LA Thieves CDL 2021 preview: Pushing to escape OpTic’s shadow

Brad Norton
LA Thieves
Los Angeles Thieves

For the Los Angeles Thieves, their first year in the Call of Duty League is all about stealing the spotlight and proving themselves as an elite contender. But will this squad that largely struggled in 2020 actually be able to exceed expectations?

As the new kids on the block, Nadeshot’s reentry into the world of competitive CoD comes with high expectations. No one quite put the scene on the map like the former captain of OpTic Gaming but this time, his success relies upon a completely new team.

Throughout 2019, 100 Thieves put together one of the strongest lineups, taking out back to back event wins and a second-place finish at Champs. After a year on the sidelines, the organization is back and hoping to replicate that success in the CDL.

With two of their original players back again and some familiar faces joining them, the Thieves could burst onto the scene as a top contender. But if the newly formed lineup can’t gel early on, it could be an uphill struggle all year for the fresh squad.

LA Thieves CDL 2021 roster

Player Previous Team
Austin ‘SlasheR’ Liddicoat OpTic Gaming LA
Donovan ‘Temp’ Laroda New York Subliners
Kenny ‘Kenny’ Williams OpTic Gaming LA
Thomas ‘TJHaLy’ Haly OpTic Gaming LA
Zack ‘Drazah’ Jordan (Substitute) OpTic Gaming LA

Wiping the slate clean with the LA Thieves

OpTic Gaming LA on stage
Call of Duty League
Three members from the 2020 OGLA roster have a chance at redemption with the LA Thieves.

While the focus is on the new brand entering the league, 2021 means more than that to the players involved. SlasheR, Kenny, and TJHaLy are all coming off a lackluster year under the now-defunct OpTic Gaming Los Angeles banners. Aligning with the LA Thieves is their chance to right their wrongs and remind everyone of their talent.

Their highest placement throughout the year was a top-two finish in Week 7. Though a majority of their appearances left them at the very bottom of the standings in 2020. Internal issues, role swaps, roster shuffles, and everything in between contributed to this messy year.

Now, these players are able to start from scratch with everything they need. It’s a brand new title, they have a supportive organization backing them, and they have Temp by their side to help steer things in the right direction.

On paper, this team should be a clearcut recipe for success. These players should be able to prove that 2020 was an outlier. 

History of individual success

Slasher raising a trophy
SlasheR is a former world champion.

Kenny was the breakout star of 2018. He emerged as the hottest prospect under Team Kaliber, winning multiple events against all expectations. SlasheR is a veteran of the scene, having competed at the very highest levels for as long as anyone. He knows what it takes to help guide a championship-tier team, having secured his first ring in 2016.

TJHaLy had an incredible stretch from WWII through to Black Ops 4. Throughout these two titles alone he secured four major event wins and had impressive showings at almost every other event with Rise Nation and OpTic Gaming.

Meanwhile, Temp made a name for himself in Advanced Warfare as one of the hottest up and comers. While his sole event win came recently in Week 11 of the inaugural CDL season, he’s been a force for a number of years now.

Individually, the promise of this stacked lineup is there. It’s just a matter of getting everyone onto the same page and realizing that full potential.

Will they able to steal the show in 2021?

While three of the four players are familiar with one another, the team still needs to click in an entirely new title. Their first showcase in the Kickoff Classic against OpTic Chicago didn’t exactly highlight their strengths.

“Losing to OpTic is pretty much the worst thing that could happen,” Nadeshot said in a February 10 video. A complete shutout saw the Thieves fumbling in their first official series together. “We forgot what we needed to be doing,” Kenny explained. They were slow on rotations in Hardpoint, unable to get anything going in Control, and they were simply outstruck in the SnD.

But this first showing doesn’t “tell the whole story,” according to Nadeshot. Similar to the likes of Atlanta FaZe who also lost their Kickoff game, it’s proven to be a great wake up call for the squad.

If they can turn things around from this point forward and come out firing on all cylinders, LA Thieves “should be the best team in the game,” according to TJHaLy.

We won’t have to wait long to see them in their first proper match for 2021 either. The LA Thieves are kicking off the new season on February 11 with a showdown against the Minnesota ROKKR.