After a difficult start to Day 2 of the North American Regional Finals, Denial eSports regained their composure and rallied all the way to the Grand Finals; where they fell just short and claimed second place. Denial needed to win two matches to qualify for Call of Duty Championships, and after winning their first match convincingly, the Wolf Pack were upset by the 14th seed Team Revenge by a score of 3-0. Despite all three maps being extremely close; losing Hardpoint on Retreat 198-186, Search and Destroy on Detroit 6-4, and Uplink on Bio Lab 9-6, Denial was then dropped down into the Loser’s Bracket of this double-elimination tournament. This, however, would be the real beginning of the Wolf Pack’s journey through the tournament.
Denial then squared off against Rise Nation for an opportunity to attend Call of Duty Championships later in the month. The first map was Hardpoint on Bio Lab, and despite leading for the vast majority of the map, Rise scored a mere two points over the final one minute and 20 seconds to squander the map to the Wolf Pack by a final score of 224-214. Rise Nation was successful in taking Search and Destroy on Solar by a score of 6-1, but Denial claimed victory in Capture the Flag on Retreat 4-3 and Uplink on Detroit 4-3 to take the series 3-1.
The Wolf Pack was then pitted against Team Prophecy in another back-and-forth matchup. Denial took the first map Hardpoint on Solar 196-193, second map Search and Destroy on Riot 6-5, and ultimately the third map Capture the Flag on Bio Lab 10-3 to secure the series 3-0 and continue on in the tournament and move on to Championship Sunday.
In Denial’s first match on Sunday, Team Kaliber was standing in their way of securing a fifth or sixth place finish. After being blown away on the first map, Hardpoint on Detroit, by a score of 250-152, the Wolf Pack began to regain their focus. Denial won Search and Destroy on Riot 6-5, Uplink on Comeback 14-13, and Capture the Flag on Ascend 3-2, to claim the series 3-1 and a rematch with Team Revenge in the next round.
After losing the first time around to the pesky Team Revenge, the Wolf Pack knew they weren’t going to allow that to happen again. Denial kicked off the series with a victory on Hardpoint on Retreat by a score of 250-144, and then Clayster decided to assert his dominance. Clayster recorded 11 kills on Denial’s 6-2 victory on Search and Destroy on Bio Lab along with 37 kills and four uplinks on his squad’s 11-5 win on Uplink on Detroit to claim a 3-0 series sweep over Team Revenge.
With his chance to continue through the tournament with a match against OpTic Nation in the next round, Clayster saw no reason to stop on Hardpoint on Solar. Clayster recorded 45 kills to lead his squad to a 220-162 victory and an early 1-0 series lead. OpTic Nation then stole Search and Destroy on Recovery 6-3, but Denial turned right around and won Capture the Flag on Bio Lab 5-2 and Replays and Clayster combined for 70 kills to lead the Wolf Pack to a 15-6 victory on Uplink on Comeback. With this series win, Denial had earned a guaranteed top-three finish and a date with FaZe Red in the Loser’s Bracket Finals.
To kick off their series against FaZe Red, the Wolf Pack were assigned possibly their least favorite Hardpoint map, Bio Lab. Despite this, Denial still put up a valiant effort in the match; Clayster recorded 35 kills and Attach captured 11 Hardpoints in their 235-195 loss. Losing the first map never discourages the Wolf Pack, as you can tell from a variety of other matches earlier in the tournament. Denial turned it right around and took Search and Destroy on Solar 6-1, led by JKap’s 7 kills and Attach’s 7 kills. Attach didn’t let off the gas after that performance, as he recorded 30 kills and 4 flag captures in the Wolf Pack’s 5-3 victory on Capture the Flag on Ascend to take the dominating 2-1 series lead. Denial closed out the series in the following map, Uplink on Detroit, by a score of 10-4; led by none other than Attach’s 38 kills and 5 uplink scores.
Denial had finally fought all the way through the Loser’s Bracket to reach the most envious spot in the entire tournament; the Grand Finals against OpTic Gaming. Being a rematch of MLG Pro League Playoffs, Denial was looking to get revenge on the team that beat them last time around. On first map, Hardpoint on Retreat, the Wolf Pack looked out of it the entire time; until they finally stole a lead with just over a minute left. OpTic regained their composure and managed to claim victory 207-200 in the end, despite Attach’s 40 kills and 12 captures. Search and Destroy on Bio Lab was equally as close at the end, as the score was knotted 5-5 with just one final round to go. The Wolf Pack managed to get first blood in the round, but ended up squandering the man advantage and losing the map by a score of 6-5. Down 2-0, the Wolf Pack never gave up hope in being able to come back and win the series. OpTic took a 5-2 lead into halftime of map three, Uplink on Detroit, but the Wolf Pack had two quick two-point plays to regain a 6-5 lead early in the second half. This was short-lived, though, as OpTic would end up winning the map 10-7 and ultimately, the series by a score of 3-0. This means that OpTic Gaming will take the number one seed into Call of Duty Championships later in the month, but the Wolf Pack will not follow far behind after being the runners-up at the North American Regional Finals.
The Most Valuable Player of the tournament for Denial would have to be awarded to Clayster. When the squad would get down on themselves and begin to doubt their ability after dropping the first map of a series, Clayster would always be the player to remind the Wolf Pack how talented they are and that they deserved to be where they were in the tournament.
Also, Clayster performed extremely well statistically throughout the tournament. Clayster finished third in kills per 10 minutes with 33.60, just behind Scump (34.75) and Mochila (33.89). Clayster was also second in overall kill/death ratio finishing with 1.33, just behind Apathy (1.34).
Every player on Denial performed exceptional this weekend, and executed what job needed to be done in order to win maps. If the Wolf Pack continues to improve on the way they played this weekend, their aspiration to win the Call of Duty Championships at the end of March will have a good chance of becoming a reality.