No Call of Duty League roster or ranking is safe in 2021 and the pressure is mounting. For better or worse, five players have something to prove during the CDL’s Stage 3: Paris Home Series.
Last week, four of the five pros to watch were making midseason debuts and the fourth was cementing his level of play. The latter, Ben ‘Bance’ Bance, proved the Stage 2 Major was no fluke — posting a 1.13 K/D (kill-death ratio) in a 2-0 week for his Toronto Ultra.
Meanwhile, of the four debuts, only one managed to notch a winning record or a positive K/D on the week: Martin ‘Cheen’ Chino (with a nasty 1.36).
But this week’s must-watch list doesn’t have any first-time starters. Instead, three are vets hoping to regain their footing and two are CDL rookies still getting their feet wet. With the Stage 3 Major looming, rosters constantly changing, and Cuyler ‘Huke’ Garland somehow on the trade block — these five players should be especially hungry to produce.
Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson (Atlanta FaZe)
For a while there, it didn’t look like FaZe could be touched. But 300 taught us that even gods (technically, god-kings) can bleed and now Atlanta has lost consecutive matches after starting the year 14-1.
FaZe won’t be making any changes and Arcitys’ role is safe, but the team won’t secure a No. 1 seed without their Main AR turning things up a gear. Last week, FaZe lost to the New York Subliners 2-3 with Arcitys posting a game-low 0.84 K/D. The match prior, against Toronto in the Stage 2 Major, he dropped a game-low 0.71.
Championship favorites aren’t built on Main ARs who get out-slayed by 28-year-olds and rookies. If FaZe are going to regain everyone’s faith, Arcitys needs to shoot straighter in this week’s matchups with the LA Thieves and London Royal Ravens.
Tyler ‘FeLo’ Johnson (Dallas Empire)
Trying to fill big shoes
To start the London Home Series, Dallas beat the Paris Legion 3-1 and Huke dropped a 1.05 K/D. Then, they benched Huke for FeLo and proceeded to get swept by the Ultra (their second 0-3 all season).
And how did the veteran player, CDL rookie fare in Huke’s stead? A game-low 0.82 K/D.
No one knows what is happening in the Empire camp, but FeLo is replacing a highly touted player who was an early MVP candidate this season. The LA Guerrillas should be an easier test this week, but all eyes will be on the new(ish) starter trying to fill nuke-sized shoes.
Paco ‘HyDra’ Rusiewiez (New York Subliners)
All Hail HyDra
After what felt like an eternity of murmurings, CDL 2021’s most highly anticipated rookie finally made his debut. And HyDra did not disappoint, as the mustachioed menace dropped a 1.09 K/D in a win against FaZe and the Tiny Terrors duo.
- Read more: Can OpTic Chicago finally win championships?
If expectations were high before, they’ve only gotten higher. HyDra outdueled the league’s most notorious SMG duo and now gets to face two teams with less notoriety at the position. Stepping into the kitchen with London and Seattle this week, New York’s 19-year-old might fry.
Thomas ‘TJHaLy’ Haly (LA Thieves)
Huke or HaLy?
They came in with a star-studded roster and won matches. Then the losses started piling up and they replaced two of those stars with unproven talents. Now, the Thieves seem to be bouncing back again — but pressure remains high.
LA went 2-0 last week, which is great, but those wins came against Seattle and London. And, even against those not-so-great opponents, TJHaLy posted team-low K/Ds (0.85 and 0.94, respectively).
This week, the Thieves meet tougher foes: FaZe and OpTic Chicago. Should TJ continue struggling and the Thieves go back to losing, fans may begin calling for a Huke acquisition. It’s not likely that LA move away from Teej — then again, it didn’t feel likely that they’d replace Austin ‘SlasheR’ Liddicoat either.
Daniel ‘Loony’ Loza (Seattle Surge)
Seattle’s elephant in the room
The Surge only have four wins this season and, considering their roster, that’s pretty surprising. But at this point, if Seattle wants to fight for Stage Majors or even a spot at CDL Champs, something has to change.
And the elephant in the room, the topic no one wants to touch, is Loony. Reputable and beloved for his game sense, Loony’s struggles nonetheless can’t be ignored. Just last week, the vet SMG couldn’t surpass a team-low 0.73 K/D in either of the Surge’s losses.
Loony and Seattle face another tough test this week against New York. If it’s another disappointing performance, Mike ‘Hastr0’ Rufail’s phone might start ringing regarding a Huke acquisition.