Tag Archive: Call of Duty: Black Ops II

They were the odds-on favorites coming in, but after hitting a speed bump in the form of Envyus on Day 2, Fariko Impact’s hopes of a trifecta of 2013 Call of Duty championships were in jeopardy. But they would not be denied.

After being relegated to the Lower Bracket Championship against OpTic Gaming, Fariko knew that the road would be tougher, but not insurmountable. And so after getting a good night’s rest and making sure to come together as a team, they began working their way to $400,000, a big trophy, some sweet gold rings, and ultimately the 2013 Call of Duty World Championship.

Led by team captain, Parasite, Impact started off neck and neck with OpTic in Hardpoint. There were seven lead changes in their opening match before Impact locked down the final Hardpoint and won 250-190. And things would be just as hard in Search and Destroy. Going to the 11th round after Impact let OpTic back into the match, a trend we saw across the whole tournament, one man was left on each team. Parasite would again get the clutch kill that would seal the game for his team.

After letting CTF get away from them some, Impact kept their cool, knowing it’s not their best game mode, only winning 20% of their CTF matches in the tournament to that point. But Hardpoint is. And they showed why on their favorite map in “Hijack”. Dominating from the get go, Impact cruised 250-137, never letting the map get away from them, and crossing the finish line 3-1 in the Lower Bracket Championship, leaving OpTic with the $120,000 3rd place prize.

After a ridiculous two and a half hour “break” between matches, it was finally time for the World Championship where Envyus would look to repeat their performance from the previous evening. By the way, easily the worst thing about this weekend was the huge delay between the Lower Bracket Championship and World Championship. The CodCasters were wondering why the energy in the building had died down so much. It’s simple. The live crowd took a nap because there was no reason to take so long there. Not to mention all the cut-ins between the games of the actual World Championship match and I’d be surprised if most of the audience watching at home online didn’t turn it off and go watch Wrestlemania. It was as if we had a power outage every five minutes in the Super Bowl.

But I digress. Since Envyus and Impact met already in the tournament, instead of playing another best of five match, they played as if their series was now a best of 11, picking up where the match from yesterday left off. So right off the bat, Impact knew they had to win four and not three games since Envyus had a natural 3-2 advantage going into the championship. And the first game would be CTF, Envyus’s strongest game type and Impact’s weakest.

But against all odds, Impact forced Stopwatch, CTF’s version of overtime, and pulled off one of the most improbable victories of the entire tournament to tie the series at three. This then brought us into Hardpoint, where Impact again dominated 244-138.

The two teams then traded victories to bring the count up to 5-4, and Impact was going to be playing Hardpoint again. But much like they had shocked Envyus with a win in CTF, Envyus pulled the wool over Impact’s eyes much like they had in their Upper Bracket Championship match and stole a close 220-200 victory.

This set up another all-deciding Search and Destroy match. Envyus again started strong here, winning 3 of the first 5 to take an early advantage. But their nerves seemed to get the best of them because this is when Impact hunkered down and rolled over Envyus in 4 of the next 5 rounds to win Search and Destroy 6-4, and to win the Call of Duty 2013 World Championship six games to five.  The comeback was complete and Impact had finished their personal Call of Duty Triple Crown.

On the second day of the Call of Duty Championship, the final 16 teams were cut down to just three as double elimination bracket rules were put into effect. Meaning the fastest route to the top spot would be to keep winning, but should your team falter, you had a second chance to make it back to the finals should you rediscover your winning groove.

The matches for the second day were now set in a best of five format with Hardpoint, Search and Destroy, and Capture the Flag remaining the first three games. Should they be necessary, however, Hardpoint and Search and Destroy would return for games four and five, respectively, if needed. And once again, instead of giving you a perfect play-by-play, here are just the biggest things to take away from Day 2’s action.

Perfection Lost

As alluded to yesterday, I’ve watched enough sports over the years to know that everyone would be gunning for Fariko Impact. Not only had they won the previous two professional Call of Duty tournaments, as a team they were undefeated in the game. Not a single match had been dropped by this group of guys. Until now.

