The Call of Duty League enters its first tournament of the 2021 season and six standout x-factors need to be watched as their teams battle for a cut of the $500K CDL Stage 1 Major’s prize pool.
For the first time in what feels like an eternity, every single professional Call of Duty team is on the board for a week of bracketed matches. With $500,000 on the line, the first CDL Major has some serious monied incentives available.
But that prize pool is just a portion of the 2021 season’s $5 million, making standings and team trajectories a pivotal component as well. Of the 12 teams competing, six noteworthy players are particularly crucial to their teams’ season-long trajectories and Major I outlooks.
From the continually contending, suddenly drama-stricken Atlanta FaZe, to the upsurging, revamped Paris Legion — here are six players you need to keep an eye on during Stage 1’s Major.
McArthur ‘Cellium’ Jovel (Atlanta FaZe)
You can do it, too
Considered an MVP candidate during the 2020 season and one of CoD’s most dangerous players who is too young to buy a beer in America, Cellium is always must-watch entertainment. But that has taken yet another step after Super Week, as Cell was at the center of more snaking drama.
Known for a brain massive enough to discover the weirdest mechanics in the game, Cell was accused of flouting GAs (Gentleman’s Agreements) by snaking during a 3-2 win against the Legion in Super Week. Absolutely pivotal to Atlanta’s success, the only maps FaZe lost to the Toronto Ultra and Florida Mutineers were the ones in which MC didn’t notch a positive K/D.
In the Stage 1 Major, Cell’s impact will determine the team’s fate during their first match against either the Los Angeles Thieves or Guerrillas in Winners Bracket: Round 2. But the biggest reason to watch him may just be to find out if peer criticism will impact the mechanics he uses.
Donovan ‘Temp’ Laroda (Los Angeles Thieves)
Regaining for revenge
The Thieves kick off Major I with a “Battle for LA” match against the Guerrillas in Winners: Round 1, but Temp’s eyes are set forward. After the Dallas Empire humbled his team with a quick 3-0 to finish Super Week, spurring CEO and coach drama, Temp told us how badly he wants revenge.
“It was a really bad series for me. And I hate losing to them, every single person on that team. I hate losing to the organization, so I just really want to play them again. And if we win our games we’ll probably play them this event.”
To get that revenge, Temp will need to pick up his form. In five of the Thieves’ six Super Week map wins, Temp posted a positive K/D. They lost five of the six maps in which he didn’t, including against the Empire — where he didn’t go positive once.
Makenzie ‘Mack’ Kelley (New York Subliners)
New teammates, new role
Mack immediately became an MVP candidate in 2020 after debuting for NYSL, but the team, and his role, have changed since then. With three new teammates, the former flex AR has shifted to SMG and the results have been inconsistent.
While James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks commended his new teammate for “adapting well to that role,” the sub has been difficult. During Super Week, New York lost three of the four maps in which Mack didn’t post a positive K/D. If the Subliners want to make a run, Mack has to maintain progress in a new role, starting against OpTic Chicago in Winners: Round 1.
Matthew ‘FormaL’ Piper (OpTic Chicago)
From Texas Formal to Tourney Formy?
Speaking of OpTic, “Texas FormaL” has been an omnipresent topic in the early days of CDL 2021. What hasn’t been omnipresent is the internet-boosted dominance many expected from the veteran AR.
When asked about role shifts after bringing in Brandon ‘Dashy’ Otell, Chicago’s Dylan ‘Envoy’ Hannon was clear that this means a continuing transition for FormaL: “Brandon brings a lot of firepower and I think Matt has realized that he needs to step back more into that IGL [in-game leader] role.”
During Super Week, FormaL notched a positive K/D in seven of 12 maps. OpTic still won each match, but more stable consistency from their main AR will impact their push through the Winners Bracket.
Matthew ‘Skrapz’ Marshall (Paris Legion)
Contenders or pretenders?
No one really knew what to expect from the Legion after they went silent during the offseason and shook up their roster. But, during Super Week, the team went 2-1 and took Atlanta to a Map 5. The biggest momentum shifter? Skrapz.
A formal London Royal Raven, Skrapz has been a flamethrower for Paris and recognizes that his heat check is pivotal to his team’s chances: “I’ve been playing hot. I’ve always shown what I’m capable of, it’s just a matter of doing it consistently.”
Against FaZe, Paris lost three of the four maps in which Skrapz posted a negative K/D, proving how instrumental his form is. Still, he was crucial to their elevated placement in Round 2 of the Losers Bracket, so all eyes are on him as Paris continue to defy power rankings.