CDL Champs 2022: Atlanta FaZe favorites, LA Thieves & Subliners challengers & other key storylines

Jacob Hale
Call of Duty League crowd

CDL Champs 2022 will be the 10th world championship tournament in Call of Duty’s lifetime. With over a decade of CoD esports and a foundation that a small handful of our current stars were around to build, it’s the young guns of Atlanta FaZe looking to make history — but their opponents are hoping to play spoiler in CoD’s most unpredictable season to date.

The Call of Duty Championship is the main event in the CoD calendar. It’s the crowning moment that follows a hard-fought year of intense Call of Duty action, the defining victory of many players’ careers.

CDL Champs 2022 will be no different, with eight teams taking to battle in Los Angeles’ Galen Center from August 4-7, and this time around, any team could take it — though a few will have the weight of expectation on their shoulders.

Atlanta FaZe look to make history 

Atlanta FaZe have been the most outstanding team of the CDL era, a dominant force since franchising was introduced to the esport with multiple championship wins and comparisons to the Complexity and OpTic Gaming dynasties of yesteryear popping up.

Despite being favorites at every Major of the 2022 season, they’ve failed to overcome the final hurdle, placing second at Majors 1, 2, and 3, and third at Major 4.

Expectations have remained high throughout 2022 for the reigning CDL Champs, and they head into the event as the favorites once again. They have the chance to secure the dynasty moniker once and for all, as well as to become some of the most successful players in CoD history. This would be impressive considering they’re all still relatively new to the pro scene, especially in comparison to the GOATs of the game.

LA Thieves the team to beat?

LA Thieves on stage at CDL 2022 Major IV
LA Thieves were the surprise winners at Major 4 — but they believe they’re the team to beat.

LA Thieves stand as perhaps the main team in the way of Atlanta FaZe’s championship hopes. Not many foresaw their Major 4 victory, but their improvements had been clear throughout qualifiers, despite largely flying under the radar.

The two teams sit on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning fans will have to wait for the winners’ final for the two to potentially meet — but that could give the best inclination over who’s going to take the championship ring.

Simp, Arcitys and aBeZy already have two rings each, but Octane and Kenny have been chasing their first for some years now, and they won’t make it easy for FaZe.

NY Subliners aiming to end their miracle run with a bang

New York Subliners pulled off a miracle run at Major 4, earning Champs qualification by the skin of their teeth after placing second, and they head into Champs with an incredible amount of momentum and self-belief — not to mention Crimsix, the greatest player of all time.

Subliners are 0-3 against FaZe in the season, though the two teams haven’t faced each other since Week 1 of Major 3 qualifiers. In the round 1 matchup, Subliners will have no doubt in their ability to take down the tournament favorites, and with a round 2 face-off against either London Royal Ravens or Seattle Surge, the winner of that match will fancy their chances of reaching the winners’ final.

Can OpTic Texas really challenge?

OpTic Texas CDL
OpTic Texas will be hoping to live up to expectations at Champs, but it will be easier said than done.

OpTic Texas are the most popular team in the CDL and, after winning Major 1, many viewers expected another year of dominance from the team in green.

What followed, though, was disappointment and disarray. They placed Top 6 at Majors 2 and 3, with an injury sustained by iLLeY causing problems for the team. His return then pulled OpTic Texas back into the top 4 at Major 4.

With more practice under the team’s belt, OpTic fans will have no doubt that the team can win it all, and while it’s not impossible, they’re not carrying the same momentum as FaZe, Thieves, or Subliners.

OpTic coach Rambo claimed that Major 4 was just practice for his team — now they’ve got to come out and prove it.

What about the rest?

The Vanguard season has been the most unpredictable to date, with three winners coming seemingly out of nowhere in LA Thieves, Seattle Surge, and LA Guerrillas.

While it’s easy to look at the likes of Atlanta FaZe and say they should be winning the tournament, what happens in practice is far different from how things actually end up happening.

It’s more than plausible that the likes of Seattle Surge, Toronto Ultra, and London Royal Ravens will cause some serious upsets. 

London Royal Ravens CDL victory
Teams like London Royal Ravens will be hoping to play spoiler to the favorites this weekend.

Seattle were the Major 3 winners and have MVP-calibre players on their team in Pred and Sib, while London could be seriously dangerous if they translate their online performances to LAN.

Toronto Ultra, runners-up in 2021, have failed to hit their previous-year heights so far in 2022, but the chemistry and composure of this quartet will make for a tough battle for any opponent.

Yes, Atlanta FaZe are the favorites — but in Vanguard, and in Call of Duty esports as a whole, being the favorite is almost never a guarantee of success.

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