Gigabyte Marines: Orchestrated chaos

GIGABYTE Marines (GAM) debuted on the international stage at the League of Legends 2017 Mid-Season Invitational. Their blitzkrieg playstyle and unconventional strategies surprised several major-region teams, earning international recognition overnight. After securing a top-six finish, the Marines dominated their region, the Garena Premier League (GPL), and charged toward Worlds.

The Marines drew into Group B at Worlds 2017, along regional powerhouses: Longzhu Gaming (LZ), Immortals (IMT) and Fnatic (FNC). Their notoriety on the international stage meant teams and analysts could not write them off as another ‘wildcard’ team. After week one of the Worlds Group Stage, GAM sit at third place in their group, with a 1-2 match record. How did GIGABYTE find initial success? And can they surge into week two to capture a spot in quarterfinals?

GIGABYTE Marines evoke chaos style

gigabyte marines

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Heading into their first match at Worlds 2017, questions circled around how GIGABYTE Marines would size up against European powerhouse Fnatic. Determined to make a statement at their Worlds debut, GIGABYTE defied the meta. After locking in an unexpected “Nocturne” for their star jungler, Duy Khanh “Levi” Do, GAM took Fnatic for a spin.

Coming into the game, GAM transitioned their AD-carry and Support topside. Meanwhile, their top-laner Minh Nhut “Archie” Tran sacrificed his early levels to accelerate Levi‘s experience advantage. When Archie showed himself bottom, Fnatic responded appropriately, but fumbled the execution. FNC stacked four members onto Archie‘s Galio in a bottom dive. However, this left GIGABYTE’s duo free to rush the opposing top-outer tower. FNC failed to completely punish the lane-swap. Instead, they returned to their standard lane setup while Levi power-farmed his jungle.

Then, at 5:04, Levi broke a record, being the fastest player in Worlds history to unlock his ultimate. Archie‘s early sacrifice set his jungler up for monumental success. And Levi sprung to action. Not twenty seconds after hitting level six, Levi used his ultimate, “Paranoia” straight down bottom lane. Caught in a massive level mismatch, FNC’s support Jesse “Jesiz” Le dropped while his teammates scrambled to respond. What began as a surprise 2-on-2, became FNC committing four members to the fight. Despite the numbers, Levi secured three kills and GIGABYTE set the pace to ‘chaos’.

After a 24-minute bloodbath, GIGABYTE emerged victorious. The air was electric as casters and fans roared behind the Marines’ explosive win. Not only did GAM dominate their European opponents, they made a definitive statement on the metagame. Levi, in an interview with Worlds host Eefje “Sjokz” Depoortere, promised to bring even more exciting strategies against Longzhu and Immortals.

The Marines hit a brick wall

gigabyte marines

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Heading into day two of the Worlds group stage, GAM sat across from Longzhu Gaming, tournament favorites and Korea’s prize first seed. What unforeseen strategy did the Marines have planned to challenge the Korean powerhouse? GAM head coach Nguyen Duy Thanh “Tinikun” Doung reached deep into his playbook for the upcoming match.

The draft between GAM and LZ began surprisingly safe, until Tinikun made the call to lock in “Mordekaiser” for Archie. GIGABYTE plunge deeper into the rabbit hole, rotating their AD-carry Vu Long “Noway” Nguyen mid-lane and placing their mid-laner Van Cuong “Optimus” Tran topside. Few knew what to expect out of GAM’s questionable composition, but Longzhu had a definitive game-plan coming into the match.

Longzhu invaded as five into GAM’s blue jungle quadrant, warding all possible paths to bottom lane. This gave Longzhu information on GIGABYTE’s lane assignments and a glimpse into the GAM strategy. By pivoting Archie and support Thien Nhan “Nevan” Phuong to the bottom lane, the Marines delivered the duo to their deaths. Longhzu, spotting this weakness, executed a clean four-man dive to secure first blood. After dropping to the early dive, Archie commits a crucial mistake, using his “Teleport” bottom, only to be dove again. This poor call set the GAM top-laner so far behind, he never truly recovered.

With their bottom duo limping through the early-game, step one of GIGABYTE’s grandiose strategy crumbled. Suddenly, the game became a steamroll for Longzhu. Archie was largely ineffective on the “Mordekaiser” pick and GAM struggled to trade objectives effectively during the mid-game. Without the early minutes of the game going according to plan, GIGABYTE Marines fell apart and could not seem to pick up the pieces.

Do the GIGABYTE Marines abandon ship?

gigabyte marines

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

After their crushing defeat at the hands of Longzhu Gaming, GAM look onto their third match against North America’s second seed, Immortals. Questions surrounded the Marines as analysts and teams dissected their previous matches. Without precise early execution, GIGABYTE could not seem to regain control of their game. It was clear. Teams that recognized GAM’s early objectives could capitalize on those weaknesses. No doubt Immortals prepared for GAM’s signature lane-swaps, but would the Marines shift to another strategy instead?

