The Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 season has officially kicked off with the CWL Las Vegas Open. OpTic Gaming has taken the scene by storm, replicating their dominant online performance on LAN. With a map count of 24 – 5, OpTic Gaming takes home the trophy, $100,000 of prize money, and 25,000 pro points. They qualify for the Pro League next year alongside fellow top-four teams eUnited, Splyce, and Luminosity Gaming.
The OpTic Gaming boys are back in full form. Following the acquisition of young guns Brandon “Dashy” Otell and Thomas “TJHaly” Haly, the team has drastically improved. The core roster of the “Jetpack Dynasty” in Seth “Scump” Abner, Ian “Crimsix” Porter, and Damon “Karma” Barlow looks better than ever.
Despite the team’s monster performance, teams such as eUnited and Splyce had very strong showings. Many can now cement eUnited as a top-two team regarding their consistent performance online and their runner-up placing this event. Splyce was a relatively unknown factor, not making too much noise before the event, but proving that they have what it takes to go head to head with the Green Wall. They would fall to eUnited in losers finals, taking third place.
Group stages of the tournament comprised of four pools with five teams in each. The first three teams in a pool were already decided from last season and a play-in tournament was held to decide the fourth spot. This play-in tournament consisted of the top eight teams, not already qualified. The final fifth spot in a group is decided by the open bracket gauntlet which had over 200 teams participating.
Friday saw strong showings from OpTic Gaming, Luminosity Gaming, eUnited, and Splyce (despite dropping a series to OpTic Gaming). This was expected from OpTic Gaming considering online performances before the event. The Green Wall has gone near flawless in all major online tournaments and were the favorites coming into Las Vegas. As well, eUnited has had consistent gameplay ever since their roster change.
Splyce, described as “a group of leftover stars,” came into the weekend swinging. While they would lose to OpTic Gaming in pools, they took them to close games. Other than that, the Splyce roster looked extremely strong. Luminosity Gaming, while touted to have the strongest and most stacked roster on paper, have not looked as good coming in. They would take games against Red Reserve, UYU, and Heretics, but be upset by Evil Geniuses.
Alongside Evil Geniuses, pool play would see many dark horses rising to the occasion. Teams such as Team Sween, Str8 Rippin, and Lightning Pandas would take top placings in their groups over hard hitters such as FaZe Clan, Team Envy, and 100 Thieves. While these Cinderella teams have strong players, it is fair to say that they performed above expectations. On the other hand, teams with players that have historically done well – such as Red Reserve, G2 Esports, and Team Reciprocity – performed terribly, placing fourth or fifth in their groups.
Vegas has already cemented itself in the history books of Call of Duty esports as one of the most memorable events. Fans would see predicted teams such as OpTic Gaming, eUnited, and Luminosity Gaming in the bracket. But unknown variables such as Str8 Rippin, Team Sween, and Lightning Pandas would have their shot for a run. Finally, Splyce and Evil Geniuses would cement themselves as strong contenders for the season.
One of the biggest storylines is Team Sween’s run all the way to the semi-finals of the winners bracket. Considered to be “Europe’s leftovers,” Team Sween have been an upset team ever since CWL Championships 2018, last season. Comprised of players who have been in the scene for a bit, Sween is full of forgotten talent. Unfortunately, their underdog story would end after falling to Splyce in semis and Luminosity Gaming in round six of losers bracket. However, they have made it on record as being the “farthest an open-bracket team has made a run.”
Lightning Pandas, another supposed “second-tier”” EU team, would look strong but fall to eUnited in round six of losers. Boasting players such as Dylan “MadCat” Daly and David “Dqvee” Davies, Lightning Pandas share a similar story to Team Sween. They have proven to be strong competitors, but not enough for a-tier and s-tier teams.
Some teams, such as Evil Geniuses and Luminosity Gaming, would appear to be running out of gas. Evil Geniuses had a surprisingly strong showing on Friday, but have looked lackluster the following days. Likewise, with Luminosity Gaming, it seemed that they didn’t have the firepower to contend with top teams. Superstar Peirce “Gunless” Hillman would be forced to put the team on his back throughout the weekend. In general, it felt as if these teams had too many players dipping in form at the wrong time.
Fan favourites Str8 Rippin have gotten praise from their strong performances online thus far. They have been able to replicate their gameplay onto LAN. Str8’s story is one of redemption. Past stars such as Colt “Havok” McLendon and Jared “Nagafen” Harrell are starting to rediscover their form. Players who were always on the cusp of breaking into pro-status such as Michael “SpaceLy” Schmale and Chance “Maux” Moncivaez are potentially doing so. The upcoming season looks bright for this ragtag team.
The Call of Duty action doesn’t stop there; the real story continues deeper into the winners bracket and into the grand finals. As the first major offline tournament of the Black Ops 4 season, the outcome of the event will establish who the top dogs of Call of Duty are. CWL Las Vegas Open has become a momentous event for all of Call of Duty; the narrative of the Green Wall’s redemption continued throughout championship Sunday. Continue following the rest of CWL Las Vegas and a breakdown of the grand finals in the second part of this story.
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.