Last week, we had the good fortune of bringing Esports News UK to Orlando, Florida for the Call of Duty World League Championship.
Jacob Hale looks back on the event in this behind-the-scenes account.
The trip began on Thursday August 10th, the second and final day of group play for the biggest event on the Call of Duty calendar. As I landed late on Thursday I had to wait until the following morning to see the arena in its full beauty, but it was worth the wait.
The event took place in the Amway Center, home of NBA team the Orlando Magic.
The first day of bracket play saw four UK teams still in the competition: Fnatic, Team Infused, Splyce and Epsilon. Though I was disappointed not to see more UK teams perform at this level, there was just enough to quench my patriotic thirst.
Unfortunately, the opening day of bracket play saw an unlucky draw for Fnatic, who drew a fiery Allegiance squad in the Winner’s Bracket and were then promptly disposed of by Luminosity Gaming.
This meant an early exit and a disappointing end to the Infinite Warfare season for Tommey, SunnyB and twins Skrapz and Wuskin.
100 to 0 real quick, all ifs and buts. Horrible feeing. Feel sick to the bone man get me home.
All the best to the rest of the teams ????
— Skrapz (@skrapzg) August 11, 2017
Going in to the second day of bracket play, with three UK teams remaining, the competition was heating up.
This meant, though, that the UK teams were at even higher risk of being eliminated, especially with Epsilon already in the Loser’s Bracket following their first round loss to eventual runners up Team EnVyUs.
Nonetheless, I got to see some incredible Call of Duty being played across the board, including two Splyce matches against eventual champions OpTic as well as Epsilon, which are both contenders for best series of the event.
Due once again to unfortunate bracket draws, the end of the day signalled the end of the tournament for the remaining UK teams, with Splyce knocking out Epsilon and Luminosity once again destroying the hopes of British fans with their wins over Team Infused and Splyce.
On Championship Sunday, with no UK teams remaining, I found I had much more spare time to explore the venue and what was on offer outside of the competition. The most tempting option was the Call of Duty: World War II booth, where spectators were allowed to go and play the upcoming Call of Duty 6v6.
Sadly, this was not available on Sunday so I didn’t get the opportunity to play, but I only heard good things from spectators and players alike, all of whom seem greatly excited for its release in November.
There were a number of other vendors and attractions to keep spectators entertained in their downtime, including G Fuel, SCUF, MLG merchandise, BenQ, DX Racer and PSVR. Each booth was constantly packed with people trying to make purchases, find out more about the brands their favourite players have come to love and pick up event-exclusive deals.
This represents a huge opportunity for endemic brands that are looking to gain more customers across different esports, with the venue becoming a one-stop shop for everything an aspiring esport player needs.
Sunday was home to the Winner’s Bracket semi-final, Loser’s Bracket semi-final, Loser’s Bracket final and, of course, the Grand Final (in that order).
From around 11.30am EDT onwards (around the time the Winner’s Bracket final started) I was stuck in my seat in the arena, intently watching Call of Duty, waiting to see who would could win the tournament out of OpTic, EnVy and Luminosity.
Luminosity had stormed through the Loser’s Bracket (taking out basically half of the UK on their journey) from the very first round, and were set to meet OpTic Gaming following the Greenwall’s loss to 2016 champions Team EnVyUs.
OpTic took an easy 3-0 sweep to meet EnVy in the Grand Final, with OpTic having to win two best of five series’ to win the tournament and go home $600,000 richer.
OpTic came through and won both series’ with a 3-1, 3-0 score line, finally cementing themselves as the best team in the history of Call of Duty esports after a two-year-long struggle to claim that title.
Here are the final placements of each UK team that attended:
Team Infused: 9-12th
Red Reserve: 17-24th
eRa Eternity: 25-32nd
Overall, the experience was incredible, not least to see the UK teams in action, but to see and interact with the world’s very best players, casters, journalists, hosts and more for an entire weekend.
It was an absolute pleasure to represent Esports News UK at the Call of Duty World League Championship, and is something I will forever cherish.
Giving UK esports a platform in which to be represented has always been at the forefront of our intentions, and speaking to others about how we work purely for that, I am sure, opened a few eyes.
P.S. I want to give a special shoutout to some the UK casters at Champs this year who left the audience with some rather memorable moments.