By: Zachary Lange
It all comes down to this…
After nearly nine months of competitive Call of Duty, eUnited will take the stage at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio for one final weekend to close out the Call of Duty: WWII competitive cycle.
It’s been a season full of ups and downs in a game that brought no real stabilization to teams that were always supposed to be at the top. But heading into the final weekend, eUnited appears to be one of the front runners to take home the 2018 Call of Duty World League Championship.
Let the roaring on mainstage begin.
Where the team stands now
After cruising through the last two weeks of play in Stage 2 of the CWL Pro League, eUnited were faced with playoffs where they finished 4th – an improvement from a top-6 placement in Stage 1. In fact, it was the first time since the CWL Seattle Open in late April that the team finished top-4 at an event. Both times it was Rise Nation, arguably the best team in competitive Call of Duty, that either eliminated or sent eUnited to the losers bracket.
If you’re going to lose, at least lose to the best. That’s what eUnited has done when they aren’t winning.
It was powerhouse OpTic Gaming that eliminated them from the CWL Anaheim Open (the last major open tournament) in June, but eUnited exacted their revenge when they had a winning map percentage against OpTic during regular season play in Stage 2.
Enter in top European challenger Red Reserve. They also beat eUnited, sending them home in the aforementioned Stage 2 Playoffs. But this year, European teams aren’t laying over, and the gap between regions in a global pro league continues to shrink, year by year.
eUnited reacts to a victory during play earlier this season.
Photo by: Jordan Ousley
It wasn’t always easy
There was time where winning wasn’t coming as naturally, leading to eUnited’s worst placement at a major open tournament since the 2017 CWL Paris Open at the 2018 CWL Birmingham Open where the squad finished top-16, respectively.
Despite winning 3-0 in pool play against Rise Nation, eUnited fell to the open bracket opposition of Cyclone, leaving them fourth in their pool after finishing 2-2 in series count. In the losers bracket, eUnited dropped their first series and were sent home packing.
Things on the battlefield weren’t clicking, and it was apparent.
High octane submachine gun player Preston “Prestinni” Sanderson was struggling map to map to get crucial kills needed. The entire team, led by captain James "Clayster" Eubanks and Alec "Arcitys" Sanderson appeared disgruntled at times. Search and Destroy continued to be difficult for the team, and it was a Game 5 Search and Destroy that eliminated eUnited from the Stage 1 Playoffs just two short weeks after Birmingham.
Something had to be done, and it was only a matter of who was going to be moved.
Roster change brings higher intensity
Clayster reacts to a situation in-game during the CWL Stage 2 Playoffs.
Photo by: Patrick Brouder
During the main free agency period in mid-April, eUnited acquired long time veteran Tyler “FeLo” Johnson and parted ways with Justin “SiLLY” Fargo, eUnited’s longest tenured player on the Call of Duty team at that point, in hopes to bring a faster level of gameplay to the table.
With other organizations acquiring heavy-hitting, powerhouse names in the scene, many questioned how much impact this change would have. Casters and analysts at Major League Gaming gave the roster move an “F” grade during a talk show segment, citing that it wasn’t enough to turn the tides on a downwards sloping trajectory.
On the coaching side, eUnited brought in Brian “Saintt” Baroska to give the team a new voice behind the players in the effort to focus on improvements, adjustments and map picks and bans moving forward.
Both may not have been the sexiest acquisitions, but they immediately paid dividends.
Turning a corner
eUnited quickly earned bronze in Seattle and then went on to comfortably make playoffs in Stage 2. In the team’s second LAN together, it was a Game 5, Round 11 defeat in pool play that sent them immediately to the losers bracket that still saw the team place top-12, with many other top pro teams struggling.
On respawn game types, eUnited began winning with more certainty. In SnD, the times that the team fell short were beginning to be matched by the times they closed out. It’s still perhaps the Achilles heel of this team heading into the championship week, but it continues to be worked on and tweaked to a point where those doubts too, have faded.
And now eUnited finds themselves with, arguably, the most confidence they have had all year at the biggest stage, with the most money on the line, for the greatest amount of bragging rights to be had.
Sometimes, the ends do justify the means.
Tyler "FeLo" Johnson, joined by his new teammates, pose for a picture at the CWL Anaheim Open.
Photo courtesy: Astro Gaming
This section is going to be kept brief, but I don’t think anyone doubts that eUnited, should (key word) take home first place in Group D against the likes of Splyce, EZG eSports and Team Sween.
Where it gets tricky is who they play afterwards in the championship bracket. And how long can they stay in the winners bracket before having to potentially make a losers bracket run?
This team has had its fair share of heartbreakers as well, being sent to the losers bracket on Game 5, Round 11’s at major open tournaments in New Orleans and Dallas earlier this year. It will be imperative that if a close loss happens, there is a mental reset switch hit and they don’t fall victim to playing on emotion.
Realistically, I think eUnited has the capability to win a championship, or finish top-16, or anywhere in between that, too. The nature of WW:II is highly unpredictable and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will truly show up this weekend.
Where to watch
The 2018 CWL Championship will begin on Wednesday, August 15 live from MLG Studios in Columbus, Ohio where 32 teams across eight groups will compete to make it to Nationwide Arena. Championship bracket play will begin on August 17.
Due to the mass amount of games being played, MLG will have several streams available for viewing all of eUnited’s group stage matches. Stay tuned to eUnited’s social media platforms for the most up to date broadcast information.
eUnited, by the numbers (h/t: codcompstats.com)
Northern Arena: 2nd
New Orleans: 5th-6th
Pro League Stage 1: 5th-6th
Pro League Stage 2: 4th
Last event (Stage 2 Playoffs) K/D ratio:
Last stage win record by game:
Capture the Flag: 10-4
71% win percentage
73% win percentage
Search and Destroy: 9-11
45% win percentage