New Toronto Ultra stars aiming for glory in 2023 CDL season: “The goal is always the same”
The Call of Duty League’s Toronto Ultra have officially unveiled their new roster, and the squad spoke exclusively with Dexerto about how the team came to be, the possibility of a multi-year Modern Warfare 2 season, their plans to topple CoD’s biggest teams, and why the IGL role has become overstated in Call of Duty esports.
Toronto Ultra became a fan-favorite team in recent seasons, with a European roster that had earned the respect of every opponent and fan alike. Always resilient, they were a dynasty-beating team at their peak, and they were so easy to root for.
But, with the departure of Ben ‘Bance’ Bance and Cameron ‘Cammy’ McKilligan to Minnesota RØKKR in the offseason, the team needed to find the best players to fit into their ethos and, ultimately, help them push for a world championship.
Jamie ‘Insight’ Craven and Tobias ‘CleanX’ Juul-Jønsson were left to build the best team they could, and in stepped Thomas ‘Scrappy’ Ernst and Eli ‘Standy’ Bentz. According to CleanX and Insight, bringing these two in was a no-brainer.
How Scrappy elevates Ultra’s game
In a statement to Dexerto, Scrappy was described by OverActive Media (Ultra’s parent company) Chief Strategy Officer, Adam Adamou, as “the first of the next generation of personality-driven superstar players that the CoD ecosystem is so good at fostering.”
Insight, taking on the de facto leadership role following the departure of Bance, couldn’t agree more. “Scrappy was one of the most sought-after players after this season, so it was just a no-brainer to get him in with the talent he has,” he said. “As soon as the season ended it was like, right, we need to get him in. The kid’s a beast.”
Scrappy certainly brings new energy to Toronto Ultra that the franchise hasn’t seen in some time. The Cold War and Vanguard iteration of the roster was always calm, collected, and almost emotionless during maps, led by a Ben Bance who could often be seen looking as though he was meditating between maps.
Fans would still see them get excited after big wins, but it wasn’t a trait they were known for by any stretch. In steps Scrappy, however, and things look slightly different.
“I’ve always been like that, even when I wasn’t a big person in the league or anything,” he explained. “When I was playing 2v2 challs with my friends, I was still always like that. It’s just how I’ve always been. I just can’t wait to get on stage and show everybody what I’m ready to bring.”
Asked whether we could expect Scrappy to present a calmer version of himself on the main roster than he did in Challengers, it’s clear that’s not part of his plans.
“I don’t think I’m going to come down to their level. I’ve always been a super high-energy person, and I know that if I just keep the energy up on every map, no matter how it goes, the team will never lose confidence in any series or map we’re playing. I can’t wait.”
Standy: “He’s available, we’ve got to get him”
As for Standy, he joins from Minnesota RØKKR, a straight change of direction in what has been dubbed the ‘Battle of the North’ — and he admitted that joining Toronto Ultra was always top of his list.
“After the season ended I was already very high on playing with CleanX,” he said. “I thought Scrappy was a very good player, and Jamie too. So even after the season ended, I was always reaching out, asking what was happening, because they were always top of my list and I feel like it’s a place I could fit really well with my role and the way I play.”
This sentiment was echoed by CleanX, with the entire team believing Standy was the best person to play alongside him in that impactful SMG role.
Asked whether Standy was always at the top of his list to be his duo, the Dane couldn’t have been more certain: “Of course. You’re always looking at your options, rostermania’s chaotic so you’re always waiting to the last stage, but as soon as he became available, it was just a matter of time until he signed.”
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Leadership on Toronto Ultra
The camaraderie between the players is clear. They sound excited to even hop in our call together, let alone to be teaming and going to battle with one another when the season starts.
This is likely helped, in large part, due to the fact that they’re all young players. Their heads will be in the same place, with Insight, due to turn 23 years old in October, the oldest of the lot. They know they’ve got the years ahead of them, but they also come together with a similar understanding of CoD, the league, and the world around them.
To some critics, though, this has been a point of concern. With such a young team and no players who have stood out in recent years as a leader figure, will they have issues when it comes to the fundamentals of the game and having one individual leading the line?
This quartet, unlike their critics, doesn’t believe there’s an issue. Insight said: “Honestly, it’s a role I’ve been wanting to take on myself. I’ve learned a lot off Ben [Bance] and what he brought to the team. I’ve been around the scene since I was 15 years old, playing at the top level I would say, so I know what it takes and what you have to do. It’s just all about learning and getting better.”
Standy explained that he also believes he can help in a leadership role when it’s required of him. “I think there are certain moments on the Minnesota team that I was very vocal and micro-managing some of the plays they made and some of the strategies,” he said. “I feel like I’m pretty vocal when it comes to playing, being vocal, and putting my ideas into the team.”
The idea of an In-Game Leader (IGL), they say, is a little outdated and overstated in Call of Duty anyway.
“I feel like this is a team that’s going to be big on ‘anyone can call something at any moment,’” said Scrappy, who was met with resounding agreement by his teammates.
“With how competitive the league is now, you’ve got to be able to make the millisecond decisions, and that just comes down to each player being vocal and stepping up when it matters,” agreed CleanX. “It fits the new generation, I would say. We’re all young, we all understand CoD, and we’ve all played it for a long time. Everyone on this team is able to step up when it needs to be done.”
“Stepping up” seems to have been a key theme when putting this roster together. As Insight reiterated in our conversation several times, they wanted to form a squad with “pop-off potential,” where any player could take over at any given time. Whether the Modern Warfare 2 season lasts one year, two years as rumored, or even more, this team was built with raw ability and talent in mind.
That’s not all, though. As Insight said, “the one big thing for our team, no matter who’s on our team, who’s coaching, who’s doing anything, it’s always a family. You feel like you’re part of something, and the goal is always the same for our team, year in and year out.
“No matter the players, we keep going. Our perspective and what we want to do never changes. The goal is always the same.”
Modern Warfare 2 drops on Friday, October 28, and the CDL season is expected to have started by the end of the year. Between now and then, though, Toronto Ultra are firmly focused on one thing: becoming a championship-winning team.