With major changes on a quickly-approaching horizon, Call of Duty is currently in an odd spot competitively.
The latest iteration of the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, is set to release in October and bring on the annual list of massive changes to the competitive meta for pro players and amateurs alike. The Call of Duty World League Championship Aug. 14-18 in Los Angeles will be the last hurrah for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 before the new game.
All of this comes on top of the new franchise system that Blizzard Entertainment will be implementing for Call of Duty in the 2020 season, including fully geolocated franchises similar to the setup of Blizzard's Overwatch League.
With these impending changes looming over this weekend's big event, here are a few more storylines to look out for in the tournament.
Redemption for OpTic Gaming
It's been a rough few months for OpTic Gaming.
Although OpTic took first in their group at both CWL London and Anaheim, the pro league leaders failed to make it to the grand finals of either event. At the CWL Finals in Miami, OpTic had an even worse performance, falling first to Luminosity Gaming in the upper bracket and then being eliminated by 100 Thieves in the lower bracket for an overall tie with Splyce for seventh place.
OpTic have the talent to win but have been increasingly reliant on standout individual performances -- Brandon "Dashy" Otell's remarkable stats lines at Anaheim come to mind -- which haven't been coming as frequently for the squad as they have in the past. Even when a player like Dashy pops off have, those moments hasn't been enough to get them into a grand final to contend for a title.
SMG support Thomas "TJHaLy" Haly said on stream that OpTic have committed to returning to their old in-game characters for the world championships rather than going with the less-successful new looks they showed in Miami. This likely means TJHaLy will return to Battery, Seth "Scump" Abner to Crash and Damon "Karma" Barlow to Ruin.
Whether this will help OpTic return to the top remains to be seen, but it certainly can't hurt at this point.
... and redemption for 100 Thieves
Going into the CWL Pro League playoffs in Miami last month, 100 Thieves, fresh off back-to-back CWL titles in London and Anaheim, were the team to beat.
Despite an early loss to FaZe Clan in Round 2 at Miami, 100 Thieves made their way through Evil Geniuses and a struggling OpTic to face Gen.G in the losers bracket. 100 Thieves faced Gen.G several times at Anaheim -- in their group, in the upper bracket and again in the grand final -- and seemed to have Gen.G's number every time.
That wasn't the case at the CWL Pro League playoffs. With every series against 100 Thieves, Gen.G had looked just a bit stronger and more prepared. In Miami, 100 Thieves finally fell to Gen.G after a close 3-2 series.
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It came down to one kill on Frequency where, despite being eliminated half a second later, Gen.G's Chance "Maux" Moncivaez knocked out 100 Thieves' Kenny "Kenny" Williams, ending 100 Thieves' chances at a third consecutive title. Now 100 Thieves will look to take out Gen.G along with other top contenders at the world championships.
Despite their recent loss, 100 Thieves should still be considered among the favorites to take the title alongside CWL Pro League champion eUnited.
The rise of Gen.G
Gen.G's rise through this Call of Duty season has been a relatively quiet storyline, overshadowed by franchising rumors and announcements, 100 Thieves' back-to-back titles, eUnited's Miami victory and a faltering OpTic Gaming.
That being said, Gen.G have made marked improvements not only from tournament to tournament, but have shown minute adjustments and development from match to match and even map to map. Gen.G had stunning moments of composure and poise and pushed eUnited to a bracket reset in the Miami finals, coming closer to winning than any lower bracket challenger in recent history.
It would be an incredible finish to Gen.G's story of improvement if they ended the season with a world championship title.
eUnited seek crowning achievement
If Gen.G are the team that have been steadily rising in performance and prowess recently, eUnited are the team that has always been there and they're probably wondering why you haven't been talking about them as much.
eUnited finished the CWL Pro League regular season tied atop the standings alongside OpTic Gaming and are fresh off of the Pro League title. Although their finish at Anaheim was disappointing, it should also be noted that eUnited were runners-up at London as well. It took three grand finals to win a title, but eUnited have been one of the best teams in Call of Duty for a while now, especially since eventual playoffs MVP Chris "Simp" Lehr joined the starting lineup in March.
It had notably been 1,400 days since James "Clayster" Eubanks' last championship when he took the stage at Miami. As the legendary player wiped tears from behind his glasses and leaned on Alec "Arcitys" Sanderson for support, he cited winning with twins Arcitys and Preston "Prestinni" Sanderson and getting Simp his first win a greater accomplishment.
It could be a bit of recency bias given their victory a few weeks ago, but as previously mentioned, eUnited have been here the entire time. They should be the favorite headed into Los Angeles this weekend.