ESTNN's Ashwin Palepu breaks down CWL Anaheim before the event starts on Friday, June 14th.
CWL's final city-based LAN event of the Black Ops 4 season has at last arrived. CWL Anaheim has served as one of Call of Duty’s most entertaining tournaments since its inception over 8 years ago. Its legendary atmosphere is an almost spiritual experience for hardcore Competitive Call of Duty fans. In fact, Anaheim has provided some of the most legendary moments in gaming history. Here’s hoping we get to experience many more this year. Without further ado, let’s preview this year’s pools!
CWL Anaheim Pools
[Ed. Note: due to Denial’s financial issues, their roster will play independent of an organization under the moniker “The Units.” The entertaining name was apparently forced onto them according to team captain Rhys “Rated” Price.]
OpTic Gaming are the obvious favorites to come out of Pool A. Coming off a perfect 7-0 split in Division A of the CWL Pro League, OpTic are one of the true contenders to win the entire tournament. Deciding the second of the four teams that will make it to bracket play is the real challenge. Heretics have struggled to live up to their early promise as of late; they’ve lost 5 of their last 7 Pro League matches. However, they’ve also shown flashes of their potential against top teams (like taking EUnited to a game five).
Meanwhile, both The Units (ex-Denial) and Evil Geniuses have strong veteran leadership that could take them to the winner’s bracket. The Units feature the trio of Rhys “Rated” Price, Ben “Bance” Bance, and Joseph “Joee” Pinnington, who have struggled since their teammates Trei “Zer0” Morris and Matthew “Skrapz” Marshal left them to seek greener pastures with FaZe Clan. However, The Units have demonstrated some recent improvement. They’ve managed to pull off some big wins against Envy and Splyce during their Pro League split.
Evil Geniuses, on the other hand, have Jordan “JKap” Kaplan, Bryan “Apathy” Zhelyazkov, and Dillon “Attach” Price on their roster. All three of those players have World Championships under their belt, and all of them have done so by beating OpTic Gaming along the way, and they will try to find similar magic this weekend. Moreover, they finished their recent split in the Pro League 4-3, posting some respectable results along the way. If they continue their improvement, second place in this pool seems to be a realistic expectation.
Pool B will likely be a 3-team race. EUnited are the heavy favorites to win the pool coming off of their perfect 7-0 Division B split. The addition of Submachine Gun Slayer Chris “Simp” Lehr (who posted the number one respawn K/D in Division B) along with a return-to-form from the frenetic Preston “Prestinni” Sanderson has blessed EUnited with one of the most complete rosters in Call of Duty. Barring a mental slip-up, expect EUnited to be competing for the whole tournament come Championship Sunday.
Team Reciprocity has long dwelled in mediocrity. They finished 5-2 in their Division A split, winning some impressive game fives’s against Evil Geniuses and Gen. G along the way. However, they lost rather handily to OpTic Gaming and FaZe Clan, the division’s elite. Reciprocity seemed to have recovered from the loss of their captain Tom “Tommey” Trewen rather well. Now, they just need to reach their elite talent ceiling before it’s too late.
To do that, however, they will have to combat a surging Team Elevate. After starting incredibly slowly in the Pro League, Elevate turned their play around and are currently in the middle of the Division B pack. Paul "Breszy" Breszynski and Cesar “Skyz” Bueno have been key to their recent success, especially their Search and Destroy success. Elevate may be able to ride this success to a spot in the winner’s bracket. Meanwhile, the team that let Skyz go just a couple of months ago, UYU, has sunk even further to the bottom of the Pro League. They sit only above the troubled Luminosity squad and are longshots to advance from this pool.
Pool C has tons of upset potential. After their roster revamp, FaZe Clan has looked like an elite team. They’ve recently posted the second best record in Division A of the Pro League and have been steadily improving since the team’s formation two months ago. However, there is a lot of talent and experience in this pool.
Their major competition will be Splyce. Splyce has faced some serious chemistry issues since finding early success in this Call of Duty season. After relegating main-Assault Rifle player Lamar “Accuracy” Abedi from their main roster, the team has somewhat steadied the ship. They are hoping that they have enough time with substitute player Nick “Nolson” Nolson after some role-changes to put together a showing at CWL Anaheim worthy of their talent and experience.
Meanwhile, both Midnight and Enigma6 have had mediocre recent Pro League experience. Enigma6 has had more success recently, taking both EUnited and 100 Thieves to a game five. Midnight has had some up and down performances, but with the veteran leadership of Chris “Parasite” Duarte and the streaky play of Andres “Lacefield” Lacefield and Rasim “Blazt” Ogresevic, have the ability to pull off an upset.
FaZe should easily make the winner’s bracket. As for the second spot in this pool, it’s anybody’s guess.
Pool D probably has the largest set of possible outcomes among the Anaheim pools. 100 Thieves sits at the top of Pool A. Champions of the last CWL event, CWL London, and coming off a strong 6-1 Division B Pro League split, 100 Thieves are looking to become the first back-to-back major winners of the Black Ops 4 season.
Meanwhile, Gen. G, Envy, and Luminosity are all immensely talented teams with troubling recent records. Together, they have 3 total victories in the last month of the CWL Pro League. That being said, all three of these teams finished in the top-8 of the last LAN event, CWL London.
Luminosity has had the most troubling recent record of the three. Chemistry has been so bad for the team that they removed their best player and CWL Dallas MVP, Pierce “Gunless” Hillman, from the active roster during their most recent Pro League split. While Gunless will likely be reinstated for CWL Anaheim, it’s unlikely that their chemistry issues have subsided.
Meanwhile, Gen. G have had several struggles closing out maps. Their most recent loss against the worst team in Division A, UYU, came via a reverse sweep. It was this loss that put them in 3rd place in Division A and drew them in Pool D as opposed to Pool C in the first place. Envy, on the other hand, have a streaky past. They finished top-4 in CWL London after advancing all the way from Loser’s Bracket round 1. Nobody knows which Envy team will show up to this event.
The action begins tomorrow! CWL Anaheim begins tomorrow at 2:00 PM PST, 5:00 PM EST, and 10:00 PM BST. Friday’s schedule is available here. You can watch all of the action at www.twitch.tv/callofduty and their affiliated channels. Happy watching!
Image VIA: Call of Duty World League and MLG