By: Zachary Lange 

For the second straight stage, eUnited find themselves back in Columbus, Ohio at the MLG Studios for postseason play and the shot at an additional $500,000.

In the dead heat of baseball season, the Call of Duty team is batting 1.000.

And with the 2018 Call of Duty World Championship only three weeks away, the CWL Global Pro League’s Stage 2 Playoffs will serve as the final tune up before the chase for an illustrious ring fully commences.

So, how did eUnited find their form in Stage 2 of the pro league?

A hot start

Unlike the first two weeks of Stage 1 in the pro league, which saw the team fall to 2-5 and on the outside looking in, eUnited began Stage 2 with a winning record of 4-3 after two weeks in early June.

From there, it became a matter of simply winning instead of waiting on other people’s results.

This start didn’t come easy, as two wins came against preseason Division B heavyweights in OpTic Gaming and Rise Nation. Additional wins over both Australian teams (Mindfreak and Tainted Minds) allowed for the squad to be in good spirits heading into CWL Anaheim.

Prestinni’s improvement

Make no mistake about it, since the addition of Tyler “FeLo” Johnson as a second high powered submachine gun player and Brian “Saintt” Baroska as coach, this team has seen incremental improvements across the board.

But none are quite as dramatic as Preston “Prestinni” Sanderson.

Comparing Stage 1 of the pro league to Stage 2, Prestinni’s kill-death ratio in all three competitive game modes improved. Perhaps most dramatically is his Capture the Flag kill-death ratio, which stood at .92 after Stage 1 and 1.10 after Stage 2. Across all CTF games, Prestinni’s spread (the average positive or negative kill-death ratio a player performs at during an individual game) stood at approximately -1.7 after Stage 1 to a positive 1.8 after Stage 2.

In all, that’s almost a four kill-death ratio swing from negative to positive. Instead of a theoretical 16-18, it’s 18-16.

Even more intriguing is the fact that across both stages, Prestinni’s engagements (total kills and deaths) in both respawn game modes are roughly the same at 55 engagements per 10 minutes of Hardpoint and 36 engagements per 10 minutes of CTF.

Take all the number crunching out of it and simply put, he’s just winning more gun fights.

Whatever special pregame routine Prestinni has, whether it be a lucky pair of shoes or a secret handshake with his brother Alec “Arcitys” Sanderson – it’s working, don’t change it.

Across the board respawns continue to rise

Both respawn game modes made transformations from Stage 1, which saw eUnited go 11-11 in Hardpoint’s and 8-6 in CTF.

In Stage 2, eUnited elevated their level of respawn play, going 19-7 in Hardpoint and 10-4 in CTF. In all, eUnited was tied for the most games won out of any team across both divisions of Stage 2. 

Part of this can be attributed to the entire team, not just the aforementioned Prestinni, having an increase in overall team kill-death ratio. Another part of this might be favorable map picks and bans headlined by coach Saintt, who has taken over as the main shot caller in that department.

But overall, it’s a combination these things and refined gameplay across the board, especially in the final two weeks of Stage 2 which saw eUnited nearly run the gauntlet undamaged with an overall of 6-1, securing second seed in the playoffs after a three-way tiebreaker with OpTic and UNILAD Esports.

Closing out Search and Destroy

The amount of Round 11 Search and Destroy losses for eUnited has been well documented at this point. Last month at CWL Anaheim, one round against FaZe Clan in pool play completely altered the team’s weekend. Before Anaheim, close Game 5 losses to the likes of UNILAD and compLexity Gaming during the first two weeks of Stage 2 left room to question if the team were going to be contenders or pretenders moving forward.

In Stage 2, eUnited went 9-11 in SnD games, a slight downtick from their 9-10 performance in Stage 1. However, Stage 2 also saw the team improve in first blood percentage and in overall round win percentage to 52 percent of total rounds won.

So if the team won more rounds than lost in SnD, how didn’t that translate to more game wins?

Generally speaking, when eUnited won a game of SnD, they won decisively. When they lost, it was by a narrow margin. If you go back to the first two weeks of Stage 2, where eUnited went 4-3 in series count, they were three rounds of SnD away from being 7-0.

All it took was closing out a Round 11. All three times, they failed to do so.

This happens to every team with some regularity. With eUnited, it happened on so many different occasions in such a short time window that it left people with the impression that this team can’t close out.

All that’s left is to close out. Most of the other puzzle pieces have been fit together and it happened at arguably the most crucial time of the year. When the team takes the stage at the MLG Studios on Friday, they’ll be looking to retain top form with the world championship only three weeks away.

How to watch playoffs

Coverage of the Global Pro League Stage 2 Playoffs begins on Friday, July 27 at 4:00 p.m. EST. Fans can watch eUnited take on Echo Fox in Round 1 of the double elimination playoffs at approximately 5:30 p.m. EST on the Call of Duty Twitch channel and MLG.tv.