The Atlanta FaZe may have failed to win a single LAN event this Call of Duty League season, but – with pressure at its highest – they’re still the favorites at CDL Champs 2022.
“I think we had them kind of scrambled. That’s the thing about Atlanta FaZe, if you get them out of their groove, they’re a pretty beatable team.”
As Kenny ‘Kenny’ Williams suggested after his LA Thieves eliminated Atlanta at Major IV, this year’s FaZe aren’t quite as invulnerable as the 2021 unit that went 34-7, won three Majors, and went 4-0 to win Champs.
Maybe the rest of the league has improved, maybe Vanguard isn’t their best game – whatever the case may be, this FaZe club has vulnerabilities. Still, Kenny recognized that a lowered floor doesn’t mean a lowered ceiling: “When they’re in their groove, they look dominant.”
FaZe secured top three at all four LAN Majors, have an MVP frontrunner in McArthur ‘Cellium’ Jovel, and are still the top seed going into Champs.
The team has looked dominant this year, despite the negative narratives surrounding their failure to win a tournament, and they seem eager to silence the chatter.
Drowning out the noise
“Last year, we had fun every day getting on. This year, you have those days like, ‘What the f**k, why am I playing right now?’ Because sometimes, there are some days when you’re like, ‘I can’t get better.'”
As the bearer of FaZe’s lowest K/D (0.96), Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson has borne the brunt of the criticism for FaZe’s unmet expectations, and he transparently acknowledged this season’s struggles.
Conversely, when asked about the slander directed at his teammate, Chris ‘Simp’ Lehr refused to lend this criticism any credence:
“I feel like Alec has just been the scapegoat because we’re a dynasty-caliber team and when we’re not winning, people just pick someone to blame and they just look at numbers. People don’t understand what he brings to the team … We always remind him how nasty he is, how much he actually brings.”
FaZe coach James ‘Crowder’ Crowder echoed Simp, emphatically dismissing his AR’s detractors: “All the criticism that [Arcitys] gets is just, to be honest with you, people not knowing what the f**k they’re talking about.
“This team was built to be a very top team … and when you have players slaying the way they do, the routes that get taken on the map, and the positions that you’re in, are how you get kills. And he sets up a lot of people to get kills and no one knows what the f**k they’re talking about when they talk about him.”
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While rebuking social media’s Arcitys takes, FaZe’s principal focus is going back-to-back at CDL Champs. To do so, the team will rely on the continued excellence of McArthur ‘Cellium’ Jovel.
Cellium: “The perfect teammate”
Although Atlanta haven’t won a LAN and numbers don’t paint the full picture, Cell has rattled off an absurd season, posting a 1.22 Overall K/D, a 1.25 Hardpoint K/D, and a 1.20 S&D K/D – all league highs.
When asked about their flex’s MVP form, Arcitys enthusiastically described what the statistics can’t: “All year he’s been MVP. Ever since I teamed with the kid, he’s taught me things… and I’ve been playing longer than him. His composure, his teamwork, everything about him is just on point. He gets gassed for how good he is, but he doesn’t get gassed for how good of a teammate he is. And people can’t see that just because everyone just thinks in listen-ins we have terrible comms, but for us, that’s perfect comms from him. He’s just the perfect teammate.”
As for how good Cell is individually, Simp described the flex’s presence on the map: “He’s a player that, if he gets into a position, he’ll get you at least five kills – minimum. And I feel like when he’s not on one of those god headies, he still has a 95% chance of killing the guy … He’s disgusting.”
CDL Champs 2022
Last season, FaZe won a league-leading 83% of their matches heading into Champs. This season, that percentage has gone down to 68% but remains the league’s highest.
That lowered success could have hindered morale, especially for a team on the precipice of achieving dynasty status, but Crowder has a simple explanation for why it hasn’t: “They’re all close friends. It’s very rare that you see a team as good as these guys also really get along.”
When it comes to Champs, the 2021 winners will have their work cut out for them in Winners Round 1 against the red-hot New York Subliners.
FaZe may not have won a LAN event all year, but – as Simp explained before beating OpTic for the first time all season during Major IV – “those matches don’t change this next one.”