Behind the New York Subliners’ CDL Champs “miracle run”

Theo Salaun
The New York Subliners roster at Major 4

The Manhattan Miracle-Makers, the Brooklyn Bracket-Busters, whatever you want to call them, the New York Subliners pulled off the seemingly impossible at CDL Major IV and qualified for the Call of Duty League Championship in front of their hometown crowd.

“They made the miracle run. I don’t even care about the Finals, they made the miracle run, bro.” Even after beating them in the Grand Finals, Los Angeles Thieves’ Sam ‘Octane’ Larew couldn’t help but marvel at what New York pulled off.

Heading into the third Major, the underperforming Subliners had already made five roster and coaching changes. Those adjustments seemed ineffective, though, as the team got double-first-rounded at Major III – sitting 11th in the standings with 70 CDL Points, 40 behind 10th, and 50 behind 8th (the playoff cutoff).

At that point, the sentiment was bleak – with defeated Reddit comments saying “Rip NYSL’s chances at Champs” and “Crim missing Champs don’t feel real.”

The CDL Standings after Major 3.
The CDL standings after Major III, when the Subliners sat dangerously close to being eliminated from Champs contention.

Then, New York went a league-leading 4-1 in Major IV qualifiers. It wasn’t enough to rise past 11th place, but it did close the gap ever so slightly, putting them 30 points behind 10th and 35 behind 8th.

Not mathematically eliminated from Champs just yet, at Major IV, hosted in their backyard, New York still needed to not only win their first LAN match at a Major this season but finish somewhere in the top three… while simultaneously relying on losses from the teams ahead of them in the standings.

If that wasn’t enough, two of those teams, the Florida Mutineers and LA Guerrillas, won their first-round matchups. And New York started their own first round down 0-2 to the third: the Minnesota RØKKR.

The reverse sweep heard around the world

In their home venue, New York’s crowd made their presence felt all weekend long.

Down 0-2, one map away from elimination, New York refused to cave. With their most recent signing, Matthew ‘KiSMET’ Tinsley, leading the charge, the Subliners got loud and so did their fans.

Over the first two maps, Kis was sitting on a 0.84 K/D. Over the next three, the entry sub pulled off a 1.29 to complete the reverse sweep. When asked if he noticed the crowd’s response to his plays, he recalled their impact vividly: “There’s obviously situations when you make a good play and people go nuts, your adrenaline just starts pumping and pumping and you can’t lose whenever people have your back that much.”

While Kis fed off of the crowd, the rest of the team fed off of him. The winningest CoD player of all time, Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter couldn’t see Kis popping off, but he did hear him: “When he started screaming, shouting I was like ‘oh my god.’ I felt extra aim assist … I was like ‘these guys are actually terrible’ all of a sudden.”

With that reverse sweep, New York’s run remained alive. ROKKR and Guerrillas fortuitously lost their subsequent matches, leaving Florida – New York’s second-round opponent – as the lone team left to play spoiler.

King's Theater in Brooklyn.
King’s Theater in Brooklyn, New York set a fairytale stage for the Subliners’ Cinderella run.

By then, it wasn’t just the fans backing the run, either. Even Atlanta FaZe superstar Chris ‘Simp’ Lehr couldn’t help but root for the Subliners, saying mid-tournament that “at this point, it’d be cool to see ’em qualify.”

FaZe coach James ‘Crowder’ Crowder elaborated on that sentiment: “I have a lot of respect for Crim as a competitor … I think the way he competes and his true passion – it’s something special to see, so to see it be completed would be cool.”

Pulling off the miracle run

With the crowd described as “insane” by LA’s Kenny ‘Kenny’ Williams and the “loudest I’ve ever heard” by Florida’s Cesar ‘Skyz’ Bueno, the run continued.

The RØKKR match may have been Kismet’s, but Round 2 against Florida belonged to Crim and Paco ‘HyDra’ Rusiewiez. En route to a 3-0 sweep, HyDra managed a strong 1.08 K/D and Crim… a vintage, dominant 1.32.

“Crim was literally saying after each match, ‘I’m undeniable, they can’t kill me, we can’t lose.’ So when you have the best player that’s ever played Call of Duty sitting beside you telling you that, we had the most confidence.” As Kis explained, Round 2 was most certainly the Crimsix show.

Crimsix imitating WWE's Undertaker at CDL Major 4.
With a fitting ode to The Undertaker, Crimsix helped NYSL rise from the dead and into CDL Champs.

Sending the Mutineers down to Losers Round 3, where FaZe was able to dust them 3-1, the run lived on. Florida was up to 160 CDL Points, but New York owned the tie-breaker and finally controlled their own destiny – capable of securing Champs qualification by beating LA Thieves in the Winners Finals.

Asked about Crim’s nerves mid-tournament, HyDra contended that “he doesn’t feel anything. He’s an alien or some s**t.” Crim clarified, “an NPC actually. My directive is to punish noobs.”

The Subliners proceeded to beat LA 3-1 on Championship Sunday, completing the most unlikely of runs and securing their place at Champs—behind a 1.10 K/D from HyDra and a nasty 1.28 out of Kis.

The new Subliners head to CDL Champs 2022

Perhaps unsurprisingly, New York, having already clinched the final spot at Champs, ran out of gas in the Grand Finals rematch against the vengeful Thieves.

Finishing with 160 points, tied with the Mutineers and just five points ahead of the Guerrillas, the run was as remarkable as could be. Going 7-2 since Major III, New York more than doubled their points total to squeeze into the playoffs – where they’ll face a hungry FaZe squad in Winners Round 1.

The CDL standings ahead of CoD Champs
After a wild weekend, New York clinched their spot as the 8th seed for CDL Champs 2022.

When the team moved on from their highly touted lineup with James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks and Travis ‘Neptune’ McCloud in March and April, this all seemed an impossibility.

Few believed KiSMET and Paul ‘PaulEhx’ Avila would be enough to turn New York’s season around. But, as HyDra described, their intangible impact was invaluable: “We couldn’t get on the same page with anyone. I’m not even blaming [Clay and Nep], because it was like different minds I guess. But with Kis and Paul, we just understand each other.”

For Crimsix, now en route to his 11th-straight CoD Champs appearance, there’s a simpler explanation for the new-look Subliners: “We became a team.”

About The Author

Théo is a former writer at Dexerto based in New York and built on competition. Formerly an editor for Bleacher Report and philosophy student at McGill, he fell in love with Overwatch and Call of Duty — leading him to focus on esports for Dex.