questions during “Rostermania,” with a couple of players not knowing their future. Preston “Prestinni” Sanderson was at the center of these uncertainties but ultimately remained on the roster. eUnited has the talent to give OpTic another run for their money, but they do have some questions surrounding them. It also doesn’t help they’re in Pool D with the likes of OpTic and Team Envy.
One of the most disappointing teams after CWL Las Vegas, 100 Thieves turned it around in the best way possible at the Pro League. It was obvious a roster change was needed, and Maurice “Fero” Henriquez was the odd man out. While the decision may be controversial, it undoubtedly worked out. On loan from FaZe Clan, Flex player Preston “Priestahh” Greiner and coach James “Crowder” Crowder turned the ship around. Now sitting atop Division B at the Pro League, 100 Thieves can very well bring home their first championship.
Splyce is one of the few teams this season to remain strong throughout and not face any roster questions. This is for good reason: the squad is among the best in the CWL. An excellent showing at CWL Las Vegas followed up by a decent performance at the Pro League makes them one of the favorites this weekend. Led by their best player Donovan “Temp” Laroda, Splyce should make more noise at Fort Worth.
Gen.G looked to be solid heading into Fort Worth but made a shocking roster change at the end of “Rostermania.” They subbed out the man who brought them together, Michael “Spacely” Schmale, and replaced him for ex-Midnight star Dylan “Envoy” Hannon. This came as a surprise to everyone in the community, as Spacely is one of the most respected players in the CWL. Gen.G still has major talent on the roster, but it is very possible they could lose part of their spark without their captain.
Definitely the most surprising and one of the most well-liked teams in Black Ops 4, Team Heretics proved themselves at stage 1 of the Pro League. Whenever they play, expect a flurry of “HERETICS TAKE MY VAMOS” in the Twitch chat. They will certainly need a ton of “Vamos” this weekend, as they face stiffer competition than in the past. With the help of an easier pool, Heretics should secure a first or second seed, where they will face several top teams in bracket play. It will be interesting to see how the Spaniards perform against the best teams in the world.
In competition with 100 Thieves for the most disappointing team, Luminosity has a make-or-break weekend ahead of them. There is no denying their talent, which features arguably the greatest player in the world in Peirce “Gunless” Hillman. They have yet to capitalize on their potential, however, as their Las Vegas and Pro League performances were underwhelming at best. Their Fort Worth placement will either hold their roster intact or split it up altogether.
The top-ranked EU squad had a huge question mark lingering over their heads for a couple of weeks with their organization. Red Reserve reportedly ran out of money and started to lay off big parts of their staff. It looked like the Call of Duty team would be a part of these cuts, but apparently, a group of investors swooped in and saved the day. With a concrete organization now in place again, the EU team has the potential to make a run at Fort Worth. However, a seventh- or eighth-place finish seems more likely at this point with the teams ahead of them.
While this ranking might seem a little high, there is a reason for it, and that reason is Cuyler “Huke” Garland. Huke is by far the strongest player on Envy and has the ability to carry the squad through. They are in the “pool of death” with OpTic Gaming and eUnited, but it would only take one upset to secure the second seed. Envy does need to pick up the slack around Huke for this to happen and admittedly that has been the Achilles heel of this team.
The first unknown team to deal with contractual issues, Midnight completely overhauled their roster this past week. With only Devin “LlamaGod” Tran remaining from the Pro League, Midnight is a complete question mark. They did bring in veterans to supplement this offset of players, but there has not been enough time to fully mesh. This team will be in the spotlight all weekend and we will see if Midnight made the right decision.
The addition of Martin “Chino” Chino is a vastly underrated one. He is one of the best Assault Rifle players in Black Ops 4, and Enigma 6 will assuredly benefit from his veteran presence. While they do have other issues, Chino should be able to help improve their overall performance. Like Midnight, they are another unknown within the CWL.
Another EU squad, Team Reciprocity needs a bounce-back event. Their Pro League showing was ho-hum, but the addition of Dylan “Dylan” Henderson will help. How much it will help is still yet to be seen. Regardless of Dylan’s presence, they face an uphill battle in getting out of Pool D.
During “Rostermania,” UYU decided to swap Cesar “Skyz” Bueno for ex-Midnight player Saul “Parzelion” Masse-Siguenza. While this might not make a huge difference, Parzelion did prove he can play at a high level during his time with Midnight. That said, UYU is in a tough pool with both Gen.G and Heretics; an upset doesn’t seem too likely.
Adding Dillon “Attach” Price in place of newly retired Brice “Faccento” Faccento is a solid move. Attach is one of the most proven Call of Duty players in the world and makes an immediate impact. It’s not a big enough splash to turn EG into a legitimate threat, but it does provide interesting matchups in Pool B.
What a week it has been for Excelerate. First, it comes out that their players were not being paid in full. Then, the misguided owner Justin Tan releases the roster and adds some of the ex-Midnight players. It was a huge mess of contractual and legal issues, but Excelerate comes out worse than they originally started. This rag-tag team has had almost no time to practice, and will more than likely put together a poor showing.
Denial is back in their first major championship since 2015, but it doesn’t seem like they will be able to return to their former glory. The only French roster in the CWL is void of legitimate talent and will be fortunate to win one match in Pool A.
Be sure to stay tuned to Daily Esports for more CWL Fort Worth coverage.
Joey Carr is a University of North Georgia Journalism graduate. He has 4+ years experience covering Esports and traditional sporting events, including Dreamhack Atlanta, Call of Duty Championships 2017, and Super Bowl 53.