100 Thieves win first ever Call of Duty esports title at CWL London

100 Thieves win CWL London
Image credit: Joe Brady/MLG
(Image credit: Joe Brady/MLG)

Call of Duty World League events usually take place in North America – out of six events in total, CWL London which took place from May 3-5, is the only one to be found outside of the U.S. While the largely British crowd took full advantage of the rare occasion, with chants and an overwhelming energy that wouldn’t be out of place at a top tier football match, the British players unfortunately failed to perform on home soil.

British teams struggled to satisfy the crowd on home soil

Team Reciprocity were the strongest all-British team at the event and after a third place finish in Fort Worth – the previous CWL major event – everyone expected them to come out fighting in London. A poor Friday performance saw them lose all three of their pool play matches though, winning just two maps throughout the entire day.

Led by Thomas "Tommey" Trewren, a Call of Duty esports veteran of almost 10 years, Team Reciprocity managed to push through both Evil Geniuses and UYU before falling 3-1 to the hands of eUnited. This only secured them a top eight finish and $7,500 between them; a far cry from what was expected of the ambitious squad. Nevertheless, Tommey wasn’t too disheartened as you can tell by the clip below where he gets the crowd jeering at another team, Luminosity Gaming, for taking a victory over FaZe Clan under controversial circumstances. Warning: NSFW language.

OpTic Gaming vs 100 Thieves

At the other end of their group, OpTic Gaming and 100 Thieves finished first and second respectively. Both of these teams were predicted to perform in London and were favourites for the title, but OpTic Gaming showed just why they are considered to be one of the top Call of Duty teams of all time by going 3-0 in the group.

The next two rounds were smooth sailing; 3-0 wins over both FaZe Clan and Team Heretics saw OpTic soar into the top three, with just one match left before the grand finals. Their opponents? 100 Thieves, who disposed of eUnited and Gen.G 3-0 and 3-2 respectively after finishing second in the same group OpTic won.

100 Thieves, founded by Matt "Nadeshot" Haag – an ex-OpTic Gaming legend – were yet to win a single Call of Duty title. Their latest roster was formed at the start of Black Ops 4, but only managed a top 12 placement in Las Vegas and finished fourth at Fort Worth. After facing off against OpTic Gaming in the winners’ bracket final and winning Control on Arsenal which went right down to the wire (seriously, check out the clip below), it showed that this could finally be their tournament.

eUnited were out for revenge in the grand final

From there, OpTic Gaming were knocked down to the losers’ bracket final where they faced off against eUnited – a team that had been in the losers’ bracket since the start of Saturday after their loss to 100 Thieves, and had won four straight series to still be in with a chance of the title. They carried that momentum forward after knocking out top teams like Envy, Team Heretics, and Team Reciprocity, and swept OpTic Gaming aside with ease.

This set up another rematch in the final between 100 Thieves and eUnited, and after Nadeshot’s boys had already demolished them once, eUnited were out for revenge. The first match swayed heavily in 100 Thieves’ favour with a 74 point Hardpoint victory, followed by the pendulum swinging the other way as eUnited tied the series up with a 6-1 Search and Destroy game. 100 Thieves took back control, quite literally, as they won Control 3-0, and with just one more map to go until victory, in came Hardpoint on Gridlock.

It was a close fought affair all through the match, and with both teams mere seconds away from claiming victory, 100 Thieves managed to hold on to the point and won the final map 250-238. Right away, the CWL London MVP Sam "Octane" Larew stood up and you could see exactly what it means to him, having played out of his skin all weekend long.

Call of Duty esports is an ongoing battle for all players involved, as they fight for their place on the many rosters in the Pro League. These teams will have just a week off before they all head back to the U.S. and carry on competing and preparing for the June event in Anaheim, California. Who knows, maybe another team will get their first ever crown next month in similarly fairytale circumstances, or perhaps 100 Thieves will record consecutive wins? The only certain thing we know for certain is that it’ll be another cracker, further proof as to why Call of Duty is still one of the most exciting competitive multiplayer games in the world.