Huke reveals how he formed the Dallas Empire roster to win CDL Champs

Joe Craven
Huke talking to H3CZ on the Eavesdrop Podcast

Dallas Empire’s Cuyler ‘Huke’ Garland, Call of Duty World Champion and ex-Halo professional, has explained why he was so desperate to team with iLLeY and Shotzzy ahead of Modern Warfare, despite neither player having a proven track record in professional CoD. 

The inaugural Call of Duty League Season ended back in August, with Dallas Empire running out comfortable winners against Atlanta FaZe. The Texan outfit had regularly impressed across their opening season, combining veterans Clayster and Crimsix with young stars Huke, iLLeY and Shotzzy.

While Huke had a precedent in Call of Duty esports – reaching the CWL Championship Grand Finals back in Advanced Warfare with Denial Esports – neither iLLeY or Shotzzy had made a name for themselves at the top level of CoD.

Dallas Empire winning Champs
Dallas Empire took home the first CDL Championships. Huke can be seen far right.

Shotzzy joined Dallas Empire from Splyce Black, off the back of winning a Halo World Championship in 2018. iLLeY joined from eUnited Cadets, the academy team of eUnited. The acquisition of both for the CDL’s first season constituted a massive gamble, but it definitely paid off.

Joining H3CZ on the Eavesdrop podcast on December 20, Huke explained exactly why he wanted to take the gamble.

“This team is basically a team that I picked based off my past experiences,” he said. “In my head it [picking up Shotzzy and iLLeY] was a no-brainer, because that’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be on a team where everyone wanted to be there everyday.”

In short, the attitudes of iLLeY and Shotzzy and the desire for success were key reasons for their signatures. Huke explained that, in the past, he has felt that his efforts have not been matched by teammates.

Timestamp: 11:40

“Going into Modern Warfare… I really wanted people that wanna be there everyday,” he continued. “I don’t care who they are, just show up and buy into the team. I talked to iLLeY… it was like a no brainer. This guy has a next level mindset. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Huke went on to recount a story of iLLeY’s commitment at CDL Los Angeles, which Dallas would win. Six hours before the start time of their final, iLLeY began to shoot bots to warm up. Six hours later he joined up with the team for their match, having not taken a break from Call of Duty. “The kid wants it, that’s for sure,” Huke summarized.

Dallas Empire's iLLeY.
iLLeY was an S&D star, but became a major part of Empire’s success.

On Shotzzy, Huke explained that his talent for Halo was a key factor in picking him up. “I played against him at like my last Halo tournament and he actually beat me,” Huke said. “But I knew Shotzzy since he was like 14 through one of my teammates… we played 2v2 Halo with him before he was pro, and I was like “no way this guy is that good”… After a while it kinda unfolded that this guy was next level.”

The acquisition of both young men did indeed raise eyebrows, but Dallas Empire’s first season and the relative youth of of their roster means they are here to stay.

Clayster has since departed, but Huke’s unwavering faith in his teammates is just one of the major reasons they look so dangerous.

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