Although they faced stiff competition against Complexity, Epsilon, and OpTic Gaming in the winner’s bracket, Impact was able to sneak out some close, yet still impressive victories on the way to the Upper Bracket Championship Match. A victory there would ensure nothing worse than a second place finish. But fate would not be on their side as Envyus, who had not really impressed, but not yet faltered up to that point either, would follow their captain’s lead and constantly change strategies to keep Impact on their toes. And it worked.

The first Hardpoint match was the second closest of the event thus far, and both involved Envyus. Although Envyus beat Killerfish to win Group 4 on Day 1, they lost the Hardpoint game to Killerfish, 220-217. Utilizing a nearly identical strategy to what was used against them, Envyus pulled off a similar narrow victory with a 244-239 win that immediately got a buzz going around the Palladium Theater.

Impact would not have it, however, and would easily handle Envyus in the Search and Destroy match. Envyus would then earn another narrow victory in Capture the Flag to take a 2-1 lead. Impact would not make the same mistakes twice, though, and the second Hardpoint was close again, but this time favored Impact 229-192 and would tie the match at two games apiece.

And this is when things got really interesting. In this final Search and Destroy game, Envyus came out strong and jumped out to an early lead. Impact would catch up though and tie it at 4 rounds apiece. Both teams would trade rounds then to set up an epic tiebreaking round where Envyus’ genius would shine through.

For many of the Search and Destroy rounds Envyus had played the games tentatively, often splitting up to move through multiple map corridors. But in the final round, Envyus bum rushed Impact as a single cohesive unit. I’m not sure if it was planned or came to Rambo, the captain for Envyus, late in the match, but Impact, who had stuck with their tried and true method used in previous rounds, were scattered, trying to rely on their own individual skills whereas Envyus had become something greater than the sum of their parts and polished off Impact in near-record time in that final round.

The crowd then erupted for the mighty Impact had fallen. At least to the Lower Bracket anyway, due to the double elimination rules. But no longer was Impact invincible after we witnessed a match that may be one of the greatest in competitive Call of Duty history.

Stiff Competition

Whereas you could not escape the clean sweep on Day 1, Day 2 mostly had anything but. Aside for a few early sweeps against lesser teams like Pain Gaming, nearly every match went back and forth and we had several instances where, much like the Envyus vs Impact match, we saw a 2-2 game, 5-5 round tie. Everyone in attendance was on edge as we saw it happen time and again, including between Complexity and OpTic to decide who would finish in fourth place, and who would move onto the Lower Bracket Championship Match against Impact and have an outside chance still at the overall title.

We also saw a couple teams flirt with those matches once too often as Killerfish would advance in the Lower Bracket Championship and bring Quantic back down to Earth with a 6-5, 5th game win, but then see the clock strike midnight as they would then fall the very same way in their next match against vVv, missing the money matches by literally a single round of Search and Destroy.

Europe Represents

Speaking of Killerfish, they were just one of the European teams to show up and provide a very good show, and give the typically more dominant American teams a run for their money. Inferno (Italy) and Epsilon (Ireland) would both wow me, and garner quite an underdog following, as they made runs into the money matches and put up strong fights against some of the more elite competition like OpTic. All of the European teams would eventually fall, but they were often in the most exciting matches and surely made their home countries proud. And for Inferno and Epsilon, well, I’m sure we’ll figure out the conversion rate for their winnings before sending them back across the pond.

Money Talks

With so many teams having fallen today, a lot of the money winners were decided before we even get to the major championships. Below is an official breakdown of the million dollars up for grabs and who has won what so far:

  • 8th place: $25,000 – Inferno eSports
  • 7th place: $35,000 – vVv Gaming
  • 6th place: $50,000 – Epsilon
  • 5th place: $70,000 – FEAR
  • 4th place: $100,000 – Complexity
  • 3rd place: $120,000 – ???
  • 2nd place: $200,000 – ???
  • 1st place: $400,000 – ???


