For Nadeshot and LA Thieves, Call of Duty world championship victory was long overdue

Jacob Hale
nadeshot at la thieves world champs win

On August 7, the LA Thieves secured the first world championship for the 100 Thieves organization, a dominant display at the Call of Duty League Championship that saw the team win $1.2m and bring even more hardware to the Cash App Compound. For the team, the org, and owner Matthew ‘Nadeshot’ Haag, this victory was long overdue.

Nadeshot is a name synonymous with Call of Duty, despite how long it’s been since he competed and created CoD content.

His last appearance as a professional Call of Duty player was all the way back in March 2015 at the Advanced Warfare Call of Duty World Championships, where his OpTic Gaming team — heavily tipped to be dominant winners — came 7-8th, one of the biggest upsets in CoD history to that point.

While Nadeshot had become the face of Call of Duty and one of the biggest names in esports with his popping Twitch stream and YouTube channel, he made the surprising decision to step down, giving OpTic the chance to pick up Damon ‘Karma’ Barlow and form their dynasty team, as well as help his content career take off even further.

When Call of Duty fans speak of players that deserved to win a Champs ring, Nade might not be the first name on the list, but he’s almost always on the list somewhere.

He won an X-Games gold medal and nine total championships as a Call of Duty pro, though the big one managed to evade him despite putting together what became one of the greatest rosters in CoD history alongside Seth ‘Scump’ Abner, Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter, and Matthew ‘FormaL’ Piper.

Nadeshot playing for OpTic Gaming
Nadeshot was the shining star of Call of Duty esports and OpTic Gaming in his competing days.

This victory lives far beyond just Nadeshot, though. The innate understanding that a Call of Duty world championship victory was not a luxury, but compulsory, was something that reverberated through the core of 100 Thieves throughout its entire existence, ever since the possibility of entering Call of Duty first arose.

Those who were around pre-CDL will be familiar with the 100 Thieves team that was so clinical in Black Ops 4, that went back-to-back in London and Anaheim and became one of the greatest Call of Duty teams out there.

They’ll also remember how they were beaten in the grand finals, by a team of young guns — including Chris ‘Simp’ Lehr, Tyler ‘aBeZy’ Pharris, and Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson — who have gone on to become recognized as all-time greats, despite their age. They were formidable and they were hungry to prove themselves, and the World Championship loss will have been one that cut deeply for both the 100 Thieves players and the org.

The following year, franchising happened, and 100 Thieves was no longer in the CoD League. The buy-in cost — reported to total around $25m — was something that Nadeshot couldn’t justify to his team and the 100 Thieves board, and so they bowed out.

Before long, though, the itch was too great not to be scratched, and after a season out of action, LA Thieves entered the Call of Duty League, taking Immortals’ OpTic Gaming spot in Los Angeles.

The team struggled in Cold War, and it felt wrong. A team owned by Nadeshot, so automatically rich in CoD heritage, was one that should be competing for championships with each and every outing. Everyone knew it, from the fans to the players, yet they spent over a year (seeping well into Vanguard) struggling to find their footing.

There is undoubtedly more pressure to perform well under the Thieves banner, something the players were definitely aware of. This isn’t a Seattle Surge, or an OpTic Gaming LA, or even a Chicago Huntsmen, teams where LA Thieves’ players struggled to fulfill their potential. An organization owned by Nadeshot should always be at the forefront of Call of Duty, and that was realized at Champs.

Of course, the org itself is no stranger to winning: They were LCS Spring champions in their inaugural split in League of Legends; they won the very first Valorant First Strike tournament when Riot released their FPS game; they have housed winning players and rosters in Fortnite and Warzone, with millions of dollars earned.

But a Call of Duty world championship — while perhaps not the most celebrated title in esports — will be considered a true crowning moment for Nadeshot and co.

It’s a trophy that Nadeshot has dreamt of lifting ever since the first Champs all the way back in 2013, and one they may well feel was snatched from between their fingers in 2019.

Now, in 2022, they’ll feel that the trophy is finally right where it belongs.