New meta, new rookies and a new set of pros to watch as the Call of Duty League cements seeding for 2021’s second Major. Five players, for better or worse, are in must-watch territory during the LA Guerrillas’ Home Series.
In Stage 2, Week 2, yet another rookie dropped a dominant debut while yet another top-ranked team delivered bottom-ranked performances. As the Minnesota ROKKR’s new lineup went 2-0 on the week, OpTic Chicago went 0-2 (failing to win a single map in the process).
We mentioned Minnesota’s rookie call-up, Eli ‘Standy’ Bentz as a player to watch last week and he did not disappoint. He helped the ROKKR 3-0 OpTic, 3-2 the Dallas Empire and, in the process, helped us lock in players to watch this week.
Now, a ton of weapons have been tuned in Black Ops Cold War and the meta remains in flux. From upsurging players on the verge of unlocking another tier of excellence to formerly exalted stars on the brink of downgrades, here are the five players you need to monitor during the LA Guerrillas Home Series.
Cuyler ‘Huke’ Garland (Dallas Empire)
What happened to the MVP nominee?
Stage 1’s top MVP candidate has fallen into must-watch territory in Stage 2 for all the wrong reasons. You can’t pin the Dallas Empire’s rocky performances on Huke, but he did set a wildly high standard last stage.
- Read more: Top 10 Plays | CDL Stage 2 Week 2
Prior to the Stage I Major, a comfortable Empire squad was 4-1 with a 14-7 map count. Through two weeks in Stage 2, they’re at a tame 2-1 with an 8-6 map count. Huke’s downturn in production seems highly correlated. As the only Empire player to go negative in two of the team’s Stage 2 matches, he has yet to surpass a 1.0 K/D in any Search & Destroy.
Faced with the Florida Mutineers and OpTic Chicago this week, fans will be anxious for a return to Huke’s earlier MVP form.
Reece ‘Vivid’ Drost (Los Angeles Guerrillas)
The host with the most
At 3-8 this season, the Guerrillas are not the most prestigious Home Series hosts. As many have discussed since the preseason, this inconsistent roster’s ceiling might be entirely dependent on Vivid.
So far in Stage 2, Vivid has been a cog of that inconsistency. A 1.37 K/D in an 0-3 loss to the London Royal Ravens gave way to a 0.86 in a 1-3 to the New York Subliners and a 0.88 in a 2-3 to the Toronto Ultra. His 0.98 through Stage 2 is just a nudge behind Justin ‘SiLLY’ Fargo-Palmer’s 0.99 for team-high, but the Guerrillas will need more big games from Vivid to outduel their guests this week.
Brandon ‘Dashy’ Otell (OpTic Chicago)
Unmasked without the XM4
Everyone’s excitement for Dashy’s return to (the real) OpTic was rewarded with some nasty XM4 performances. But, since the gun’s ban, he and the team haven’t been the same. After an 0-2 week, many have stopped asking when OpTic plays, instead wondering if the team’s newest addition is overrated and incapable of performing without a do-it-all gun.
- Read more: Enable: Dashy is playing horrible!
While the questions and memes might be annoying on social media, they’re proving impossible to ignore. In Stage 2, Week 2, Dashy produced a team-worst 0.74 K/D (70-94 across both matches). With a shifting meta, Chicago fans are shining the Bat Signal for Bruce’s return to form.
Luis ‘Fire’ Rivera (Paris Legion)
Playing for his job?
In a year of jaw-dropping rookie performances, the Legion’s Fire seems at risk of being dropped himself. An AR player playing SMG for a team that built up high expectations with a surprise Stage 1, Fire is in an uncomfortable situation.
From 2-3 in Stage 1 group play to 1-3 thus far in Stage 2, Fire has notched a positive K/D in just one map through both weeks of play. It’s fair to blame the role and changed team expectations, but that doesn’t change much. If Fire doesn’t perform against Florida this week, rumors of a replacement (like Subliners Academy’s Renato ‘Saints’ Forza) may grow deafening.
Preston ‘Prestinni’ Sanderson (Seattle Surge)
From dial-up to dialed in
Ending on a positive note, the Surge look great and Prestinni is playing like a superstar. After going 1-4 in Stage 1 group play, Seattle is 2-1 in Stage 2 (with their lone loss being a tight 2-3 to Dallas).
In those three matches, Prestinni has 198 kills and 174 deaths, good for a 1.14 K/D. Those numbers are shocking for an SMG, as is the reason behind them. Prestinni moved in with his brother, the Atlanta FaZe’s Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson for Stage 2 due to internet problems in Stage 1.
Like teammate Peirce ‘Gunless’ Hillman fixing his monitor settings, Prestinni’s internet solution seems to have unlocked his powers. It would be incredible if he kept this level of play up, but he and the Surge deserve everyone’s attention during this hot streak.