Twelve matches went down Friday during Day 3 of the Call of Duty World Championship in Orlando, Florida, and not a single game went the distance. Although the suspense was put on hold, plenty of other interesting developments arose, including a disappointing top-16 finish for Patrick "Aches" Price and the rest of Cloud9, and two surprise teams, Team Allegiance and Team Infused, squeaking into the second round of the upper bracket.
Aching for a better finish
You can chalk it up to whatever you want: a tough bracket, strangely disappointing games from a handful of Cloud9 members or simply bad luck. Regardless of the reason, the fact remains the same; the 13-16th place finish, which was set in stone Friday at the Worlds, is the worst of Aches' storied career.
The writing certainly appeared to be on the wall for Cloud9 heading into the tournament. A smattering of up-and-down performances throughout the first half of the season forced the team to make a roster change in mid-May and bring the former Gosu Crew duo, John "Xotic" Bruno and Preston "Priestah" Greiner, over to Cloud9 in an effort to provide more consistent slaying power. That move didn't appear to pay off during Call of Duty Global Pro League Stage 2, though; Cloud9 didn't manage to make it out of group play, while former Cloud9 members Devin "LlamaGod" Tran and Andres "Lacefield" Lacefield excelled on their new team, Ghost Gaming, despite just missing the playoffs themselves.
And the move looks even worse now, as it was Ghost Gaming, led by a revenge-fueled Lacefield, who knocked Cloud9 into the lower bracket, before a resurgent Epsilon Esports squad officially finished off the once-dominant squad in an elimination game. The results only confirm what has been suspected for some time: Regardless of Aches and the prestige of the team, this iteration of Cloud9 was not a top-tier group.
Surprise teams take shape on Day 3
The upsets were kept to a minimum throughout the first two days of the World Championship, but Friday certainly didn't disappoint. Team Infused, a squad that barely managed to qualify for the top-16 after falling into a three-way tie for second place in Group C, somehow knocked off red-hot Rise Nation and advanced through to the second round of the upper bracket.
Although Infused struggled in both Hardpoint rounds with a 250-177 loss in Round One before putting a miraculous finish to win Round Four by three ticks, it dominated in Search and Destroy and Uplink.
Allegiance would follow suit just a short while later, pulling off an upset of its own by defeating Group F winners Fnatic in another relatively breezy 3-1 series.
Perhaps neither win should be considered a monumental surprise, given neither Rise Nation nor Fnatic were pegged as true contenders heading into the championship. But Team Infused and Allegiance weren't expected to even make it to the championship bracket, much less the second round, so a guaranteed top-12 placement is worth a nod. The wins likely won't last much longer as Team Infused will square off against a motivated FaZe Clan squad, while Allegiance finds itself in a tough battle of its own against eUnited on Saturday.
Potential for major matchups align in upper bracket
OpTic Gaming vs. FaZe Clan. Team EnVyUs vs. eUnited. We are just one round away from seeing potentially the four best teams in competitive Call of Duty square off against one another in the upper bracket semifinals.
However, in order for the dream pair of matches to happen, the favorites must continue to play, like, well, favorites. Of the four teams mentioned above, OpTic Gaming and Team EnVyUs seem to have the toughest matches to begin Saturday.
OpTic Gaming, who have largely went unchallenged through the first three days of competition, will square off against its rivals from across the pond, Splyce, to determine who will face the winner of FaZe Clan vs. Team Infused. On the flip side of the upper bracket, Team EnVyUs will duke it out against a resurgent Ghost Gaming squad for the right to challenge the winner of eUnited vs. Allegiance in the upper bracket semifinals.
The results will come quick. Action is expected to start at 10 a.m. ET with EnVyUs vs. Ghost Gaming and eUnited vs. Allegiance across the two streams.