What we learned from the Call of Duty League Stage 3 Major
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The Call of Duty League Stage 3 Major ended on May 16 with Atlanta FaZe winning over the New York Subliners. Although this was a fairly predictable outcome, fans were still surprised to see the Subliners in the finals and the defending champion Toronto Ultra only finish in the top three.

As with any major event in the CDL, there were several things that the community learned about the competing teams. From surprise runs to teams falling flat, the CDL is somewhat a mystery once again. However, there are three definite takeaways from the Stage 3 Major.

1. OpTic Chicago are back as a top four team

One of the biggest surprises from the qualifying round of Stage 3 was OpTic Chicago being so inconsistent. The roster didn’t win a single match against a winners bracket team leading up to the major, which is usually a death sentence for any team wanting to make a big run.

However, Chicago was able to turn things around and refine their confidence as the major went on. They only dropped four maps in four matches, and three of them were to the Stage 2 winners, Toronto. OpTic broke their winless streak of Hardpoints and, after that, a switch seemed to turn on and the roster looked completely different.

The Stage 3 Major version of OpTic is the version that most fans expect with such a talented roster. With other teams like Dallas and LA Thieves performing so poorly at the major, it can be argued that Chicago is back in the top four of the power rankings. The big question is whether they stay there and advance as the season goes on.

2. HyDra is the real deal for the Subliners

The theme of the 2021 CDL is rookies coming in and immediately dominating the opposition. Rookie players like Eli “Standy” Bentz, Paul “PaulEhx” Avila and Jamie “Insight” Craven, among others, have proven the CDL isn’t a veterans league anymore. If there were any doubters to that fact, Paco “HyDra” Rusiewiez’s performance at the major put the argument to rest.

HyDra was the key reason New York was able to have such a dominant Stage 3. He has one of the best KDs among SMG players since Stage 3 began, with his Hardpoint play specifically standing out. It’s no coincidence that the Subliners had a 9-0 win streak in Hardpoint with HyDra in the lineup.

The French Phenom is the latest in a long line of rookies to succeed alongside veteran James “Clayster” Eubanks. The two make for quite the duo and with them at the helm, New York should be able to stay among the top teams in the CDL. They’re currently second in the league in CDL Points, holding a 10-point lead over third-place Toronto.

3. Dallas Empire are in trouble

Prior to the Stage 3 Major, the Dallas Empire were the team with the most to prove. They traded franchise player Cuyler “Huke” Garland for a Challenger player in Tyler “FeLo” Johnson. To prove that the move was the right one, Dallas needed to come out strong against top competition at the major.

This did not happen. The Empire failed to win a map at the major, getting swept by Atlanta and Chicago. Dallas didn’t look bad by any stretch but the SMGs of FaZe and OpTic ran wild on the Empire. This is a direct consequence of not having Huke’s dominant SMG in the lineup.

For context, Tyler “aBeZy” Pharris, FaZe’s top SMG player, finished with a 1.33 KD against Dallas. Comparatively, OpTic’s SMGs, Dylan “Envoy” Hannon and Seth “Scump” Abner, posted a 1.28 and 1.11 KD, respectively.

It’s still too early to say that the Empire made the wrong decision in trading Huke. The roster still needs more practice for that determination to be made. However, if they mimic their major performance during Stage 4, moving on from Huke could be seen as one of the worst moves in Call of Duty esports history.

Joey Carr is a full-time writer for multiple esports and gaming websites. He has 6+ years of experience covering esports and traditional sporting events, including DreamHack Atlanta, Call of Duty Championships 2017, and Super Bowl 53.