How we ranked the teams: a panel of 11 Breaking Point writers and staff evaluated how teams performed through the CDL Stage 3 Major. The April 2021 CDL Power Rankings can be found here. Current CDL standings can be found here.
There have been a lot of Big 3’s throughout history: LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, anyone? This stage, a Big 3 emerged in CDL. FaZe, Ultra, and Subliners led the pack in May. OpTic showed signs of life at the Major, while the bottom teams continued to struggle.
1. Atlanta FaZe (22 – 4)
Previous Rank: 1 ()
CDL Points: 340 (+115)
If there’s a Big 3 among CDL teams, Atlanta FaZe is your current LeBron James. They retain the number one spot after a dominant 5-2 win over NYSL in the Stage 3 Major finals. In last month’s power rankings, we mentioned that when “Arcitys is going off, the team always looks good.” Alec has reached MVP form, and was named Player of the Stage, notching a 1.17 overall K/D. Simp and aBeZy are a dominant sub duo, but with the AR’s coming to life, FaZe can now win even if the SMG’s have off games. Cellium has a top 5 K/D on the year, standing at 1.12 overall K/D. Despite two losses to NYSL (in the group stage and in the Major winner’s finals), they were able to put everything together in the grand finals of the Major.
Key Takeaways: FaZe’s big question mark heading into Stage 3 was their poor SnD record (4-7 in Stage 2). After adding 2Pac as an SnD coach, FaZe improved their SnD record to 12-6 in Stage 3. And as proven time and time again: SnD wins championships. The team’s Hardpoint record was only 9-9 throughout Stage 3. They are the runaway CDL points leader and the clear-cut number one team, but the team’s Hardpoint may need to be addressed if they want to resume the dynasty discussion. For now, there are two other teams eagerly nipping at their heels.
2. Toronto Ultra (17 – 11)
Previous Rank: 2 ()
CDL Points: 225 (+100)
After going an impressive 15-1 in map count throughout Stage 3, many fans and observers had Ultra as the favorites for the Major. However, they ran into FaZe in winners semifinals and then again in losers finals, losing both series in a game 5. There are silver linings for the team. The fact that Ultra were able to consistently play the best team to a close game 5 is a testament to the team’s overall talent level, teamwork, and map pool depth.
Key Takeaways: Make no mistake, this is currently the best European CoD team in the modern era. FaZe did their homework on Ultra this tournament, isolating Insight in SnD, and countering Ultra in post-plant offensive and defensive SnD setups. In order to get through FaZe and push for another title, the Ultra are going to need to keep adapting their setups and playstyle in respawn. In Stage 1 and 2, Ultra weren’t on many teams’ radar. In Stage 3, Bance kept up his form and Cammy hit new highs. There is now a huge target on this team’s back. The air is crisp at the peak, but oxygen is thin.
3. New York Subliners (16 – 9)
Previous Rank: 6 (+3)
CDL Points: 240 (+100)
Hail HyDra. The French rookie’s impact cannot be understated, as NYSL became the most dominant Hardpoint team in Stage 3, going on a 12-0 Hardpoint win streak at one point. The Subliners finished the Stage with a 12-2 Hardpoint record, with HyDra boasting a league-leading 1.29 HP K/D. Throughout the stage, Subliners have given HyDra the freedom to play his own style. HyDra has the lowest hill time on his team by far (42.8 seconds per 10 minutes), but was responsible for winning innumerable key engagements on the map. He also opened the stage with an abysmal SnD K/D (below a 0.50 in his first two matches), but finished the Major with a team best 1.10 K/D.
Key Takeaways: While HyDra has been a special talent, this team’s future success will be dependent on the other three players on the team. Clayster has been one of the best aggressive ARs in the league this season. Asim has been making countless game winning plays, and Mack has come into top form with an AR in his hand. The focal point for NYSL’s next stage needs to be Control. In Stage 3, NYSL had a dismal 2-7 record on Control. With the team reaching a new peak, Control will be the key turning point, especially in a best-of-9 series where teams must play up to two crucial Control maps.
