RamboRay Column: Our biggest threat is ourselves

dallas empire ramborayDallas Empire

Raymond ‘RamboRay’ Labussiere is the head coach of the Dallas Empire, the No. 2 seed for the Call of Duty League Playoffs and one of four remaining teams for Championship Weekend. In his Dexerto column, he discusses what it will take for the Empire to come away with first place’s $1.5 million at Champs. 

At this point in the year, the difference between the better teams and the middle-of-the-pack teams isn’t as great as it was at the start because everyone has a general understanding of how to play the game at a high level.

Dallas Empire
RamboRay and the Empire have their ears pinned back and eyes set forward on the CDL 2020 trophy.

During Champs, it’s really a matter of who performs best each day. That’s why it’s super important to be consistent and be in a place both mentally and physically where you show up to play and are ready to go. 

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This could be a little biased, but I strongly feel that we are the best team in the game when we’re playing at our best. I don’t feel like there are teams out there that can really take us out consistently, besides FaZe. FaZe is probably our closest rival right now — if we were to play 50 times when we’re both at our best, it’d be pretty close, I feel like we’d win roughly 60 percent of the time.

It’s a little cliche, but I feel like our biggest threat, at this point in the year, is ourselves.

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A lot of people can say that, but more so in our case because when we’ve played at our best, we’ve looked unbeatable. Still, there are a few things we, the Dallas Empire, need to clean up to make sure we are at our best and put ourselves in the best position we can be to win Champs. 


Number one is communication. I feel that’s the biggest issue we had in the last event: the hecticness of communication and scrambled voice comms. When things aren’t going our way, when we’re in bad situations or just getting out-slayed, our comms aren’t at their peak, which makes it more difficult to manage ourselves out of those situations.

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Instead of just calling out enemy locations when we’re dying, we should be focusing on the grander scheme of the game. We know this, but executing this in the moment isn’t as easy as it sounds.

If a player repeatedly calls out a play he’s making or an enemy’s position, that blocks the communication line for something else happening somewhere else on the map. So one of the things we try to do is make sure that we’re amplifying things that need to be amplified. For example, the minimap already shows an enemy shooting so we try not to amplify callouts for that player’s position, unless it’s really important in that moment. 

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And this isn’t me saying our comms are bad, but when they’re not at their best they can affect our play. That’s why we try and maintain our communications at a level where things are digestible and consistent, even when the game isn’t going our way. When our communication is on, I feel like it’s by far the best in the league.


The second thing that to me, as a coach, we’ve been struggling with is consistency in routing, and that is the hardest thing to solve. As much as we try and have everyone thinking the same way, each player has their own way of seeing things and certain players feel like certain plays at certain times are more correct than others.

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For example, five players may be in specific positions and we make a really good play where everything went perfectly as planned. But then we encounter that same play, same scenario, in a second rotation of that map or in a different game, but different players are in those five positions — there will be sometimes differences in the decisions made. Certain players just have tendencies, whether it’s to be aggressive, take long flanking routes, or play the front part of the engagement pattern, which makes it difficult  to be consistent.

But it’s really important that players make similar decisions on what we feel is right, so that the players around them know what to expect. That’s why we try to buckle down and make sure that we’re doing those small things right, so that the bigger pieces we need to win the game kind of just fall into place. Those tendencies also play a role on the good side of things to ensure we aren’t predictable, so again, this isn’t all bad, just sometimes doesn’t cater to consistency.

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That’s where small talk and communication come into play, ensuring that we’re on the same page and are maneuvering, routing around the map the way we need to be to play our best.. If you’re communicating well then typically the routing mistakes you make aren’t as impactful, and vice versa. 

Putting it all together during Champs

There is a difference this year in the game we play and how this game affects decision-making and how playing the game the optimal way isn’t really what everyone perceives it as based on past Call of Duty titles. “Brainless” is the wrong word because there is a lot of thought that goes into it, but, often, shutting off, gunning forward, and winning your gunfights is the best way to play.

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Every player needs to show up to play their best at the same time. This is really where, typically, the team that shows up and wins an event is a team that has the most players play at a level that is higher than what they were expected to play at. 

That’s the difference at this time of year when teams are so close on the decision-making front and game understanding. There are a few things that we do better than other teams, but not really enough to make a huge difference. It’s really a matter of whoever’s shooting really well can typically win.

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