Activision’s Call of Duty League is finally here, and things start with the CDL Kickoff Classic – a preseason event where x-factor players on all 12 teams can begin to make their mark.
With an emigration of 12 starters when CDL switches to a 4v4 format in Black Ops Cold War, individual play is crucial. Players have less backup on the battlefield, and with a deep talent pool in the Challengers scene, more competition for their roles.
Representative for Chicago is OpTic Gaming back with Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez, Seth ‘Scump’ Abner and the gang. Happy fans, Matthew ̵
Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson (Atlanta FaZe)
The best AR in CoD?
While Michael ‘MajorManiak’ Szymaniak was highly regarded by his teammates last season, there are few who rank him in a level anywhere near Arcitys. FaZe’s submachine gun and flex game were never an issue, but putting Arcitys on the assault rifle could push them past the Dallas Empire on power rankings.
If Arcitys continues, let alone improving, his 2020 form, Atlanta should be an early favorite. Tested by a strong Florida Mutineers group, fans will get a quality check of FaZe’s newest member.
Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter (Dallas Empire)
Did Dallas solve the right veteran AR?
The transition from 5v5 to 4v4 was not without heartache, and few divisions were as tough as the empire’s. Dropping James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks instead of Crimsix was a difficult decision, and at the CDL Kickoff Classic, that decision will receive its first evaluation.
When the two veteran ARs meet, Crim will be with the same absurd, young trio of “Xeo” shooters and Clayster with … a prominent sophomore and two previously projected bench players. It should not be too difficult to try for Dallas, but fans should be curious to see how much Crims’ thumb has grown older.
Donovan ‘Temp’ Laroda (Los Angeles Thieves)
Big Brand meets Big Ego
Binding for 5th on the CDL Champs was not enough to keep OpTic in Los Angeles, so Nadeshot had to buy into the league. Although the team’s challengers, Zack ‘Drazah’ Jordan and Darien ‘Hollow’ Chervchko, played admirably in the post-season – the 100T replaced them in the starting lineup with one of the league’s most confident ARs.
The self-proclaimed top “gunnie” in CDL, Temp has a relentless belief in his abilities (alternatively a ‘strong personality’ per general manager Eric ‘Muddawg’ Sanders) backed by a strong story with top level, albeit stripped play. While his year with the New York Subliners was disappointing, Temp is now joining former teammates Austin ‘SlasheR’ Liddicoat and Thomas ‘TJHaLy’ Haly. With 100T’s huge fanbase and a matchup with OpTic Chicago, the shooter gets a big stage to prove that his game can rise to both the occasion and his own expectations.
Preston ‘Priestahh’ Greiner (Minnesota ROKKR)
The Honorable Tiny Terror?
FaZe was the second best team in 2020, and Priestahh will probably still be on the team if not for the switch to 4v4. Instead, one of the league’s most selfless players gets to beat a new magazine with a completely modernized ROKKR squad.
Starting with Minnesota’s preseason matchup against Toronto Ultra, Priestahh should switch from flex to his more natural sub-role. The expectations of what was a lousy ROKKR team will depend on his ability to prove that he was overshadowed in Atlanta and can go from dirty work to murder.
Makenzie ‘Mack’ Kelley (New York Subliners)
No ZooMaa, No Hydra: Return of the Mack
Easily one of the best debutants of 2020, Mack jumped into New York’s starting lineup and almost immediately stepped into the MVP conversation. The underlines had a good offseason after whizzing in the playoffs, but new editions mean Mack has to go beyond to start 2021.
With novice Paco ‘HyDra’ Rusiewiez working on visa issues and Tommy ‘ZooMaa’ Paparatto withdraws due to injury, Mack moves to SMG for an unfinished list. He is back in his preferred role, but the season depends on his ability to reach 2020’s almost MVP form.
Brandon ‘Dashy’ Otell (OpTic Chicago)
Listening to Chicago’s Bat-Signal
Like Atlanta, Chicago mixed parts after falling as short as the championship in 2020. With Arcitys eager to join former teammates at FaZe, H3CZ celebrated the return of OpTic with the return of one of the brand’s former players.
But 2020 was an ugly year for Dashy, and apart from a few big moments as a suddenly called bench player in the CDL Champs, the questions surround the former elite AR. Expectations are high for the largest brand in CoD, but will rise and fall depending on Dashy’s game.
Peirce ‘Gunless’ Hillman (Seattle Surge)
Started from the bottom, now we peirce
Like Dashy, no one questions the raw mechanical talent that Gunless has. Unfortunately, like Dashy, the talented player spent most of a porous 2020 on the bench with rumored character issues.
Now he joins two others as reinforcements for Sam ‘Octane’ Larew on 2020’s worst team: Seattle. If Surge is going to improve on a 5-18 record that ended last on the CDL Champs, Gunless needs a return to form from day 1 against the Los Angeles Guerrillas.
While Call of Duty League is full of players with high expectations, low expectations and everything in between, these seven stand out as those with the most notable stocks in the preseason. A number of other rookies and transferred players can make statements during the Kickoff Classic, but the power ranking and fan expectations should be completely dependent on the listed x-factors.