So yesterday I made some prediction about the first eight matches we would see and went 6-2, including 1-1 in my upset picks. Not bad. Here’s a better breakdown of where I went right and where I went wrong:

  • Complexitiy vs Killerfish – I saw the problems Killerfish gave Envyus on Day 1 and thought they could’ve done the same to Complexity. They did, but just like their match with Envyus, it was close but ended with a losing result. RESULT: WRONG 
  • Soar vs Quantic – Everyone saw that Quantic had taken advantage of a weakened Unite team to claim their group and Soar put them back in their place, with help from Killerfish who then knocked them out of the Lower Bracket. RESULT: RIGHT
  • Fariko Impact vs Epsilon – Epsilon made a nice run in the Lower Bracket to get some cash, but they were never on Impact’s level. RESULT: RIGHT
  • OpTic Gaming vs Pain Gaming – Another clear mismatch as OpTic crushed Pain before they were, unsurprisingly, expelled from the tournament altogether as the first team eliminated from the Lower Bracket. RESULT: RIGHT
  • Donut Shop vs Enigma – Donut Shop came out on fire and crushed Enigma, but I think a lot of folks were secretly hoping both teams would’ve gone farther than they did, each coming up one round shy of the money matches. RESULT: RIGHT
  • Envyus vs The Stand – I had no idea Envyus was as strong as they ended up being, but I knew enough to trust them against The Stand who barely even showed up on Day 2. RESULT: RIGHT
  • Fariko All-Stars vs FEAR – I fell in love with the All-Stars after the fit they gave OpTic on Day 1 in a losing effort. I thought they’d be able to handle FEAR, but they succumbed as the first of FEAR’s victims, as FEAR was well on its way to a 5th place finish. RESULT: WRONG 
  • vVv Gaming vs Inferno eSports – A sign of things to come as both these teams would face off again to determine 7th/8th place with vVv winning both times, but I think many would agree vVv underperformed, while Inferno might’ve over performed, in this particular tournament overall. RESULT: RIGHT

So the stage is set for the final day. OpTic Gaming gets a rematch against Impact after Impact sent them down to the Lower Bracket to begin with, and the winner will take on Envyus for all the marbles. I still have a good feeling about the OpTic guys, even if they hit a rough patch yesterday against Impact, because after that loss they played ticked off and crushed everyone in their way. If they come with that fire from the get go, Impact ,and then Envyus, will have their hands full.

If you want to watch the results of these ensuing, epic battles, then watch the action live by heading over to http://www.twitch.tv/ or http://elite.callofduty.com/esports starting at 12 PM PT (3 PM ET).

In just the first day of action at the 1st Annual Call of Duty Championship, we saw 32 of the best teams in the world whittled down to 16. This first day was set up in a Round Robin/Group format similar to the FIFA World Cup. Each match-up was decided when a team won the best of three games. The first two games played were Hardpoint followed by Search and Destroy. Should the teams split these two games, Capture the Flag would decide who would win the match.

Even though I was on the floor watching all the matches (or as many as I could at one time), instead of giving you a play-by-play of everything that happened, here are some of the storylines/highlights that we saw emerge from Day 1 as well as who to keep an eye on during Day 2 as we move into the bracket stage of the tournament!

The Odds-On Favorite Dominates

After coming off a pair of Call of Duty tournament wins at EGL9 and MLG – Dallas, Fariko Impact came in as the heavy favorites to cap off the hat trick with a 1st Annual Call of Duty Championship Trophy. Placed into the first group on the center stage of the tournament, Impact rolled to a clean sweep over their group mates in Team Pain from Spain, Immunity from Austrailia, and the up and coming Team Phoenix who qualified through Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s League Play.

Fariko Gaming as a whole couldn’t pull off the sweep like their golden team Impact did, though, as Fariko Dragons fell away in the evening matches. Fariko All-Stars were able to join their fellow Fariko mates at least, but as the second team from their respective group.

