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Team Kaliber makes major changes during Rostermania

After the conclusion of Stage One Finals, Roster Mania ignites within the world of competitive Call of Duty. Every team is in a scramble to make the necessary changes to their roster in an attempt to get ready for Stage 2 and for the next major events. One of the teams surrounding itself in the most drama is Team Kaliber.

They were unable to drop away from the limelight in the recent series of changes because they knocked away two of their most well-known players, Dylan “Theory” McGee and Martin “Chino” Chino.

After Team Kaliber’s astounding success at the CWL New Orleans Open and the Dallas open, they seemed to fall into a bit of a pit where they couldn’t seem to find a rhythm. The team work wasn’t working out for each other, and it seemed none of the players were able to coalesce into something that could help carry them back to the top. They finished 8th in the CWL Atlanta open and then 10th at CWL Birmingham. After these finishes, they decided it was time something happened that could make a difference, whether for better or for worse.

Kosdff

Image courtesy of Dexerto

On Justin “Kosdff” Chandler’s YouTube channel, he released a video explaining most of the recent changes, and why they were made. Following the conclusion of Stage One finals, the team approached the owner and said that they were no longer wanting play as a team. Dylan didn’t want to play with the guys in TK anymore, and the guys in TK weren’t wanting to play with him anymore.

Team Kaliber at Conclusion of Stage One

There just wasn’t great performance. After their blunders at Birmingham and Atlanta, it’s real easy to see why TK might be looking to up their staff, or rearm their players. They needed something to change, and getting fourth at the end of Stage One just wasn’t going to be enough to keep the brand name where they wanted it to be. They decided that some changes needed to happen. The only appropriate changes they could think of was going to be the removal of a couple key players. Or so they hope.

Dropping Dylan “Theory” McGee

This really should not have a come as a surprise, though it sort of did. Theory had some of the worst stats on the team following the conclusion of CWL Birmingham and Stage One finals. As a result of this, Kosdff and Kenny “Kenny” Williams made the decision to drop him in favor of getting a new sub player that could match Kenny’s intensity in the game.

This isn’t to say, however, that the choice was easily done. Kosdff says that he attempted to make a trade with some other teams for three other players in an effort to form a new Team Kaliber around Theory,

Dylan "Theory" McGee

Image courtesy Dexerto gaming

in order to keep him on board. The only problem being that Kosdff believes Theory to be more of a leader. This meaning that Theory is someone you build a team around, not someone you build into a team. Since TK hasn’t been doing so successful at recent events, he decided the only logical thing to do was to remove leadership and fill the roll with someone more adaptable.

This didn’t seem to be enough, however. Kenny and Kosdff decided that the team needed and even bigger change to make it’s success more prominent. Removing Chino was the next best course of action.

Dropping Martin “Chino” Chino

Many regarded Chino as one of the best players on the team, and even one of the better Flex players in Call of Duty. Unfortunately, for these fans of Team Kaliber, Chino was dropped from the team. He wasn’t someone who removed themselves, like Theory. But, rather, he was dropped in an effort to help the team coalesce into something closer to what the brand wants to be. Kenny decided that he and Theory didn’t compliment each other’s play style very well. The team decided that Chino didn’t compliment them well, either. The next step was to drop Chino and try to find two replacements for him and Theory.

Chino tK

Image courtesy of Dexerto

Methodz and FERO

Fortunately, during Rostermania, Rise Nation just decided to ditch Anthony “Methodz” Zinni for Austin “SlasheR” Liddicoat. This left him on the Free Agents list, ready to be picked up by the guys in Team Kaliber. This is a huge pickup for Team Kaliber, since Methodz is one of the top AR players right now. He recently received the MVP award at CWL Atlanta in March. Methodz was not a single grab, however. He came with his own recommendations to replace Chino, and that was Maurice “Fero” Henriquez.

Kenny believes that this new addition of Fero will be a great compliment to his more aggressive play style. The goal was to also add a little bit of knowledge to the teams lack of understanding when it comes to Search and Destroy. They were hoping to learn something along with these trades. Which is what makes them one of the most adaptive, and competitive teams in the CWL Pro League.

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Featured image courtesy of Scuf Gaming

Overwatch League stage one playoff scenarios

Stage one of the Overwatch League is coming to a close this week and the scramble for the playoffs begin. The New York Excelsior and London Spitfire currently sit at the top of the league, but the fight for the final spot is still very much in play.

Bubble teams

Currently, four teams sit at 5-3 and one game behind the Seoul Dynasty (6-2). Los Angeles Valiant, Houston Outlaws, Boston uprising and Philadelphia Fusion have an outside shot of sneaking into the playoffs. Each of these teams are not only 5-3, but are at least in striking distance in the game differential.

For one of these teams to pass the Dynasty, it’s going to take some serious help from the San Francisco Shock and Valiant. Fortunately for the Valiant, their chances at a playoff spot are in their hands. The Valiant and Dynasty will match up in the most important match of week five. The Valiant will not only have to win, but win several games.

