It’s time for the three greatest words in esports: Local Area Network. The Call of Duty League’s $500,000 Stage 4 Major will be 2021’s first on LAN, meaning some intriguing personalities and “onliners” are going to meet face-to-face.
When professional CoD moved online, bedroom warriors emerged among the league’s best and CDL Twitter became the backbone of the scene’s spice. Now, that can change, as the Stage 4 Major on LAN puts rookies and rivals on the big stage.
For the young, so-called “onliners,” LAN will be a chance to prove their play isn’t affected by the stereotypes. For the spicy veterans, it’s an opportunity to showcase their trigger fingers, rather than Twitter fingers, in person.
The Stage 4 Major has a lot of money and CDL Points at stake, but also a brighter light for this season’s storylines. Five players stand out as deserving of that spotlight and those X-factors make up this week’s players to watch.
Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter (Dallas Empire)
Crimsix has been at the heart of the CDL’s juiciest beef this season. There was the Cuyler ‘Huke’ Garland drama and the Matthew ‘FormaL’ Piper, OpTic Chicago drama. Now, Crim’s Empire go to LAN for the first time since winning CDL Champs 2020 and… guess who their first match is against?
Crim and Co. will face OpTic in Round 1 of the winner’s bracket and no matchup could be more fitting for the CDL’s return to LAN. Crim and OpTic’s rivalry dates back to his expulsion from the team and drama during CDL 2020, but was re-ignited during his spat with FormaL in June.
OpTic and Dallas have both bounced back into form recently after some shaky performances. It’s a tough contest and you can be sure Crim is coming in with some extra, personal motivation.
Eli ‘Standy’ Bentz (Minnesota ROKKR)
The “onliner” term felt like a relic of the past when rookies like Standy began dominating the CDL in the league’s online season. Minnesota’s rookie SMG has a 1.07 K/D this season and some wonder if that’s just because he hasn’t been forced to play outside of the comforts of his bedroom.
The ROKKR are a top-seven team this season and face the New York Subliners in winner’s Round 1. That will be Standy’s chance to prove that he can slay from anywhere, bedroom or big stage.
Jacob ‘Decemate’ Cato (New York Subliners)
Homelander’s return is upon us. After playing 12 total maps for the Seattle Surge, Dece quit and went back to Challengers. But now, he’s filling in for New York’s visa-troubled Obaid ‘Asim’ Asim with $500,000 on the line.
Dece posted a respectable 0.91 K/D in his time with Seattle, but many believe he left because he felt his talents were being squandered on that bottom-dwelling club. After dominating in Challengers, this is Dece’s best opportunity to prove he’s a CDL talent.
It’s the biggest tournament of the year thus far, the first taste of LAN, and some incredibly large shoes to fill. If Dece can help a top-three New York squad make a run, it’s a win-win for his future, the team’s ranking, and everyone’s bank accounts.
Matthew ‘FormaL’ Piper (OpTic Chicago)
No club has talked about online vs LAN play more than OpTic. And no player has talked about it more than FormaL. That already raised expectations for the Green Wall this week, but so did a 3-1 stomping of the LA Thieves on Sunday.
Against LAT, FormaL posted a dirty 1.29 K/D. On the season, he has a 1.06. Fans will want to see that momentum amplified on LAN and so will FormaL, especially considering his matchup vs Crimsix’s Empire in the first round.
The talk has been talked, now it’s time to walk the walk.
Jamie ‘Insight’ Craven (Toronto Ultra)
Not just a runaway Rookie of the Year candidate, Insight has a legitimate claim to MVP consideration as well. The rookie AR has a 1.12 K/D this season (No. 5 overall) and posted a 1.29-plus in each of Toronto’s Stage 4, Week 3 sweeps.
The only possible doubt on Insight’s play is that he hasn’t done it on LAN. Sitting pretty, waiting in winner’s Round 2, he’ll have his chance to disprove those doubts and erase the “onliner” stigmas.