Don’t Sleep on These Under the Radar Teams

OpTic Gaming was the group who took the big prize at Call of Duty XP back in 2011 and they’re hoping the smog-filled skies of LA are friendly to them once again. But because of Impact’s incredible roll of late, they were placed inconspicuously in Group 5. And it wasn’t until they wiped the floor with Fariko All-Stars to decide the Group 5 winner that people realized the OpTic team had brought their “A” game to this tournament. Familiar to the bright lights, the big stage, and the fat purse, OpTic is letting Impact hog the limelight…but for how long?

vVv Gaming also came out of their respective group clearly head and shoulders above their competition and could be another team that takes advantage of all eyes being on Impact. It’s not easy having a target on your back and how Impact handles the ever-increasing pressure will be put to the test  once again should they run up against OpTic or vVv later in the tournament, especially since both of them look to advance quickly with favorable Round of 16 match-ups.

North America Asserts Itself, But Doesn’t Pitch a Global Shutout

As seen in most Call of Duty tournaments, the North American teams came in as heavy favorites and for good reason. Many teams from other countries including xTaz from South Africa, a pair of teams from South Korea, Millennium from France, Immunity from Australia, and SSOF from Brazil all fell to the wayside as they ran up against seemingly sharper North American competition.

But a trio of teams from overseas caught my eye. Enigma from Sweden, Killerfish from Germany, and Inferno eSports from Italy were all able to sneak into the Round of 16 as the second teams in their respective groups. Killerfish in particular gave heavily favored, and eventual Group 4 winner, Envyus a fight that went to the Capture the Flag round. Inferno and Enigma have huge uphill battles against vVv Gaming and Donut Shop respectively in the next round, but I would not be surprised if Killerfish came out with a strategy that would shock Complexity out of the winner’s bracket. I got a feeling Cinderella likes Oktoberfest.

Surprise, Surprise

There was a fair share of surprises that came out of the first day of competition. Several of these came from the European circuit as described above, but another big surprise was Quantic. Although given a fair chance to advance as probably the second team from their group, they instead started hot against Unite and never looked back as they dominated.

And speaking of Unite, they were the one surprise on the negative side. Expected to have a strong showing after giving Impact a run for their money at MLG – Dallas, Unite dominated South African team xTaz right out of the gate. Jaws hit the floor, however, when Unite got burned by Inferno and were ultimately bounced from the tournament.

Not that excuses mean much in eSports, but in Unite’s defense, they had an odd situation on their hands as three of the four team members were not allowed to participate due to the rules of the tournament dictating participants must be 18 years old or older. This led Unite’s captain to calling up some buddies from Europe in the hopes of putting together a hodgepodge team that might shock some people. But the lack of experience playing together ultimately looks to have contributed to Unite’s downfall after their fast start.

Posers vs. Players

Although the tournament was set up for best of three games in each match-up, it was rare that the deciding Capture the Flag games came into effect. More often than not, the teams that were going to win established themselves early and dominated throughout. This means that, for the most part, the truly best of the best have advanced to the Round of 16.  With matches now going to best of five for Day 2, though, I’d be surprised if we saw too many more clean sweeps, especially as we don’t know the game types yet.

Can a Controversial Second Chance Be Taken Advantage of?

The first day of the tournament came off without a hitch. Mostly. The big moment that had players, managers, and press alike scratching their heads was when Group 1 had a three-way tie for second place. Fariko Impact had easily won all three of their matches, but the other three teams had all beaten each other in turn and were left with matching 1-2 records. And because everyone’s head-to-head was the same, and they all won the same amount of games, the tie-breaking rules had been exhausted. No one knew what to do.

What was most unsettling was that several attendees, including yours truly, informed several high-ranking officials at the tournament of what was setting up to transpire at least 15 minutes before it actually happened. Group 1 was on center-stage after all and if you had even been remotely paying attention to those matches, you could see what was unfolding after Phoenix got off to a slow start they couldn’t recover from in the group’s final match against Immunity. It took another 20 minutes after the match had ended before a solution, and not a very good one, had been realized.