GIGABYTE Marines had a particularly weak draft, handing over the “Xayah” and “Rakan” duo to the Immortals bot-lane. Perhaps worse, rather than executing a unique strategy, GAM opted into standard lanes. Aside from an aggressive “Kayn” lock-in for Levi and Nevan running “Heal” and “Ignite” for his summoner spells, the GAM draft was largely underwhelming. Unlike their previous games, GIGABYTE did not have an explosive start. Without securing an early lead, the Marines struggle to play from behind. Once Immortals built up their advantages, IMT pushed those leads into a clean victory.

This third game looked grim for the GIGABYTE Marines. Rather than playing to their unique styles, they revealed glaring weaknesses in their standard compositions and ability to play at a disadvantage. Now, several questions bubble to the surface. Did the defeat from Longzhu shake team morale? Will GIGABYTE have the confidence to execute their unique strategies? Fans can speculate, but it is up to team captain Levi and coach Tinikun to steady their ship. As week two of the Worlds 2017 group stage barrels forward, the GIGABYTE Marines must recollect and march on.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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Ghost Gaming enters Call of Duty with signing of ex-BitterSweet roster

The only new addition to the Global Pro League (GPL) now has a new name. The roster that earned their spot ahead of CWL Anaheim originally played under the name Supreme Team before signing a contract with BitterSweet, but they were never expected to play under that organization come the GPL. After negotiations, the team consisting of Mike “SpaceLy” Schmale, Chance “Maux” Moncivaez, Andres “Lacefield”, and Devin “LlamaGod” Tran has been signed by Ghost Gaming.

The negotiations between BitterSweet and Ghost Gaming arrived at an agreement: $50k signing bonus (split) and $4k monthly salaries (each). Without other salaries easily obtainable for comparison, it’s difficult to tell how this stacks up with other professional Call of Duty teams, but it surely shows that Call of Duty esports has come a long way. Just a few years ago, salaries were unheard of.

BitterSweet owner Alex Gonzalez confirmed with The Game Haus that his organization will not be taking a cut from the deal with Ghost Gaming, holding true to his previous promise that all money involved would go directly to the players.

Ghost Gaming qualified for the GPL after defeating eRa Eternity and Tainted Minds in the relegation tournament. They will be the only team in Stage Two that did not play in Stage One, taking the spot of European team Millenium.

Ghost Gaming is relatively new to esports and has not previously held a Call of Duty team. However, they also have teams in CS:GO and Gears of War. The CS:GO team is currently participating in the ESL Pro League and the Gears team has placed third at three major events since January.

Team manager Rob Stamey told The Game Haus that the organization had been looking for a Call of Duty team to represent them for some time.

“When I found out SpaceLy was looking for an organization I knew automatically we would go after him as he fits our organizational lifestyle and future vision. He also brings in three players with endless potential all three who have been in the trenches and proven themselves at the highest level,” Stamey said.

In the Call of Duty Global Pro League, Ghost Gaming will make their debut in week two of Stage Two when they take on FaZe Clan, Enigma6, and Elevate. FaZe will be playing without their former captain, James “Clayster” Eubanks, after swapping him for Pierce “Gunless” Hillman, who made a name for himself on eUnited. Ghost Gaming, while playing under the BitterSweet banner, placed 9th-12th at CWL Anaheim, better than both FaZe and Elevate. Without knowing how well the new FaZe roster meshes and Ghost Gaming not previously playing in the Global Pro League, this group may be the most competitive of Stage Two.

Ghost Gaming will be boot camping at their head offices to prepare for the GPL. Let us know how you think they will perform in the comments below!


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Image: Major League Gaming

 

 

Bittersweet signs Supreme Team after they qualified for CWL

The day before CWL Anaheim, eight teams were at the venue early for a special event. Four of them had played in Stage One of the Global Pro League and the other four, previously considered amateur teams on the circuit, earned their right to be there after online qualifiers. They were playing in a double elimination relegation tournament, and only half would qualify for to compete in Stage Two and a spot in pool play for CWL Anaheim.

The first round of the bracket paired a Stage One team with a challenger looking to take their place. Cloud9 looked weak in Stage One and were the only North American team to be relegated, but after replacing Andres “Lacefield” and “Ricky” Stacy with Preston “Priest” Greiner and John “Xotic” Bruno, they managed to start strong with a quick 3-0 of European challenger Supremacy. Meeting them in the second round were Tainted Minds, the sole APAC team in the bracket who upset Millenium in the first round. To reclaim their spot in the Global Pro League, Cloud9 defeated Tainted Minds, who were then sent to the loser’s bracket for one last shot.

On the other side of the bracket, Red Reserve, a top European team who were surprisingly relegated in Stage One, faced challengers eRa Eternity. Red Reserve made a roster change several weeks earlier, bringing Rhys “Rated” Price back in place of “Niall” Sunderland. Red managed to requalify for the Global Pro League without dropping a map, defeating both eRa and FNATIC 3-0. FNATIC, another European roster, had defeated Supreme Team in round one.

