Despite what many would call a successful season, the Call of Duty League’s Toronto Ultra, and their MVP-candidate AR/Flex Cameron ‘Cammy’ McKilligan, aren’t satisfied. They’re turning their sights to winning it all in 2022.
“What did he just do?,” screamed caster Joseph ‘MerK’ DeLuca.
“Show me his POV now!,” replied his co-caster, Clint ‘Maven’ Evans.
No one inside Los Angeles’ Galen Center could believe what they had just seen. Cammy, Toronto Ultra’s 22-year-old AR, had just executed a flawless and vital ace against Atlanta FaZe in the 2021 CDL Championship Grand Final. FaZe were leading the series 4-2 and winning the match-point search and destroy map 3-2 when Cammy pulled off the unbelievable 1v4.
While FaZe would go on to win the championship series 5-3, the moment was Cammy’s highlight of the season.
“I was just like, ‘Oh my god, what have I just done?’ I couldn’t believe it myself,” the Scotsman told Dexerto in an exclusive interview.
Good, but not good enough for Cammy
Most people would call the Toronto Ultra’s 2021 season a success. Of the five majors that made up the 2021 Call of Duty League season, the Ultra finished in the top-3 at four of them.
After a seventh-place finish at March’s Stage 1 Major, Toronto bounced back by winning April’s Stage 2 Major. The team then had back-to-back third-place finishes in Stages 3 and 4 before taking second in the Stage 5 Major. They ended the season with a second-place finish at the Call of Duty League Championship. Cammy had a fantastic season, finishing as a top-15 player in most statistical categories, earning an MVP nomination, and greatly increasing his stock as a top player.
🥇 Major II🥉 Major III🥉 Major IV🥈 Major V🥈 CoD Champs
That is a successful season in our books. Heads are held high going into season 3. Thank you, Ultra fam for all the love. See y'all on Vanguard 💜#StrengthInTheNorth #CDL2021 pic.twitter.com/MdfqbGgCFC
— Toronto Ultra (@TorontoUltra) August 22, 2021
However, the season left Cammy wanting more from 2022.
“I wouldn’t call it successful. We only won one Major. We had two second-places, and no one wants to finish second.”
The second of those runner-up finishes was particularly tough as it came in the CDL Championship Grand Final against Atlanta FaZe. With the series played in a best-of-nine format, Ultra took the first map but proceeded to drop the next three as the momentum swung heavily in favor of FaZe.
The two sides traded wins on the fifth and sixth maps to put FaZe up 4-2. Cammy’s 1v4 heroics were part of a comeback victory on map seven that held FaZe at championship point and forced a map eight.
With FaZe picking the map, they went to their trump card: Apocalypse. It was a map that they had struggled on early in the season but they had fought their way back to a winning record coming into the pivot map eight. Another upside? Toronto had played just five rounds on the Laos-based map all season.
Ultra took an early lead but FaZe slowly reeled in their opponents on the back of stellar play by McArthur ‘Cellium’ Jovel, eliminating the deficit and taking what ended up being a comfortable victory.
“After the Finals, everyone was pretty upset,” Cammy said, “We had gone into the championship match with everyone expecting FaZe to win. We were definitely the underdogs. That didn’t bother me, it was whatever. But after the loss, we were all pretty bummed. We just couldn’t get it done.”
Despite the disappointment, he was able to take some positives out of the 2021 season.
“Overall, I’d say I’m just happy with how we gave it our all, and how we improved throughout the season. It was tough, underperforming in that first major. But no one gave up, everyone kept coming back to do the best that we could.”
The right roster for a championship
There were no surprises when Toronto announced their 2022 roster on September 14.
The Ultra will field the same roster they did in 2021 – Cammy, Ben ‘Bance’ Bance, Tobi ‘CleanX’ Jønsson, and Jamie ‘Insight’ Craven. It’s a lineup that has proved its worth in the CDL.
European Call of Duty players have long been seen as inferior to their American counterparts, so much so that they held just eight of the 48 starting spots on 2021 rosters. But the Ultra has shown what an all-European roster can achieve.
- Read More: Cammy: “Stop ignoring European talent”
They are one of only a handful of teams who have not made any roster changes, alongside the defending champions FaZe and a Minnesota ROKKR team looking to step into the title contention conversation.
For Cammy, roster consistency is absolutely vital for Toronto’s long-term success.
“I feel like our team is one of the few teams that you can’t make changes with at all without throwing everything off,” he said. “From the coaches to the players, everyone plays an important role in what we do, and it’s just important that we keep the team together for long as long as possible”.
There are obviously advantages to keeping the roster together. Ultra are a proven force in the league, with strong team chemistry and cohesion. By keeping the team together, they can focus on improving their known weaknesses, rather than having to adapt to a new player’s style.
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In Cammy’s eyes, that improvement needs to come in the form of repeating their 2021 performance.
