CWL Fort Worth is now behind us. Long anticipated, the stakes were high and the playing field was wide open heading into the weekend’s competition, and as usual, the players didn’t disappoint. It was an explosive resumption to the Black Ops 4 season, just as unpredictable as everyone had predicted, and more exciting than anyone could have hoped for. So it is mildly infuriating that here we are, barely a week later, the pixilated dust scarcely even settled on the virtual battlefield, and already the headlines are being stolen, yet again, by talk of Gentleman’s Agreements.
Gentleman’s Agreement. Two ominous words, enough to strike dismay into the heart of any Call of Duty fan. A phrase that players don’t dare utter for fear of summoning Slacked to their lobby and getting their favourite gun banned. GA’s are all too often at the centre of the discussion surrounding COD esports these days and this past week has been no exception.
The subject of the controversy on this occasion is Luminosity player, Nick ‘Classic’ DiCostanzo, and his beloved Rampart. Classic shocked fans and players alike with this unprecedented decision to not use one of the same three guns that everyone else uses. Refs were left stunned, analysts were sent sprawling. “Has he picked that by mistake?” “Is he allowed to do that?” “I didn’t even know that gun was in the game!” But it proved to be no mistake however as Classic continued to use the gun for the entirety of the event, and even had the audacity to win the whole thing!
Chaos, predictably ensued, before Classic and his Luminosity squad could even be ushered off the stage to start a night of celebration, some disgruntled fans, and even a few suitably disgruntled pros, had taken to twitter to demand the Rampart be immediately GA’ed. Those adventurous souls who had enjoyed seeing someone use a different class for a change, soon took up the defence of the off-meta weapon and before long, despite JKap and Clay’s best efforts to distract us, the rampart was all anyone was talking about.
While this situation is no doubt particularly absurd, it is endemic of a growing problem facing Competitive COD. Once again we find ourselves, as a community, divided by inability to agree on a ruleset – a ruleset that in an ideal world, none of us should have to concern ourselves with in the first place.
The disconnect between players and fans is ever widening. Teams are locked in a Mexican standoff. Tensions are so high that, if the rumours are to be believed, LG have even been blacklisted from scrims for refusing to agree to the GA. The reigning champions left unable to scrim their closest competitors, all over a gun that the vast majority of players have only ever used in blackout.
This is an LG team by no means lacking in talent, or experience, or past success, and now that their hard work has payed off and they have seemingly found their form, I think it does them a disservice to suggest that the Rampart played any considerable role in their win.
It begs the question: If Luminosity hadn’t won the event is this even a discussion we would be having?
If I were braver I might even go as far as to suggest that, had another team, perhaps Optic Gaming, won the event under the same circumstances, the Rampart would not be coming under the same level of scrutiny.
How can the gun be so overpowered if it was only being used by a single player? How is it that only Classic discovered this magic formula for success? Presumably he had been using the gun in scrims, why only now is it being deemed OP?
I think these are reasonable questions, questions that many fans have been voicing over the past week.
Pro players are perfectly positioned to judge game balance. They know the game better than anyone, and have a vested interest in making the game as good as it can be. In the heat of a competitive season however, with the next event always lurking just around the corner, it is almost impossible to remain objective, and the temptation will always be to make the quick decision, to stick to what works.
This is all understandable; it comes with the territory. Professional COD is quite literally a different game each year, and its season is almost unparalleled in its furious pace. It is only natural that the pros should strive to make that year long season as consistent as possible. This consistency should not come at the detriment of variety and relatability however. There is an increasingly fine line in modern Call of Duty games between what is uncomfortable and what is downright uncompetitive, and this is often a distinction that the pro players don’t, or don’t want to make.
GA’s are a necessary evil, and the fact is, for now, they are here to stay, so it’s the process of determining what gets banned that needs to be improved.
Currently it is the Wild West, kangaroo court rule making. Whoever shoots first – tweets first – often gets what they want.
Sorry for that analogy, I think I’ve been playing too much Red Dead.
It’s all a bit of a mess. Dozens of different voices with wildly differing opinions and motives, all arguing their case, inevitably some voices will not be heard, with many players, especially those outside of the league having no say at all. All they can do is cross their fingers, refresh twitter every thirty seconds, and try especially hard not to accidently use a weapon that was spontaneously banned ten minutes before they go on stage.
With this said, the burden has to fall on those players and teams who can make themselves heard. With great power comes great responsibility. They need to let things calm down, take off their tinfoil hats, and work with each other to decide what is actually bad for the health of game. People trying out, and finding success with unique weapons can only be a good thing from a spectator stand point, so hopefully Classic’s win encourages more of this in the future - and if not? Well, if not, there are only so many guns in the game, so we might be playing knives only by the end of the year.
Will the Rampart make an appearance at CWL London? Get your spectator tickets here: CLICK HERE