Posted by Chris Scott Barr on Aug 12, 2011

MLG Anaheim Recap

The Major League Gaming coordinators have done it once again. With another record-smashing event, MLG’s Pro Circuit stop in sunny Anaheim, California brought to the table yet another exhibition of e-sports – another testament to contention that we are at its prime. With over 20,000 live attendees and over 1,000 players across the three games for this Circuit (Blizzard’s blockbuster Starcraft II, Activision’s newly released Call of Duty: Black Ops, and of course Bungie’s Halo: Reach), the event was able to attract 34,000,000 views via the live broadcast to over 150 countries in the world. Gamerfront was at the event to see all of the live action and the incredible crowd reactions.


Since just the last event, MLG Columbus, the Call of Duty: Black Ops scene has been a bit recalibrated.  A few teams have picked up one or two new players, some with more drastic roster changes, and other teams have completely dissolved altogether. MLG Columbus’s champions Optic Gaming were looking to continue the win streak with their huge momentum carrying over from Columbus. From the results of the invited pool play, there was definitely a great possibility that they would take the entire event; however, teams like MLG Dallas champion Leverage, MLG Columbus runner-up Force, and MLG Columbus third place finisher Fear all were clear threats to the defending champions.

Unfortunately for team Optic gaming, they were stopped short of the finals on Sunday with a very disappointing loss, requiring all 5 games to be played against team Fear. They would later lose to Leverage in the loser’s bracket, but on the bright side, they were able to walk away with the third place prize money. After one of the toughest competitions in the history of MLG, among all of the teams, only Fear and Leverage remained to meet in the grand finals on championship Sunday. Since the two teams had previously met during the event, MLG’s uses a system known as extended series, meaning that if these two teams were to meet multiple times during a tournament, the entire series would be counted as one. In the case, the original best of 5 that the two teams played ended with the result of 3-0 in favor of Fear. For the finals, Fear would start off with a game score of 3-0 against Leverage, and what would have been a best of five now becomes a best of eleven. With that being said, Leverage came from behind in one of the most historic series of MLG history taking the crown at MLG Anaheim.

MLG Anaheim Call of Duty Top 8:

  1. Leverage
  2. FeaR
  3. Optic Gaming
  4. NextThreat
  5. Influence
  6. yunGunz
  7. Obey
  8. Envy


Halo: Reach faced no lack of story line either. With the return of the three-time defending world champion Walshy with his newly formed team, spectators from all over were truly interested to see whether or not a team with relatively small names, but also having a superstar player such as Walshy, could perform. Since Final Boss’s roster changes that left out some of their main players who eventually went to team Instinct, they have not performed nearly at their previous caliber, which has been true throughout the end of last season and the beginning of this current season. On the other hand, since the acquisition Final Boss’s top stars, team Instinct has been on an incredible tear, winning MLG Columbus with only a single game loss.

From the rigorous open brackets to the even more gruesome pool play, the weekend’s war of attrition allowed for only the top teams to stay alive. Not only a test of endurance, but the competition brackets forces teams to train for consistency to be able to have any success. On championship Sunday, only the top teams remained: Status Quo, Fnatic Classic, Believe the Hype, and Instinct. The biggest developing news at the event was that Instinct has literally not dropped a single set, let alone a single game, for the entire tournament – something that has never happened in any game of MLG history. With the all-star lineup of Igotyourpistola, OGRE2, and twins Lunchbox and Roy, Instinct absolutely destroyed all competition taking 3-0 in every game, later winning in a suffocating 6-0 fashion in an extended series against Status Quo in the finals.

MLG Anaheim Halo Top 8:

  1. Instinct
  2. Status Quo
  3. Classic
  4. Warriors
  5. Believe the Hype
  6. Dynasty
  7. Turning Point
  8. Final Boss


Lastly, Starcraft II can only be described as the “Main Event” for the past few MLG events. Attracting some of the largest crowds ever for any gaming event, rumors traveled throughout the event about having fire hazards, even requiring a fire marshal to eventually step in to lay some guidelines. For the first time ever, the main stage was fenced just for the danger of having too many spectators charge the stage in the case of a huge win.

Once again, every single player pass was sold out within a matter of days of their availability on the MLG website. All 276 players were put up against some of the highest competition in the world. Professional gamers from Asia – specifically Korea, professional gamers from Europe, and of course professional gamers from North America warred against each other, ultimately forming the most collectively talented player pool ever. Just to put things in to perspective, I met Painuser, who was a top 3 finisher at a previous MLG event, not only in the open bracket, but in the loser’s bracket… round 3. As you could imagine, my tournament life at MLG ended pretty quickly.

I was not upset at all. Now, without worrying about match times, I essentially became a full-fledged spectator. There were so many players that I wanted to watch and hopefully meet. Some of the notable invitees are two time winning IMMvp for his first ever trip to an MLG event, the return of MLG Columbus champion SlayerSMMA, the most dominant team league zerg player DongRaeGu of team MVP, and lastly the biggest global figure in eSports and one of the very few players that have achieved legendary status, SlayerSBoxer – the emperor himself.

After the first two days of pool play and open bracket competition, the results were clear, the Koreans took the top of each pool. Even the Koreans that went through the intense open bracket pulled through for the majority, including SlayerSGanzi, FXOchoya, FnaticMSIRain, and FXOz. The only noteworthy exception was SlayerSAlicia who got matched unfortunately to MilleniumToD in what has to be the largest upset at the event. The two were paired up twice and the heroic ToD unprecedentedly took the first set and then later the extended series.

Outside of the Koreans, there were a few players from North America that went really far as well in the open bracket. LiquidTyler, coL.Cruncher, GoSuwbc, and CheckSixThisIsJimmy were all top finishers that either went directly to the pool play or in the championship bracket. In the pool play, top foreigners of LiquidHuk, DignitasNaniwa, and EGIdrA all placed extremely well, granting themselves great seeding on Championship Sunday.

The finals were truly incredible. As everyone has predicted, the Koreans ended up taking the top spots; however, SlayerSBoxer impressed all fans of all games. Due to his age, recent inconsistency, and his sometimes lacking of macro mechanics in the game, SlayerSBoxer was the unanimously voted in message boards to be the uncontested invited Korean being the most “beatable.” Not only disproving the world by taking a 5-0 finish in his pool, he would eventually meet up in the third place match against none other than his own student and defending champion SlayerSMMA. IMMvp would eventually take the entire event in a pretty convincing fashion, while MMA took the runner up spot.

MLG Anaheim Starcraft Top 8:

  1. IMMvp
  2. SlayerSMMA
  3. SlayerSBoxer
  4. SlayerSGanzi
  5. coL.MVP.DRG
  6. FnaticRain
  7. LiquidHuk
  8. DignitasNaniwa
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