5 players to watch during CDL 2021 Opening Weekend

CDL 2021 FaZe opening weekend players to watchActivision/Dexerto

The 2021 Call of Duty League season finally kicking off with the Opening Weekend and we’ve keyed in on five players who fans need to keep an eye on at Atlanta FaZe’s Home Series event.

Professional Call of Duty is back and revamped for 2021. With a change to 4v4 in Treyarch’s Black Ops Cold War, rosters have shuffled and so have player expectations.

During the Kickoff Classic preseason event, we locked in seven players whose performances were worth monitoring. Now, based on that limited sample size, we’ve centered on five Week One x-factors. Some play for championship contenders while others for more hopeful organizations, but all need to be watched closely as Stage 1 of the 2021 campaign gets underway.

Matthew ‘FormaL’ Piper (OpTic Chicago)

The tale of “Texas FormaL”

Chicago Huntsmen's FormaL.Activision
FormaL may have received a buff with the move to Texas.

In 2020, FormaL played below his standards due to Californian connection issues. In 2021, like much of the league, he is based in Texas. And, even if you’re not a Green Wall diehard, you’ve likely heard that “Texas FormaL” means the return of the beast.

Sweeping the Los Angeles Thieves in the preseason, FormaL posted a 1.40 and 1.23 K/D in both respawn maps. That suggests the AR may, once again, be shooting as straight as ever. This week, he faces the Paris Legion and Atlanta FaZe, providing another test of OpTic’s revitalized AR and the Lone Star State’s internet.

Christopher ‘Parasite’ Duarte (London Royal Ravens)

A fresh start after a decade of uncertainty

Parasite CoD CDC Challengers Zaptius_MLG
Nearly a decade after winning a world championship, Parasite is, once again, a pro player.

Having started his professional career in 2011, Parasite has spent a decade gunning kids, talking his talk, and burning bridges throughout the CoD community. Relegated to the amateur scene for much of the past four years, the man known as Haggy is now back on a pro roster.

The 2013 world champion has played for over 40 teams in his career and, unsurprisingly, many believe this is his last chance to cement a place among the pros. On a two-week contract as Trei ‘Zer0’ Morris deals with visa issues, Haggy will look to re-establish his place in the pro CoD scene while helping the Royal Ravens bounce back. He’ll start against the Seattle Surge, after London fell 2-3 to the Legion in the preseason (during which Zer0 went -26 in both Hardpoint losses).

Tyler ‘aBeZy’ Pharris (Atlanta FaZe)

Time for the Tiny Terror to go big

Atlanta FaZe's aBeZy.Activision
Among SMG players, aBeZy has an astronomical reputation.

Every team in the CDL knows just how dangerous the Tiny Terrors are. But a retooled FaZe lost 2-3 to the Florida Mutineers in the preseason and, while statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, they do paint an intriguing picture.

FaZe won both maps in which aBeZy notched a positive K/D, while losing all three in which he went negative (a combined 9-18 in SND and a 17-27 in the Hardpoint loss). Whether it’s aBeZy’s play or the team’s gameplan, Atlanta will need more terror than error out of him if the hosts intend to make a statement against the LA Guerrillas and OpTic Chicago this weekend.

Michael ‘MajorManiak’ Szymaniak (Minnesota ROKKR)

Is 2021 Maniak for real?

majormaniak-cdl-atlanta-fazeCall of Duty League
A veteran AR, MajorManiak kicked off 2021 with a stellar showing.

To be candid, few would credit MajorManiak’s AR play for FaZe’s 2020 run to the CDL Championship Grand Finals. The team went out and replaced him with Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson for 2021 and, in response, the Major gifted his new team, the ROKKR, one of his best performances in recent memory during a preseason win against the Toronto Ultra.

The veteran AR helped the fully retooled Minnesota roster to a victory by posting a cumulative 1.50 K/D across the match, the highest among all CDL players in the preseason (per BreakingPoint). Now, with matches against the highly touted Thieves and Dallas Empire, fans will discover if that early 2021 form was a fluke. 

Indervir ‘iLLeY’ Dhaliwal (Dallas Empire)

From dirty work to 30-bombs

Dallas Empire's iLLeY.Team Envy
Shout out, iLLeY, man.

In 2020, iLLeY was an easy fan-favorite who put up highlight plays and handled the Empire’s dirty work, but understandably didn’t have league-leading statistics given that role. Potentially overshadowed in the mainstream by fellow rookie Anthony ‘Shotzzy’ Cuevas’ MVP campaign, iLLeY’s time to shine may now be upon us.

With a swap to 4v4, games have become more methodical and the youngster has already made waves. With less sloppy duties, the young upstart posted absurd stats alongside patented highlights in a preseason sweep of the New York Subliners.

NYSL’s roster is in flux due to injury and visa complications, but iLLeY’s stats in the show match (a combined 1.43 K/D, third-best in the league) shouldn’t be discounted. Now, they’ll be tested by the Surge and ROKKR. If this is the form and role he’s bringing to 2021, a new MVP candidate may make Dallas the year’s championship favorites.

You can follow all of this weekend’s action live with our CDL 2021 Opening Weekend hub, which includes live streams, full schedule, up-to-date scores, and more.