Mike Stubbs, December 15, 2016

What to expect from Call of Duty at MLG Vegas

MLG Las Vegas is finally upon us and that also means the start of the new Call of Duty World League season. With Infinite Warfare out for over a month at this point, the pros have pretty much figured everything out, meaning the time is right for a new year of high action competition, and what better way to start it than a massive MLG event in Vegas?

$100,000 is up for grabs, along with those all important CWL Pro Points. This has not only attracted the top teams from North America, most of whom have been placed into the group stage, but also amateur players from all over the US, who must fight it out in the perilous open bracket along with a few of Europe’s best.

With over 160 teams in the open bracket you can probably expect a few of the big names that are in there to drop out early, especially those that have had to travel across the pond. We could even see an open bracket team win the whole thing, as this is the first major event of the year and there could be new tactics that the big boys aren’t aware of yet.

Team EnVyUs win the 2016 COD World Championship

You can also expect to see a few weird games of Hardpoint thanks to the new patch that launched earlier in the week. This was mostly full of bug fixes and making sure the correct competitive systems were in place for the MLG event, but the big gameplay change was to a few of the Hardpoint positions and spawns. This may mean we see a few dodgy rotations throughout the weekend.

Due to the nature of the open bracket competition it is almost impossible to give a rundown of all the teams that could potentially do well in Vegas, and chances are you probably wouldn’t want to read a 1,000,000-word essay about them all anyway. But what we can do is take a look at a mix of teams from the group stage and a few of the teams expected to do well in the open bracket, and rate their chances.

Team EnVyUs

John, Jkap, Slasher, Apathy

What better way to start than the current world champions? EnVyUs dominated COD Champs just a few months ago, with JKap establishing himself as one of the greatest of all time by winning his second world championship in as many years. The team unsurprisingly stuck together after their impressive run and are now looking to be at the top of the IW scene. With only minor gameplay changes compared to Black Ops 3, there is no reason why they can’t carry that success into this year’s title, but unlike some of their rivals they are yet to play at a major event and could come in a little rusty.

Splyce

Madcat, Joshh, Bance, Jurd

If we are starting with EnVyUs then we really have to follow up with the only European team to have ever made it to the final of COD Champs. The only problem is that this is not the same roster that surprised the world back in September. Joshh and Bance remained on the team and brought in both Jurd and Madcat who played with Millennium last year. Millennium were considered the best team in Europe prior to Champs, so this really is a dream team. They are yet to play an event in IW and have to come through the open bracket, but it would certainly be a surprise for this new EU super team to fall early on.

FaZe Clan

Clayster, Zooma, Enable, Attach

FaZe are a fan favourite but that doesn’t mean they are assured victory at MLG. A tough group draw sees them placed in Group A alongside EnVyUs and GosuCrew who have been making waves in the online scene. However, FaZe are coming in off the back of a win at the PlayStation Experience Invitational tournament and they looked very strong. Sure, the field wasn’t as strong as MLG, but they beat some of the top teams and mostly did it with ease. We know the squad is made up of top players and they finally seem to have found some form, so this could finally be FaZe’s year.

Evil Geniuses

Nagafen, Havok, NAMELESS, Studyy

Many have said that Evil Geniuses have won the offseason roster shuffle. With the organization re-entering the COD scene after a hiatus they have snagged a team full of experience, and one that has the potential to do great things. Anyone who has watched competitive COD before should know at least one of the names on this team, and arguably the star of the show in Nagafen who some people thought was the MVP of Champs this year, leading eLevate to third place. They do have to come through the open bracket, but providing they don’t choke, as they did at the PSX Invitational, they should make it through.

OpTic Gaming

Karma, Crimsix, Scump, Formal

The green wall is back in action with the same roster that it had for Blops 3 and is looking to make amends for their poor showing in LA at Champs. Easily the biggest name in Call of Duty history, this year’s OpTic squad looks as good as ever, and probably goes into the CWL season as the favorite yet again. Scump is coming off the back of winning console player of the year at The eSports Industry Awards and is riding high on confidence that seems to have spread to his team. But this is OpTic and they have been known to put in a bad performance at large events.

Cloud9

Assault, Ricky, Aches, Lacefield

To many of the more casual COD fans, this Cloud9 roster is probably better known as the team that knocked OpTic out of Champs and then got massively booed by the crowd. But they are actually much more than that. They proved at Champs that they can hang with the big boys and come into IW unchanged. They also have the luxury of being in one of the less stacked groups alongside Team Kaliber and Echo Fox, two teams that could do well but would be more of a surprise than most, although that may be a little harsh on Kaliber. Barring any major surprises you can expect C9 to top their group and potentially go on a decent run.

Rise Nation

Loony, Aqua, Faccento, Felony

The new Rise Nation squad features three of the four members of eLevate who finished third at champs alongside Loony who finished 5th/6th on Rise Nation. EG may have got the best of the free agents but Rise Nation have come out with one of the strongest teams. Unfortunately for Rise they are in the same group as OpTic, which will be one hell of a group stage match up, meaning they could be in for a bad run if that match doesn't go their way. However counting them out because of that is foolish, they are a real contender for the MLG Vegas Crown, especially after making top four at the PSX Invitational.

Orbit

Rated, Joe, Urban, Zer0

Orbit features two of the former Splyce roster that made it to the final of Champs in the form of Rated and Joe, alongside two other strong UK players, Urban and Zer0. With a spot in the open bracket, Orbit probably wouldn’t have been included in this list if it wasn’t for their impressive performance at the PSX Invitational, where they placed second and looked solid throughout. It’s not the best judge as the field wasn’t as strong as MLG and they didn’t have to fight through a tough open bracket, but if they do make it through to groups expect them to push the US teams to their limits.

Mike Stubbs

Mike is a UK esports writer who writes for MCV, Red Bull, VICE, PC Gamer and many others.