CWL Stage 2 Relegation Playoffs bracket [CoD World League]

In the end, only one challenger team managed to qualify for Stage Two. The North American roster Supreme Team, now acquired by esports organization Bittersweet, will be making their debut in the CWL Global Pro League fielding a roster consisting of Michael “SpaceLy” Schmale, Chance “Maux” Moncivaez, Andres “Lacefield”, and Devin “LlamaGod” Tran. Of these players, only Lacefield played in Stage One. Both Bittersweet and FNATIC made it through the loser’s bracket to qualify and will also be playing in pool play tomorrow for CWL Anaheim.

Bittersweet team owner Alex Gonzalez told The Game Haus, “Our team felt very confident in qualifying – with the experience of a veteran player like Mike [SpaceLy] leading the team of newer players, I didn’t expect anything else.”

As an organization, Bittersweet has been involved in Call of Duty esports since 2015. They briefly fielded rosters throughout Advanced Warfare and in Black Ops III.

The new Bittersweet roster is their best yet. Each of the four players has had successful competitive careers and are not strangers to the level of competition the Global Pro League has to offer.

“I expect our team to perform well in stage two of the CWL, they’re fresh into the league and obviously want to prove they can compete at the highest level,” said Gonzalez.

Catch Bittersweet and the rest of the action from CWL Anaheim tomorrow on MLG.tv.


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Global Pro League Stage One Playoffs Breakdown and Predictions

After four weeks of intense competition at the MLG Arena in Columbus, only half of the regular season teams remain. EnVy, Splyce, Evil Geniuses, FaZe, eUnited, Luminosity, OpTic, and Enigma6 will battle next weekend for their share of a $500,000 prize pool. Yesterday MLG held a live bracket draw to fill out the first round matches of the S1 Playoffs.

This is without a doubt the most stacked bracket we have seen in a tournament thus far in Infinite Warfare. While the top half of the bracket seems to be more stacked than the bottom, there are plenty of chances for upsets.

Stage One Playoff Bracket

OpTic v FaZe

At the very top of the bracket, OpTic and FaZe will meet in the first round. This matchup has always been a classic in Call of Duty esports. At both CWL Paris and Dallas this year, OpTic was able to defeat FaZe with relative ease.

While OpTic went 6-0 in their group in the GPL, FaZe struggled after a strong Friday. They would end up finishing 3-3, mounting an incredible comeback against Rise Nation to secure their spot in the S1 Playoffs.

Prediction: OpTic 3-1

OG and FaZe’s GPL stats

EnVy v Luminosity

Moving down the bracket, the next first round match will be between EnVy and Luminosity. EnVy, the reigning CoD World Champions, has yet to rebound to their dominant form last seen in Black Ops 3. They were able to top their group in Week One, going 5-1 overall, however that was against a shaky Cloud9 and Mindfreak.

Luminosity is another team that many are touting as having not reached their true potential. During their week at the GPL, Luminosity showed their improvement in SnD, a game mode that has haunted them throughout IW. Most notably they were able to defeat eUnited in their last match of the group to clench their Playoff birth.

Prediction: Luminosity 3-2

LG and EnVy’s GPL stats

eUnited v Enigma6

On the other side of the bracket we have eUnited going up against Enigma6. This matchup appears to be the most lopsided game of all the first round matchups.

After an impressive win at CWL Atlanta and a hard fought second place finish at CWL Dallas, both against OpTic, eUnited has become regarded as the second best team in the world. eUnited went 5-1 in their group, only losing 3-2 against Luminosity in their last match.

Enigma6 made waves early in IW at CWL Vegas, but have yet to repeat that success. During their week at the GPL, they went 4-2 overall in series. Both losses came from OpTic, 3-1 and 3-0.

Prediction: eUnited 3-0

eUnited and E6’s GPL stats

Evil Geniuses v Splyce

The last first round matchup will be between Evil Geniuses and the only European team to make it to S1 Playoffs, Splyce. 

EG caused a huge upset during their week at the GPL, finishing in first after a 0-2 start to the weekend.

Splyce would finish second in their group, losing the first place seed to EnVy by one map win. While some may still doubt Europe’s chances against the top-tier NA teams, Splyce have proven they’re no pushovers.

Prediction: Splyce 3-1

EG and Splyce’s GPL stats


Jack Waters is an avid Call of Duty Esports fan and wants to hear from YOU! Comment below. 

Images: MLG.tv

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Call of Duty Global Pro League Week Four Preview

This upcoming weekend marks the last week of Stage One of the CWL Global Pro League. Week four will commence with American teams OpTic Gaming and Enigma6 facing off against European teams Red Reserve and Elevate. The teams will clash at the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

As with weeks prior, each team will face one another in a double round-robin format. The top two placing teams will advance to Playoffs as well as qualify for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, Pool Play at CWL Anaheim, and Call of Duty World Championship later this year. The 3rd place team will also qualify for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, Pool Play at CWL Anaheim, and Call of Duty World Championship. The team that places last will face Relegation in order to qualify for Stage Two.