If the Valiant find a way to beat the Dynasty, losing more than one game is not an option. A win will get them close, but it will require a dominant effort. Avoiding a game five is imperative, especially with Seoul facing a bottom four team to end out the season. All of the teams sitting one game outside of the playoffs will be huge Valiant fans on Friday.

Based on the schedule, the Valiant have the best shot of any team to make a playoff spot. The rest of the teams will either play each other or face the top-two teams in the Overwatch League. However, the Fusion and Valiant end stage one against the Shanghai Dragons (0-8) and Florida Mayhem (1-7).

Photo via Overwatch League Twitter

In the Houston Outlaw’s case, they went on an 18 game winning streak, and are now in the best position to overtake that third spot. Despite a tough ending to stage one, their +14 almost secures them a tiebreak victory if both teams end with the same record. It will take some crazy bounces of good luck, but there’s a chance the Dynasty miss the stage one playoffs. It all comes down to Friday.

Battle for the one seed

Yes, the battle for that final spot is intriguing, but even more important is the battle for the one seed and the first-round bye. The London Spitfire and New York Excelsior took care of business against the Seoul Dynasty, but a loss here would force the loser right back into a rematch with the Dynasty.

Obviously, that’s not a death sentence. Both teams are capable of dispatching the Dynasty, as they did in week three and four, but earning a free walk to the title game and avoiding a potential upset at the hands of the Dynasty is important. Even the Outlaws and Valiant look dangerous enough to sneak out a few playoff wins.

The first round bye most likely decides the winner of stage one. At this moment the London Spitfire sit atop the leaderboard at 7-1. A win on Saturday will clinch the title, as it will for the Excelsior. Nothing is set in stone for the final week of what’s been an incredibly exciting stage one of the Overwatch League.

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Featured photo via Overwatch League Twitter

 

Initial thoughts on the World Championship draw

With the conclusion of the Stage Two playoffs, Call of Duty fans can look ahead to the World Championship in just over a week. The group stages were drawn live after yesterday’s grand final. While some teams will be happy with the outcome others may be starting to sweat. Here are some initial thoughts following the draw and who will make it through to the knockout stages.

In the clear

There are a few teams who I see making it through the groups undefeated. The first being stage two winners, OpTic Gaming. The Green Wall usually has no struggles versus the European teams and having already faced Epsilon in the pro league should only make it easier.

Clayster only recently joined eUnited from FaZe. [Source: MLG]

The second team I have going undefeated is eUnited. Clayster and Arcitys have more than enough slaying power between them to take down Mindfreak, Infused and Lethal Gaming. That’s without adding the other two into the equation. They shouldn’t be tested whilst getting out of groups.

Team number three is Luminosity for similar reasons to eUnited. Octane and Slacked are too strong for the rest of the field. Supremacy and Vitality simply don’t have slayers that can match up to them. Rise, on the other hand, have the potential with Aqua playing well as of late but the rest of the squad is far behind leading me to believe that they will also get steamrolled.

Finally, making it through undefeated I have Fnatic. It might seem like an odd choice considering the potential Str8 Rippin has, and Evil Geniuses’ veteran players, but something Fnatic has shown is that they consistently beat teams underneath them. A skill really undervalued in a game like Infinite Warfare.

The battles for second

Group A could go one of two ways. Epsilon could crush the two qualifiers or they lose out at the biggest tournament of the year. If Epsilon doesn’t return to their previous form they could struggle against Echo Fox and 3sUP who have a blend of experienced and young players. Hopefully, the European boot camp in Orlando helps them as they are a team that could make the playoff bracket interesting with their potential to take out NA giants.

Second seed Team EnVyUs might also have a rough ride in group B. The way they lost the grand final speaks to their inconsistencies. They are stacked up against Elevate, Projekt Evil and Mindfreak Black. Elevate are another team that disappointed in the global pro league so they will be looking to bounce back. Projekt Evil are a team on the rise after they qualified for group play at Anaheim through the open bracket. I am unsure on the Australians as I haven’t seen enough of them but I’m sure they have a few tricks up their sleeve that could catch the aforementioned out.

Rated is known for his aggressive plays. [Source: MLG]

I have a surprising prediction for group E in that I believe Red Reserve will take the first seed over Faze Clan. As I mentioned in a previous article, Red Reserve has all the makings of a quality team. If Seany plays the same as in the pro league I can see him consistently besting Enable. Meanwhile, Rated and Joe can outmatch Attach and Zooma in aggressive playmaking if they play their A-game.

My last thoughts are with group G and Splyce who were disappointing at playoffs. Ghost Gaming was unlucky not to qualify for stage two playoffs. They showed great promise despite having not been formed long before the league kicked off. There’s also Millennium led by MarkyB and Moose waiting in the wings to reclaim their spot at the top of European CoD. Splyce have time to sort out their play and I still expect them to top the group but it could be a tight finish.

What are the storylines to watch?

