In what could arguably be the most volatile season in Call of Duty esports, Evil Geniuses have pulled off the remarkable. After a tumultuous year filled with poor placings, the boys in blue have made one of the biggest underdog runs to claim the CWL Championship title for the Call of Duty: World War II season.
After knocking out fan favorite team OpTic Gaming in the group stages of the tournament, the team would have a red-hot run through the playoffs. Led by veteran Patrick “ACHES” Price, the team tore through the winners bracket all the way to the championship finals. There, they would meet the powerhouse Team Kaliber, after knocking them down into the losers bracket during the winners finals. Along with $600,000 (USD) of prize winnings, the Evil Geniuses roster claim the coveted championship rings and etch their name into the historical CoD Champs trophy.
The 2018 Call of Duty World League (CWL) Championship is the sixth annual premiere tournament hosted by Activision. Affectionately known as “Champs” to the fans, it is the apex tournament of the year. Champs is comparable to events like the League of Legends World Championship or the NBA Finals. As fans and pros put it, “You can have a bad year, but the big one is what matters.”
The Call of Duty: World War II season has been volatile for fans and players alike. The game has seen numerous meta changes on almost a monthly basis. A solidified meta has only been established late into the season. The game has been unpredictable, with victories dictated by whoever could show up on the day. This is reflected throughout the year’s events, with multiple teams winning titles.
No one had Evil Geniuses pinned as a tournament-winning contender, let alone the CoD Champions for this year. The team first came together in the off-season with a roster of veterans. Then-player Anthony “NAMELESS” Wheeler would pick up Patrick “ACHES” Price of Cloud 9, Bryan “Apathy” Zhelyazkov previously on Team Envy, and Ian “Enable” Wyatt formerly of FaZe Clan. All four individuals were tenured players with two previous World Champions (ACHES and Apathy), but the roster was criticized for having too many vocal leaders. This critique proved to have some merit as the team would consistently underperform and place poorly.
After failing to qualify for Pro League Season 1 Playoffs and forced to play relegations, the team would see a roster change. Former World Champions ACHES and Apathy would stick together as a duo. The two would pick up Adam “Assault” Garcia from Echo Fox, in which ACHES has history teaming with on his previous Cloud 9 roster. As their fourth, Evil Geniuses would obtain a vengeful Justin “SiLLY” Fargo, just recently dropped from eUnited. They would round out the roster by picking up Embry “Bevils” Bevil as their coach.
This new roster would manage to qualify for Pro League Season 2 and surprise the scene by making it into the finals of CWL Seattle Open. Unfortunately, Evil Geniuses would slide back into a slump, placing poorly in CWL Anaheim Open as well as once again failing to qualify for Pro League Season 2 Playoffs.
History repeats itself
Coming into the tournament, four teams were argued as favorites to win the championship rings. Rise Nation and Team Kaliber, two of the most consistent teams in the season, had already won multiple events in the year. The European powerhouse Red Reserve had similar consistency, but had always fallen short in finals. The legendary OpTic Gaming roster, stacked with pure talent, sought to claim back-to-back victories.
Evil Geniuses were drawn into Group H for pool play, along with OpTic Gaming, Elevate, and Supremacy. Almost not making it into bracket play, Group H would see a three-way tie between Evil Geniuses, OpTic Gaming, and Elevate. ACHES would bring the fire to upset OpTic Gaming with a 3-0 victory to clinch first seed. ACHES is known as “OpTic’s kryptonite” after knocking out OpTic Gaming from CoD Champs (both in 2015 and 2016), and this year, history would repeat itself.
Other notable events during group play include Echo Fox (Assault’s former team) being knocked out. Australian Pro League teams Mindfreak and Tainted Minds would also have a poor showing, resulting in no APAC teams making it into bracket play. As a consequence of these upsets, multiple AM teams such as Elevate, Lightning Pandas, and Ghost Gaming would show up in the playoffs.
