As the Call of Duty League moves on to the second week of Stage 2, a number of CDL teams have moved on from their original rosters. Power rankings are shifting and six players need to be watched at CDL 2021’s Stage 2: Week 2.
Last week, two rookies made their CDL debuts: the Toronto Ultra’s Jamie ‘Insight’ Craven and London Royal Ravens’ Paul ‘PaulEhx’ Avila. This week, two more rooks enter the fray: the Minnesota ROKKR’s Eli ‘Staandy’ Bentz and Los Angeles Thieves’ Carlos ‘Venom’ Hernandez.
Most expected that talent would concentrate and many young players would miss out in the shift to 4v4 for CDL 2021. That held true for the first month, but now things are starting to shake out and we’re seeing a bonafide arms race for CDL Challengers talent.
Considering that lineup volatility and recent performances, here are the six players you need to watch out for this week — from star veterans to the aforementioned, unproven rookies.
Cesar ‘Skyz’ Bueno (Florida Mutineers)
Investing in a return of the MVP Mutineer
In 2020, the Mutineers were winning events and Skyz was a fan-favorite MVP candidate. In 2021, the talented player has seemingly become better known for game investment memes than his actual skills.
That could be changing, though, as Skyz bounced back from a team-low 0.89 K/D in a 1-3 loss to the Seattle Surge with a game-high 1.40 in a sweep of the ROKKR. That is the Skyz needed for a Floridian return to form. This week’s primetime match against a 7-3 OpTic Chicago will be a serious test.
Sean ‘Seany’ O’Connor (London Royal Ravens)
Is Sean the Builder back?
Like Skyz, Seany has been the subject of memes and, now, is the centerpiece of a speculative return to form. The visa-struck Royal Ravens were 0-6 until last week, but they added PaulEhx from Challengers and, suddenly, won their first match.
But PaulEhx wasn’t the star in a sweep of the Los Angeles Guerrillas — it was Seany. He treated the entire series like it was his Rammaza playground and piled up a team-high 1.19 K/D. This week he and London will face the Thieves and New York Subliners, a bigger task for the rebuilding Ravens.
Carlos ‘Venom’ Hernandez & Thomas ‘TJHaLy’ Haly (LA Thieves)
New lineup, new roles, new Thieves?
The revamped, rebranded Thieves started the season off red-hot with a win streak before seeming to fall apart. Dropping to an unexciting 6-4, Los Angeles have gone after one of Challengers’ brightest submachine gun talents: Venom, formerly of WestR.
Kenny ‘Kenny’ Williams moved to SMG already, but now Venom takes the second SMG, Donovan ‘Temp’ Laroda loses his starting spot and veteran star TJHaLy moves to the Flex. He was strong in a 3-2 against Toronto last week, but dropped a game-low 0.73 K/D in the 2-3 loss to the Subliners. As a highly touted rookie, Venom needs to be watched this week — and, as an inconsistent, high-ceiling vet, TJHaLy’s new role should draw close monitoring as well.
The Thieves have high expectations as an organization and these lineup and role changes need to show promise quickly, as fans have begun to worry.
Eli ‘Staandy’ Bentz (Minnesota ROKKR)
Stand by MN
Like the Thieves, Minnesota have had a disappointing season and decided to bring up an SMG player from Challengers alongside a role swap. Moving Michael ‘MajorManiak’ Szymaniak to the bench and Preston ‘Priestahh’ Grenier to the Flex, the ROKKR have brought on Triumph’s Standy to form a sub duo with Dillon ‘Attach’ Price.
While MajorManiak was excellent to start the year, people began doubting Minnesota’s pace of play as the team dropped to a mediocre 3-5. The ROKKR dropped to last in our Reverse Sweep power rankings, so this change will hopefully give the team some speed and open things up.
Ben ‘Bance’ Bance (Toronto Ultra)
No Zinni, No Winni?
The Ultra surprised everyone by dropping Anthony ‘Methodz’ Zinni from their starting lineup after he was their best statistical performer in Stage 1. The rookie, Insight, then performed admirably in his stead — easing some concerns that the move was unwarranted.
- Read more: Enable: Ultra benching Methodz won’t pay off
Now, a new question emerges: Did they drop the right player? In last week’s 2-3 loss to the Thieves, Bance had the team’s lowest K/D with 0.85. When they got swept by FaZe, his K/D was 0.68. He took to Twitter to tell fans “I need to get better” and this week, against a meager 3-5 Guerrillas, will be the perfect opportunity to show progress.
All stats courtesy of BreakingPoint. If you want to keep track of Stage 2, Week 2, follow along with our dedicated hub. And if you want to keep track of all the roster moves, check out our CDL Rostermania hub.