Feb 12 2017 - 11:20 pm

Octane reflects on CWL Atlanta

Octane looks back on CWL Atlanta as a whole, following Luminosity's fourth place finish.
Image via James Mattone
Managing Editor

Earlier today, Luminosity Gaming concluded their tournament run at CWL Atlanta with a fourth place finish, losing a highly-contested 3-2 series against OpTic Gaming in the seventh round of the losers bracket.

The roster consisting of Sam "Octane" Larew, Nicholas "Classic" DiCostanzo, Josiah "Slacked" Berry and Renato "Saints" Forza put on quite a performance over the weekend, starting with their 4-0 perfect record in pool play.

Octane reflected on this entire tournament as a whole, starting with what he thought contributed to his team’s strong showing in the group stage.

“We actually didn’t lose an SnD in pool play,” Octane said. “Our respawn was good, our SnD was good, and we were 4-0, so we had a huge momentum swing in our favor. We hit bracket play, beat Rise and had all of the momentum going into today.”

As Octane said, Luminosity went on to defeat Rise Nation, the defending champions, in the first round of the championship bracket. Octane, Classic and Slacked all went up against former teammate Daniel "Loony" Loza, the captain of Rise, as Luminosity earned the 3-1 series win.

Earlier this weekend, Slacked told us that he thinks one of the biggest adjustments his team had to make was playing Search and Destroy without Loony. Slacked added that he thinks his team also improved their small talk, and as a result, improved their SnD gameplay. When talking to Octane, he immediately agreed with Slacked on both of these points.

“100 percent; I agree with that,” Octane said. “Danny was really the in-game leader when it came to our SnD. But, with Nato’s presence, he’s a little bit more gunskill-heavy, so we have to direct him on where to go. We’ve all taken over that leadership position, especially at this event, where our small-talk has really improved. When we had Danny on our team, we all listened to him, but now it’s like an overall team input, with three or four guys saying what they think, so I think that has produced a lot better results.”

After defeating Rise on Saturday, Luminosity began Championship Sunday with a showdown against Team EnVyus. It was an extremely close series, but EnVyUs emerged victorious with a 3-1 series win. Luminosity was sent down to the losers bracket, where they defeated Team Infused 3-0 before falling 3-2 against OpTic.

Despite earning a fourth place finish, Octane was very direct when giving his thoughts on this event as a whole. “Our overall placing looks good on paper, but is bad personally,” Octane said.

On the other hand, for most North American teams, including Luminosity, this was their first event since the OSA and Synaptic (aka Skinny Bot) combat rig were banned. Comparing the old meta to the new one, Octane definitely said that he enjoys playing his style more with both of those items removed from competitive play.

“In the OSA and Skinny Bot meta, I actually had to switch to using the OSA because the NV4 was essentially useless,” Octane said. “So now, a lot of teams use three or four KBARs, which I really do prefer since I like to play a little bit more slow. It’s more of a 1v1 battle like it used to be in Black Ops III. I like [the new meta] because it allows me to post up more and people aren’t constantly in my face at all times with [the OSA].”

Looking ahead to the CWL Paris Open next weekend, Luminosity will not have their set roster, as Casey “Pandur” Romano will be standing-in for Saints. Octane used to play with Pandur a while back, so this isn’t completely uncharted territory for him; and he is definitely looking forward to playing with old friend once again.

“I really don’t have any expectations, and that’s the truth,” Octane said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen at ESWC, but I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t played with Casey in a long time, so I’m going to enjoy it, regardless of the placing that we get, which is what I care about. We got a top-four placing here, which is really good for us pro point-wise for the League later this year, so as long as we do well and don’t get completely destroyed early at ESWC, we should be in a good spot.”

Overall, Luminosity truly had a great performance in Atlanta; although Octane might not be personally satisfied with the result, his fourth place finish helped Luminosity earn a good chunk of pro points, which will be crucial down the road. Luminosity has noticeably improved since Vegas, and if they continue on this upward trend - leaving Paris as an outlier - this squad could see continued success throughout the rest of 2017.

What were your thoughts on Luminosity's performance at this event? Let us know by tweeting us @GAMURScom.

Justin Binkowski is the Managing Editor for GAMURS and he can be contacted by email at justin.b@gamurs.com or on Twitter @JBinkk.

Feb 18 2017 - 10:36 pm

What's wrong with Cloud9?

What has caused Cloud9's drop in performance over the past two weekends?
Image via CWL
Managing Editor

In the wake of their second place finish at CWL Las Vegas in December, many people, including myself, set high expectations for Cloud9 entering the rest of the Call of Duty®: Infinite Warfare season. After consecutive top-20 finishes over the past two weekends, however, several people are left asking: what’s wrong with Cloud9?

