Two stages down and the Call of Duty League enters a pivotal Stage 3. With a slew of roster changes and some surprise performers in Stage 2, there’s a new set of players who need to be watched during the Royal Ravens Home Series.
Only eight teams make it to CDL Champs in 2021 and that means the pressure is on. As such, four teams dissatisfied with their performances made roster changes between a wild Stage 2 Major and the first week of Stage 3.
Oh, and another roster move is rumored as people believe the New York Subliners will call up rookie Paco ‘HyDra’ Rusiewiez. But that hasn’t been made official yet, so he has to get left off the list for now.
This week’s must-watch list includes four X-factors making their debuts with new teams. The last player isn’t making a debut, but he was simply so nasty at the end of Stage 2 that everyone will be dying to find out if he can keep that form up.
Colt ‘Havok’ McLendon (Florida Mutineers)
The right choice?
Most agreed that dropping Josiah ‘Slacked’ Berry was a reasonable idea for a disappointing Mutineers roster. Most are divided on their replacement. After seeing an arms race for cracked Challengers players in Stage 2, some weren’t sold on the decision to bring Havok back into the mix.
Having played with Florida in 2020, Havok helped the team win three events, but was ultimately deemed insufficient since Mutineers opted to bring in Slacked and Travis ‘Neptune’ McCloud. Back in the lineup, it will be interesting to find out if Havok’s presence helps Joseph ‘Owakening’ Conley and Cesar ‘Skyz’ Bueno regain their 2020 consistency.
Alex ‘Zaptius’ Bonilla (London Royal Ravens)
From WestR to West End
When the Royal Ravens picked up Paul ‘PaulEhx’ Avila, they visibly improved and he loudly emerged as a Rookie of the Year candidate. Now, they’re bringing in his Challengers teammate, WestR’s Zaptius, to replace Thomas ‘Dylan’ Henderson.
Zaptius becomes the third WestR player to get called up, after PaulEhx and the LA Thieves’ Carlos ‘Venom’ Hernandez. From Northern Ireland, Dylan was a fan-favorite on the EU squad and leaves big shoes to fill. This is the chance for a WestR duo to show their Challengers success was no fluke and put London’s West End on the CDL map.
Martin ‘Chino’ Chino (Los Angeles Guerrillas)
Money Cheen: Back in business
Just as stocks rise and fall, the cycle continues and Big Money Cheen is back in the CDL after a one-month stint for the now-defunct OpTic Gaming Los Angeles in 2020. Chino’s teamwork and mindset have never been questioned, but the level of his play has drawn its fair share of uncertainty.
Many expected the Guerrillas to make a change after they fizzled out in Stage 2, but few expected Reece ‘Vivid’ Drost to be the player benched. To bring in Chino, LAG have benched one of their top performers and moved Justin ‘SiLLY’ Fargo-Palmer to SMG. The pressure to perform is high, especially under those surprising circumstances.
Donovan ‘Temp’ Laroda (Paris Legion)
Redemption Tour: Part II
Temp’s confidence and outspokenness have made him a magnetic, divisive figure in CoD since his 2014 debut. Released by the Subliners this past offseason, Temp got his chance at a redemption arc with the LA Thieves to start 2021. Released by the Thieves during Stage 2, Temp’s redemption was put on hold.
Now, the tour is back on schedule. Picked up by the Legion to replace their rookie, Luis ‘Fire’ Rivera, Temp’s CDL odyssey gets its Part II. He has a history with Nicholas ‘Classic’ DiCostanzo and that chemistry could reignite. Like Temp, the streaky Legion have shown flashes of a high ceiling — making this a scary team if they can live up to their potential.
Ben ‘Bance’ Bance (Toronto Ultra)
Benny F**king Bance
You don’t put up a 1.4-plus K/D against the best Call of Duty team in the world with $500,000 on the line. And you definitely don’t do that just weeks after contemplating retirement. But one person does do that: Benny f**king Bance.
Nobody expected the Ultra to improve when they replaced their top performer Anthony ‘Methodz’ Zinni with a rookie. Next thing you know, Toronto surges to a Stage 2 championship with an 11-5 map count on Finals Sunday.
Facing FaZe in the chip, Bance posted a game-high 1.44 K/D with 134 kills and 93 deaths across eight maps. That is an absurd level of play and one that fans, and peers, will be fiending to see replicated. Is Stage 2 Bance for real?
You can follow all of this week’s action live with our CDL 2021 Stage 3 — Royal Ravens Home Series hub, which includes live streams, full schedule, up-to-date scores, and more.