OpTic Gaming is most likely poised to take first place in the group while the other teams will be battling it out for the ever important second place. With no other teams available to scrim in the EU region, Elevate and Red Reserve have not been able to get in good practice since April.

OpTic Gaming

OpTic comes into this weekend, regarded by analysts and players alike, as the best team in the world. The combined talents of Seth “Scump” Abner, Ian “Crimsix” Porter, Damon “Karma” Barlow, and Matt “Formal” Piper have been playing together longer than any other team in competitive CoD.

After a slow start to the Infinite Warfare season, OpTic won back-to-back International LANs: CWL Paris and CWL Dallas. Having lost to eUnited in the Grand Finals of CWL Atlanta after a miraculous Loser’s Bracket run, a new fire was lit under the team. With Formal now acting as their “In Game Leader” the newly invigorated OpTic looks to place first this weekend.

OpTic has been teaming together since April 2015

Enigma6 Group

Enigma6 were unable to complete during the 2016 Black Ops III season due to the age restriction of the CoD World League. Now with a team able to compete, E6 have experienced moderate success so far this season. At the first LAN of IW, E6 came out of the Open Bracket to eventually place 7-8th. So far they have not been able to repeat this performance, with their most recent placing a 9-12th finish at CWL Dallas.

After CWL Dallas, rumors swirled that Mike “MRuiz” Ruiz would retire and Preston “Priest” Greiner would take his place. Controversy ensued due to the rules surrounding CWL roster locks leading into the GPL. However, MRuiz stayed on the team as they hope to secure a spot in the Stage One Playoffs.

Enigma6’s 2017 CoD Roster

Red Reserve

Having lost half their original roster during the EU rostermania following CWL Paris, Red picked up Niall “Niall” Sunderland and Sean “Seany” O’Connor. Since then, Red has been on a hot streak. In their first MLG GameBattles 2K series, the newly formed team placed second and won the next 2K.

Red would go on to put on an incredible performance in the Loser’s Bracket at CWL Dallas. They would eventually finish 5-6th. At the next LAN CWL Birmingham, Red again placed 5-6th, showing that this newly formed squad can hang with the best. Red is poised to make a serious run at the second place spot this weekend.

 

David “Urban” Marsh of Red Reserve

Elevate

At their first LAN after adding Rhys “Rated” Price in place of Seany, Elevate had an abysmal performance placing 21-24th after starting in Pool Play. After their poor performance in the US, Elevate seemed to bounce back with a 5-6th placing at CWL Birmingham.

Like the other EU team in the group Red, the biggest issue for Elevate heading into the GPL is their lack of practice. With other EU teams leaving early to boot camp in the US, Elevate has not scrimmed since April, according to players on the team. Looked at as the weakest team to qualify for Stage One of the GPL, Elevate has a lot to prove this weekend.

Jordan “Reedy” Reed and Josh “Watson” Watson at CWL Birmingham

Predictions

  1. OpTic Gaming
  2. Red Reserve
  3. Enigma6
  4. Elevate

Jack Waters is an avid Call of Duty Esports fan and wants to hear from YOU! Find him on Twitter.

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Call of Duty Global Pro League Week Three Preview

With Week Two in the books, Stage One of the CoD World League Global Pro League is almost half way through. So far we have seen Team EnVyUs, Splyce, FaZe Clan, and Evil Geniuses qualify for Playoffs.

This week we will watch North American powerhouses eUnited and Luminosity Gaming as well as European teams Millenium and Epsilon Esports battle it out at the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

As with every week of the GPL, each team will face one another in a double round-robin format. The top two placing teams will advance to Playoffs as well as qualify for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, Pool Play at CWL Anaheim, and Call of Duty World Championship later this year. The 3rd place team will also qualify for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, Pool Play at CWL Anaheim, and Call of Duty World Championship. The team that places last will face Relegation in order to qualify for Stage Two.

Being that eUnited and Luminosity are regarded as the 2nd and 4th best teams in NA respectively, their EU competitors will have their work cut out for them.

eUnited

Labeled at the beginning of Infinite Warfare as “warriors” (players that are only good online), eUnited has proven the doubters wrong. They have proven to be the only team that can consistently compete with OpTic Gaming on LAN.

eUnited’s roster consists of team captain Justin “SiLLY” Fargo-Palmer, Pierce “Gunless” Hillman, and twin brothers Alec “Arcitys” and Preston “Prestinni” Sanderson. Having acquired Gunless, Arcitys, and Prestinni after CWL Vegas, eUnited shocked everyone as they took home 1st place at CWL Atlanta. They would go on to place 13-16th at CWL Paris, and later put on an incredible performance against OpTic in the Grand Finals of CWL Dallas, ultimately placing 2nd.