Following Evil Geniuses’ reverse sweep of Enigma6 earlier today, the lineup consisting of Patrick "ACHES" Price, Andres "Lacefield" Lacefield, Adam "Assault" Garcia and Richard "Ricky" Stacy will retain their top-nine ranking in the pro point standings, despite their poor performances as of late. Still, back-to-back top-20 finishes at CWL Atlanta and CWL Paris have left the Call of Duty community completely perplexed in terms of where the Cloud9 from Vegas has gone.

One of the most obvious potential reasons why Cloud9 has struggled at the past two events could be the shift in the current Call of Duty meta. Cloud9 was successful in Vegas when the OSA and Synaptic (aka Skinny Bot) combat rig were playable, but they have struggled since those two items were removed from competitive play. In my eyes, however, I don’t think this can be solely to blame.

Call of Duty professionals are some of the most skilled esports players in the world, in terms of having to adjust and adapt to changes. No other esport has a one-year lifespan before switching to a different title; even though it’s still Call of Duty, the same game is only played for a maximum of 12 months. Thus, professional Call of Duty players are constantly playing different versions of a game, each with unique aspects, such as weapons, maps, movement systems and more.

With that in mind, it doesn’t make sense to strictly blame C9’s struggles on a change in the meta; if these players can adapt to different Call of Duty titles on a yearly basis and still compete at the top level, then they should certainly be able to adjust to in-game tweaks throughout that game’s lifespan. While some players might be better with some weapons, in this case the OSA, that gun’s removal from competitive play can’t solely be the reason for a team to go from the grand finals at one event to consecutive top-20 performances.

Aside from these in-game changes, I personally believe that Cloud9 is just not playing well as a team. Some people might say that this is an extremely vague point, but when a team goes 1-8 in best-of-five series over two weekends, that’s generally an indication of poor play. It’s difficult for me to condone blaming a gun or a specialist character for a team’s inability to win more than one series in two events.

When we dissect the numbers even further, we can see that one of the main reasons for Cloud9’s recent struggles is their inability to win Search and Destroy maps. In Vegas, Search and Destroy was C9’s “bread and butter”; C9 was able to progress so far in that tournament because they were able to clutch up in game fives, aside from their series against Team Kaliber and Rise Nation (in the grand finals). The old adage of “Search and Destroy wins championships” was proven to be right once again, but in this case, Rise Nation was just the better Search and Destroy team in Vegas.

In Atlanta, Cloud9 had an overall map count of 5-12. Of those five map victories, only one was in Search and Destroy. Cloud9 was swept by Elevate and Team 3G, lost 3-1 to Luminosity Gaming - only winning game one Retaliation Hardpoint - then they swept Imperial, but lost 3-1 to The Gosu Crew Blue, against whom they also only won the first map.

Thus, Cloud9 won three Hardpoints, one Search and Destroy and one Uplink en route to a top-20 placing in Atlanta. Looking at the numbers even more closely, C9 ended their time at the Georgia World Congress Center with a 1-4 record in Search and Destroy.

Unfortunately for Cloud9, this trend continued this weekend at the CWL Paris Open. Cloud9 did not win a single series at this event, going 0-4 with a map count of 4-12. Continuing on the aforementioned topic, Cloud9 did not win a single Search and Destroy map at this event either. C9’s four map victories included two Hardpoint wins and two Uplink victories.

Cloud9 shockingly lost 3-1 against Fnatic to begin their tournament run, only winning the Uplink. This was followed by a 3-2 series loss against Elevate, in which Cloud9 won games three and four, but lost both SnDs. Then, C9 ended pool play with a 0-3 record after Enigma6 defeated them 3-1, with Cloud9 winning the initial Hardpoint in that series. Finally, the loss that in my opinion shows how out-of-form Cloud9 is currently, was when SetToDestroyX swept C9 to eliminate them from Paris.

With that loss to StDx, Cloud9’s time in Paris came to a close with a 0-5 record in Search and Destroy, bringing their combined SnD record in Atlanta and Paris to an abysmal total of 1-9; scarily similar to their overall series record for the last two events. For a team who played so well in Search and Destroy at Vegas, this has to be considered the main reason why they have seen a drop in performance over the past two weeks.

Cloud9 did not play up to their potential over the past two events; there’s no other way to say that. But, in my opinion, this team has the right combination of veteran leadership and talent to bounce back from these subpar performances. If anything, ACHES and company should use these past two events as a wake-up call to motivate them even more heading into CWL Dallas next month.

Most Cloud9 fans will probably be worried about this team moving forward, however, I don’t think there is any reason why they still won’t qualify for the CWL come April. Barring a crazy losers bracket run by Evil Geniuses to win the event tomorrow, Cloud9 should still be in seventh place on the pro point standings. So, as long as they keep grinding scrims and GameBattles matches, fix their Search and Destroy issues and earn some good placings in the online 2K tournaments, ACHES and company should definitely be able to bounce back to their Vegas form over the next few weeks.

