Rise Nation suffered a torrid final week of the Stage 2 Pro League but just survived with a Playoff spot. The CWL Seattle and Anaheim winners will need to muster inspired form to take victory at the $500,000 championship.
This year’s most dominant roster is under the cosh, as Rise Nation struggled to get anything going in the second half of Division B. They returned victorious from Anaheim with a 6-1 league record, but four losses in the final fortnight are cause for concern.
Austin “SlasheR” Liddicoat was a runner-up under Team EnvyUs at Stage 2 Playoffs last year, but his new team won’t be making finals on their current showing. Uncharacteristic defeats at the hands of CompLexity, OpTic Gaming, eUnited and Unilad have the giants showing vulnerability.
Captain Daniel “Loony” Loza remarked that Rise were planning to expand their map pool as the Pro League wound down. However, following early humblings to eUnited and CompLexity he claimed the plan had changed. Actions speak louder than words though – Rise’s woes continued, only bettering a struggling Luminosity Gaming in the final week. Complacency could be the main cause behind this hangover period, but it’s well known that staying at the top is harder than getting there. Every contending team will have studied Rise’s tendencies, meaning they will have to change and adapt moving forwards.
Poor communication seems to be at the heart of their issues, rarely showing the teamwork that drove them to the top. Pierce “Gunless” Hillman, widely considered the best player in the world, was far from his peak. Thomas “TJHaly” Haly, the roster’s aggressive SMG, also had several poor maps which Loony did not shy away from. The pair posted a 0.97 and 0.91 KD respectively in the final two weeks – not good enough for arguably the two most important roles. Significant improvements are needed if they are to win three championships on the bounce.
No Longer #1?
It’s surely too drastic to drop them from #1 after a few league matches, but Playoffs have significant weight. Fortunately for Rise fans, they did hang on to qualification thanks to crucial practice in the run-up to the World Championship. Given their lackluster finish, they face off against a hungry Red Reserve. Red look imperious in topping Division A, and are seething for revenge after losing to Rise in the CWL Anaheim final. Red have only beaten Rise Nation once this year in a full match, coincidentally at Stage 1 Playoffs (albeit with Methodz over Slasher).
If Rise overcome this staunch test, they will face the winner of eUnited or Echo Fox. James “Clayster” Eubanks’ eUnited dispatched of Rise in both Pro League meetings, and he would relish a repeat. Whichever way the bracket falls, this dominant roster needs a strong finish to keep internal doubts at bay. With so many hotheads on one team, a poor result could instigate an implosion of personality clashes. This line-up may require results to keep the lid on things, and a poor weekend here could be devastating for cohesion. Champs is only a few weeks away, starting on August 15th. The Playoffs will be Rise’s chance to prove the doubters wrong.
Action at the Stage 2 Playoffs kicks off on July 27th! Catch it all on – http://twitch.tv/callofduty
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