Previous World Champ from Advanced Warfare, Replays, is back out of retirement to captain the Echo Fox side. Much of the community will be rooting for him to make it deep as he’s loved for his stream and just being an all-around nice guy.

One grudge match everyone is looking forward to is between Str8 Rippin and Evil Geniuses. Str8 Rippin player Study was dropped from the latter not that long ago so he will be out for blood. Str8 is also responsible for bringing young gun Temp back to the top of the scene. He missed out on a lot of top Call of Duty after the age restriction was imposed on the World League, but now he has finally turned eighteen and is ready to dominate the competition.

Can Europe win a world championship? Splyce finished second at CoD XP last year which was a huge boost for the European scene. This year they’ve surpassed that by winning Stage One, the first time an EU team has won an international event in CoD history. Fans from the region will be wondering if there’s any chance they can take first this time around.

Team EnVyUs have the chance to win back to back Worlds, something that has never been done before. This roster has ridden the Infinite Warfare gauntlet but has stuck together in spite of that. The World Championship could be the reward worth all that wait. Not only that, but JKap could actually win three rings in a row. A feat that would probably never be reached again.

JKap first won the World Championship in 2015 with Denial. [Source: zimbio.com]

And finally, will OpTic Gaming do what they couldn’t before? Green Wall fans can be found far and wide but they all crave the same thing, the World Championship. OpTic Gaming has won MLGs to X-Games in recent years but has missed out on the illustrious ring despite fielding the God squad we know and love. With the win at stage two under their belt, is this Scump and Formal’s time to take it?

 

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What Splyce is doing for European Call of Duty

It was fitting that at the first ever LAN league for Call of Duty history was made. For the first time ever, a European team won a premier international tournament.

The champions, Splyce, consist of long-time veterans Dylan “MadCat” Daly and Jordan “Jurd” Crowley alongside two young stars in Ben “Bance” Bance and Trei “Zer0” Morris. The core of the team has been knocking on the door for a while. They finished second at the Call of Duty World Championship last year and have had notable matches against the likes of OpTic and Rise Nation. Splyce’s slow but sure rise has done wonders for European Call of Duty, and several factors have contributed to their success.

LIKEABILITY

As aforementioned, the squad contains MadCat and Jurd, who have been at the top of EU CoD for some time. These players have generated many followers over the years – something that has been crucial to Splyce’s popularity.

Their fellow teammates in Bance and Zer0 have added firepower and the ability to make game-changing plays. Players with such ability always draw in fans and with the stable support of such consistent veterans can only help. Bance really took off at the 2016 World Championship and was the catalyst for their losers’ bracket run. His impressive performance led to an influx in popularity.

The combination of both older and newer players makes the team enjoyable for all fans.

Bance was a Tour de Force at last year’s World Championship. [Source: MLG]

Even outside of Call of Duty, Splyce as an organization has a growing following. They field a League of Legends team that made it to the finals of the EU LCS in 2016 as well as pro teams in Halo and Gears of War.

Part of the organization’s popularity comes from the fact that they love a project. For example, picking up a European CoD team as opposed to an American one. They also did this in GoW and LoL, fielding a Mexican line-up and an all Danish LCS roster for some time, respectively.

Having such a popular European team not only makes more casual EU CoD fans want to tune in but also the Americans to see if they can take down the NA giants.

WORLD LEAGUE

Another reason for the growth of European CoD was the introduction of the World League. Back in Black Ops 3, the circuit brought in by Activision allowed fans to watch their favorite game being played on a regular schedule every week.

The various 2K series are a nightmare for fans to watch, even the ones for Europeans. But seeing strong teams such as Millennium, Splyce and Team Infused play in a competitive environment every week steadily increased European viewership. However, Splyce was one of few teams who were able to translate those performances to the international stage. They achieved top placings numerous times, at tournaments like ESWC 2016 and of course the World Championship, further increasing fans’ desire to see them play.

BRINGING IT HOME

If Splyce can continue their run of good results and exciting games it may bring international tournaments back to Europe. One of my most memorable events was Gfinity 3. Being from the UK, it was a pleasure to see the Copperbox Arena being filled with Call of Duty fans, even though I couldn’t attend.

The Copperbox Arena, London back in Call of Duty: Ghosts. [Source: Eurogamer]

It’s nice to see Activision pumping money into the circuit here, however, it would attract many more fans if we could have the international teams flying out to compete. If Splyce and other European teams such as Epsilon and Elevate keep contesting NA teams, there might be more events available over here in Europe.

Perhaps if a European were to win the World Championship, the tournament could be brought over to Europe the following year. It would be refreshing to see a change of location and there are many smaller venues in the UK that could be filled with Call of Duty fans. Only time will tell. Maybe if Splyce makes another run to the finals we could see it happen. At this point, it’s not unlikely.

The next big LAN is MLG Anaheim on June 16th-18th, where it will be interesting to see if Splyce can reach newer heights. With eUnited and OpTic dropping out early in Stage One playoffs, many critics will say that Splyce had it easy. It will be on the Brits to prove them wrong and continue to fly the European flag.


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