Currently ranked as the 2nd best team in the world, eUnited look poised to take the 1st place seed in Week Three.

eUnited after winning CWL Atlanta

Luminosity Gaming

At the start of the IW season, Luminosity underwent a massive team change as Nicholas “Classic” Di Costanzo, Josiah “Slacked” Berry, and Sam “Octane” Larew left Rise Nation to join Renato “Saints” Forza under LG. Boasting an incredible amount of slaying power, LG has yet to live up to the hype generated earlier in the season.

Plagued by an inability to consistently win Search & Destroy rounds, LG has yet to place higher than 4th at a major LAN event this year. LG’s recent performances include 5-6th at CWL Vegas, 4th at CWL Atlanta, 9-12th at CWL Paris, and 7-8th at CWL Dallas.

This weekend LG will most likely be battling Millenium and Epsilon for the 2nd place spot in the group. However, if LG has improved on the S&D gameplay, they have the potential to take 1st.

Luminosity’s 2017 CoD Roster

Millenium

One of two European teams competing in Week Three of the GPL, Millenium enter the weekend as underdogs. With the recent performance Epsilon had at CWL Birmingham, Millenium will need to bring their A-game to avoid relegation.

Having stuck together through the massive EU rostermania following CWL Paris, the lineup consists of EU CoD veteran Mark “MarkyB” Bryceland, Adam “Peatie” Peate, Tom “Moose” Handley, and Nick “Nolson” Nolson. The former Team Infused lineup joined the French organization after promising finishes including 4th at CWL London, 5-6th at CWL Atlanta, and 4th at CWL Paris. Unfortunately, their first showing under Millenium was a disappointing 13-16th finish at CWL Dallas.

Millenium has been boot camping in Ohio for the last week and a half as they prepare for a stacked Week Three. Only time will tell if their practice is enough to secure them a spot in the Stage One Playoffs.

Epsilon Esports

Saying that Epsilon had a shaky start to Infinite Warfare would be an understatement. The European team, playing under FAB Games at the time, was able to make waves as they placed 4th at the 2016 CoD Championships. However, they started this year with placings including a 29-36th at CWL Vegas, 7-8th at CWL London, 21-24th at CWL Atlanta, and a dismal 21-24th at CWL Dallas.

At the beginning of March, Joshua-Lee “Joshh” Shepard would kick off the EU rostermaina by replacing Ben “Desire” Wright on the Epsilon team. David “Dqvee” Davies, Stephen “Vortex” Allen, and Billy “Hawqeh” Harris round out the team.

After the team change, Epsilon caused a huge upset as they took down Splyce in the Grand Finals of CWL Birmingham, coming out of the Loser’s Bracket and winning both series 3-0. Now under the leadership of Joshh, Epsilon stand a great chance of making it to the Stage One Playoffs.

Epsilon after winning CWL Birmingham

Predictions

1st. eUnited

2nd. Luminosity

3rd. Epsilon

4th. Millenium


Jack Waters is an avid Call of Duty Esports fan and wants to hear from YOU! Find him on Twitter.

Images: CallofDuty.com, MLG, CWL Twitter

Video: Millenium Twitter

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MSI: TSM vs. Gigabyte Marines Preview

In the first best of series to determine who gets to enter the next stage of MSI, we have North American favorite, TSM, squaring off against Vietnam’s Gigabyte Marines of the GPL. TSM will come in as heavy favorites, but Gigabyte Marines showed some promise in their group. The Gigabyte Marines only dropped one game the entire group stage. TSM will need to not underestimate their opponents if they want to avoid a major upset.

Team SoloMid

TSM comes into MSI after narrowly fending off a reverse sweep by Cloud 9 in the NALCS final. TSM started the spring rather slow, but quickly improved to retake their throne as the kings of North America. Top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell had his best split yet, just barely missing out on NALCS MVP. Soren “bjergsen” Bjerg is still the “GOAT” mid laner of the NALCS and should take over his lane quite handily. In the bot lane, Jason “Wildturtle” Tran and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang showed a lot of improvement in the NALCS finals. Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen was, in my opinion, the MVP of the final. He had a great showing and will look to take that momentum into MSI.

Courtesy: Riot Esports

How they win

TSM should win based solely on individual skill and macro play. I don’t see any lanes losing heavily unless Gigabyte Marines’ star jungler Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh really pops off. If TSM doesn’t play down to the skill of their opponent, they should take this series.

How they lose

If TSM allows Levi to play his signature Lee Sin and he pops off, I could definitely see them losing a game. Levi was an absolute monster during the group stage, but TSM will be a lot stiffer competition for them. TSM is also known to come out slow in the start of their series, usually dropping the first game. If there was a time they could lose, I’d imagine it be the first game.