What do you think Cloud9 needs to work on in preparation for CWL Dallas? Let us know by tweeting us @GAMURScom.

Justin Binkowski is the Managing Editor for GAMURS and he can be contacted by email at justin.b@gamurs.com or on Twitter @JBinkk.

Feb 21 2017 - 9:27 pm

Three major takeaways from CWL Atlanta and Paris

After back-to-back tournaments, it's time to reflect on what we have learned in the Call of Duty esports scene.
Photo via James Mattone

Now that the Call of Duty season is in full swing, it's time to look back on the last two weeks and reflect on what we have learned coming out of CWL Atlanta and Paris.

#1: OpTic is back

Once a dominating force that nearly no team on the planet could stop, OpTic Gaming fell behind the curve early in the Infinite Warfare season as they finished tied for 5th at CWL Las Vegas.

To many teams, a fifth place finish would not be bad in the slightest, but the expectations that the fans and the players themselves had put on OG made their Las Vegas performance a shocking disappointment.

Following Vegas, OpTic continued struggling online in the weekly MLG 2K tournaments, but that seemed to push the foursome even harder to compete as they seemed to improve every week in their performances. This culminated by taking the final 2K before heading to Atlanta for the CWL Open.

In Atlanta, OpTic ran through pool play competition and completed a historic losers bracket run, winning five matches in the lower part of the bracket to reach the grand final, defeating the likes of Team EnVyUs and FaZe Clan along the way. In the grand finals, OpTic failed to win the second best-of-5 series to capture another title, losing 3-2 to eUnited.

Despite the loss, OpTic proved that they were a force to be reckoned with in Call of Duty once again. They backed that up by dominating the competition this past weekend at the CWL Paris Open, winning the tournament without dropping a single series, proving that OpTic Gaming is indeed back.

#2: eUnited's players are not just online warriors

Before CWL Atlanta, eUnited was seen as a team that could only perform online because they had won two MLG 2K tournaments heading into Atlanta, but had not been to a LAN with the current roster. Despite that inexperience and doubt from fans and fellow players, eUnited proved without a shadow of a doubt that they can replicate their online play to offline as they won the CWL Atlanta Open, only dropping one series the entire weekend. Their star player, Pierce "Gunless" Hillman, was also named tournament MVP after posting a 1.10 K/D over 35 games. eUnited did have the luxury of playing in pool play in Atlanta, but they did not have the same treatment at CWL Paris, being forced to play through the best-of-3 open bracket, where they lost to Luminosity Gaming and Splyce, finishing tied for 13th. The result is surely disappointing for the team coming off an incredible championship run at Atlanta, but being forced through open bracket against 50+ teams would difficult for any team, let alone a team that has a giant target on their backs after winning a major tournament.

#3: Cloud9 is not in a good place

After finishing second at CWL Las Vegas, Cloud9 was feeling high and mighty with momentum and confidence clearly on their side. That led to veteran Patrick "ACHES" Price calling out the European teams, saying that they have and always will be below the top North American teams so they should not have preferential treatment when it comes to seeding in major tournaments. This obviously angered the EU players and constant shots were taken back and forth at each others' expense for months. The talk continued into CWL Atlanta, where Cloud9 was grouped with two European teams, Team 3G and Elevate. The teams were not seen as slouches, but nobody would expect what would happen inside their group. C9 immediately lost to Luminosity in their first match of the day and then were swept by Elevate in their very next series. Their slide would continue as they were swept again, this time by 3G. C9 finished fourth in their five-team group, only defeating The Imperial.

The talk that ACHES had been dishing out seemed to be continuously getting thrown right back into his face at Atlanta as he was knocked out of the tournament in 17th place, finishing below six European teams.

Unfortunately for Cloud9, it didn't get any better this past weekend either as they headed to France to take part in the CWL Paris Open where they would be grouped with two European teams again, Fnatic and Elevate. This time, C9 could not even win a match in their group as they finished at the bottom with an 0-3 record. They would not be able to do anything in the lower bracket either as they were swept by SetToDestroyX to end their Paris vacation.

Following the event, some expected a change from the roster after being humiliated in back-to-back tournaments, but ACHES assured that no changes would be made and that the momentum just worked against them in the tournaments and they would harder to come back strong.

Can OpTic continue their hot streak? Can eUnited bounce back from a poor Paris showing? Can ACHES and C9 figure out their problems and return to their Las Vegas form? We will find out in less than one month's time at the CWL Dallas Open.

Preston Byers is a contracted writer for GAMURS. For any inquiries, please contact him via Twitter.