Call of duty

Call of Duty League 2020/21 preseason power rankings

by Jacob Hale
Activision

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There's not long to go until the all-new Call of Duty League gets underway. Each of the 12 franchises from different cities and states across North America and Europe have now got their starting rosters finalized and will be busy practising as they look to get off to a flier at the season opener in Minnesota on January 24, 2020

While some teams have been playing in online preseason tournaments and scrims, it's not easy to predict which team is going to win the first Call of Duty League, but you only have to look at the rosters to see that some franchises are looking markedly better than others. I'm taking a look through each roster, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and ranking them from worst to best.

There are many factors that contribute to how teams perform on the big stage, but these rankings are based on scrim results, online tournament results, but most importantly how the players have performed in recent years and the chemistry between them.

12. Paris Legion

Paris Legion
Paris Legion
Paris is one of only two European spots in the CDL
  • Luke 'Louqa' Rigas
  • Conrad 'Shockz' Rymarek
  • Denhold 'Denz' Taylor
  • Matthew 'KiSMET' Tinsley
  • Timothy 'Phantomz' Landis
  • Zach 'Zed' Denyer
  • Paul 'Breszy' Breszynski
  • Joshua-Lee 'Joshh' Shephard

Paris Legion are one of the teams that could cause an upset, maybe even reaching top 6/8, but none of these players have been consistent enough throughout their careers to justify being placed much higher in my rankings.

However, with the guidance of coach and EU veteran Joshh, Paris Legion could prove to be fundamentally sound, and it'll be down to the players to take the extra step to beat the stronger outfits.

They could greatly benefit from signing one superstar player, but this could be a plan for the long-term. Right now, we have a good roster of middle-of-the-pack players that could become superstars over the coming months or years.

Player to watch: Louqa is the only one of these players that has no experience at pro level, but he looked fantastic on the uber-successful amateur Mindfreak team from last season. He has a high ceiling, so we'll have to see if he reaches it.

11. Florida Mutineers

Florida Mutineers
Florida Mutineers
Florida was the last franchise to announce its squad.
  • Preston 'Prestinni' Sanderson
  • Chance 'Maux' Moncivaez
  • Cesar 'Skyz' Bueno
  • Colt 'Havok' McLendon
  • Bradley 'Frosty' Bergstrom

Florida was the last franchise to announce their roster, and really seem like a 'best of the rest' type team. They’ve got 2019 world champion Prestinni in their squad, Maux and Havok who have come close to winning championships, and somewhat of a question mark in Frosty, who has only been competing professionally in CoD for a year.

I would’ve expected Prestinni to land on a better team given his world championship and playoffs wins, but hopefully he can make this team work and bring some glory to the Sunshine State.

Player to watch: At times during Black Ops 4, Maux was an AR capable of contending with the very best. He looked comfortable against the likes of Slasher, Octane and Formal. He will be the player that pushes Florida up the leaderboard come the end of the season, but he'll need his teammates to pick up some of the legwork.

10. Los Angeles Guerrillas

Los Angeles Guerillas
Los Angeles Guerillas
The Guerillas will be fighting for the moniker of Kings of Los Angeles this season.
  • Patrick 'ACHES' Price
  • Ulysses 'Aqua' Silva
  • Jacob 'Decemate' Cato
  • Renato 'Saints' Forza
  • Andres 'Lacefield' Lacefield

I wanted to put Los Angeles below Paris initially, but the fact that the likes of Saints, Aqua, and Aches have championships under their belts pushed them up slightly. Despite that, my hopes aren’t high for the “other” LA team to perform as well as their local rivals, or indeed most of the teams in the league. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the last few years, it’s to never count Aches out.

The success of the team lies solely in each player finding a level that they haven't hit in several years – though Decemate could be the key if his form from World War II and Black Ops 4 continues.

Player to watch: Saints is the player to watch on this Guerrillas team. He'll likely be disappointed by his lack of success over the last couple of years but has the potential to be a top-level player, as evidenced by his ability to always be picked up by strong teams. Now, he's got to prove he's worth the investment once again.

9. Minnesota Røkkr

Minnesota Rokkr
Minnesota Rokkr
Minnesota will be looking to prove why esports has a place in the North in 2020.
  • Adam 'Assault' Garcia
  • Adam 'GodRX' Brown
  • Justin 'Silly' Fargo-Palmer
  • Alex 'Alexx' Carpenter
  • Obaid 'Asim' Asim
  • Kaden 'Exceed' Stockdale (Substitute)
  • Devin 'TTiny' Robinson (Substitute)

Minnesota has never been a hub for esports, so many were surprised when the Upper Midwest state became a CoD League franchise. However, having secured their spot, they have picked up a group of talented players that will be able to get results.

