Stage 2 of the Call of Duty League kicks off with a Toronto Ultra Home Series. Five players stand out as must-watch x-factors as the CDL 2021 season continues ramping up.
During the CDL 2021 Stage 1 Major, Atlanta FaZe ran through the competition — decimating practically every single team that came in their way. Now, we’re moving into Stage 2 and the rest of the league has some serious work to do.
Among the teams vying for an upturn in production, some are at the top of the power rankings, and some at the bottom. From established pros like the Dallas Empire’s Huke and LA Thieves’ Kenny to newcomers like the London Royal Ravens’ PaulEhx and Toronto Ultra’s Insight, x-factors appear at every rung of the CDL ladder. And, of course, the middle is the most dynamic spot and that’s precisely where Priestahh’s Minnesota ROKKR stand.
Here are why those five players can make a legitimate, longstanding impact as Stage 2 kicks off.
Cuyler ‘Huke’ Garland (Dallas Empire)
“Huke the Nuke” vs. “Huke the Fluke”
Huke was in absolute MVP form as the CDL 2021 season kicked off, but that all came crashing down in the Empire’s 2-5 loss to FaZe in the Stage 1 Grand Finals. That loss wasn’t just felt in Dallas wallets either, as it came with an immediate drop in expectations as well.
After leading Dallas in statistics for much of the season, Huke dropped a paltry 0.87 K/D in the FaZe series — notching a positive ratio in just the team’s two wins. Dallas is still rightfully just behind FaZe in the standings, but Huke needs to regain “Nuke” form if the Empire are going to reclaim the throne.
Paul ‘PaulEhx’ Avila (London Royal Ravens)
From playing hard to get to playing with the best
It has been a weird season for the Royal Ravens, with temporary starter Christopher ‘Parasite’ Duarte claiming that the team was “destined to fail.” Parasite replaced Trei ‘Zer0’ Morris, who was dealing with visa issues, as rumors spread that PaulEhx had declined their contract offer.
Now, Zer0 is still gone and PaulEhx has replaced Parasite in the starting lineup. The CDL Challengers standout for WestR was dominant enough to believably decline contract offers — and now he has a chance to prove he was worth the wait.
Kenny ‘Kenny’ Williams (Los Angeles Thieves)
The case for SMG Kuavo
Despite a stacked roster and a huge start to the new season, the LA Thieves couldn’t make it past Round 4 of the Stage 1 Major’s Losers Bracket. This has led to serious questions about the roster, including from 100 Thieves’ content creator and former pro, Ian ‘Enable’ Wyatt.
During Reverse Sweep, Enable and former pro and coach Jonathan ‘Pacman’ Tucker discussed one possible solution for the Thieves: swapping Kenny onto the SMG full-time. As Pacman explains, “Kenny is disgusting, but I think he should be running a sub … I just think you should try it and see how it works.”
If LA fails to produce this week, conversation could amplify and fans might start calling for Kenny to take on the SMG role.
Preston ‘Priestahh’ Grenier (Minnesota ROKKR)
Will they, won’t they?
The ROKKR sit at 3-3 on the season and No. 7 in the CDL standings. Everyone wants to know the answer to one question: Is Minnesota bad, good, or just the perennial embodiment of the middle of the pack?
One player is key to that answer and it’s the former FaZe flex, Priestahh. He played a utility role in 2020 and claims to be enjoying the transition to “running around and frying” in 2021, but the results haven’t been consistent. If the ROKKR want to unshoulder the weight of mediocrity, Priestahh needs to start slaying.
Jamie ‘Insight’ Craven (Toronto Ultra)
No Zinni, Maybe Winni
Anthony ‘Methodz’ Zinni was, statistically, the Ultra’s best player throughout a disappointing Stage 1. But, as he kept his head up and told us that this team’s ceiling was “multiple championships,” Toronto proceeded to bench him, sending the renowned veteran to Challengers in favor of Insight.
Now, Insight is starting on an all-EU lineup and the Ultra have a lot to prove. Insight has Zinni-sized shoes to fill and Toronto must outperform their 3-5 Stage 1.
To stay up to tabs on CDL 2021 Stage 2, follow along with our Stage 2: Toronto Ultra Home Series hub — where we keep scores, streams and the schedule updated throughout the week.