4. OpTic Chicago (15 – 11)
Previous Rank: 5 (+1)
CDL Points: 200 (+60)
We have a theory about the origin of the “Green Wall” name. It was erected to protect the OpTic players from the rabid fans and haters alike on the other side. A barrier to protect Scump and FormaL from the “green walkers” and the Twitter coaches. This stage, OpTic went from starting in losers with fans calling for a roster change, to an exciting team with upset potential. The next step for OpTic is proving they are a championship contending team. Fans are crediting “positive vibes” reasons for the turnaround at the Major, but it was really a newfound clutch factor that helped OpTic secure a top 4 finish. Before the Major, OpTic was 1-5 in Round 11’s, but they turned that around at the tournament. OpTic won three round 11 SnD’s in a row in the losers bracket, before losing one to Toronto in a soul crushing game 5.
Key Takeaways: The best CDL coaches and analysts will tell you that “winning round 11” is not a blueprint for consistent, long-term success. Was the Major a fluke, or are OpTic an elite SnD team? It’s difficult to say based on one tournament. A positive for OpTic: they ended the stage with a positive W/L record in every game mode. There is no glaring weakness for this team. Another positive, Dashy is back in slaying form: he had the highest K/D at the Major with a 1.31 overall K/D. However, OpTic have yet to beat one of the top three teams in the game (FaZe, Ultra, NYSL). Until they can, they will not be considered legitimate championship contenders.
5. Dallas Empire (14 – 11)
Previous Rank: 3 (-2)
CDL Points: 230 (+50)
Dropping Huke was a bold move that took the entire competitive Call of Duty scene by storm. So far, it is not paying off for Empire. Empire managed to go 3-2 in the group stage, but those wins were against Legion (with Huke starting), Guerrillas, and RØKKR—three out of the four bottom teams in their group. A top eight finish is unacceptable for the defending champs, but the fix is unclear. iLLeY has struggled lately on the SMG (at 0.64, iLLeY had the lowest K/D of any player the Major), and the team seems disjointed in terms of playstyle. The rest of the team wasn’t far behind on the struggle bus: Dallas players claimed 3 out of the 6 lowest K/D’s at the Stage 3 Major (Crim with a 0.78, FeLo with a 0.69).
Key Takeaways: The reality is that Empire still have three defending champions on the roster. They should be able to figure out how to get everyone on the same page by Champs time. With a huge points buffer from Stages 1 and 2, and 230 CDL points banked away, Empire are still the #3 in the overall standings. They’re not at risk of failing to qualify for Champs. Time is on their side. If they continue to struggle after Stage 4, expect a team change to occur.
6. Los Angeles Thieves (13 – 12)
Previous Rank: 7 (+1)
CDL Points: 170 (+60)
It’s showtime in LA! The Thieves are one of the most entertaining teams to watch with their aggressive AR’s and their loose-and-fast playstyle. The issue with that playstyle is the team went 6-9 in Hardpoints in Stage 3 with only one player over a 1.00 K/D. Kenny had a 1.06 HP K/D in Stage 3. In four matches with Thieves, Huke, the exciting new pickup, dropped a 0.88 K/D in Hardpoint. That number is likely to improve for Huke. In SnD, the Thieves also only managed to go 5-5 despite Huke’s addition. He has a staggering 27.5% 1st blood rate on this team. In fact, every player sits over a 1.00 SnD K/D since Huke joined the team. Individually the players are strong at SnD, but they need to find consistency.
Key Takeaways: The final positive for the Thieves is that they’re a top Control team. In Stage 3, Thieves were 6-2 in that game mode, with Kenny and Drazah both at 1.15 K/D’s in Control. LA Thieves have been one of the best teams this season at reverse sweeping and coming back against opponents, and have had some spectacular wins from behind. It hinges on their strength across game modes and their ability to turn around a series by springing off a hot Control in map 3.
