Sports

Team Falcons make history with Call of Duty: Warzone triumph at Esports World Cup

July 09, 2024

RIYADH — They say winning is everything, but for the Team Falcons trio who emerged victorious in the opening final of the inaugural Esports World Cup, it was everything surrounding their triumph that made it so special.

To the delight of a packed and raucous SEF Arena at Boulevard Riyadh City on Saturday night, the Saudi Arabian side claimed the Call of Duty: Warzone crown in an enthralling final.

“None of us are from Saudi, but we’ve come here to open arms at the hotel, at the airport, at the Boulevard – they treat us like family, and we appreciate that so much,” says Soka, the Tongan in the trio of the American double act of Shifty – the MVP of the tournament – and Biffle.

Team Falcons had already made gaming history in the Esports World Cup, which runs from July 3 to August 25, even before Saturday’s final. On the second day of the Call of Duty: Warzone group stages, they won all four of their games – something that had never been achieved before in any tournament. But the final proved a different matter and the trio, who only formed with Team Falcons earlier this year, showed huge resilience to earn a comeback victory.

Earning 227.9 points – pipping US-based Fnatic into second spot and fellow Saudi outfit Twisted Minds into third – ensured Team Falcons took the $200,000 first prize and the accolade of first tournament victors at the Esports World Cup.

“The crowd really made this one special. It was an insane moment, especially because we were down 20 points and came back in the final,” says Biffle. “It was insane hearing the crowd, insane hearing them after every kill we were getting. The vibe was insane. It was a great moment and something I will never forget.”

It made the trio feel “untouchable”.

“We really felt the energy,” said 20-year-old Shifty, who added a 2024 Esports World Cup award to his 2023 World Champion prize. “It was already crazy when we first signed. And just getting here I mean, seeing the kids in the hotel – we've never had that. The amount of fan interaction is just like insane. We hadn’t even done anything yet for the organization and they were treating us like champions. So, we put in extra work to win for them – and it was the least we could do. They cheered every single day, but Saturday was the loudest. They carried us.”

It wasn’t just the victory itself that Shifty, who earned $50,000 for his MVP exploits, relished but the incredible setting too.

“This is for me the best venue (in the world),” says Shifty. “It’s very beautiful here, like, the attention to detail in the buildings is incredible and it’s completely different to what I’m used to. The Boulevard just goes on forever – we’re walking for like 20 minutes and I’m like ‘this place is huge’. And just the environment, you felt you knew what we're playing for, just like walking down and seeing the fans – you just knew they were coming to watch a great tournament, and I hope that's what we put on.”

Both Biffle and Soka concurred with that assessment and are eagerly looking forward to the rest of the Esports World Cup, which features 22 tournaments across 21 titles throughout its eight-week duration.

“I'm ranking this one on the top of my list,” says 21-year-old Biffle. “I mean, just the crowd itself. You know, we didn't have a crowd in London, where the Worlds are for Warzone, and the crowd really made this one special.”

Soka is even more emphatic. “This is 100% the best tournament I have ever played,” the 23-year-old Tongan beams. “This is the biggest prize pool we have ever played for, and the magnitude of the World Cup. And at the Boulevard! It's just the biggest thing we’ve ever done, but we’re not done yet. I promise you. We’re going to bring more titles home.”

Asked the end goal for the Team Falcons trio, Soka replied: “Probably to be the most dominant trio ever.” Biffle, however, added: “Yeah, I mean, I already think we accomplished that – we’re very dominant. But this is definitely a great one to have in the bag.” — SG


July 09, 2024
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