ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Maintaining momentum from Call of Duty World League London, 100 Thieves were crowned back-to-back CWL champions Sunday at Call of Duty World League Anaheim. As the CWL season ramps up before the world championships in August in Los Angeles and the release of the next Call of Duty title -- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare -- here are a few takeaways from the finals:
It pays to practice SND
After winning in London despite losing the majority of their Search and Destroy maps, 100 Thieves returned home with a mission: Practice SND as much as possible before CWL Anaheim.
"At London we had a bad Search and Destroy record," 100 Thieves AR Slayer Kenny "Kenny" Williams said, "so we just worked on that and kept our respawns the same. This event, we had a good SND record. So for us to have that and win London without winning SNDs, it just showed we just needed to work on that to become the superior team."
"Honestly, I thought we were going to go flawless in Search," 100 Thieves player-turned-coach James "Crowder" Crowder added. "There was hours of long talks and arguments and decision-making, just so much that went into that Search and Destroy practice, so for us to come out here and win the majority of Searches, I was just really proud. We put a lot of work into it."
The consecutive titles make 100 Thieves the Call of Duty team to beat as the schedule speeds toward the CWL Finals in Miami on July 19-21 and the CWL Championship on Aug. 14-18 in L.A. Sure, eUnited still have a better overall record in Pro League play, but with back-to-back wins in London and Anaheim, 100 Thieves have proved that they can best any team on the biggest stages.
Regardless of the OpTic-Immortals merger, they're essential to the CoD scene
Call of Duty pros prep for Modern Warfare, franchising
The Call of Duty esports scene will look very different in 2019 with a new game title and a franchised league. The players, like their fans, are excited to see what's next.
When the announcement that OpTic -- along with parent company Infinite Esports and Entertainment -- was acquired by Immortals, many questions were raised as to what would happen to the OpTic brand.
Those questions might not yet be answered, but after CWL Anaheim, it's clear that OpTic remains synonymous with Call of Duty.
"Clearly OpTic is a premier Call of Duty brand," Peter Levin, managing director of Griffin Gaming Partners and chairman of the Immortals Gaming Club board of directors, said in the initial news release. "We are excited to work with our partners at Activision Blizzard to ensure that OpTic continues to play that leading role in Call of Duty's future."
Twitch stream viewership was at its peak this weekend whenever OpTic Gaming graced the CWL Anaheim stage. The crowd was never more into any of the matches than when OpTic made a near run through the losers' bracket to face 100 Thieves in the finals, and the drop-off when Gen.G upset OpTic in the losers' finals was steep.
OpTic means a lot to the Call of Duty scene, and that was proved once again at CWL Anaheim. All eyes in the CoD community will be on Levin and IGC as they decide what to do with the OpTic brand going forward.
Franchising is coming...
The first five franchises for CWL were announced after Activision-Blizzard's first-quarter earnings call in May. They include Overactive Media, Atlanta Esports Ventures, Envy Gaming Inc., c0ntact Gaming LLC and Sterling.VC. All five of these organizations also own teams in Blizzard's Overwatch League, which is in its second year. At CWL Anaheim, pro players weighed in on what they think of franchising entering a scene that has grown fairly organically for more than a decade.
"I think it's going to bring more of the fan bases, probably, since Overwatch already kicked off and did their franchising," Splyce SMG player Daniel "Loony" Loza said. "You already have those city bases, you already have those fans already, so if you represent a city that Overwatch has, those fans might jump over and start cheering for CoD too. I'm just hoping for a broader audience and more people to come watch."
Overactive Media, which owns Splyce, also owns the Overwatch League's Toronto Defiant. Their Call of Duty World League team also will call Toronto their home city.
Other players said that it will bring more structure and professionalism that goes beyond what the current Call of Duty World League already has.
"I started playing in 2008, 2009. We were playing for a few hundred dollars at a time," Evil Geniuses AR player Jordan "JKap" Kaplan said. "We've come a long way in these 10 years. Franchising will hopefully bring a lot more structure, hopefully make it a more professional format. Right now it's getting professional in the past few years, but there's still steps to be taken. It will be more like an actual, professional sports league. As a lifelong sports fan, that's something I kind of look forward to."
... and so is Modern Warfare
At the Electronic Entertainment Expo last week, Activision and publisher Infinity Ward released a few more trailers of the upcoming Modern Warfare game that will be released in October. Call of Duty esports is unique in that it has one major meta change a year: the release of the latest Call of Duty game.
The adjustment is frequently difficult, and there have been teams in the past defeated by meta shifts that accompany the new game.
As for what Modern Warfare will have in store for pros, they've been kept mostly in the dark.
"I'm happy campaign is back; I think it's going to bring in a lot of core supporters back to Call of Duty," Evil Geniuses flex player Dylan "Attach" Price said. "That, in the end, can help competitive grow a little bit. Some good maps for competitive, good game modes and stuff, because it's going to be huge, especially next year. So I want as many people to enjoy the game as they can next year because Call of Duty has released some average games, so I'm really hoping this is one of the great games they release."