The biggest European Call of Duty teams will be in action in Blackpool this weekend at European Gaming League’s latest tournament. While many Call of Duty players now compete all over the world at events like X Games, MLG and the Call of Duty Championship, Blackpool will hold fond memories for those who competed in the early days of competitive CoD. Indeed, Blackpool's EGL5 was, at the time, the biggest Call of Duty tournament ever.
But what does EGL: Summer Open 2013 (aka EGL13) have in store for us? Let’s look at the tournament favourites and dark horses for the tournament, one of the final battles played out on Xbox 360. Here are our EGL13 predictions...
1. TCM (Gunshy, Peatie, Moose, MarkyB)
As with every major European event this year, calling the top two hasn’t been difficult. There’s the reigning champions Epsilon, the team which everyone wants to beat. Then you’ve got TCM. A few months ago, most people would have backed Epsilon for first place but since then TCM have tasted success at MLG Anaheim, doing what most European fans believed to be impossible: reaching the podium on American soil.
Countless major US events passed with Europeans failing to make a significant impact on the tournament. Anaheim was to be different as TCM mounted a Loser Bracket run that will be talked about for years to come. Sure, the team couldn’t make first place but it was a considerable improvement. Enough for European fans to finally hold their heads high.
However, TCM are yet to take home an Xbox 360 event title. EGL13 looks like the perfect place to buck this trend and get one over on their rivals who have dominated the European Xbox 360 events. TCM have won a European tournament this year on Xbox One, beating Epsilon in the Grand Final of the Call of Duty Championship European Finals.
EGL13 is also a chance for Peatie to showcase his skills in a team that have been working together for months. He showed his potential after his last minute inclusion in the TCM team at EGL12, even if the team hadn’t been given enough chance to click. At EGL13 there will be no such excuses and if TCM lose this time. It will be because Epsilon are still the best European team; at least on Xbox 360.
2. Epsilon (Tommey, Swanny, Joshh, Jurd)
Close behind are Epsilon. As always, it’s a toss-up between Europe’s two frontrunners and the reigning EGL champions will be disappointed with anything but first place this weekend in Blackpool.
Their performance at MLG Anaheim fell short of expectations as they placed 7th-8th but, on home soil, Epsilon have enjoyed great success, especially on Xbox 360.
Back to back tournament wins, including the EGL12 title, means Epsilon are still the team to beat and will come to EGL13 as the first seed. They’ve also managed to maintain some roster consistency and have not made a change since before iSeries when they brought Joshh into the roster. For Joshh, the prospect of competing at his first Gfinity tournament the weekend after EGL is exciting but having finished second twice before at Blackpool, he has unfinished business.
The Epsilon team are looking to break a number of records this weekend. Joshh, the most successful ever EGL participant, can win a fifth EGL title and his fourth consecutive tournament.
When playing alongside Tommey, Joshh is yet to lose a European event, boasting a 6 out of 6 record following their latest triumph in Spain.
Tommey himself will be competing for his third EGL Championship while Swanny and Jurd are both looking for their second consecutive title. Collectively, the Epsilon players have won eight EGL titles, while TCM players have only won two.
Epsilon would also be only the second team to win back to back events with the same roster; a record currently held by Optic Gaming. Epsilon certainly have the pedigree and while we’re predicting victory for TCM, a win at EGL13 would come as a shock to no one.
3. Exertus (Reedy, Robz, Enduraaa, Rated)
If 1st and 2nd place are nailed on at EGL13, third place is completely wide open with a number of teams, including Vitality, (see below) having the opportunity to bag the final place on the podium. Exertus have found form at the right time and appear to be the best of the rest. A team made up of relative veterans, the Exertus players have never achieved a podium placement at a major European event but are by no means shy of tournament experience.
Robz was part of the heroic Expectation team which shrugged aside a number of top teams, including Prophecy, on their way to fourth place at EGL10 in Sheffield last summer. Beyond that, their placements have been relatively mixed, with Rated even competing in EGL12’s amateur bracket after his previous team, DB Gaming, slumped out the tournament much earlier than expected.
The team is showing great promise, though, and their impressive online results, frequently written off by detractors, were followed up by a very competent performance at the Gfinity Qualification LAN that saw Exertus book their place at Gfinity 3.
EGL13 has come at the right time for Exertus, who will be hoping to reach the latter stages of the tournament and get more experience against the top dogs.
They will also have the opportunity to test out their tactics on the best Europe has to offer ahead of their first Gfinity event, where they have been drawn in a group with potential EGL13 opponents, Epsilon.
With a lot to gain and little to prove, EGL13 should be a positive tournament for one of Europe’s more interesting line ups as they look to usurp the establishment.
Dark Horses: Vitality (Gotaga, Broken, Riskin, Krnage)
There are a number of teams at EGL13 this weekend who, on their day, could mix it up with the best of them. For example, Vitality will think that they have a good chance of making the podium. Boasting two former EGL winners, France’s best Call of Duty export have continued to improve following a Black Ops 2 campaign that left a lot to be desired.
They also have Europe’s biggest stars on their team. While the best British and Irish players have become relative household names in America thanks to their improved performances, Gotaga has become something of a celebrity in his native France. His assault on YouTube has turned him from a skilled CoD competitor into an entertainer, garnering huge support from his fellow countrymen.
This was no better demonstrated than when he held a meet and greet in Paris. Expecting a modest turn out, Gotaga was greeted by a mob of fans chanting his name. His rise to stardom has not come without a cost, though as his stock as a player has fallen.
Since winning ECL2 (the tournament rebranded to EGL in 2012), French teams have enjoyed limited success in competitive Call of Duty. A finals appearance at EGL11 for Millenium and only the occasional European event title highlights the gulf in competition between France and the UK. Still, Call of Duty: Ghosts has resulted in a step in the right direction. Vitality’s improved performance at the Call of Duty Championship proved their progress while their 4th place finish at EGL12 also gave their fans something to cheer about.
With French audiences at home expecting a similar performance, Vitality should be able to compete at EGL13 with limited expectations and could pull off an upset or two along the way. A podium placement shouldn’t be ruled out, either.
Find out if our predictions turn out to be correct by watching the whole tournament live over on EGL.tv, with English and French language commentary available all weekend.