7. Florida Mutineers (10 – 13)
Previous Rank: 9 (+2)
CDL Points: 120 (+60)
We don’t know what to make of Florida this season. They’re one of the most inconsistent CDL teams, and it’s painful for their fans (stat of the article: Paris Legion are 3-1 vs. Mutineers this season, but only 2-12 against the rest of the field). Despite dipping in Control, Neptune is hitting his best form this year. It was enough to make a difference against LA Thieves in the winners bracket, but Mutineers proceeded to not win a map the rest of the Major, dropping 0-3 to NYSL and 0-3 to OpTic Chicago. The move for Havok helped in some areas. In SnD, Havok is finding first blood and taking that pressure off of Owakening. In Stage 3, all four players on Florida’s roster had above a 10.0% first blood rate in SnD.
Key Takeaways: Florida, or Flo’ Rida? Florida this season has been a flow and momentum team. When Florida loses map 1, they lose the series 82% of the time (2-9 after losing map 1). Like NYSL, Florida’s Achilles heel is Control. Since bringing Havok back into the fold in Stage 3, Florida is 2-6 in Control. In Stages 1 and 2, Florida were 8-7 in Control. Florida will continue to struggle if they cannot find someone who can keep up in slaying while leading the team in comms. One of the two AR’s must step up to lead the team.
8. London Royal Ravens (6 – 14)
Previous Rank: 11 (+3)
CDL Points: 70 (+40)
The London Royal Ravens have made the most roster changes out of any CDL team. They continued to improve, picking up 40 CDL points and upsetting a top 3 team in NYSL and taking FaZe to map 5. London dropped Dylan in April and picked up Zaptius, PaulEhx’s teammate from WestR. Despite Zaptius’s stellar SnD reputation, the team eked out a poor 3-7 SnD record throughout Stage 3. Starting in the loser bracket, London picked up wins against Paris and Minnesota, both in convincing fashion, before falling to the LA Thieves. With the additions of Alexx and Afro to the starting lineup for Zed and Zaptius, the future is once again uncertain at London.
Key Takeaways: It’s do-or-die time for the London Royal Ravens. Despite having a hot Stage 3, London is far behind in the standings. Currently sitting at 70 CDL points, the team have to make up a 50 to 60 point gap over the next two stages. That is no easy task, given that the teams currently sitting in 7th and 8th place, Minnesota (130 points) and Florida (120 points), have also recently found flashes of potential.
9. Minnesota RØKKR (8 – 10)
Previous Rank: 4 (-5)
CDL Points: 130 (+30)
Minnesota had the worst fall of Stage 3. After a brilliant run in Stage 2, where they placed top 4 at the Major, they stumbled again in Stage 3. RØKKR went 2-3 in groups this stage, and flamed out top 10 in the Major to a resurgent London team. The acquisition of Standy has still been a positive change for the team, but it hasn’t been enough for RØKKR to consistently beat top teams. Stage 3 was particularly difficult for Accuracy. He had his “worst month” as a pro player and the team suffered as a result. Accuracy fell to a 0.84 K/D in Hardpoint and a 0.65 K/D in SnD during the stage (the lowest K/D for any RØKKR player in both game modes). As a team, they went 3-8 in Hardpoints and 2-5 in SnD, with Control being their best game mode at 4-2.
Key Takeaways: Earlier this week, the team announced the return of return of MajorManiak for Stage 4. The team is in a precarious position, at 7th in the standings. Multiple teams behind them continue to pick up speed, including Florida and London. SnD, the team’s bread and butter in Stage 1 (6-2 SnD record), is now a glaring weakness after Stage 3 (2-5 SnD record). Hardpoint hasn’t improved either. The team was the 2nd worst HP team in Stage 3, ahead of only Seattle Surge. While MajorManiak may not instantly fix the team’s respawn, he will be an immediate shot in the arm for SnD. In Season 3 of the NA Challengers Elite League, MajorManiak had the #2 highest SnD K/D, at 1.58.
