Atlanta FaZe has been eyed as one of the teams to beat heading into the 2021 Call of Duty League season. But coming off a second-place finish in 2020, with Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson now back in the mix, will they be able to live up to the hype and cement themselves as the top team?
Throughout the Modern Warfare cycle, FaZe proved to be one of the most formidable forces in the league. Never falling out of the top four across every Home Series in 2020, consistency was one of their strongest factors.
While other teams had their highs and lows throughout the year, FaZe remained atop the pack from the Launch Weekend in January, through to the Championship Grand Finals in August.
Having signed Arcitys in the offseason, three of the four players on the revamped lineup have won a championship together. Could this be the year they do it again and make history as some of the youngest players to ever win two rings?
Atlanta FaZe CDL 2021 roster
|Chris ‘Simp’ Lehr||–|
|Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson||Chicago Huntsmen|
|McArthur ‘Cellium’ Jovel||–|
|Tyler ‘aBeZy’ Pharris||–|
|Daunte ‘Sibilants’ Gray (Substitute)||AF Academy|
Three eUnited champions back together
With the switch back to 4v4 competition, FaZe made some big changes ahead of Black Ops Cold War. Michael ‘MajorManiak’ Szymaniak and Preston ‘Priestahh’ Greiner were both let go to make way for Arcitys.
After a year with the Huntsmen, he’s now in the lobby with Simp and aBeZy once again. Together, this trio helped dominate the tail end of 2019 under the eUnited banners. They tore through all opposition in the final months of Black Ops 4, securing first place at the CWL Pro League Playoffs along with CWL Champs the following month.
If the CDL never came into effect, and competition remained under the 5v5 format, there’s a chance that golden eUnited roster could still be leading the charge today. Three pieces from that winning formula are now back and ready to run it up with Cellium.
The duo of Simp and Abezy, nicknamed the Tiny Terrors, haven’t missed a beat. They’re still capable of extraordinary highlights on any given map and can never be taken lightly.
Meanwhile, Arcitys is often praised as one of the standout AR players in the league overall. With 20-year-old Cellium keeping the killfeed red for FaZe, this could be the most aggressive lineup we see in 2021.
The Kickoff Classic doesn’t spell doom for Atlanta
With all the momentum behind them, FaZe didn’t quite start the year with a bang. Their very first series together saw them toppled by the Florida Mutineers. Despite being a lackluster way to kick things off, it could be just what the team needed.
“It was a good wake up call,” head coach James ‘Crowder’ Replays said on a January 27 episode of Hardpoints. “In hindsight, it doesn’t mean much. But, it’s a good wake up call.
While maps were close and the series went to a game five, every aspect of the series was a letdown, according to Crowder. “We played terribly from start to finish.” In light of this performance, it’s already led to a “culture shift” within the team.
They’re practicing differently, approaching scrims with a new mentality, and generally on a better path than they were prior to the Kickoff Classic. It may have looked disappointing at first, but Crowder is “super excited that [they] lost,” as they’re now on the right track to succeed in the real opening matchups.
The relevant topic begins at the 40:30 mark below.
Lumped into Group B alongside heavy hitters in OpTic Chicago and the Mutineers, it’s not going to be an easy start by any stretch. But with the firepower on their side, FaZe should be able to come out swinging.
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If they’re not winning a series outright, rest assured every matchup should be close at the very least. Many of their competitors have sized them up as one of the top teams for the year ahead and if they rebound from the Kickoff Classic, there’s no reason they can’t close out 2021 as champions.