Player to watch

TSM’s jungler, Svenskeren, will play a major role in shutting down Levi. If he can play more aggressive and track him, Gigabyte Marines don’t have many other options.

 

Gigabyte Marines

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Gigabyte Marines come into this matchup after winning group B quite handily with a 5-1 record. Most of their games were carried by their jungler, Levi, who has shown tremendous plays on Lee Sin and Elise. He’ll need to pressure the map early if they want to stand a chance against TSM. Notably, support Minh “Archie” Nhựt Trần said that teams were denying them scrims, and therefore used play in stage as “scrims.” We’ve seen how not scrimming certain opponents can lead to upset victories, so maybe they’ll be able to use that to their advantage.

 

How they win

Levi will need to have another stellar performance against more formidable opponents. If they do pull off a miracle upset, Levi will be a huge part in it. If he can get them a good early game lead, they’ll need to close things out fast.

How they lose

In their matchups, TSM beats them individually and in macro play. Even if TSM falls behind early, I don’t know if Gigabyte Marines can out macro them to finish the game. If Gigabyte Marines don’t make early aggressive plays, I don’t see them taking down TSM.

Player to watch

By now, you’re probably expecting this pick. Levi will need to take command of the early game for his team to have a shot at taking down TSM. If TSM decides to leave Lee Sin or Elise up, I could definitely see Levi carrying his team to an upset victory for a game or two.

 

Prediction

If everything goes according to plan, TSM should take the series with a commanding 3-0 sweep. Knowing them though, they could possibly let Levi get Lee Sin game 1 and drop a game.

 

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FaZe Clan clutch up, Fnatic fall short: CWL GPL Week Two Recap

Throw your predictions out of the window – the CWL Global Pro League is living up to the hype. A few days ago it was all but certain that FaZe would coast through this weekend while Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, and Rise Nation would battle it out for the second seed. This was not the case, as EG would end up taking 1st seed after a 0-2 start to the weekend.

Saturday, we saw FaZe go 0-2, losing to both EG and Fnatic, before clutching up on Sunday versus Rise Nation. Rise would have to settle for 3rd, while Fnatic is now headed for Relegation.

1st Place – Evil Geniuses

Win/Loss – 4-2

Map Count – 12-9

Arguably the biggest upset of the weekend came from the Evil Geniuses camp. Having barely qualified for Stage One of the GPL and taking the last NA spot, the expectations for EG weren’t high. After an abysmal start on Friday, losing to both Fnatic and FaZe 0-3, EG looked like they would place 4th in Week Two.

Saturday we would see a newly invigorated EG take the series from FaZe 3-0 and Rise 3-2, surprising everyone except guest analyst Patrick “ACHES” Price who predicted their victories. After Anthony “NAMELESS” Wheeler switched weapons from the NV4 to the KBAR, the tides turned for EG.

EG would continue their reign of terror Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Faze and a dominant 3-0 win over Fnatic. These wins cemented EG’s place in the Stage One Playoffs, proving their doubters wrong along the way.

ACHES’s prediction for the second EG v FaZe match

2nd Place – FaZe Clan

Win/Loss – 3-3

Map Count – 12-13

FaZe did not make the run for Playoffs easy for themselves this weekend. With a hot start on Friday, Faze was the only team to come out 2-0 with victories over Fnatic 3-1 and EG 3-0. They looked poised to take the first seed heading into Saturday.

Unfortunately for FaZe, Saturday would turn out to be a nightmare. After such a hot start, they did not win a series all day. Their day began with a huge upset, as they were dominated by EG, losing 0-3. Later in the day, they lost to Fnatic in round 11 of the Game 5 S&D after almost completing the reverse sweep.

Sunday was do or die time for FaZe as they, like everyone in their group, were sitting at 2-2. They would lose their first series of the day 1-3 against EG, putting them in a situation where they needed to win their next series to qualify for Stage One Playoffs.

Their final series of the weekend would be one to remember against Rise. After going down 0-2, FaZe began a miraculous reverse-sweep. After a dominant win in the Uplink, FaZe would eventually win the Game 4 Hardpoint 250-249. They would carry that energy for a 6-0 win in the Game 5 S&D, completely outclassing Rise.

FaZe qualify for S1 Playoffs after reverse-sweeping Rise

3rd Place – Rise Nation

Win/Loss – 3-3

Map Count – 14-11

After a disappointing 17th-20th finish at CWL Dallas, many had their doubts about Rise Nation heading into Week Two. However, this weekend we were treated to a reinvigorated Rise squad who were able to stay consistent in every game mode.

On Friday Rise was able to take an easy 3-0 victory over EG, before falling 1-3 to FaZe. Rise started off Saturday well with a 3-1 victory over Fnatic, but was unable to stop EG from their dominant performance. They would eventually lose 2-3, putting them at 2-2 heading into Sunday.