Now, logic would dictate that if games were even, the next basis you would look at, much like professional sports where similar situations could arise, would be to look at points forced. People had been tracking scores all day and it couldn’t have been hard to look at the footage or look at players’ previous match results had they not been handy.

First, you’d look at Hardpoint. Then Search and Destroy if still necessary. Then CTF. And then, if somehow, someway, there were still ties, you’d look at Kill/death ratio. It’s very easy when you have all these stats to institute tiebreakers to prevent what actually ended up happening that even the tournament’s own Codcasters called a “debacle”.

Instead of looking at points forced, where Team Phoenix would’ve been the winners, a mini-Round Robin tournament was set up amongst the three teams with a coin flip deciding who played who first. The first team to two wins would advance. Unless of course everyone beat each other once again and then the organizers’ heads would likely explode.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen and Pain Gaming edged out Phoenix in the final match after both Phoenix and Pain trumped Immunity. And, as haphazard a process it may have been to get there, they were some of the best matches I saw all day.

But this was definitely one moment where things did not go as smoothly as planned as match schedules then needed to be shifted and managers for the later teams seemed frustrated because their teams were moved from the center stage to secondary stages. I’m sure part of this frustration stemmed from the thought of the sponsors of said teams loving the idea of Phoenix, Immunity, and Pain all getting extra center stage matches over their teams.

When all is said and done, unfortunately, I think it will all be for naught because Pain Gaming now has the dubious task of trying to upset OpTic Gaming. So, even though they were pulled back from the brink of elimination, I can’t see them progressing past the Round of 16.


So we have eight epic match-ups in the Round of 16. Here are my quick picks for the start of Day 2:

  • Killerfish’s Cinderella run isn’t over and they upset Complexity.
  • Soar brings Quantic back down to earth with an upset of their own.
  • Fariko Impact continues to roll as they crush Epsilon.
  • OpTic Gaming sends Pain packing even after their second chance.
  • Donut Shop shows there are no questions there as they crush Enigma.
  • Envyus sits down The Stand.
  • The Fariko All-Stars are brave enough to edge out Fear.
  • vVv Gaming extinguishes Inferno eSports.

So that’s it for Day 1’s analysis and Day 2’s predictions. Day 2 will feature best of five matches now between teams, with double elimination rules coming into effect. This means that teams that lose their first matches will slip into a loser’s bracket and we will advance from there. With the cream looking to rise to the top, we should expect even more contested contests here on Day 2.

If you want to check out the current bracket, check out http://elite.callofduty.com/esports and to watch the action live, be sure to head over to http://www.twitch.tv/ starting at 9 AM PT (12 PM ET) for the start of today’s matches.

EGM Game Over Podcast 015: Nintendentious

The EGM crew brings you the Game Over Podcast, our end-of-the-week conversation where we discuss some of the biggest recent events in gaming.

[Hosts] Brandon Justice, Andrew Fitch, Ray Carsillo, Josh Harmon, and Eric L. Patterson
[Date] November 16th, 2012

[News] The Wii U’s about to launch, THQ is in trouble, Silicon Knights’ games sentence to death, Call of Duty: Black Ops II hits $500 million on its first day, and Xbox Live turns 10.

[EGM Reviews] Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Wonderbook

Want to send feedback to the show? Drop us a line on Twitter: @EGMLogin

[Subscribe via iTunes] http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/egm-radio/id538629924
[Subscribe via Feedburner] http://feeds.feedburner.com/EGMRadio

Treyarch’s latest answers the Call again

Like the inevitable changing of the seasons, Call of Duty’s yearly release has become an event to which the gaming community can set their watches. In recent years, many gamers have criticized the cookie-cutter formula—the series has almost felt like a yearly “roster update” in the sports-gaming sense. After my time with Black Ops II, though, I can promise you this is one title that finally deviates from that formula.

