The long wait from CWL Las Vegas is finally over, and CWL Fort Worth has so far not disappointed. The first day of the second major Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 tournament saw its more than fair share of upsets and surprises. Some will attribute this to the new meta of the game, but overall this is a truly stacked bracket.
At the beginning of Black Ops 4, OpTic Gaming dominated with its aggressive style and innovative strategies. It helped they had possibly the best roster and best player, Brandon “Dashy” Otell, but they were ahead of the curve in terms of strategy. No team could match them because it was like they were playing a different game entirely. OpTic won CWL Las Vegas handily, but the chickens have come home to roost, and the rest of the teams have caught up.
There was little question on which pool was the most difficult. Pool D features three teams that could win the event: OpTic, eUnited, and Team Envy. It also features a wildcard squad in Team Reciprocity, who are just coming off a roster change. Through the first day, the “pool of the death” has remained Pool D.
The real surprise here comes from Team Reciprocity, who could have easily beat OpTic 3-0 but settled for the 3-2. Reciprocity finished off its day with a nail-biting game 5, round 11 3-2 victory over Team Envy, who also had a solid day. The current standings are Team Reciprocity in the first seed and Envy with the second seed.
THE GROUP OF DEATH WINNERS!!!
We will advance to the Championship Winners Bracket vs @Enigma6Group Tomorrow!
Thanks for the Great Support Today! pic.twitter.com/Tx7LZnDsh5
— Team Reciprocity (@TeamReciprocity) March 16, 2019
If you asked someone before the weekend who they thought would be the one and two seeds of Pool D, they would say OpTic and eUnited. Two of the top teams in the CWL seemed to be crushing online before the event and looked ready to compete. Yet come Fort Worth, and they look absolutely frazzled. It wasn’t that they were just losing, but losing badly. Of course OpTic 3-0ed eUnited, but overall OpTic has looked like the stronger team between the two. Maybe it’s the dysfunctional roster change period that’s causing issues for eUnited, or they’re simply getting beat. Either way, two 3-0 losses puts them in the losers bracket, and they have a long journey to the finals ahead of them, as does OpTic.
It seems as though the addition of Martin “Chino” Chino is working out for E6. They are 2-1 in pools and sitting at the number two spot in Pool B, ahead of 100 Thieves. Enigma 6 clearly seems like it is more well-rounded as a team at Fort Worth than it did at the Pro League. Chino does help them, but overall they’re clicking, especially in respawns.
If there was one team that no one saw making it out of pools, it would be Denial. At the Pro League, the French squad looked vastly outmatched against every team they faced. Each game mode seemed like a rough going, and even after that performance, they stuck with their roster. Props to them, because it is paying dividends at Fort Worth. They currently sit at 2-1 and are the number two seed in Pool A, behind Gen.G. However, it will be very interesting to see how they play against better competition in bracket play.
The team that every Twitch chatter wants to see perform well has dropped off significantly this weekend. Team Heretics garnered quite the following at the Pro League, where they finished 5-2 in Division B. After a pre-LAN with Optic, Splyce, and 100 Thieves, it seemed like they had everything they needed to take the next step into bracket play. Obviously, this is not the case, as they are currently 0-3 and only managed to win three maps. Losing to both UYU and Denial is a tough pill to swallow, but Heretics will attempt the mother of all loser bracket runs on day two.
Possibly the most controversial topic to come out of the Call of Duty community in some time stems from these two organizations. In case you missed it, both Midnight and Excelerate dropped almost their entire rosters due to contractual and legal issues before Fort Worth. They opted to sign new players a week before the event, and that decision is proving to be disastrous.
Midnight had possibly the best roster in Black Ops 4 at the Pro League. The young phenoms that made up the team were annihilating teams like OpTic and Luminosity off the main stage. Then the roster change period happened and it all went south. The team is now composed of savvy veterans who are great players on their own, but they don’t mesh well together. Granted, they only had a week and a half of practice, but they have not played well this event. Midnight is 0-3 with only two map wins to its name and sits behind Excelerate Gaming, who are 1-2 in Pool C.
— Excelerate Gaming (@ExcelerateGG) March 16, 2019
Few teams have performed like they were supposed to perform this weekend. Splyce came into Fort Worth one of the favorites, with a high caliber roster, and now they look to be the favorite. A 3-0 Friday will earn them a top seed in bracket play on Saturday, where they’ll look to continue their hot streak. While their record could be inflated due to playing the likes of Midnight and Excelerate, they have looked dominant nonetheless.
Gen.G, on the other hand, came into this event under some cloudy circumstances. However, after a dominating 3-0 showing, those clouds have all but dissipated. The sudden release of Mike “Spacely” Schmale sent shockwaves across the CWL, but it doesn’t seem to matter for Gen.G. The newly picked up Dylan “Envoy” Hannon is meshing terrifically with the rest of the roster.
However, much of the success of Gen.G can be attributed to Mike “MajorManiak” Szymaniak. The former Search and Destroy star has found his footing in the CWL this year, proving he is a top Assault Rifle player. If he and the rest of the Gen.G squad continue to dominate, a finals appearance is very likely.
Make sure to stay tuned to Daily Esports for all your future CWL Fort Worth and Call of Duty 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.