Sunday we would see Rise take an easy victory over Fnatic 3-1 before they would face FaZe in the final match on the weekend. Rise would come out of the gates hot, taking an early 2-0 advantage in the series. However, FaZe was able to dash their dreams of making it into the Playoffs by pulling out a reverse-sweep to remember. The series would end 3-2 in FaZe’s favor.

4th Place – Fnatic

Win/Loss – 2-4

Map Count – 9-14

Fnatic was the only team representing Europe in Week Two. They carried the entire region’s hopes with them.

Fnatic, like every other team this weekend, traded series back and forth Friday and Saturday. They kicked off this weekend battling FaZe Clan. After losing the first Hardpoint by a few seconds they would end up falling 3-1 against the NA giants, managing to take the Uplink.

Later in the day, they would take swift 3-0 over a struggling Evil Geniuses. On Saturday Fnatic lost a close series to Rise Nation 3-1, again, keeping the maps close throughout. Their next series, a rematch against FaZe, would be one to remember. Fnatic would take a 2-0 lead in the series before securing the win in a nail-biting round 11 in the Game 5 Search & Destroy.

Unfortunately for Fnatic, they could not keep the dream alive; they would end Sunday with a 1-3 loss to Rise and a 0-3 loss to Evil Geniuses. Fnatic will now join Cloud9 in the Relegation tournament for Stage Two of the GPL.

Tommey after a close Hardpoint loss to FaZe

Looking forward

Next week we will see eUnited, Luminosity Gaming, Millenium, and Epsilon Esports battle it out at the MLG Arena to see who will advance to the Stage One Playoffs and beyond.


Jack Waters is an avid Call of Duty Esports fan and wants to hear from YOU! Find him on Twitter.

Images: CoD World League Twitter

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Mindfreak: Paving the way for APAC

In Australia, Mindfreak has been the team to beat for years. They are one of two APAC teams to ever place top eight at the Call of Duty Championship, and now they are the lone APAC team in the Call of Duty Global Pro League, a spot they earned over closest rival, Tainted Minds.  

With the Call of Duty World League restructuring this year to focus on international competition, Mindfreak restructured themselves as well when Denholm “Denz” Taylor left to join Tainted Minds, and Cody “Excite” Rugolo took his place. The move helped create two premier teams in the APAC region, with both Mindfreak and Tainted Minds traveling to North America for CWL Atlanta and CWL Dallas. At both events, Mindfreak placed better than Tainted Minds, and even won CWL Sydney over them, ultimately earning themselves the spot in the Global Pro League. Now, after placing third in Group Red, Mindfreak has paved the way for more of their countrymen, and others in the APAC region, to qualify for the Call of Duty Championship.

APAC Spots

APAC could have had as few as two teams qualify for the 2017 Call of Duty Championship, but now they could have as many as four.

With their recent placement, Mindfreak has already secured their trip to the year-end tournament. They also qualified for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, and a pool play spot at CWL Anaheim, encouraging other APAC teams to push for the same level of success.

At the end of Stage One, the lowest placing team in each group will fight for their spot in Stage Two via a Relegation tournament. Two new North American teams, one European team, and one APAC team have a shot at qualifying for Stage Two through this process, and Tainted Minds look to be the most likely APAC team to do so. If Tainted Minds do manage to make it into Stage Two, they automatically qualify for the Call of Duty Championship. Two other APAC teams will later qualify through the APAC Last Chance Qualifier, potentially bringing the total to four teams at Champs.

At the 2016 Call of Duty Championship, APAC was represented by four teams as well. Unfortunately, none of them made it out of pool play, a testament to stacked North American and European rosters at the tournament. Mindfreak beating out a North American team in the Global Pro League, however, proves that they deserve to be mentioned among the world’s top teams.

Team flags in MLG Arena.

What does Mindfreak do now?

There is a lot of time between now and Stage Two of the Global Pro League, which starts in late June. While Mindfreak would gain a lot of useful experience in North America scrimming against the likes of OpTic Gaming and FaZe, they are needed back on home turf.  

According to Mindfreak owner Albert “Naked” Nassif, the team will be heading back to Australia to prepare for the next CWL Sydney event, taking place May 12-14.

“The plan is to get them back [to North America] for S2 and Champs,” Naked said on Twitter.

Mindfreak will also be attending CWL Anaheim in June, as they are already qualified for pool play.

Naked was happy with his team’s performance in the Global Pro League, telling Game Haus, “Disappointing result, [but] performance was good. Map count of 10-15 isn’t bad [against] Splyce and nV twice.”

Mindfreak does not plan to settle for anything less than first. The rest of APAC, however, was content with Mindfreak’s placing because of the opportunities it created for other teams in the region.

Australian Call of Duty personality BioAcid told Mindfreak, “You guys did your org, your fans and your region proud this weekend. Keen to see you in S2.”

Other players also offered their congratulations to Mindfreak after their performance.

Mindfreak now looks forward as they have a busy few months ahead of them. They will prepare for CWL Sydney, CWL Anaheim, and another shot at making the playoffs in Stage Two of the Global Pro League.


