Why Florida Mutineers must do the unthinkable and drop one of their stars

Skyz and Owakening fistbump on Florida MutineersFlorida Mutineers

Florida Mutineers’ 2022 CDL season came to an abrupt and disappointing end at Major 4, where a New York Subliners miracle run saw Crimsix and co. knock Florida out of the Champs qualification spots. Now, with several months of preparation for Modern Warfare 2, the elephant in the room has to be addressed: the Mutineers must wave goodbye to Cesar ‘Skyz’ Bueno or Joseph ‘Owakening’ Conley.

Skyz and ‘Big Wake’ have formed an integral part of the Florida Mutineers core for two years now, playing through almost three full seasons together, after Owakening made his way into the Call of Duty League midway through the 2020 Modern Warfare season.

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Florida, at the time, were one of the best teams in the game, and Wake made them even stronger — so much so that some community members and even his fellow pros suggested that they believe he could be cheating.

He was a dominant flex player — with a natural acclimatization to the assault rifle — alongside Skyz, a stellar AR, in a Modern Warfare game that rewarded teams having two strong AR players. It was also 5v5 as opposed to 4v4, which allowed for more role depth. 

We saw similar setups with other successful teams. Notably, 2020 world champions Dallas Empire had Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter and James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks, AR players who could excel in their roles, allowing Shotzzy and Huke to be the fast SMGs up front, and iLLeY essentially filling any gap needed of him.

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After Florida’s initial run of success with Wake, winning consecutive Home Series events online, there was a drop-off, one that hasn’t quite subsided two years later.

The failed Florida project

Florida Mutineers Major 4 rosterInstagram: flmutineers
Florida Mutineers still struggled after making their roster changes for Major 4.

In that time, it’s hard not to be disappointed with Florida’s struggles. For many, it’s easy to miss just how good Wake and Skyz still are, such is the team’s inability to make things work.

They’ve had some good finishes during the Vanguard season, including 4th at Major 2 and top 6 at Major 3, but they never truly looked like pushing for much more.

And that is the story of the Florida Mutineers in recent months: they’re good, and they can beat top teams, but did anyone really believe they could win an event? Did the players even believe it? It seems unlikely, just like it seemed unlikely throughout the Cold War season.

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Some would argue that this season’s struggles have been in large part due to the organization’s failure to sign SMG players to support these two superstars. For much of the season, they were playing with a group of natural AR players, with Vivid their only real SMG support. This meant that Owakening eventually had to pick up the sub and, as great a player as he is, it clearly didn’t help the team find any success.

Statistically, Owakening and Skyz have been two of Florida’s top performers, while their only real SMG teammates — Vivid and 2Real — finished their time with the teams with a 0.89 and 0.74 KD respectively.

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This may boil down more to the team’s setup than the players themselves, though. Vivid is looking great on Boston Breach, 2ReaL was seeing huge success in Challengers before making the step up, and Havok in Cold War struggled to reach the heights he is known to be capable of. It might just be that the system, in which Owakening and Skyz have very similar playing styles, has prevented their SMGs from flourishing.

Mutineers must capitalize

Owakening Florida Mutineers at LANInstagram: flmutineers
Owakening is a serious talent that multiple teams will be interested in.

While their fortunes may have been better with a proper sub duo helping push the line, ultimately, they made the mistake that many teams this season managed to avoid, by holding onto two strong ARs but surrounding them with even more AR players. For comparison, Subliners dropped Clayster to keep Crimsix as their main and added some flexibility to the squad. Other sides, such as Atlanta FaZe, have players like Arcitys and Cellium — but MVP candidate Cell is far better in the flex role than Skyz or Wake, who was forced to play out of position and out of his comfort zone by moving to a sub.

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Of course, the Mutineers could go into Modern Warfare 2 wanting to hold on to their two superstars, and it’s hard to blame them. 

That said, the core of this roster has spent three seasons together, often incredibly unfulfilling as they’re very clearly championship-caliber players.

Now might just be the time for Florida to cash in on one of their star players, or risk making the same mistakes over again. Allow everyone involved to start fresh and reap the rewards. Both Owakening and Skyz are legitimate franchise players and, assuming their contracts run for another year, it’s still possible for the Mutineers to secure good buyouts for them, or risk their stock dropping even lower.

Ultimately, though, the two represent a failed ongoing project for the Florida Mutineers. If they want to chase championships, splitting up this core duo and bringing in fresh talent and perspectives could be exactly what the franchise needs.

What roster moves need to happen?

Skyz Florida Mutineers at LANInstagram: flmutineers
Skyz has been a top-level AR but has struggled to get good results from the team in recent years.

If Florida do opt to bring in some new faces to their old guard, it’s imperative that they get things right and don’t make the same mistakes as they did in Vanguard.

The main AR role is the easiest to recruit for, which could mean Skyz on the chopping block if Owakening wanted to play as a proper flex again and get a new AR duo, but he’ll need someone that could match his pace or help advance it. Players like Clayster, SlasheR, or even Attach could bring some much-needed leadership and experience to the role. The main issue here would be that Skyz really is the poster boy for Florida Mutineers — would they be willing to give that up?

Alternatively, Owakening will likely generate more interest from competing organizations as a very respectable flex, and this could be the key to helping Florida bring in a team that can more fluidly fit around Skyz. Another flex like Cammy, Scrappy, or Temp could be the solution, though prying them away from their teams might be a hard task.

If Florida decides to stick with both players, it’s absolutely necessary that they spend the offseason scouting out-and-out SMG talent, be it from Challengers or other CDL sides looking to make changes. Names such as CleanX, Capsidal, Asim, and bench player Yeez are realistic options, though they might also prefer to go big and tempt players such as HyDra, Afro, or former Mutineer Havok into the squad.

There is clear talent there, and no doubt good chemistry has been formed between both players, but the Mutineers now need to look at their team and consider whether getting rid of one of their two franchise stars is the best option to get the results they want after such a long period of stagnation.