Call of Duty XP had it all. There was the outstanding stage setup, excellent production with some of the top broadcasting talent in the world, even a performance from Snoop Dogg, but the real highlight was the in-game action itself, which threw up some incredible stories.
OpTic, arguably the best team in CoD, faltered again at champs and went out well before Championship Sunday at the hands of Cloud9, who seemed to enjoy that victory more than most.
Jordan 'JKap' Kaplan managed to claim his second championship ring in as many years with EnVyUs and Europe proved they can stand up with NA with two teams in the top four. But the real story was that of Splyce.
Splyce made history at Call of Duty XP as they became the first European team to ever make the final at the Call of Duty World Championships, and boy did they do it in style. Milenium, FaZe Clan, Rise Nation and Team eLevate are just a few of the big names that fell to Splyce during the course of XP. While they fell short of taking it all, their achievement was still outstanding.
After falling to FAB early in the winner's bracket, Splyce went on a miraculous lower-bracket run, facing elimination in every game. They won all the way through to the grand final where they fell 3-1 to EnVyUs, but they played some of the best CoD we have ever seen.
There was, however, one player on Splyce that stood out from the rest and that was Ben ‘Bance’ Bance, who is our MVP for Call of Duty XP.
Every single member of Splyce put in excellent performances across the event but it was Bance that stood out. When he was on fire Splyce made dismantling NA’s best teams look easy and it’s no surprise that when he quietened down in the final, the team ended up losing.
We lost count of the amount of times we heard one of the casters scream Bance’s name with an upwards inflection as they couldn't quite believe the plays he was pulling off; without those plays there is a good chance that Splyce wouldn’t have made the final.
One stand-out example of how important Bance was to Splyce came during their match against Rise Nation. The first map of the series was Hardpoint on Fringe and all the way through it was a close affair with teams trading objective time fairly evenly.
Around half way though the match, with Splyce having a lead of around 40 points, Bance finds himself as the lone player on the objective in grandma’s with Rise Nation surrounding him. A few seconds later and he is on a six-kill streak with Splyce’s lead having grown by 20.
This play would prove to be one of the most important of the match, as a tense final few moments resulted in a 250-248 win for Splyce, one of the closest scores you can get in Hardpoint. Bance ended that map with a score of 51 kills and 39 deaths, proving that he is one of the best slayers in the game and making him the deciding factor in what was one of the closest maps of the entire event.
Slayers such as Bance usually make a name for themselves in modes that feature respawns, as they can really rack up the kills when everyone is on the map for most of the game. But Bance also proved his worth in Search And Destroy, arguably the most important game mode as it is featured twice in every best of five.
Perhaps his most important play in Search came against Elevate in the lower-bracket final. The winner of the match would go on to the final and be guaranteed $250,000 while the loser would have to settle for third. Having taken the Hardpoint, a win on Search And Destroy would almost guarantee Splyce that place in the final, and in the final round Bance showed up. With all of his team dead and the two remaining members of Elevate making a play on the bomb, Bance needed to come up big, and that he did.
After flying through the waterfall near B on Hunted, Bance took out one player, but things looked grim as the other used Glitch to reset his position. Not to be outdone, Bance, who had saved his specialist ability, did exactly the same, confusing the Elevate man and giving him the tactical advantage. Seconds later and Splyce were 2-0 up in the series and one step closer to the final.
Plays like these two were commonplace for Bance throughout the tournament and were just what Splyce needed to take out the toughest of opponents. Rarely did he end with a negative kill-to-death ratio and on more than a few occasions he became a top objective player, securing those crucial extra points.
There are only a handful of misplays that spring to mind, with the most common thought being his excellent execution in one-on-one gun battles. At times it seemed like he simply couldn't lose a fair one on one.
Somehow Splyce seemed to draw all of the US teams once they hit the lower bracket, and the only one they lost to was EnVyUs in the final.
Traditionally EU teams don’t stack up too well against the Americans, which makes their lower-bracket run all the more impressive, especially when you look at some of the fellow slayers the NA teams had in their rosters.
Bance managed to outperform almost all of the big names in Call of Duty, from Scump to ACHES he managed to show them how it was done.
Of course it was truly a team effort that gave Splyce their miraculous run. All of the players played incredibly well and truly deserved their second-place finish. While they may have been bested in the final by EnVyUs, who were by far the best team at the event, they truly showed what EU can do, and Bance was the shining example. The future looks bright for the Brit if he continues to play, as now he really can be considered one of the best in the world.
Oh and he dabbed when he came onstage for the final, which probably would have made him our MVP even if he was terrible.