However, whether they'll be able to get results on a consistent enough basis to reach the top four or six is another matter. Players like GodRX, Assault, and Alexx are key to Røkkr's chances of making the upper echelons of this league.

Player to watch: GodRX was a fantastic player in Black Ops 4 who, on a top team, could have been winning championships. He will be the player to take this team to new heights if he keeps up his form, so he's worth keeping an eye on.

8. Toronto Ultra

Twitter: Toronto Ultra
Twitter: Toronto Ultra
Toronto is the only city to announce a full 10-man roster
  • Daniel 'Loony' Loza
  • Anthony 'Methodz' Zinni
  • Carson 'Brack' Newberry
  • Alejandro 'Luckyy' López
  • Adrian 'Mettallz' Serrano
  • Tobias 'CleanX' Juul Jønsson
  • Nicholas 'Classic' DiCostanzo
  • Cameron 'Cammy' McKilligan
  • Ben 'Bance' Bance
  • Mehran 'Mayhem' Anjomshoa

Toronto have clearly prepared for all possibilities with their insane roster depth, and it could very well pay off throughout the season, but I feel like they’re missing that superstar player that can individually win games. That said, if Loony, Methodz, Brack and the Spaniards are on form, this team could get very scary, very fast.

Player to watch: Methodz will be the most important player in this team if he's as good as he was in World War II, when he was able to shut down opposition pushes single-handedly. He's also faced some criticism as a team player, so will be looking to prove his detractors wrong.

7. London Royal Ravens

London Royal Ravens
London Royal Ravens
London events have been some of the rowdiest in recent years, and the players will be hoping to live up to the hype.
  • Brad ‘Wuskin’ Marshall
  • Matthew ‘Skrapz’ Marshall
  • Dylan ‘Dylan’ Henderson
  • Jordan 'Jurd' Crowley
  • Rhys ‘Rated’ Price
  • Sean 'Seany' O'Connor (Substitute)
  • Dylan 'Madcat' Daly (Substitute)

The players on this London Royal Ravens team are all incredibly talented – Dylan was a rookie of the year contender in Black Ops 4 and Skrapz has been one of the best players of the last two years.

They’re made up of incredibly talented players but I don’t feel like they have it in them to win championships. Besides Jurd, none of them have done so in the past despite coming close, and this doesn't look like a team that can take on the likes of Clayster, Crimsix or Scump very comfortably.

Player to watch: Without doubt, the player to watch this season is Dylan. He set the league alight in 2019 and could've improved just about any other professional team, becoming an indispensable player. London are lucky to have him on their side, and he'll want to prove that this year.

6. Seattle Surge

Seattle Surge
Seattle Surge
Three-time world champion Karma is leading this Seattle team after a long tenure with OpTic Gaming.
  • Damon 'Karma' Barlow
  • Ian 'Enable' Wyatt
  • Sam 'Octane' Larew
  • Josiah 'Slacked' Berry
  • Bryan 'Apathy' Zhelyazkov

Seattle Surge have some of the most successful players in CoD history, but they have one small issue that, in my opinion, could hold them back from being the best team in the game.

Of the five players on their starting roster, Seattle have four players that are typically role players, with Octane being the only name that has been a main slayer in recent seasons. We will have to wait and see whether the likes of Karma and Apathy can return to levels seen in previous years to make sure this team doesn't lose simply from being outslayed.

Player to watch: For the first time in five years, Karma is not playing alongside the likes of Scump and Crim or under the OpTic Gaming banner. Many believe that he's not the talent he once was – now is the time for Karma to prove that he's just as good as he always has been.

5. Atlanta FaZe

Atlanta FaZe
Atlanta FaZe
FaZe Clan were one of just two teams that managed to retain their name heading into the CDL.
  • Tyler 'Abezy' Pharris
  • Chris 'Simp' Lehr
  • McArthur 'Cellium' Jovel
  • Michael 'MajorManiak' Szymaniak
  • Preston 'Priestahh' Greiner

This Atlanta side is absolutely a team to watch out for in the future, with five of the most promising talents in Call of Duty on one team. They're clearly one of the most skilled sides in the league right now, and in the next couple of years they can only continue to get better and become a powerhouse of CoD esports.

I’m slightly uncomfortable with how young all of the players on this team are, but they've more than proved themselves, with Priestahh, Abezy, and Simp winning multiple championships each last season, with the latter two winning the Call of Duty World Championship.

