Three regions, one worldwide champion: revisiting the Crown Melbourne Invitational

This past weekend, ESL's Crown Invitational tournament made Australian Call of Duty history as the first event to open its doors to international competitors. Eight of the best teams from around the world converged at the Crown Casino in Melbourne on April the 9th and 10th to fight for a share of the AU$70,000 prize pool - but only one could emerge victorious.

The teams

From the Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) region, top-placing teams Mindfreak and Tainted Minds were exclusively invited to attend and advanced directly to the Sunday championship bracket. Four other pro division teams from the ANZ region - Plantronics.Nv, Team Orbit, Chiefs ESC, and Apotheon - earned their invite through an online qualifier, and competed on Saturday in a single-elimination bracket to determine who would advance to day two. The final two invites were extended overseas to OpTic Gaming, representing North America, and Millenium, representing Europe. Much anticipation surrounded the attendance of both of these teams and how the ANZ side would match up against them.

The battle begins

The first series on day one saw Apotheon taking an early lead over Chiefs, winning the first three maps in the series. However, it was Chiefs who were able to turn the tide, winning game four Capture the Flag on Fringe. It marked the beginning of a reverse sweep which ultimately saw Chiefs triumph in the series 4-3 over Apotheon. Team Orbit and Plantronics.Nv were next to face off. The first game was narrowly won by Orbit, who then went on to win the next two maps in a row. Nv bit back with a victory in game four, but were unable to extend the series further, ending it 4-1 in Orbit's favor.

Day two opened with the Mindfreak versus Orbit series on the main stage while Tainted Minds versus. Chiefs played on the side stage. Despite their performance on day one of the tournament, Orbit were unable to take a map. Mindfreak took the series with a 4-0 sweep over Orbit, securing their place in the semifinal round against Millenium. Meanwhile, on the side stage Tainted Minds and Chiefs played a back-and-forth series, pushing it all the way to game seven, round eleven before Tainted Minds ultimately took the series win 4-3, eliminating Chiefs and earning their spot in the semifinal against OpTic Gaming.

The semi and grand finals

Despite the home turf advantage, Tainted Minds and Mindfreak were unable to secure spots in the grand final. The highly anticipated opening semifinal series between OpTic Gaming and Tainted Minds saw OpTic Gaming take Tainted Minds down 0-4. This left the ANZ region's hopes resting squarely on Mindfreak's shoulders in their series against European champions Millenium. Unfortunately, it was not to be as Millenium took the series 4-0 over Mindfreak thus eliminating all ANZ Stage 1 champions from the Invitational.

With a team from North America and a team from Europe playing in Australia, the grand final was undeniably tense for players and audience alike. Game one saw OpTic Gaming take an early lead, claiming victory in the first map. After a shockingly quick second game, Millenium dominated with a 6-1 score over OpTic in Search and Destroy, bringing the series to one all. Keeping everyone on the edge of their seats, OpTic Gaming managed to bring the series back in their favor as they won Uplink on Infection 8-3, but were given a run for their money as Millenium managed to keep game four Capture the Flag on Evac prolonged. It was one flag capture that gave OpTic Gaming another series advantage and they breezed through to secure the 4-1 win over Millenium and establish their position as the top Call of Duty team in the world.

The final placements and prize distribution were as follows:

  • First place: OpTic Gaming, earning AU$30,000
  • Second place: Millenium, earning AU$15,000
  • Third/fourth place: Mindfreak, earning AU$6,000
  • Third/fourth place: Tainted Minds, earning AU$6,000
  • Fifth/sixth place: ChiefsESC, earning AU$1,500
  • Fifth/sixth place: Orbit, earning AU$1,500

Congratulations to OpTic Gaming!

Congratulations to our winner and a massive thank you to all participating teams!

Make sure to follow ESL Australia on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest regional #CODWorldLeague news!

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