It’s the Call of Duty League’s penultimate stage and the 2021 CDL Champs race is getting spicy. Five players are must-watch x-factors during Stage 4, Week 2’s Florida Home Series.
There are 12 teams in the CDL and all of them paid big money to get involved. Teams and players can recoup some of that cash by performing at the $500,000 Majors and, more importantly, the $2.5 million Championship.
But only eight teams make Champs and that makes CDL Points in Stage 4 (and the ensuing Major) more important than ever. Games are critical right now and that means players need to produce.
Last week, five players hit new levels in their form — some good, some bad. This week, those five constitute our players to watch, as each will be pivotal to their team’s hopes for the Stage 4 Major and beyond.
Anthony ‘Shotzzy’ Cuevas (Dallas Empire)
Getting used to a new duo (again)
The bar is raised for certain players and, for 2020’s MVP, it’s… quite high. Like the Empire, Shotzzy has been inconsistent this season — and that hasn’t changed despite Dallas pairing him with yet another new SMG.
Replacing Cuyler ‘Huke’ Garland with Tyler ‘FeLo’ Johnson didn’t fix anything and replacing FeLo with Reece ‘Vivid’ Drost hasn’t seemed to either. Streakiness continues to plague the Empire’s play and Shotzzy reflects the pattern. In last week’s 3-2 over London, the sophomore slayer notched a classic 1.05 K/D. In the 0-3 loss to Toronto, he had a 0.63.
The contrasts in Shotzzy’s play match the contrasts in the Empire’s. The team still sits at a happy No.3 in the league, but this new roster needs to mesh. Shotzzy is key to unlocking the map and, against the Subliners this week, his best form will be necessary.
Travis ‘Neptune’ McCloud (Florida Mutineers)
The S&D demon
It was a shaky start to the season for Neptune, but it often is for transitioning Halo pros. Now, with Colt ‘Havok’ McLendon helping elevate Florida’s play, Neptune has settled into a scary groove.
Beating Toronto 3-2 and sweeping London last week, Neptune posted a 1.18 and 1.21 K/D, respectively. And, in S&D, he’s become a different beast, notching a cumulative 1.64 in the pivotal mode across both matches.
This week, Florida meet the Subliners and Guerrillas. For Florida to maintain form, Neptune may need to continue emerging as one of the league’s S&D stars and most dangerous rookies.
Marcus ‘Afro’ Reid (London Royal Ravens)
Off the plane, into the fire
Visa: acquired. Flight: completed. CDL experience: a little. One of the most highly touted rookies this season, Afro got involved from the get-go as soon as he joined up with the Royal Ravens. The results weren’t ideal, but the potential is there.
Losing 2-3 to Dallas and 0-3 to Florida, Afro posted a 1.13 and 0.84 K/D, respectively. But the rookie showed some serious flashes, especially in the Empire matchup, and that’s intriguing.
If London is going to turn things around now that Afro has gotten his feet wet, the rook needs to start stomping on opponents. He seems to have the talent to do so, but faces his toughest test yet this week: Toronto.
Preston ‘Priestahh’ Greiner (Minnesota ROKKR)
Time to find form
Sitting at No. 7 in the standings, the ROKKR occupy precious territory. With a few weeks left in Stage 4, and just one stage after that, five teams are eyeing a vulnerable Minnesota and hoping to overtake them.
The pressure is on and that means Priestahh needs to carry a heavier load. The ROKKR swapped out Lamar ‘Accuracy’ Abedi for Michael ‘MajorManiak’ Szymaniak before Stage 4 and had mixed results — getting swept by OpTic and beating Paris 3-1.
Priestahh had team-low K/Ds in each contest: 0.64 vs OpTic and 0.92 vs Paris. In particular, his respawn maps have been very streaky. If Minnesota is going to maintain their place near the top, their star player needs to play like a star player. That can start this week against Seattle.
Sam ‘Octane’ Larew (Seattle Surge)
A sight for sore eyes
It’s hard to be excited about much with a team that’s last in the league with a 4-16 record. But the Surge brought in Nicholas ‘Classic’ DiCostanzo to replace Jacob ‘Decemate’ Cato and… looked pretty good.
Despite the loss, Seattle took the Thieves to Map 5 and Octane flat-out played like the best player in the game. With a 1.32 K/D, the AR was slaying out at a level we haven’t quite seen from him thus far in the CDL.
The Surge are still 90 points away from No. 8 in the standings, but if Octane and the gang can keep up this level of play — and fix their S&D — then Seattle might start pushing upward. To do so, they need to compete against two top-eight teams this week: Atlanta and Minnesota.