On Saturday 18 October, MWEB GameZone and the entire SA Call of Duty community essentially waved goodbye to Ghosts (for good we assume). However, bar the end of the day disc-breaking, the event itself was actually a celebration and exhibition of the very best in the South African console Call of Duty competitive scene.
After weeks of online qualifications, the final four teams remaining in the double elimination bracket of the MWEB GameZone Masters Series headed to MWEB’s HQ in Parow, Cape Town to face-off in a LAN environment to determine who would head home with the biggest share of the R40,000 in cash up for grabs.
Heading into the venue, F34R Adept were odds on favourites based on a season of tournament wins, but Insane Gaming were a team on the rise and ready to challenge that position, while Xero Fracture were growing in chemistry and confidence and ViNCO Gaming were a team more than capable of a surprise or two.
The first match saw Xero Fracture and ViNCO Gaming face-off, where the team losing faced elimination but a guaranteed fourth place overall. The game certainly proved an entertaining one, and set the tone for the rest of the day.
Domination on Strikezone was an enthralling one which saw ViNCO head into the half-time switch four points up at 72-68. The second half was even closer, and Xero Fracture pushed hard, closing the gap to just a single point when time ran out, with ViNCO the victors with 144-143.
SnD on Freight was an equally close affair which saw Xero Fracture level the series at 1-1 with a hard fought 6-5 win on the map. Xero Fracture then edged into an overall 2-1 lead when they took Blitz on Warhawk in yet another nail-biter of a map by 7-6.
With all to play for, Octane hosted Domination, which was again pretty neck-an-neck at the switch. Xero Fracture had a 73-64 lead, and the teams were pushing each other all the way. However, it was an accomplished second half by Xero Fracture that ended ViNCO’s hopes of at least a third spot, when the map ended 160-127.
For their efforts, ViNCO Gaming walked off with R4,000 in cash.
The ‘winner’s bracket final’ saw F34R Adept up against Insane Gaming. If this were a fashion website we would mention that both teams were in new kits. Adept in a slightly less red kit featuring a DGL Championship addition, and Insane Gaming in a pretty striking shocking pink kit. But we’re not a fashion website are we…
However, whether it was the bright pink, nerves or a long season, Adept looked a little like rabbits in headlights in Domination on Octane. At the switch, Insane were cruising with a 122-20 lead, which they took to a map win of 198-84.
Things continued to be all Insane as they swept aside Adept in SnD on Sovereign 6-2 to lead 2-0, and require only one map to secure their spot in the grand final.
The Blitz on Freight saw Adept fight back and the map had moments where it could’ve gone either way. Sadly for Adept – and happily for Insane – it went the way of Insane 20-16 to give them a 3-0 win, and a three map lead in the best of eleven final should Adept join them.
Adept appeared to have put the previous match behind them and took a commanding 17 point lead at the switch in Domination on Freight. The 85-68 lead didn’t stay quite so comprehensive however, and a resilient Xero Fracture pushed Adept to close the gap to just six points when the map ended 155-149 in favour of Adept.
One can only imagine the tension and nerves each team had by then, but the almost subdued communications may have indicated that confidence was not very high in either camp. That didn’t stop Blitz on Octane from being a thrilling match. The lead changed hands, saw gaps built and whittled away, for it all to come down to a tense final few seconds which saw Xero Fracture seemingly grab the win from nowhere 16-15.
Domination on Sovereign was another tight map. Adept went into the half-time switch with a 75-69 lead, but were certainly not having it all their own way. Xero Fracture certainly were not about to give up and the map was always one on a knife’s edge. However, Adept proved their mettle and held on to secure a 147-133 win and head back to the grand finals against Insane Gaming.
Xero Fracture pocketed a cool R8,000 in cash for their efforts in placing third.
Match 4 (Grand Final)
The grand final was a best of eleven continuation series, which meant that Insane Gaming went in with a three map lead. Another three maps was needed for the team to secure a win, while F34R Adept had an uphill battle, needing six maps to secure the championship.
Things certainly got of to a competitive start. Domination on Strikezone saw Adept holding a slender one point lead at the switch. It appeared to be a team regaining confidence, but that was slightly dented when Insane thrillingly fought back to take the map away from Adept 143-140.
Needing only two more map wins, Insane were clearly the more confident team but Adept once again showed why they’ve taken so many first places at tournaments this year with a controlled win on Octane SnD. 6-4 for the map but 4-1 overall to Insane.
Insane then extended their overall lead to 5-1, but it wasn’t without drama. Leading 9-5 at the halfway point in Blitz on Warhawk, the lead was cut down in the following five minutes by a determined Adept. The final moments of the map saw a tense standoff as Insane defended their point in numbers to hold on to a 14-13 map win.
Domination on Freight could well have sewn it up for Insane, but after leading 80-71 at the switch, they saw Adept cruise past them as the F34R team maintained better map control to take the map 156-134 and get the overall standing to 5-2 in favour of Insane.
Map eight was Warhawk hosting SnD and I’m pretty sure impartial spectators were hoping for an Adept win so the enthralling final could go on. However, Insane Gaming had other ideas and took the map in a dominant display 6-2 to secure their first place 6-2 overall.
For their second spot, F34R Adept pockets R12,000, while Insane Gaming went home R16,000 richer. A congratulations to them both and Xero Fracture and Vinco Gaming on their stellar performances.
And that, in many ways, was that for Call of Duty Ghosts. While many found the game itself to be a disappointment, the season certainly did not disappoint with the number of online and LAN tournaments that featured increasingly larger prize pools. This bodes well for the growing console competitive community in South Africa as we all prepare for the arrival of Call of Duty Advanced Warfare.
A congratulations to the MWEB GameZone team (Des, Brad, Ryno, Kyle and Nick) for a great Masters Series and an epic LAN final that proves how far along things have come in the last few years.
In closing, a congratulations to every player, team and person (you all know who you are) that has been involved in making this year a great one.