Image: CallofDuty.com

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EnVy stands strong, C9 struggles: CWL GPL Week One Recap

The first week of the CWL Global Pro League has come to a close and with it, we’ve learned a lot. Week One featured North American teams EnVyUs and Cloud9, Splyce from Europe, and Mindfreak from the APAC region. Each team faced off against one another twice throughout the weekend with the top three placing teams moving onto Stage Two and the last place team facing Relegation.

1st Place – Team EnVyUs

Win/Loss – 5-1

Map Count – 16-7

Having a seemingly slow start that began with a 1-3 loss at the hands of Splyce on Friday, EnVy regained and started a warpath ending with them in the 1st place spot in Week One.

After their initial loss to Splyce, EnVy would not drop another series all weekend. On Friday, they took a hard fought 3-1 victory over Mindfreak. Saturday would see them steamroll Cloud9 3-0 and again beat MF 3-1. Surprisingly, their toughest match would come on Sunday where they fought tooth and nail to defeat a reenergized Cloud9 3-2, but revenge and their most meaningful matchup came against Splyce in the final match of the weekend.

To secure the 1st place seed, EnVy had to defeat Splyce 3-0, a feat in which no other team had been able to achieve. And just like that, EnVy proved their dominance and came out hot, beating the Europeans in the only 3-0 of the day. Every member of EnVy had a chance to shine throughout the weekend as they proved they are still one of the best teams in the game.

EnVy player Bryan “Apathy” Zhelyazkov

2nd Place – Splyce

Win/Loss – 5-1

Map Count – 15-7

The curse of Sunday evenings has followed Splyce all the way from CWL Birmingham. Having coasted through Friday and Saturday, Splyce stood in first place with a 4-0 record, having only dropped two maps. However, like last weekend, Sunday proved difficult for the Europeans as they struggled to defeat Mindfreak 3-2 and ultimately lost 0-3 to EnVy. Splyce only needed to win one map against EnVy to secure their 1st place seed but choked when the time came. They were handed their first Uplink loss of the weekend during this series after looking untouchable in the respawn game modes.

Although they failed to secure 1st place this weekend, Splyce still looks like a formidable foe heading into the Stage One Playoffs. With the 2nd place finish, they now will likely play OpTic Gaming, FaZe Clan, or eUnited in the first round of Playoffs, a position any team should be nervous of.

3rd Place – Mindfreak

Win/Loss – 1-5

Map Count – 10-15

Mindfreak surprised everyone this weekend, coming out tough against the European and North American teams. After boot camping in Atlanta for the last two weeks, the Australians were able to make some noise and upset Cloud9 for the 3rd place spot. On Friday they caused the first big upset as they steamrolled C9 with a 3-0 victory to start off their weekend. They then fell 1-3 to EnVy after putting up a great fight in all three game modes. Saturday was another hard fought day for Mindfreak, that ended with them falling 1-3 against Splyce and Envy.

On Sunday, Mindfreak managed to take Splyce to a game five where they ultimately lost and then did the same against Cloud9, however at that point they had already secured their 3rd place finish.

Throughout the weekend, the unorthodox Search and Destroy play style of the Aussies enabled them to secure a spot in Stage Two and help them avoid Relegation. If they can spend more time boot camping in the US, Mindfreak stands to improve and cause greater waves heading into CoD Champs.

ANZ duo Fighta and Shockz played great all weekend.

4th Place – Cloud9

Win/Loss – 1-5

Map Count – 5-7

The struggles for Cloud9 continued as they entered Week One of the Global Pro League. The team has not been able to replicate their success at CWL Vegas back in December, and this weekend was no different.

After playing four matches over Friday and Saturday Cloud9, stood at a 0-4 record with a 0-12 map count. After choking multiple Hardpoint and S&D maps with significant leads, by the time Uplink rolled around they were so tilted the series was already over. The woes of weak mental strength plagued their weekend as they lost map after map. It was obvious by looking at the players they were not gelling, which reflected in their gameplay.

However, Sunday proved to the be a slightly different story. Needing to finish the day with a 2-0 record, Cloud9 would first play EnVy. But Cloud9 would fall 2-3 in a series they could have won at multiple points, cementing their 4th place finish. Miraculously, Cloud9 were able to defeat Mindfreak in a close fashion in their last match of the weekend, squeaking out at 3-2 victory. Unfortunately for them it was too little too late and now C9 will have to fight through Relegation for a spot in Stage Two. Many believe a roster change is on the horizon for this struggling squad.

Moving Forward

Week One of Stage One of the CWL Global Pro League proved to be a huge success for MLG and the CoD World League. More exciting matches are coming up within the next three weeks as we round out the Playoff spots and head towards CoD Champs!


Jack Waters is an avid Call of Duty Esports fan and wants to hear from YOU! Find him on Twitter.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers.

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