Las Vegas will host the first open LAN event of the 2017 Call of Duty season on Friday. This will mark the beginning of a handful of competitions that will directly impact who qualifies for the Call of Duty World Championship next year. With over 160 teams taking part in the event at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and $100,000 on the line, there's sure to be plenty of action developing over the course of the three-day event. Here's a look at the groups of invited teams competing and which teams are likely to advance.
Group A Teams: Team EnVyUs, FaZe Clan, The Gosu Crew
FaZe Clan certainly appear motivated to prove that last year's lack of success was simply an aberration. Their first-place performance at the PSX Invitational two weeks ago was a nice treat, but the real test will begin in Las Vegas. With fundamental changes implemented to game modes such as Search and Destroy and Hardpoint just a week before the start of the event, it will be interesting to see whether FaZe will be able to repeat their initial success.
You could make a case that Team EnVyUs should be projected to take first in the group, and I'd be hard-pressed to argue with you. The 2016 World Champions were the best team in Call of Duty for a portion of last season, making doubters, myself included, look foolish throughout their dominant run. With Johnathan "John" Perez and Jordan "Jkap" Kaplan still in tow, it would be a surprise to see EnVyUs slip much from their 2016 peak. Fans of Boys in Blue shouldn't be too disappointed with the team's poor placement in a recent 2K Online Final, in which EnVyUs placed 17th-32nd place.
Expected to advance: FaZe Clan, Team EnVyUs
Group B Teams: Rise Nation, OpTic Gaming, Team Revenge
Say what you will about their World Championship success, but OpTic Gaming are still one of the best teams in Call of Duty until proven otherwise. While OpTic didn't take part in the PSX Invitational, they made sure to remind everyone of their dominance at the 2K Online Final, in which they took first place. It's tough to gauge how solid a team is, considering the tournament was played online, but it seems as if the Green Wall are already on their way to performing to their lofty standards.
Rise Nation went through a major makeover in the offseason, importing three players from Team eLevate to join lone holdover Daniel "Loony" Loza. The new roster put together an uneven performance en route to a third-fourth place finish at the PSX Invitational, most notably playing to and winning the last round in two of their four matches.
As a result, I wouldn't be surprised if Team Revenge earn a spot in the championship bracket. Adam "Killa" Sloss' new team shouldn't be dismissed, as the roster is built with a mix of battle-tested veterans and young, up-and-coming talent. If Rise Nation can play up to their potential, they should be able to claim the second spot in Group B, but Revenge will be waiting in the wings if they falter.
Expected to advance: OpTic Gaming, Rise Nation
Group C Teams: Cloud9, Team Kaliber, Echo Fox
Cloud9's performance at MLG Las Vegas will depend largely on the performance of Andres "Lacefield" Lacefield and team captain, Patrick "Aches" Price. If each player is on point, Cloud9 should have no trouble making it through to the championship bracket.
This feels like a toss-up regarding the two remaining teams in Group C. Echo Fox finished a respectable ninth-16th place at the 2K Online Final and will have the benefit of playing in group play as opposed to the open bracket, which was their calling card last season. But on the flip side, Team Kaliber boast one of the more unheralded and underrated rosters in North America, with Dylan "Theory" McGee and Cole "ColeChan" Chancey leading the charge. I'll lean toward Echo Fox for the moment, but either one of these teams could advance.
Expected to advance: Cloud9, Echo Fox
Group D Teams: Luminosity Gaming, Allegiance, compLexity Gaming
Renato "Saints" Forza might be the quintessential "heat-check" player; the lone Luminosity Gaming holdover has put together ridiculous slaying numbers in past iterations of the game. Coupled with a new roster comprised of former Rise Nation members, Luminosity should be able to handle their own in Group D.
While not the same caliber of slayer as Saints, compLexity's Christopher "Parasite" Duarte can certainly hold his own when it comes to slaying and should be able to carry his team through group play. Depending on who advances through the open bracket to qualify for Group D, compLexity seems to match up favorably against their fellow competition and, as a result, should find their way into the championship bracket.
Expected to advance: Luminosity Gaming, compLexity Gaming