10. Los Angeles Guerrillas (7 – 14)
Previous Rank: 10 ()
CDL Points: 90 (+20)
Guerrillas is a team on a treadmill. Through the first two stages, the team tenuously held onto a Champs spot, and was ranked 8th by CDL points. After Stage 3, they’ve been passed up, and it’s hard to see them coming back without major changes. LAG currently sits at 90 CDL points in 9th place: +50 CDL points in Stage 1, +20 CDL points in Stage 2, +20 CDL points in Stage 3. The Vivid for Chino benching was controversial, but hasn’t yielded any dividends. SMG SiLLY was able to muster a 0.91 K/D in Stage 3, and the SMG duo of SiLLY and Apathy is sluggish when compared to the field. In Stage 1 and 2, LAG was a formidable Search team, going 11-7. In Stage 3, their Search has regressed to 4-6.
Key Takeaways: In Breaking Point’s previous power rankings, we suggested “a role change, a roster change… or something drastic.” LAG made both a role change AND a roster change. However, for too many teams this season, the personnel changes have been dramatic but not meaningful. The team’s floor and ceiling haven’t shifted. SiLLY is a better AR player than he is an SMG player (1.03 K/D in Stage 1 and 2; 0.91 K/D in Stage 3). The removal of Vivid has stagnated LAG’s SnD. There have been areas of improvement to the team, of course. The team’s pacing is now more coordinated. But if you keep taking one step forward and one step back, you’ll find yourself in the same place you started. That is LAG’s season in a nutshell.
11. Paris Legion (5 – 13)
Previous Rank: 12 (+1)
CDL Points: 60 (+10)
Unfortunately, one team must be #11 and another team must be #12. Paris is #11 and Seattle is #12. If society did not function on a base-10 number system, we would have tried to find some way to rank both Paris and Seattle dead last. There’s not much to say on Paris. They’re not showing signs of life, and the roster changes (Temp in for Fire) haven’t been impactful.
The rumored roster changes seem equally unimpactful. Zaptius has shown flashes of brilliance with London, but the team as a whole still has lingering, unaddressed role issues: there are 3 players who prefer to use AR’s! Temp, Skrapz, and AquA all prefer to run AR’s. Even if Paris were to sign Zaptius or Saints, the same role issues would persist.
Paris Legion were 1-5 in Control and 1-5 in SnD throughout Stage 3. A single roster change is not going to improve a team from being worst or 2nd worst in multiple game modes to a contending team. The team must dig deep down and make strides to improve.
Key Takeaways: Do whatever it takes to get into the same group as Florida Mutineers for Stage 4 and Stage 5. The only match Paris won in Stage 3 was a group stage match against Florida. Paris Legion are 3-1 vs. Mutineers this season, but only 2-12 against the rest of the field. Bribe the GM’s of other teams to put Paris into Florida’s group during the Stage 4 selection process. At this point, #WhateverItTakes, or the team will be going home early in July.
12. Seattle Surge (4 – 15)
Previous Rank: 8 (-4)
CDL Points: 50 (—)
After a promising Stage 2, an ascendant Seattle Surge moved up to #8 in Breaking Point’s April Power Rankings. They’ve now crashed all the way down to the bottom. We wanted to see this team succeed. Some of the most accomplished CoD pros of all time—Octane, Gunless, Prestinni, and Loony—are on the squad. There are over 20 years and seasons of professional Call of Duty experience between these four players. We have nothing more to say after this stage. The team went 0-5 during Stage 3 and barely put up a fight against LAG to get rounded in last place at the Major. They didn’t win a single Control map in Stage 3! There were no bright spots on the team.
Key Takeaways: At this point, the only thing that can save Seattle Surge in Stage IV is an actual IV. This team is on life support, not just for the next stage, but for the season. Decemate, the new pickup, quit the team after two frenetic weeks and zero wins. Do they take some risks on Challengers players in preparation for next season? At the very least, the vibes are good on social media. The players are meme-ing comeback tours from friends on Twitter and posting “looking for teammate” ads. The situation is so dire that Octane (Surge’s franchise player) has stated publicly on his Twitch stream that top Challengers players would be unwilling to join the team, if asked and offered. As the saying goes: “it’s never chalked”. But for Seattle, it may be too late. Unless… is it… is it happening?