Having only just formed three weeks out from the 2021 Call of Duty League season, the odds are stacked against the New York Subliners this year, but could James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks lead another young squad to victory?
For the newly formed NYSL lineup, there’s no denying 2021 will be an uphill battle. As a result of Thomas ‘ZooMaa’ Paparatto’s injury, which forced him to step down on January 19, the starting squad was formed considerably later than most CDL teams.
Others have a few months of additional scrim time under their belts. Meanwhile, the final pieces of the New York puzzle only just fell into place at the end of January. NSYL has to build their synergy faster than everyone else but thankfully, they’ve got one of the all-time greats to help do just that.
Off the back of his third championship, all eyes are on Clayster to lead this inexperienced squad. Is another ring well within reach? It’s not looking likely. But could NYSL shock the CoD scene with some great runs? It’s entirely possible.
NYSL CDL 2021 roster
|James ‘Clayster‘ Eubanks||Dallas Empire|
|Obaid ‘Asim‘ Asim||Minnesota ROKKR|
|Mackenzie ‘Mack‘ Kelley||–|
|Conor ‘Diamondcon‘ Johst||Triumph (NA Challengers)|
|Paco ‘HyDra‘ Rusiewiez||TrainHard Esport (EU Challengers)|
How the 2021 NYSL roster came together
The announcement that CoD would be switching back to 4v4 came just 24 hours after Clayster secured his latest championship under the Empire banners. With this major shakeup, the 28-year-old veteran was suddenly dropped from the team.
After a short period of searching for a new home, Clayster found himself at the Subliners. However, the lineup was a little different at that point in time. He joined alongside Mack and ZooMaa as they looked to fill out the final starting spot.
Four months later, after ZooMaa stepped back, the roster was complete. Now, Clayster joins each lobby with three relatively new stars by his side.
Lets get this bread! pic.twitter.com/zDM10XRqYw
— NYSL Clayster (@Clayster) September 18, 2020
Mack only just kicked off his competitive career in 2019’s Modern Warfare. After an impressive start in the Challengers circuit, he quickly joined the Subliners in the inaugural CDL season. During his first pro year, he secured multiple Top Four finishes and even a Home Series win in Week 11. With a contract extension locked in, he’ll be continuing his run with brand new teammates at NYSL.
Asim has been around for a little while longer but not by a great deal. After a brief stint competing in online Black Ops 4 tournaments, he soon found his way to the FaZe Clan Black amateur team in 2018 before transitioning onto the CWL pro roster the following year.
What came next was a relatively inconsistent stretch with the Minnesota ROKKR who ended with a Top 10 finish in the 2020 Champs event. With a year of CDL play under his belt, Asim is the second most experienced member on the new NYSL lineup after Clayster.
Rounding out the starting squad is Diamondcon, the biggest question mark on the revamped roster. The 20-year-old Canadian made a name for himself in the 2020 NA Challengers circuit. He played with Cup winners Sixth Gear and eventual Challengers Champs winners Triumph. Though 2021 marks his first year competing at the professional level.
He transitioned onto the NYSL CDL roster at the last minute after being recruited for their Academy team. With just a few weeks to gel before the first official games, it’s near impossible to gauge just how he’ll adjust to the step-up in competition. Though an early glimpse at the Kickoff Classic showed brighter signs than most were expecting.
The spotlight is on Clayster to lead New York
There were just two days between NYSL’s formation and their first match of 2021. While the Kickoff Classic was purely an exhibition, and New York had the toughest first outing possible against Dallas, the team still managed to look rather solid.
Despite being a 0-3 loss, the new team still performed admirably. The opening Hardpoint on Garrison came down to just a 60 point difference. They even managed to take rounds from Empire in SnD and Control. All of this with barely a few hours of in-game time together.
Obviously, Empire wouldn’t have put all too much stock into this initial showcase. Though NYSL came out swinging with just a few days of practice behind them. This showing alone proves they can’t be taken lightly in what’s shaping up to be an extremely competitive year.
Clayster has already been gassing his young teammates online since this opening match. “The improvement in the squad is something fierce,” he tweeted on Jan. 30.
If anyone knows how to get the best out of up and coming prospects, it’s Clay. From his remarkable eUnited run alongside Chris ‘Simp’ Lehr and Tyler ‘aBezy’ Pharris to his following year with fresh talent like Anthony ‘Shotzzy’ Cuevas-Castro at Empire, he’s proven to be an invaluable asset among fresh lineups.
Absolutely phenomenal day of scrims today, the improvement in the squad is something fierce.
— NYSL Clayster (@Clayster) January 30, 2021
There’s no guarantee he’ll be winning a Major this year, let alone securing his fourth ring, but there’s no denying Clayster is the one who can bring the most out of the new NYSL lineup.
With each passing event, these players will only be improving. NYSL will be building synergy, getting more comfortable in big gunfights, and generally feeling sharper when the spotlight is on. They might not have experience behind them, but they certainly shouldn’t be counted out for all of 2021.