As the release of Call of Duty: WWII approaches, one of the main points of speculation surrounds which players will rise to the greatest heights in the coming season.
Simultaneously, another point of contention is the fate of players whose rise to prominence came in different eras – will the so-called “jetpackers” fall off due to a return to boots-on-the-ground gameplay?
Will veterans be better-placed to succeed thanks to experience competing on the ground?
Together, the two questions prompt an interesting hypothetical. If the latter were indeed to prove the case, and a situation arose in which the greatest players of the boots-on-the-ground era were suddenly dominant, which players would experience the greatest boost in individual performance? Who might stand to gain most by a return to their BOTG form?
Jordan ‘JKap’ Kaplan
JKap is something of an anomaly within this list, because technically the advanced movement era has offered him some of the most successful years of his career. Though OpTic Gaming has hoarded trophies over the last three years, JKap has competed on two of the teams that challenged them, won two of the three Call of Duty Championships and reached the grand final of the third.
Despite some fantastic results over the last few years, however, JKap’s individual performances have never come close to the peaks he was capable of in his prime on the ground. Going back to Modern Warfare 2 JKap was one of the best players in the world, and in Black Ops 1 his claim to that title was all but unchallenged.
JKap was absent for the Modern Warfare 3 season, and upon his return never quite reclaimed his throne. Nevertheless, for the vast majority of his time on the ground, and especially in titles that offered a strong platform to great AR players, JKap was firmly among the star players of Call of Duty, if not eclipsing them.
Over the last few years, JKap has instead largely played a more supportive role. That he is able to add significant value to a team despite the game leaning more heavily on slaying is in itself an impressive feat, and there’s little reason to think that JKap won’t continue to be an incredibly valuable player moving into WWII. If the return to boots-on-the-ground combat were to somehow unlock JKap’s former potential, however, he could be a legitimate superstar once more.
Chris ‘Parasite’ Duarte
One of the first four players ever to be named Call of Duty World Champion, there was a time at which Parasite was a dominant presence at the highest level of competition. During the reign of the infamous Impact, it was Parasite’s commanding AR that played a significant role in the team’s success, not only a trailblazer in the anchor role in Hardpoint but overall a candidate as one of the best players in the world.
Unfortunately, the advanced movement era has seen a steady decline in Parasite’s standing. His reputation as a team-mate hasn’t always been the greatest, and that arguably contributed to Parasite struggling to find squads worthy of his skill at times. Even so, it’s been a while since we’ve seen the version of Parasite that could take over games against any opponent.
Perhaps a return to a slower pace of game might enable Parasite to play more on his own terms once again, however, utilizing a fantastic game sense in a paradigm that rewards positioning and intelligence as much as sheer mechanics. A WWII setting in particular implies the possibility of a strong semi-automatic rifle to place in Parasite’s hands, reminiscent of the FAL with which he first conquered the world.
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Jevon ‘Goonjar’ Gooljar-Lim
You’d be forgiven, on the basis of the past few years, for forgetting that Team Kaliber was once one of the best teams in the world. From their formation in the latter half of Black Ops 2 through the first months of Call of Duty: Ghosts, the team were routinely picking up top placings and appeared in several grand finals.
When Goonjar broke out at the start of Black Ops 2, it was as the star player of a Donut Shop squad who picked up consecutive top-12 placements at MLG Dallas and the Call of Duty Championships, a respectable accomplishment for a team of amateurs. By the end of the year, Goonjar would be considered one of the world’s premier Assault Rifle players, and near the start of the Ghosts season he was picked up as the replacement for an outgoing Damon ‘Karma’ Barlow on Team EnVyUs.
In recent years, Team Kaliber have fallen off significantly, and Goonjar himself has long since been eclipsed by rising stars. If a return to BOTG meant a return to form for Goonjar, however, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that tK could begin to work its way back into the elite – Goonjar has already proven himself capable of being a carry player in his original rise to prominence.
Kenneth ‘Dedo’ Dedo
Unlike the other players on this list, Dedo is returning to competition following an absence during the Infinite Warfare season. Even prior to taking a year out, however, the advanced movement era wasn’t particularly kind to Dedo, diminishing his otherwise steadfast presence at the highest level of competition.
During Black Ops 1, Dedo had one of the most remarkably consistent seasons of any player, and though he never quite reached a trophy he only once fell short of a top three finish. Though the circuit was limited significantly on Modern Warfare 3, that season too was a similar story, though this time Dedo’s presence among the elite finally brought him his first championships.
Black Ops 2 saw him largely left out of big-name organizations, but picking up respectable placements nonetheless, including playing a part in one of the bigger upset victories in Call of Duty when his VanQuish squad won UMG Dallas. It was during Call of Duty: Ghosts, however, that Dedo arguably hit his individual peak.
Near the beginning of the season, Dedo was a member of the Strictly Business squad that defeated compLexity at the US Regional Qualify for the Call of Duty Championships. Though the team never won a self-contained title, they remained a presence at the top throughout the season, variations on the line-up playing under FaZe for the second half.
Though the team never replicated their previous success, it’s a testament to the value of Dedo’s stock towards the end of the year that he was the chosen replacement for Damon ‘Karma’ Barlow on the legendary Evil Geniuses squad. Dedo ended the Ghosts season with a win at ESWC, but the following years would see him gradually fall out of the elite. In a world in which WWII saw former stars redeemed, however, Dedo could certainly be one of the most dangerous players in the world.
Patrick ‘Aches’ Price
It’s not altogether surprising that Aches was more successful in the boots-on-the-ground era than during the three years of advanced movement. Having been part of the legendary compLexity/Evil Geniuses dynasty – which had already been broken by the end of Call of Duty: Ghosts, regardless of what the following year was bringing – Aches had a lot to live up to.
Even so, while less success was perhaps inevitable, Aches’s individual performances have also suffered during the advanced movement era. For Infinite Warfare, Aches’s value to his Cloud9 squads was very much in his experience and leadership capabilities, while the role of the star player was left to younger talents.
During compLexity’s prime, however, Aches was never just a leader, and never just a supportive player either. In Black Ops 2 especially, Aches was a legitimate star, notable in particular for his ability to pull off utterly dominant games and carry a victory almost single-handedly. When compLexity were at their peak such performances weren’t always relied upon for wins, but they were certainly a nice luxury.
On the new Evil Geniuses, many see Aches in a similar position as the previous year, a leader around whom talent can be built to produce a dangerous and complete squad. In a BOTG setting, however, Aches arguably had the highest peak of his new team-mates, and if he can rediscover that individual level then suddenly the new EG squad might be an entirely different beast.