“I feel like everyone gave their all, and feel like we just need to do the same again. Honestly, we just need to keep at what we’re doing and hope it works out for us again”
A look at Ultra’s stats across the season gives credence to that philosophy. There was no glaring weakness in their 2021 season — they were fairly consistent across all aspects of the game. Their only obvious statistical weak point was Hardpoint, where they recorded a 52% win rate across 90 rounds.
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The thing that really stymied the Ultra was simply an inability to win when it mattered most. They made deep runs in most of the season’s Majors but failed to deliver in the biggest matches.
The best example of this was at the Stage 3 Major. They were one map away from the Grand Final, leading 2-0 against Dallas Empire. However, the Ultra would drop three maps in a row to lose the match and finish the Major in third.
But there was one other factor that plagued the Ultra throughout the season: FaZe.
FaZe the focus, but respecting everyone
The Atlanta FaZe dominated 2021. They won three of five Majors, plus the CDL Championship, and went 7-1 against Toronto. The only time Ultra was able to overcome the eventual season champions was in the Grand Final of the Stage 2 Major.
“Obviously, FaZe are the team to beat next year,” Cammy conceded. “They have a really strong team and if we want to win the championship, they are probably the team we will have to beat to do it.”
However, while FaZe may be the team to beat in 2022, they are not the only team Toronto will potentially have to contend with for the title.
Reports continue to circulate about Dallas Empire’s potential superteam if their rumored merger with OpTic goes through. A possible reunion of Clayster and Crimsix in New York would once again place two of the all-time greats on the same roster. Both the LA Thieves and LA Guerrillas have announced rosters that could see them enter the title race in 2022.
According to Cammy, the strength of next year’s rumored rosters mean that Toronto is preparing for any team to potentially contend alongside them.
“I think there are no teams that can be taken lightly, there’s going to be a lot of competition this year,” he said. “I know everyone says that at the start of the year, but this year I feel a lot more teams are going to be switched on and from what I’m hearing, a lot of teams are going to be quite good this year.”
The focus may shift as the season plays out. After all, Toronto stumbled out of the gates in 2021. But preparing for everyone is the best way to avoid being blindsided early in the season.
A tough year and a welcome break
“It’s been a really stressful year. Probably because we knew what we were capable of, we just didn’t want to get complacent,” Cammy said. “It felt like every day in scrims there was some small argument, which I feel was good for the team because that sort of thing is [good for a team]. It stops you from slipping, it stops you from getting complacent. But it’s been tough to be away from home for a whole year”.
With the league primarily based in America, the season is a year-long commitment for the European players. Bance and head coach Mark ‘MarkyB’ Bryceland both left fiancées back in Europe for the season. Everyone left friends and family in the middle of a global health crisis that made the world feel a whole lot smaller.
“It hasn’t affected me too much, I’m not the sort of person who goes out a whole lot,” Cammy said. “But things here in Canada have been a lot stricter than over in Europe, as far as I know.”
But the unprecedented circumstances have only served to bring the team closer together.
“We have really good chemistry as a team… and we’re just there for each other. We’d go out for walks at night after scrims. We’d hang out. It was just important that we be a team in and out of the game”.
With the offseason well underway, the team have gone their separate ways for the time being.
“Everyone is kind of doing their own thing right now,” Cammy said. “Ben and Mark left right after the season ended. I think it’s good — it’s been a long year and everyone is happy for some time off”.
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Cammy spoke to Dexerto two days before he flew home to Scotland. Aside from the time off, there were a few things that he was looking forward to.
“I’m really looking forward to a home-cooked meal from my mum,” he said. He was also looking forward to reconnecting with his Europe-based friends as the Vanguard season gets underway. “It’s going to be nice to play with my friends in Europe. With time zones and ping, it’s not really something we can do while I’m in Toronto”.
Cammy hasn’t had the chance to play much of Vanguard, the next game in the storied franchise, yet. However, he is confident about the game, based on what he has seen so far.
“Normally, when I play the betas and stuff, they can feel a little clunky. I’ve only played two maps, but it felt pretty smooth in terms of the movement and stuff,” Cammy said, “So I’m hopeful. We’ll just have to wait and see what the maps are like because I feel that’s what makes or breaks the game”.
Toronto Ultra in 2022
Cammy has a very clear benchmark for the next season of the CDL.
“I think the obvious thing that everyone’s going to say is winning Champs. Now that we’ve come so close, that’s obviously the goal.”
In 2021, Toronto proved that they could compete with the best teams in the league. Their decision not to make roster moves in the off-season shows the organization’s confidence in who they have signed. It also points to there not being a specific weak link, no underperforming member of the squad who cost them during the season. However, 2022 may prove to be the ultimate test of Toronto’s ability to contend for a title with its current roster.
Expectations will be high and it’s down to Ultra to prove they have what it takes to be the CDL’s third champions.