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The seconds were ticking down during a crucial round of Control on Checkmate and Paul “PaulEhx” Avila was in the thick of it. He beamed Thomas “TJHaLy” Haly from across the map, then shifted his attention to the plane he had total control of.

Kenneth “Kenny” Williams and Carlos “Venom” Hernandez rushed his position. He reloaded his secondary rifle, turned down the aisle and unloaded into Kenny. Seconds later, he finished off Venom to seal the victory against the Los Angeles Thieves.

That was just me going off,” PaulEhx tells me from London’s practice facility in Charlotte. “I was screaming dead, dead, dead in the comms.”

The London Royale Ravens have gone through a lot of turbulence during the 2021 season. After finishing fourth at the Call of Duty Championship 2020 with an overall 9-12 season record, the organization cut the majority of its roster. The only player left was Sean “Seany” O’Conner. More problems came for the Ravens in 2020 as Trei “Zer0” Morris and head coach James “Dominate” Batz were unable to come to the United States due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in the UK. The team released both Dominate and Zer0 at the end of April. More roster changed came soon after.

PaulEhx joined the Ravens after the squad went 0-6 to start the season. He was a replacement for Christopher “Parasite” Duarte after the team decided against signing Parasite to a longer contract. The WestR amateur had an immediate impact on the professional squad and the results with him on the roster proved that. London beat both Los Angeles teams for the squad’s first two victories of the season.

“When I first got here, they were not feeling the best,” PaulEhx said of his teammates. “It felt like they were just playing to play, I came and lit that fire.”

PaulEhx was so confident going into the match against the Los Angeles Thieves that he jokingly told his teammates to pre-order the Uber back to the team apartments early before the match. He knew it was going to be over quickly. The Ravens won 3-1 with multiple major plays like the one above. 

The Ravens were beating other teams in scrimmages, performing well at the Toronto Home Series and feeling good about themselves after a tough start to the season. That changed when they went to face the New York Subliners the day after beating the Thieves during Stage 2 Week 2.

London started off incredibly strong, going up 5-1 in a series of Search & Destroy on Express. They were inches from wrapping the map up and matching New York 1-1, but a victory wasn’t in the cards. Conor “Diamondcon” Johst led a remarkable comeback win with New York taking 5 maps straight. New York went on to win 3-1.

“After the loss to New York, it all went downhill after we choked that Express against New York,” PaulEhx said. “When I first got there we were smoking everybody in scrims, even FaZe. We were just smoking everybody. The vibes were at an all time high.”

“We lost against New York and all the energy just got drained,” he added. “It really ruined the vibe.”

PaulEhx said he believes that his squad has struggled with finding confidence again. He could notice the huge difference in energy the team had after that match against New York compared to the vibe when he first arrived in Charlotte.

“I 100% believe we can get that confidence back,” he said. “I’m a confident player.”

Lo and behold, the London Royal Ravens’ most recent win came during a tight matchup against the New York Subliners. The series was close, ending in a 3-2 win for the Ravens, giving them some hope in Stage 3.

“GGs to New York,” said Zach “Zed” Denyer in a Tweet after the rematch. “It feels good to win again, faze on Sunday so lots to iron out before then.”

London ended up losing to Atlanta in a close 2-3 match, showing clear signs of improvement from their Stage 2 performance. They’ll need a strong finish at the Stage 3 Major if they want to turn this abysmal season around. PaulEhx and squad play the Seattle Surge on Sunday, May 9 at the Dallas Empire Home Series.

Aron Garst looks at esports from a different point of view by tackling the ways games are molded and broken by players around the world. He covers Call of Duty, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, and everything else for Upcomer. You can read his previous work at WIRED, Rolling Stone, ESPN and elsewhere. Rise up red sea.
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