The Call of Duty League Stage 4 Major is upon us with teams from all over the United States and Canada making their way to Dallas to compete in-person for the first time this season. This tournament will have big implications for the remainder of the year. This means that a poor performance could remove some teams from the race for the CDL Championship trophy.
The Seattle Surge, London Royal Ravens, Paris Legion and Los Angeles Guerrillas will need to see a miracle in order to make it to the final tournament of the seasons. The Florida Mutineers and Minnesota RØKKR are on the edge of the top eight; a strong major from either team could help them leapfrog into better seeding for the 2021 championship
There are many questions heading into the Stage 4 Major. Here are Upcomer’s staff thoughts on some of the biggest ones:
Who is the player/team that needs to show up at the Stage 4 Major LAN?
Aron Garst: The Stage 4 Major will be a proving ground. It’s the first chance that many of these rookies and veterans will have a chance to show the Call of Duty world who they are in-person with lag and latency left at home. The teams in the middle of the standings, who are still holding out hope for a run at Champs, will need to show up. Joseph “Owakening” Conley with Florida and Eli “Standy Bentz with Minnesota will need to win convincingly to prove that they have a place in the final tournament of the season.
Danny Appleford: The LA Thieves will have a lot to prove on LAN after so much inconsistency during online tournaments. Cuyler “Huke” Garland needs to show up for his team during the Stage 4 Major to prove that his win on Dallas Empire last year wasn’t a fluke. If LA Thieves can rally around a generational talent like Huke, they will be able to go far in the lower bracket.
Joey Carr: It’s time for OpTic Chicago to put their money where their mouth is. For the entirety of the 2021 season, the roster — mainly Seth “Scump” Abner — has talked about the burning desire to return to LAN. It seems that OpTic has convinced many of their passionate fans that the Stage 4 Major will be where they finally grab some consistency and turn their season around. Well, the Major is here and Chicago needs to show up on LAN or they’ll prove that their inconsistency wasn’t a result of online play.
There isn’t much time left before Champs. Will LAN help some team climb the standings?
Danny Appleford: The lack of LAN tournaments was out of anyone’s control this year, but it’s too late in the year to make any major changes to the bottom four teams. Paris, Seattle and London are all sort of doomed at this point. They would have to have several impressive performances to break out of the bottom four. However, we could see some shifting towards the top of the standings for teams like OpTic Chicago and Florida Mutineers.
Joey Carr: The talk of LAN has been overhyped by both the players and fans. Yes, some teams do in fact perform better offline than online and vice versa. Take the Minnesota RØKKR in 2020, for example. They went from being a top-five team before COVID-19 to going on a 10-game losing streak when online events started. Despite this, LAN will most likely not be the saving grace that many teams are relying on to move up a spot or two in the standings. It may help some rosters with veteran players but it’s unlikely to produce any major turnarounds.
Aron Garst: LAN is too much of a qualifier for the Call of Duty community. Some pros have gone as far as disqualifying Dallas’ championship win in 2020 because it happened all online. There is no denying that in-person play brings a new level to the competition. However, it’s rarely such a drastic change that it’ll be a team’s saving grace as we close out the season. Competitive Call of Duty has been played online for its entire duration so we’re not entering uncharted territory here.
This LAN won’t even have fans, giving it the same environment of an in-person scrimmage. I’d be surprised if a team that isn’t Atlanta, Toronto, Chicago or an Asim-less New York takes the trophy home at the end of the day.
Can Atlanta FaZe be stopped? If so, who can dethrone them?
Joey Carr: There are few teams in Call of Duty esports history that have been as dominant as Atlanta FaZe in 2020-21. They’re a huge betting favorite to win every series they play, and for good reason. Their roster is arguably unmatched in talent. If one team is going to stop them at the Stage 4 Major, though, it’ll be the Toronto Ultra. They did it in Stage 2 and have the opportunity to do it again with an easier winners bracket.
New York is without Asim and Chicago would need their long-awaited turnaround on LAN to make any noise. I don’t foresee anyone but Ultra taking down FaZe in the grand finals. That is unless OpTic suddenly comes alive at the Esports Stadium.
Aron Garst: Atlanta is the final boss of the 2021 season. They’ve played in every grand final this year and have only lost once after an incredible run by the Toronto Ultra. Chicago, Toronto or New York can beat the FaZe this weekend but I don’t know if any team can beat them twice or in a best-of-nine series.
Danny Appleford: Atlanta FaZe are just as dominant as they were during Modern Warfare and yet they still weren’t able to close things out at Home Series and at Champs. They may take another Major victory before Champs but probably won’t actually win Champs. I predict another team, like NYSL or Toronto Ultra, will steal the win from them; just like Dallas did last year.
NYSL are headed into the first LAN without Obaid ‘Asim’ Asim. What do they need to do to make up for his absence?
Aron Garst: HyDra and Makenzie “Mack” Kelley have been absolutely carrying the Subliners recently and James “Clayster” Eubanks even confirmed it. There’s little doubt that Asim has played a prominent role on the New York roster. He’s been a shotcaller and the routeman has applied pressure all over the map. But, a new addition could actually improve this squad if they keep playing the way they do and get ample practice time to prepare beforehand. That doesn’t seem like the case, though, judging by Clayster’s tweets about their efforts to find a replacement.
Joey Carr: Simply put, HyDra needs to take his game to another level. He’s been one of the best SMG players in the CDL since being promoted. However, that was with Asim helping on the front lines. The AR duo of Mack and Clayster should be able to continue dominating, But an AR tandem is only as strong as the SMG duo that runs in front of them and secures the entry kills. Ask the Seattle Surge about that.
Asim’s replacement Jacob “Decemate” Cato didn’t have the best showing at the last Major. This likely means that HyDra needs to put up Simp or aBeZy-like numbers consistently if New York wants a chance at making a run.
Will rookies be able to keep up with veterans now that the Call of Duty League is going offline?
Danny Appleford: Most definitely. Despite many of these rookies not having experience on LAN, they will be able to keep up with the veterans. The onliners theory is definitely going to be tested with this online meta but the rookies will show up. I would be surprised if the rookies that have been great online don’t know what they’re capable of offline as well.
Joey Carr: LAN is nothing new to any player currently on a starting roster in the CDL. While some haven’t played on the main stage, all rookies have experience playing offline. Playing on LAN would affect a rookie if there was a huge audience of screaming fans in front of them. The pressure of performing well in front of a crowd is a real problem for newer players. However, the Stage 4 Major is played in an empty arena, giving it more of an online feel than anything. Most, if not all, rookies should continue to put up the numbers they have been showing prior to the Major.
Aron Garst: We’ve only been away from LAN for over a year; it’s not like rookies weren’t playing at local and regional events long before now. Paul “PaulEhx” Avila has played at local events in Southern California. Jamie “Insight” Craven has been on the big stage against other top tier teams. Paco “HyDra” Rusiewiez won 17 local French events before he turned 18. It’s silly to believe that LAN will make these rookies perform any worse than they have been all year.