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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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A Truly Black Op

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A Halo fan dives into competitive CoD

It was inevitable, really. Major League Gaming, the premier e-sports bastion, was built on the back of 'Halo.' They grew exponentially by word of mouth and the exploits of its stars, and by the time 'Halo 2' rolled around, it was a full-blown pandemic of competitive gaming. Names like Walshy, OGRE 2, Captain Anarchy, Karma and Ghostayame started traversing online forums just as easily as Jeter, Clemens and Ruth. It became a culture unto itself, shepherding dreams of professional gaming to a whole new audience.

'Halo: Reach,' however, caused a sharp drop in viewership, due to many unnecessary changes to the original formula. Pros left in droves, and it was dropped from the Pro Circuit, meaning 'Halo' was to be an online-only competition, barred from the famous LAN events.When 'Halo 4' was being developed, there was hope that 'Halo' would once again find its way back onto into the MLG. An exhibition was held in Dallas a few days before launch, and many of the pros found themselves reuniting their teams and competing. The loyal fans rallied around their heroes, but alas, it wasn't to be. After months of waffling back and forth, the MLG made an official announcement that there was only room for one FPS on the Pro Circuit, and that game was, you guessed it: Call of Fricking Duty: Biannual Release 2 (you might know it better as 'Black Ops 2').

This announcement burnt me far more than when Reach was dropped, because this time around, I was actually planning on truly competing in 'Halo 4.' This was finally going to be the game where I made a valid push toward semi-pro, if not pro, 'Halo.' So after putting in close to 140 hours of gametime over two months, not to mention hours upon hours watching video of pros in order to better my game (all while working 40 hours a week, mind you), I was crushed.I decided to see exactly what it was that was so special about this usurper. If you're a veteran reader of my column, you may remember that I did the same thing roughly a year ago with 'Modern Warfare 3.' This time around, though, there was no Orwellian moment of accepting the corporate beast. This was no optimistic interlude. This was a search and destroy mission, to weed out the flaws in 'CODBLOPS 2' and bring them to light.

At the point I Redboxed it, I had only played about an hour or so of this latest installment. Knowing that I needed to get an objective look at the competitive merits of what is now the MLG's flagship shooter, I leapt directly into the Team Deathmatch League, no holds barred.

Even not having played nearly as much as the average 'CoD' player over the last few years, I was easily holding my own against far more experienced players. Why is this important? In any game played competitively, there needs to be a distinct skill gap between the pros and the not-so-pros. Without that distinct skill gap, you lose what makes e-sports professional - in layman's terms, combining high school football with the NFL. However, I found myself competing with those in the Master brackets.

Basically, everyone has a chance right out of the gate with 'Call of Duty,' which waters down the pool of candidates for the MLG, and thus the entertainment value of watching players truly at the top of their game.

Second, this game isn't going to be any fun to watch. Is it fun to play? Absolutely. I'll freely admit it. But the game is tactical, and by 'tactical,' I mean, 'camp every corner with a sleeping bag and a sniper rifle.' It's like a game of 'Civilization:' incredibly awesome and tense to the person playing it, but akin to watching paint dry for the over-the-shoulder viewer.

My prediction? 'CODBLOPS 2' gets a year on the circuit before they go back to 'Halo' or just stick with RTS games like 'League of Legends' and 'Starcraft 2.' It's a blast to play, thanks to the competitive ranking system that truly carries the weight of each win and loss, but on a professional, competitive level, I don't see it having the merits to last like 'Halo' did for a full decade on the circuit.

Until the reappearance of the 'Halo' of yore, 'CoD' fans, enjoy your moment in the spotlight.

Aaron Waite would like to remind you to stop voting for Complex.


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