Three-time Call of Duty World Champion, Damon
In recent Call of Duty news, on June 3rd 2020, three-time world champion Damon “Karma” Barlow announced that he will be retiring from the competition with immediate effect. The news broke with the Seattle Surge posting a heartfelt tribute to his fans and teammates as he moves towards the next chapter in his career.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the esport, Karma has cemented his place in the history books as one of the most versatile players ever seen.
We take a look back at some of his career highlights and pay tribute to a legend of the game.
Skyrocket to Stardom
Karma had been competing in Call of Duty since 2010 but exploded onto the professional scene when he joined the now-legendary Fariko Impact roster for the Black Ops 2 season alongside Christopher “Parasite” Duarte, Adam “KiLLa” Sloss and Marcus “MiRx” Carter. The team won MLG Dallas on its debut, setting the scene for one of the most dominant runs ever seen in competitive Call of Duty.
After winning in Dallas, Impact headed across the pond to conquer Europe at EGL 9. As the only North American team in attendance, Fariko dispatched of the competition to win their second consecutive tournament. With momentum fully in favour of Karma and his Impact comrades, the world championship was there for the taking.
Now the best player in the game thanks to his ruthless ability to slay the opposition with ease, Karma had skyrocketed in amongst Call of Duty’s elite despite missing the previous season due to the lack of developer support. His mechanical prowess combined with sporadic moments of complete genius set himself apart from the rest of the pack.
Having defeated OpTic Gaming in the loser’s bracket finals, Fariko would face off against Team Envy for the second time in the tournament. Karma’s understanding of the game was second to none during the grand finals, timing his aggression to perfection to secure scorestreaks and run flags in, doing it all for his team. The series went down to the infamous 1v1 duel between Killa and Jordan “Proofy” Cannon in the final round of the final game to give Fariko the first ever world championship in Call of Duty.
The win at the world championship was the height of Fariko’s dominance on Black Ops 2. There was no team that could even come close to what these four players possessed. The MLG Spring Championship saw Impact’s dynasty come to an end at the hands of Complexity, a team about to embark on their own dynasty.
Legendary Status Earned
Karma’s brief stint on Team Envy may not have yielded strong results but did play host to some of the most iconic plays in Call of Duty esports history. A 28 killstreak at Gfinity 2 was nothing short of phenomenal, still proving to the doubters that he was still one of the very best in the game. Gfinity 2 also played host to the infamous game five ninja defuse. The audacious move against Unite Gaming transcended Karma into Call of Duty’s all-time greats.
Now on Complexity for the Ghosts season, Karma looked to assert his dominance on CoD esports for a second consecutive year. Despite criticism for making a change after winning a tournament, Karma’s addition to the Complexity line-up immediately made an impact, winning UMG Philadelphia and a dominant display at the 2014 Call of Duty Championships. The finals against Envy was a total whitewash, a comfortable 3-0 sweep of the boys in blue secured a second championship ring for Karma, cementing his place as the best player in the world.
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After two spells of domination under Impact and Complexity/Evil Geniuses, Karma had joined OpTic Gaming in place of recently-retired Matt “Nadeshot” Haag. The 2015 and 2016 seasons all had varying degrees of success for Karma and the rest of the team but at the 2015 and 16 world championships, the Green Wall failed to win despite coming into both tournaments as the heavy favourites.
The release of Infinite Warfare saw Karma in a position for another shot at the world title. Hot off securing the Stage 2 Playoffs, OpTic came into the world championship looking for a championship that had eluded them for the past two years. Now in a more supporting role, Karma was instrumental in the success of the team, picking up any leftover Hardpoint hill time or trading kills effectively rather than being the outright slayer for the team.
Having made it into the winners' bracket final, OpTic would face off against rivals Envy, a team looking to defend the crown that they had won in 2016. Envy managed to defeat the Green Wall to advance to the finals but Karma had been in this position back in 2013, he knew what it took to make it back into the grand finals and win.
The team swept aside Luminosity Gaming to set up an eClasico rematch against the boys in blue. During the finals, Karma still displayed glimpses of the old magic that had sent him into stardom all those years ago and after two agonising years of falling short at the biggest tournament of the season, Karma had his hands on an unprecedented third world championship ring.
The End of an Era
Having been a mainstay of professional Call of Duty throughout the pre-CWL, CWL and CDL era of Call of Duty esports, Karma will go down as one of the all-time greats. Three world championships is a feat that may never be emulated, despite several players being close. The retirement of Karma is a changing of the guard for Call of Duty esports as the new generation of talent begin to build their legacy while the old guard, that has been around for so many years, begin to enter the twilight years of their careers.
Despite an uneventful tenure on the Seattle Surge, Karma is always going to be remembered as a player that could flip a game on its head in a split-second. With countless plays and clutches that withstand the test of time, Karma is a legend of the scene that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Happy retirement, Champ.
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Image via Scuf Gaming