4. New York Subliners

New York Subliners/Twitter
New York Subliners/Twitter
The Subliners will finally be bringing Call of Duty esports to New York City.
  • Thomas 'ZooMaa' Paparatto
  • Donovan 'Temp' Laroda
  • Lamar 'Accuracy' Abedi
  • Trei 'Zer0' Morris
  • Dillon 'Attach' Price
  • Doug 'Censor' Martin (Substitute)
  • Nick 'Happy' Suda (Substitute)

New York Subliners has a healthy mix of players that are adaptable to any meta, and that’s something I definitely see being an advantage to them as the year progresses as well as in future titles.

These are all players that have experience of being at the top and have enough firepower to compete with the strongest teams. They're also joined by coach John 'Revan' Boble and analyst John-Paul 'JPKrez' Krez, who will offer a level of analytical ability and insight into opponents, their own team, and the game itself that not many will be able to replicate.

Player to watch: Temp is never afraid to run his mouth and let his opponents know how good he is, but it's about time he lets his success on the battlefield do the talking and win the championship he's been waiting so long for. He'll have to go above and beyond the call of duty to become a winner this year.

3. Los Angeles OpTic

OpTic Gaming Los Angeles
OpTic Gaming Los Angeles
OpTic will be fighting for fans' approval under new ownership.
  • Thomas 'TJHaly' Haly
  • Brandon 'Dashy' Otell
  • Kenny 'Kenny' Williams
  • Austin 'Slasher' Liddicoat
  • Jordan 'Jkap' Kaplan

OpTic may not have retained the fans that had stuck with the organization in recent years, but that doesn’t change the fact that they look like they will continue to be a powerhouse with this roster. JKap is one of the smartest players in CoD history, and with a group of some of the strongest slayers in the league around him, LA OpTic will be challenging for titles all season.

None of the four other players seem to have had any consistency issues during their time competing – they all have shown from the start that they're incredibly strong. However, with just one championship-winning season behind him, Dashy will seek to prove that he really is the incredible talent he has showcased himself as in the last year and put more trophies in his cabinet.

Although they haven't been living up to their potential in scrims and online tournaments, there's no doubt in my mind that this team has the capacity to be world champions.

Player to watch: A lot of criticism that OGLA has faced comes from their acquisition of Jkap, who some believe doesn't have it in him to be a top player anymore. As one of the most decorated veterans in the scene, this probably won't get to him, but he'll be looking to prove he's still one of the best, and if he holds his own then OGLA will be laughing.

2. Dallas Empire

Dallas Empire
Dallas Empire
Dallas Empire look like the team to beat in Modern Warfare.
  • James 'Clayster' Eubanks
  • Anthony 'Shotzzy' Cuevas-Castro
  • Cuyler 'Huke' Garland
  • Indervir 'iLLeY' Dhaliwal
  • Ian 'Crimsix' Porter
  • Thomas 'Tommey' Trewren (Substitute)

Dallas Empire have all the makings of a championship-caliber team but they're at great risk of flopping if players don’t live up to the hype. Crimsix and Clayster aren’t the players they once were – although Clay winning the two biggest events in Black Ops 4 may suggest otherwise – and the risk involved in picking up Shotzzy and Illey is huge.

These two, I believe, are the key to the success or misery that comes Dallas' way. They could end up having a rookie year that resembles that of Simp and Abezy in Black Ops 4, looking untouchable, or the lack of experience could come back to bite them.

But, if they can be the players they’re expected to be, Dallas will be a tough team to beat. They've already been looking red hot in preseason online tournaments, so we'll see if they can keep it up.

Player to watch: The player to watch is a tough choice between Illey and Shotzzy, with both looking to prove that they're capable of playing CoD at the highest level. However, Shotzzy is a Halo world champion, so he's played on the biggest stages. Illey, on the other hand, is somewhat of an enigma at this point in the year. If he lives up to his potential, he might just be this season's breakout player.

1. Chicago Huntsmen

Chicago Huntsmen
Chicago Huntsmen

  • Seth 'Scump' Abner
  • Matthew 'Formal' Piper
  • Alec 'Arcitys' Sanderson
  • Dylan 'Envoy' Hannon
  • Peirce 'Gunless' Hillman

It’s hard to look at this team and not see championships on the horizon. It’s the perfect blend of young talent and veteran leadership, with a group of players that have grown accustomed to winning multiple championships in recent years.

It’s perhaps the most raw talent we’ve seen on a Call of Duty roster for a while, and that will likely be reflected in their results come the start of play in January.

Player to watch: All eyes are on Envoy, having had only one good season (in his rookie year, no less) compared to the decades of talent and championship wins between the other players. One good season and he could cement himself as one of the greatest CoD players alive today.

Activision
Activision
The Call of Duty League World Tour will launch in Minnesota and travel across Europe & North America.

So, there you have it. I think Chicago Huntsmen look like the best team going into the Call of Duty League, and with the start of its inaugural season drawing ever-closer, we won’t have to wait long to find out which teams are really the best.