Tearing through competition
Evil Geniuses would be on a roll after upsetting OpTic Gaming in groups. The boys in blue arguably had an easier playoff bracket, facing against Team Vitality and Lightning Pandas. Both series were against strong AM teams, but Evil Geniuses would 3-0 both, making it into the semi-finals. There, Evil Geniuses would just about edge out Team Envy, taking the series 3-2. ACHES would expertly clutch a 1v1 against young super-star Cuyler “Huke” Garland to advance into the winners finals.
— MLG (@MLG) August 18, 2018
The other side of the winners bracket was stacked with contender teams such as Red Reserve, Rise Nation, Team Kaliber, and Luminosity Gaming. This was in addition to upset teams, like eUnited, UNILAD Gaming, and compLexity Gaming. Favorites Rise Nation would fall to Team Kaliber while Red Reserve would be upset by a fired-up eUnited squad. Comically, Luminosity Gaming would be sent to the losers bracket by AM team Elevate, led by their former coach Michael “SpaceLy” Schmale.
— MLG (@MLG) August 19, 2018
The winners final would see a David and Goliath match-up: sleeper team Evil Geniuses against juggernaut Team Kaliber. Although Team Kaliber had had dominating performances up to this point, they would be completely outplayed by Evil Geniuses. On the back of consistent game-winning plays from SiLLY and the slaying prowess of Assault and Apathy, Evil Geniuses would best them with a series score of 3-1. Team Kaliber would meet FaZe Clan in the losers finals, after battling through a gauntlet of top caliber teams. In another hard-fought 3-2 series, Team Kaliber would claim the right for a rematch in the grand finals.
In a veteran-versus-rookie match-up, Evil Geniuses had the upper hand coming into the championship finals. Team Kaliber had to take two best-of-fives to win the tournament. However, Evil Geniuses had already lost two best-of-fives back in CWL Seattle Open, so a precedent was set.
The first series looked promising for Evil Geniuses. Being Apathy’s third back-to-back final and ACHES’s second final, the experience was there. Assault and SiLLY would carry their massive performances into the first two games, where they would win off aggressive plays. You could hear the nerves in the communication of the TK squad. But the momentum would shift to Team Kaliber in the third game. A combination of Team Kaliber’s star player Kenny “Kenny” Williams heating up and passive play from Evil Geniuses would lose them the Capture the Flag map. From there, Team Kaliber would just edge out games 4 and 5, winning the first best-of-five.
NEW SERIES!!!@TeamKaliber REVERSE SWEEP @EvilGeniuses; the 2018 CWL Champs Grand Final will be decided in a second and final Best of 5!https://t.co/NKHQShcI4R#CWLPS4 | #CWLChamps pic.twitter.com/1oQZSYFbod
— Call of Duty League (@CODLeague) August 19, 2018
Evil Geniuses fans were starting to get nervous from there. Jumping into the first Hardpoint game of the second series, Team Kaliber were lights out with Kenny firing on all cylinders. Evil Geniuses would crawl back into it in the midgame and snatch a close victory with a score of 250-236. There, they would severely shut down Team Kaliber in the Search and Destroy, ending with a scoreline of 6-1. In the final Capture the Flag of the tournament, Evil Geniuses would repeat their passive strategy. This time around, however, they would succeed in holding off Team Kaliber’s opening aggression. On a counter-push, Evil Geniuses would secure a flag and ride the momentum into a victory.
— MLG (@MLG) August 20, 2018
Ending with a bang
This victory would mark ACHES and Apathy’s second ring and SiLLY and Assault’s first ring. Assault would win the ASTRO Gaming MVP award and his career-first LAN event win. No one thought Evil Geniuses would best Team Kaliber, a team that had won multiple chips throughout the season already. Somehow, Patty P. and his squad managed to prove to the world that they were the Call of Duty World Champions.
— MLG (@MLG) August 20, 2018
With the Call of Duty: World War II season coming to a close, fans won’t have to wait long for the action to start up again. During the event, MLG announced the new Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 esports reveal for September 19. Check back here for more Call of Duty esports news.