As the first week of the 2021 Call of Duty League season concluded on Feb. 14, teams produced expected and unexpected results in equal measure while playing matches in Black Ops Cold War for the first time.
The Atlanta FaZe Home Series served as the first event for the 12 CDL organizations, as match wins now count toward standing placements in Stage 1’s major tournament during the first week of March. While most of the weekend went as expected, upsets and intriguing storylines created the potential for excitement later in 2021.
1. Dallas might not be the top dog
Coming into the 2021 season, reigning champion Dallas Empire still seemed like the team to beat. Dallas only made a single change to their dominant 2020 roster by dropping James “Clayster” Eubanks.
With so little change, it seemed the Empire would continue their dominance in 2021. However, after handling the Seattle Surge on the first day of the event, Dallas lost 3-2 to an upstart Minnesota ROKKR squad. The matches were close throughout the series, with Dallas winning most of the respawns. However, Minnesota really proved themselves in Search and Destroy.
While this doesn’t mean much so early in the season, Dallas came out of the weekend with a 1-1 record. Some other rosters may have caught up, or even surpassed, the Empire early on in the 2021 season.
2. The Seattle Surge received a huge upgrade
On Thursday, the Seattle Surge faced off against the Dallas Empire. This was a big moment for Seattle, as the organization revamped most of its roster, with the exception of Sam “Octane” Larew. However, the match didn’t go their way, as Seattle lost 3-1.
Despite the loss, the fact that Pierce “Gunless” Hillman had little experience playing on a 240 Hertz refresh rate could have been a major factor.. Until opening weekend, Gunless had only played on 60 Hz since Black Ops Cold War released. For those that have never encountered such a shift, there is a significant difference in screen clarity and responsiveness that could mess with habits Gunless formed to compensate for the poorer refresh rate.
Once Gunless adjusted to playing on 240 Hz, Gunless seemed to play exponentially better. While the team’s loss can’t all be attributed to the refresh rate switch of a single player, it’s hard to deny considering Seattle’s success in their next match. The Surge beat the Royal Ravens 3-2, and the match MVP went to Gunless, who had a 96/86 kill/death ratio for the series. It will be important to keep an eye on Seattle going forward to see if Gunless’ switch was truly a big deal.
3. Minnesota ROKKR look like the best S&D team in the CDL
Following the 2020 season, the Minnesota ROKKR surprised the community by releasing its entire roster. However, that decision might have paid off in the long run, as the new roster appears primed to make major noise in 2021.
Minnesota started off the weekend rocky, losing to the L.A. Thieves 3-1. Despite that, what really stood out from that match was the ROKKR’s Search and Destroy play. The team obliterated L.A. on Miami Search and Destroy. This trend continued when Minnesota squared off against Dallas on Sunday, helping the ROKKR secure victory over the 2020 champions.
As of right now, it’s hard to argue against Minnesota being the best Search and Destroy team in the CDL, which will give the team an advantage when it comes to clutching out close matches throughout the season.
4. OpTic still can’t get past the Tiny Terrors
OpTic Chicago, despite slightly turning over its roster, still struggled against the Atlanta FaZe during the opening weekend during the marquee, Valentine’s Day matchup of the event.
While the 3-2 series was competitive overall, the Search and Destroy matches were anything but. FaZe picked apart OpTic on Miami and Moscow, winning with a combined round count of 12-1. Tyler “aBeZy” Pharris and McArthur “Cellium” Jovel both put on huge performances for Atlanta in the Search and Destroy maps.
This is the same old story for OpTic, as the organization is well-known for its shortcomings in Search and Destroy. Last year, the Chicago Huntsmen (now OpTic Chicago) had a chance to advance to the grand finals of COD Champs but couldn’t beat Atlanta in Search and Destroy. The way things look right now, the same might happen again this year if OpTic doesn’t improve.
With the FaZe Home Series in the books, teams can now look forward to their week two matches, which start on Feb 18 at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
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