At long last, the dawn of the two biggest Call of Duty events of the year descends. Rise Nation may be the back-to-back Call of Duty World League Open champions, but their struggles of late show promise for their competition. The biggest event of the year at this point, CWL Stage 2 Playoffs, begins today, Friday, July 27th, at 4:00 PM EDT.
Match 1: #1A Red Reserve vs. #4B Rise Nation – Anaheim Grand Final Rematch
Number one squad in Europe, number one squad in a loaded Division A. Red has been chasing down their first elusive victory over the course of the WWII season. Early in the year, they made an impressive losers bracket run at CWL Atlanta, only to come up short to Rise Nation in the grand final. Several events and one roster change later, at CWL Anaheim, they once again found themselves pitted against Rise Nation in the grand final. Once again, they let the championship slip through their fingers. Of all the teams without a championship this year, however, Red looks poised to be the most dangerous contender by a large margin at Stage 2 Playoffs and the Call of Duty Championship in August.
The back-to-back champions of the two most recent events of the Call of Duty WWII season, Rise Nation was the heavy favorite for the number one spot in Division B of CWL Stage 2. However, Rise was plagued with defeat after defeat, claiming only 3 victories over the bottom 3 teams in the division. They remained somewhat composed in Search and Destroy, but could not seem to piece together their Hardpoint or Capture the Flag maps. Although they are the fourth seed from Division B, many still consider them a championship-caliber team capable of taking home the trophies for Stage 2 Playoffs and the CWL Championship in August.
Match 2: #2B eUnited vs. #3A Echo Fox – Fire vs. Fire
Closing out Division B with the highest map count and win percentage, eUnited fell just short of the #1 seed after losing a tiebreaker to solve a three-way tie for first with OpTic Gaming and UNILAD. Many fans lost faith in eUnited after poor performances at open events, most notably CWL Anaheim, where they finished T13-16. However, they came back with a vengeance, losing only one match in two weeks of season play. Their only loss was to OpTic. eUnited put up very solid performances in every match, dominating Hardpoint and Capture the Flag. Proving to be the hottest team out of Division B, eUnited makes a strong case to be a championship-caliber team.
Likewise to eUnited, Echo Fox made the hottest run of Division A, finishing with an equally impressive 6-1 record over their last two weeks of play. After a slow start in their first two weeks and a disappointing finish at CWL Anaheim, Echo Fox came out in the league with fury, winning six straight matches, with a notable victory in the form of a reverse sweep over Red Reserve. Echo Fox finally fell in their last match to a desperate FaZe team on a last-ditch effort to make it to playoffs. Although Echo Fox made a terrific run, they showed weakness in Hardpoint, eUnited’s best game mode. If Echo Fox wants to make a deep run in Stage 2 Playoffs, they need to step up their game.
Match 3: #2A Team Kaliber vs. #3B UNILAD – Dark Horse Match
After winning the first two events of the year, Team Kaliber seemed to slow nearly to a stop. They struggled to find the same level of success throughout the rest of the season. However, Stage 2 proved Team Kaliber to be capable of remaining in the conversation of the best teams in the game. In the first matches of Stage 2, Team Kaliber proved to be a strong team with one major weakness: Search and Destroy. Even with the Search detriment, Team Kaliber still finished their first two weeks of the league with a record of 4-3. Once they returned to play their last two weeks worth of matches, their Search and Destroy looked polished. Team Kaliber finished with a solid 10-4 record and a formidable presence across all game modes.
For the first half of the season, UNILAD found success due to their star player, Skrapz. Halfway through the season, Skrapz left for a spot on Red Reserve. With new pickups Zed and Alexx, jaws dropped after UNILAD made their first appearance in Stage 2. Although they lost their first two matches, the losses were to Rise Nation and OpTic Gaming, arguably the two juggernauts of the division. UNILAD tore through the rest of the division, winning five straight matches to close out their first two weeks. Their momentum continued into the next two weeks of the division, where they once again went 5-2, tying for first place with OpTic and eUnited. They may technically be the third seed of Division B, but they have proven to be capable of beating the best.
Match 4: #1B OpTic Gaming vs. #4A FaZe Clan – Stage 1 Grand Final Rematch
It seems like only last week when OpTic won the 2017 Call of Duty Championship, cementing their dynasty. It seems like only yesterday when OpTic lost back-to-back best of 5 series to FaZe in the Stage 1 Playoffs Grand Final, ending the dynasty for good. With an organization like OpTic, however, people knew they would bounce back. Picking up WW2 standouts Methodz and Octane, OpTic exerted dominance over Division B. Although they did lose four matches, they also beat every team in the division at least once, something no other team did. In respawn game modes, OpTic eats other teams alive. Their only weakness seems to be Search and Destroy but they are the best at the other two game modes.
Beginning the year in the open bracket at CWL Dallas, FaZe somehow made a run to fourth place. Following underwhelming performances at subsequent events, FaZe overcame OpTic in the Grand Final of Stage 1 Playoffs. At long last, FaZe was back…until the next event. Less than a month later, FaZe finished T12 at CWL Seattle. People thought maybe the event was a fluke, thinking FaZe would pick it up in Stage 2. However, FaZe started 3-4, showing little signs of life. Luckily, in their last two weeks, FaZe made a ridiculous run to barely edge out Evil Geniuses for the 4th seed in Stage 2 playoffs. It would be ignorant to say FaZe stands no chance against OpTic, but equally ignorant to believe they should be favored to win the rematch.