The remaining twelve spots in the CWL Pro League were earned in a roller coaster of a week. Teams both expected and unexpected join the likes of OpTic Gaming, eUnited, Splyce, and Luminosity Gaming.
The qualifiers consisted of four pools of seven teams that played a round robin. The top two teams in their pools would immediately qualify. Meanwhile, the bottom two were immediately eliminated from the tournament. The remaining third through fifth places in the pool would be seeded into a double elimination bracket. However, the third place would get a bye into the second round. From the winners bracket, two teams would qualify, as would two from the losers.
The pool play results are as follows:
Pool A slowly revolved around upsets, with many matches going the way of the wind. While many fans expected Reciprocity to make the league, not many would have predicted the top two teams.
Pool B was arguably the most stable of the four. Team Envy looked to be one of the strongest teams in the tournament with Heretics showing their potential as well.
Pool C, similar to A, was full of upsets. Midnight Esports pulling a flawless record was the biggest Cinderella story of the event. 100 Thieves were sorely disappointing throughout the week, jumping to their second place spot due to head-to-head matchups.
Pool D turned into the pool of death by the end of pool play. UYU would find themselves with a well-earned second place to qualify. Evil Geniuses came out swinging and proved that their stitched together roster was actually the real deal.
Favored teams such as Team Envy, Evil Geniuses, and Reciprocity came out strong through the week. These teams are full of veterans and novices, surprising few with their qualification. Team Envy looked especially strong under the leadership of Patrick “ACHES” Price. Evil Geniuses and Reciprocity were no slouches either. These three teams are poised for a season filled with competitive matches.
Teams such as Red Reserve and 100 Thieves did not look good at all, however. These teams are stacked with talent, yet they disappointed in the first few days of the tournament. Red Reserve would fall to Evil Geniuses and UYU but turn up against the smaller fry. The 100 Thieves game were just downright depressing, but a few wins in the end and other results in their pool would launch them into qualifying. It has to be said though — 100 Thieves almost became the most tragic story of the week.
Lastly, Team Space (formerly Str8 Rippin) would just barely make it through the bracket play. This was quite unexpected, given their performance in CWL Las Vegas back in December. Despite a slow start in pool play, Team Space would have a better bracket play, only dropping one map to Red Reserve. Former high-caliber talent such as Colt “Havok” McLendon and Jared “Nagafen” Harrell return to their former pro status.
With so many upsets and underdog stories coming to fruition, the Pro League now welcomes many new players. Amateur (AM) players that were always on the brink of qualifying for Pro League or major event brackets finally break the curse. Teams such as UYU and Excelerate Gaming consist of players who were essentially gatekeepers of the top AM scene.
Additionally, a new wave of international players in French squad Overtime and Spanish team Heretics begins a new chapter. Some individuals on these team have been around for some time. They would often show up in major events but never earn a coveted Pro League spot.
The Pro League also welcomes back Enigma6 after an absence since the 2016-2017 Infinite Warfare season. Also previously mentioned, Midnight Esports claim the top spot in potentially the greatest underdog story in Call of Duty history.
With so much new blood though, this means that many established players were left disappointed. Mainstay teams such as FaZe Clan, G2, and Mindfreak fall on Sunday in the bracket play. Just as well, Lightning Pandas and Pittsburgh Knights fail to even make it to Sunday.
Not only are some teams well-established organizations in Call of Duty esports, but some players are longtime fan-favorite veterans. Two of these teams even boast previous world champions that will not be in this year’s pro league. Dillon “Attach” Price, Christopher “Parasite” Duarte, and James “Crowder” Crowder will have to redeem themselves at this year’s World Championship.
But one of the biggest shames is the loss of young talent. Breakout talent on G2, Rasim “Blazt” Ogresevic and Jacob “Decemate” Cato, find themselves amateurs once again. The young phenom Preston “Priestahh” Greiner and top prospect McArthur “Cellium” Jovel lose their chance as well.
While some of these players are definitely eyed to be potential substitute players for pro league teams, some aren’t so lucky. It has come out that some veteran players are forced into retirement as a result of these qualifiers.
As the teams are set, the broadcast talent officially announced the two divisions for the pro league. Starting on Feb. 4, two divisions of eight teams will battle it out until Jul. 5. The format is set as a double round-robin in each division. However, there will be cross-divisional play in the form of a single round-robin.
Already, talent and fans are looking at division A to yield the biggest games. However, if this week has shown anything, it’s that this year is going to be full of upsets. With a lot of matches coming up and the opportunity for huge rostermanias, this year is going to be one for the history books.
The Call of Duty year is kicking off strong, and the action resumes very soon. Keep up to date with CWL Pro League results, breakdowns, and everything else right here on Daily Esports.
Competitive Call of Duty player and Rainbow Six Siege fanatic that sometimes writes about his opinion about video games. Based in Toronto but raised in Asia. When I’m not traveling to events, I’m probably streaming, editing, or doing too much at once.