100 Thieves officially enter Call of Duty League as Los Angeles Thieves - Dexerto
Call of Duty

100 Thieves officially enter Call of Duty League as Los Angeles Thieves

Published: 6/Nov/2020 17:07 Updated: 6/Nov/2020 20:35

by Albert Petrosyan


100 Thieves’ absence from Call of Duty esports has officially ended after the organization announced that it’s joining the CDL as the LA Thieves, taking over OpTic Gaming’s spot in the league.

As had been first reported by Dexerto, 100 Thieves are once again active in Call of Duty esports, and their new LA Thieves CDL franchise is ready to go for the 2021 campaign and beyond.

The news was announced with 100T founder and CEO Matt ‘Nadeshot’ Haag front and center: “We won two Call of Duty championships in 2019 so our year away reminded us how amazing Call of Duty fans are, and how much we missed them. Our fans deserve the best Call of Duty team in the world – and we’re gonna do everything in our power to give it to them.”

The slot had initially belonged to Immortals Gaming Club and their OpTic Gaming LA before the OG brand was sold back to Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez, who’s already the CEO of Chicago Huntsmen and, therefore, could not be in control of two franchises.

As a result, reports surfaced that H3CZ was actively shopping the league spot and considered 100 Thieves his first-choice buyer, considering his past history with Nadeshot.

However, at the time, Nadeshot told fans the same thing he’d said back when 100T first pulled out of CoD esports – that the organization just didn’t have the financial resources to enter the league. Needless to say, that situation has drastically changed.

“We were impressed by the Call of Duty League’s performance in its first year,” said John Robinson, President & COO of 100 Thieves. “The YouTube partnership, record ratings, and the addition of Warzone events showed us that Activision Blizzard Esports has the ambition and ability to make the Call of Duty League a world class esport.”

LA Thieves
LA Thieves
SlasheR, Kuavo, and Muddawg return to 100 Thieves as members of LA Thieves.

“Call of Duty League seeks to ignite a shift in competitive entertainment on a global scale, and 100 Thieves shares that same vision,” said Johanna Faries, Commissioner of Call of Duty Esports. “Our inaugural season introduced fans to amazing new teams, rivalries, and storylines – and raised the bar for what the competitive Call of Duty scene can achieve. The addition of LA Thieves to our roster of team franchises only ups the ante for what is certain to be an exciting future for all of us.”

As for their roster, LA Thieves will feature two stars who have played for the org before: SlasheR and Kuavo. TJHaLy brings championship experience while Drazah, who was picked up by OpTic midway through last season as a rookie, will remain as a substitute. This means that the team will be in the market to add a fourth starter.


  • Austin ‘SlasheR’ Liddicoat
  • Kenny ‘Kuavo’ Williams
  • Thomas ‘TJHaLy’ Haly
  • Zack ‘Drazah’ Jordan (substitute)
LA Thieves
LA Thieves
TJHaLy will start for 100 Thieves while Drazah, a starter for OpTic Gaming LA, will be LAT’s substitute.

Eric ‘Muddawg’ Sanders, who was the General Manager of 100 Thieves’ previous CoD team before leaving for OGLA, has returned to the organization and will hold the same position. Muddawg engineered two championships for 100T during the 2018-19 Black Ops 4 season, as well as a second-place finish at the final CWL World Championship.

Besides the fourth starter, the team also has to fill in their head coaching vacancy. There was strong speculation that veteran pro Ian ‘Enable’ Wyatt, who played for 100T in Black Ops 4, would be recruited as their coach, but he since shut down those rumors: “I one thousand percent will tell you that I am not coaching 100 Thieves. Zero percent chance – not a coach.”

It’s also worth noting that this was the exact lineup OGLA had announced before turning into LA Thieves. SlasheR, one of the more vocal veterans in the esport, has said that he was unable to build his ideal team due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of the league spot.

What does this mean for Chicago Huntsmen?

Chicago Huntsmen
Stewart Volland - Activision Blizzard Entertainment
Could the green of Chicago Huntsmen be replaced with the green of OpTic Gaming soon?

After H3CZ reacquired the OpTic brand, it was reported that his plan was to transform the Huntsmen into the Chicago OpTic while selling the Los Angeles slot to an appropriate buyer.

However, reports surfaced that the CDL wanted franchises to stick with the cities they were originally attached to, which would obviously make Chicago’s rebranding impossible. At the time, there was talk that NRG, the owners of the Chicago CDL slot, would ultimately sell the Huntsmen, hang onto OpTic, and move their Call of Duty operations to Los Angeles.

That’s ended up not being the case, and, although it’s still yet to be confirmed, the fact that H3CZ sold the Los Angeles spot could mean that the league have allowed NRG to move forward with the rebrand. Could Chicago OpTic be in the near future? Only time will tell.


Adam Fitch: Sorry Dr Disrespect, mobile esports are thriving

Published: 27/Nov/2020 17:00

by Adam Fitch


Earlier in November 2020, streamer Dr Disrespect spoke down towards mobile gamers on Twitter by questioning how it could be a “serious thing” — however, he’s just failing to understand how popular competition on mobile already is.