Right from the get-go, the plot hits with an innovative one-two punch, as the story splits between two time periods. We get to play as both the original Black Ops protagonist, Alex Mason, in the ’80s as well as his son, David, in the near future of 2025. The key thread that connects them? The villain, Raul Menendez—but this isn’t your standard-issue Call of Duty baddie. The considerable talents of writer David Goyer—co-writer of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight—bring Menendez to life, as he exudes a sinister demeanor and delusions of grandeur that remind you of a cross between the Joker and a classic Bond villain. But Menendez also reveals a human side that elicits empathy at times, making him easily the most interesting, entertaining antagonist the series has ever seen.

After years of creative stagnation, Black Ops II’s campaign is a revelation. Once you get past the first couple of missions, the game introduces branching paths that can change the ending depending on how you react to the situations presented before you. This injects a healthy dose of replayability you usually don’t get from a Call of Duty campaign, making a seven-to-eight-hour experience worth going through multiple times.

The main campaign is joined by the new Strike Force missions, which add some real-time strategy elements to the proceedings. You serve as a handler for a squad who must carry out diverse objectives depending on the mission, issuing orders from above or taking over as any single unit and fight the battle in the trenches yourself.

Whether it’s assassinating targets or protecting computer terminals holding valuable information, the Strike Force objectives are supposed to help determine how you play. Unfortunately, once you dig into these side missions, you’ll realize how incompetent the ally AI is; it often ignores your commands, and soon the RTS view becomes null and void. In the end, it’s better to try to supersoldier it and control one character at a time in order to win the day. Strike Force is a great idea that finally brings some new gameplay elements into the mix, but it’s poorly executed, making some of the missions a bit of a chore depending on the parameters.

Aside from this one glaring flaw, however, the campaign is the best since the first Modern Warfare. The story enthralls from the start, and the gameplay is still definitively Call of Duty—especially with some sweet future tech like the Millimeter Scanner that allows you to see foes through walls.

It wouldn’t be Call of Duty if I didn’t mention the multiplayer, though—and in Black Ops II, this element’s better than ever. The new “Pick 10” system works like a dream in terms of customizing your classes, and the user interface simplifies things so that most anyone can use it to maximize their killing potential in any match. Plus, with new modes like Hardpoint (Call of Duty‘s take on King of the Hill), League Play for official competition, and CODcasting for those would-be pro-gaming broadcasters out there, this is the biggest, best multiplayer suite ever seen in Call of Duty.

But if multiplayer helps define Call of Duty, Zombies mode—which now offers three play options—defines Treyarch as a developer. In fact, this mode’s now been expanded to the point where it could almost be its own standalone game. TranZit offers a deeper experience as you explore a variety of locations, ferried from place to place on a robot-driven bus that has clearly seen better days. Meanwhile, Survival is more of your traditional Zombies experience with self-contained levels taken from sections of TranZit mode. Finally, there’s Grief mode, which puts two teams of humans against each other to see who can survive the zombies the longest.

Let’s face it: Call of Duty is a phenomenon beyond our control at this point; the game will sell millions of copies no matter what a reviwer says. But with branching story paths, the most impressive multiplayer yet, and a Zombies mode that’s to die for, I can say that—for the first time in a long time—I’ll be proud when I answer the call with everyone else when Black Ops II releases.

SUMMARY: The first Black Ops put Treyarch on par with Infinity Ward; with Black Ops II, they surpass them. This is the most impressed I’ve been with Call of Duty since the first Modern Warfare; aside from some problems with the Strike Force missions, this is a shining moment for the franchise.

  • THE GOOD: Best story since the first Modern Warfare.
  • THE BAD: Strike Force missions are a great-but-poorly executed idea.
  • THE UGLY: The stunning renderings of Manuel “Pineapple Face” Noriega.

SCORE: 9.0

Call of Duty: Black Ops II is available on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Nintendo Wii U. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.