By Dillon Lowery

Major League Gaming's third Pro Circuit Tour stop in Anaheim, California is shaping up to be a new experience, not only for the fans, but for various teams throughout Call of Duty: Black Ops. From rule changes and new tactics, to roster mixups and gun-balance drama, there are too many stories to even list. Let's go through a preview of what we can count on, understanding that the unknowns far outweigh the knowns here.

Before we get into the Pools and the eam dissection, we must take a look at what exactly MLG has done to make the Call of Duty: Black Ops scene even better. 

The Game Modes

Out of the three game modes used in MLG Events, two have received massive changes that will shake up the way teams play. In an attempt to make an already exciting game even more fun to watch, camping has been a key focus for change. MLG has answered the call of the community by modifying round times, flag timers, and numbers of rounds.

In Domination, a game that used to require two 8-minute halves has now been dropped to 6.5 minutes, creating more excitement as the trailing team must act more quickly and teams must come out of the gate hot. In addition to the round time being decreased, flag capture times have been lowered. 10-second flag captures are now down to 7.5 seconds. These changes will most likely create more lead changes, gutsy play styles and fun games all-around.

Search and Destroy lovers have been torn by the new changes to the game mode, but everyone can agree that the beloved mode will now be more exciting. Not only have the rounds been upped, from 4 to 6 necessary to claim victory, but the times per round have been lowered by a full minute(2.5 to 1.5). These rounds will feature more rushes, less camping, and more action-packed clutches.

New Strategies and Techniques

Along with all of the changes to the game modes, changes to the core gameplay will deflect some of the more cheese-style gameplay into actual strategy.

Treyarch's Answer to the overwhelming requests from the fans and pros alike came just after MLG Columbus. The Famas has been nerfed. What could have been a full column will now be summed up in a couple of words: Famas has a decreased ADS raise time, hip fire accuracy, more gun kick and slightly slower re-center speed. The Famas did not just get nerfed; it almost got completely removed from the game.

The changes do not stop there. Even though this change may seem slight, the game has been changed for the better with bomb tweaks. The rotation with the bomb in hand used to eliminate the sound completely, but now that move has been eliminated. The plant timer has been reduced to 5 seconds to accommodate, while the defuse timer remains the same.

Will teams such as Quantic Leverage, who prided themselves by playing aggressively, triumph with the new rule sets? How will teams with a passive style best accommodate to them?

Now, what good are the rules if we don't know the competitors?

New Looks

You can thank a busy roster rebuilding time in between MLG Columbus and MLG Anaheim for any and all of the new-look teams here. Usually everyone is ready for the Open Bracket teams to mix up after an Event, but this off-time featured movement from top to bottom.

Teams like EnvyUs, Influence, and YunGunz not only made big changes, but capitalized on the breakup of Optic Nation.

YunGunz surprised us all and became a household name after their performance at MLG Columbus, but now they look to finish even better and make a run for Optic Gaming's title with the addition of Felonies. If you have been following Felonies on Twitter, you know YunGunz is coming to win.

Meanwhile, EnvyUs, who have always been used to looking down from lofty heights, have found themselves clawing from the bottom portion of the Top 16; can the addition of Bob from Quantic Leverage and Nadeshot from Optic Nation be the answers? Will the loss of Hastro be too much?

Since Bob did come from Quantic Leverage to join EnvyUs, someone must have filled his spot. Proofy, who had a great Event with Fear at MLG Columbus, picked up the vacant role. Proofy's slaying ability should mesh nicely with the already kill-crazy team, but Proofy should bring a smarter mentality to the aggressive team.

And of course, you can’t talk about change without talking about the absence of change. Optic Gaming, who are fresh off of a MLG Columbus Championship, decided to stick with the same roster. Shocking, right? In the post-MLG Columbus interview, one of the key subjects they kept bringing up was the importance of team chemistry. Of course, we guess winning an Event is also a pretty good reason not to change.

With these key roster changes and even more throughout the teams coming to MLG Anaheim, the Call of Duty: Black Ops Event will be a trial by fire for a handful of teams.

The Pools

Pool Play was implemented in MLG Columbus, and resulted in some of our finest competition yet. MLG Anaheim's pools look even scarier, top to bottom. Looking at the Top 16 seeds, we notice that what was once a top-heavy bracket is now shaping up into a well-balanced, competitive game. Friday and Saturday's Pool Play will not be something to coast through, rest assured.

Key teams to take a note of, as they are making their first appearances in Pool Play, are the up-and-comers of the Black Ops scene. Defying History, Juked and YunGunz all started from the Open Bracket in MLG Columbus. Force, who had the Cinderella run of Columbus, find themselves in an unfamiliar place at the top of Pool D.

Each pool will be a must-watch, but Pool D really grabs our interest. Every single team has different rosters than they did in Columbus, so this will not be an easy one to predict.

The Open Bracket

The Open Bracket at MLG Anaheim will feature some teams we are getting used to seeing make a push, but still seeking that one Event to be a true contender. Almost Evil, who come in with the most Pro Circuit Tour Points (with a 900 point lead) and the most experience have a solid shot at making it into the end of Pool Play when the four undefeated Open Bracket teams get thrown in.

From 2nd-seeded Abnormal down to 11th-seeded Quantic High and Mighty, the Open Bracket at MLG Anaheim looks to have the deepest Open Bracket ever to grace the Pro Circuit. The upset-watch should always be in full effect.

Players to Watch

Proofy - Quantic Leverage: This might be a given, but Proofy has a lot riding on his shoulders. Is he the shakeup that Quantic Leverage expects will create results?

Rambo - Optic Gaming: Rambo's presence at MLG Columbus was huge. MLG Anaheim shouldn't be any different. Watch him go crazy all Event long, as he should finally be healthy.

Assassin – Fear: Assassin has always been a great slayer and a great player to watch whenever Fear is playing a crucial match.

Bob – EnvyUs: Bob not wearing a Quantic Leverage jersey will be jarring at first, but once he settles in with his new team, EnvyUs might finally be seen late Sunday.

Vengeance - Quantic Next Threat: Vengeance have always been a sleeper. Go out of your way to watch him at MLG Anaheim.

 

Can Optic Gaming repeat? Will Quantic Leverage's new teammate be the answer to retake the throne? Will another Force/Resistance emerge? Make sure to grab a Membership and watch the streams in ad-free HQ to find out what unfolds at MLG Anaheim on July 29-31.