While mobile gamers and industry figures alike came to the defense of mobile gaming when the Two-Time took aim at the platform, there’s still a serious misconception around mobile esports and the success it’s already achieved.

Firstly, it’s worthwhile addressing the “serious” comment from Doc. While mobile devices perhaps don’t allow for precision that PCs do, there’s still a major skill gap between average and professional players and that lends itself perfectly to competition. The most common and widely-accepted definition of esports is a “video game played competitively for spectators,” mobile tournaments meet such a criteria on a daily basis and it’s already serious to hundreds of thousands of viewers on a weekly basis.

This skepticism from one of the faces of gaming is emblematic of a larger problem of platform elitism that plagues gaming on all levels. Ever since the popularization of esports there has been debate between console and PC gaming, centering around not only which type of players are better but whether console esports have unfair advantages due to features such as aim assist.

Ezreal in League of Legends Wild Rift
Riot Games
The most popular esports title, League of Legends, arrived on mobile in October 2020.

Tribalism is also a factor in this spritely, never-ending discussion, with players grouping together based on their platform of choice and nonsensically taking aim at those who have other preferences.

The only time in which such a debate would be productive is if cross-platform play is embraced in serious competition, which seems to be a long way away from ever becoming a reality. Fortnite developers Epic Games received plenty of criticism when implementing this feature in casual play, never mind in their esports activities, so it’s probably safe to assume no companies are rushing to make this a reality for the time being.

Infrastructure matters

Something that all good games need to be viable on a competitive level is infrastructure. Creating an appropriate structure for esports initiatives is important, whether it’s by a game’s developer or a third-party tournament organizer.

A great example of this in the realm of mobile esports is Clash Royale, one of the more popular titles from Finnish developers Supercell. The real-time strategy game has its own official team-based league from the company themselves, with top-tier gameplay spanning nine weeks and culminating in a year-ending world championship. This level of support and structure actually goes beyond what some PC and console games receive.

On the third-party organizer front, especially in the West, you only have to look as far as ESL to see how seriously mobile esports is being taken. As well as hosting regular online events for the likes of Call of Duty: Mobile, Clash of Clans, Brawls Stars, and Clash Royale, they have the ESL Mobile Open for elite players.

Clash Royale League World Finals
The Clash Royale League World Finals are always a spectacle, rivaling events in almost any other game.

Recently incorporating the Middle East and North Africa into the European arm of the competition, it’s said that ESL hosted over 500,000 players in the inaugural season alone. The second season involves PUBG Mobile, Auto Chess, Asphalt 9: Legends, and Clash of Clans, and will be expecting even more success with the widening of the player base.

In North America, the Mobile Open from ESL is already in its sixth season and has a headline sponsorship from the world’s largest telecommunications company, AT&T. There are other examples of infrastructure being fleshed out for mobile titles, but you get the gist.

A sight for sore eyes

One major factor of how we define success in esports is viewership. With a healthy amount of eyeballs on a product comes sponsorship opportunities, bragging rights, and further validation that fans are interested in watching the elite face off against each other.

With that in mind, it’s never been clearer that mobile esports isn’t just a major part of the future of the industry — it has already arrived. According to analytics agency Esports Charts, mobile events made up three of the five most popular tournaments in October 2020. This happened alongside the League of Legends World Championship taking place, which is not only one of the most anticipated occasions in the esports calendar but as it turned out to be one of the only LAN events we’d seen in six months.

Garena Free Fire
Free Fire hit a record of 100 million peak daily users earlier in 2020.

Asia and Latin America are where mobile esports are truly thriving at the moment, rivaling the popularity of any other title you decide to compare them with. This is proven from last month’s peak viewership statistics, where MOBA title Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and battle royale game Garena Free Fire occupied three of the top five placements.

Ryan ‘Fwiz’ Wyatt, the head of gaming at YouTube, posted a thread on Twitter on November 26 backed up the sheer popularity of Free Fire on the platform. In 2019, it was YouTube’s fourth most-viewed game and it’s proving to have some longevity considering its monthly viewership peaked in October 2020.

While this level of success isn’t replicated across all regions just yet, that’s how esports typically work. Call of Duty and Counter-Strike are mainly popular among those in North America and Europe, for example, which is reflected in the demographics of both the top-level players and the viewership alike. The same applies to mobile but it’s not an excuse for ignorance.

The future?

Mobile devices are generally more accessible than a high-end computer or new-generation gaming console so there’s a much higher ceiling on participation in mobile esports by default. Whether adoption from mobile users does indeed propel it into becoming the de facto competitive option is yet to be seen, but such potential can’t be ignored.

With viewership rivaling (and even oftentimes besting) that from console and PC esports alike, it’s sheer ignorance to state that mobile gaming isn’t already a major player in the industry. If you fail to see that from the investment that’s being funneled into mobile titles, or the number of people who already enjoy playing and spectating, then perhaps you’d like to argue that grass isn’t green too.