Yesterday, on Twitter, the The LA Thieves announced that Austin “SlasheR” Liddicoat will be benched indefinitely, and Zack “Drazah” Jordan will start in his place for the upcoming Major.
Over the past month, the LA Thieves have been on a downward spiral, winning only 2 of their last 9 CDL matches. In those matches, they’ve managed to win 10 out of 33 maps (30.3% map win rate, one of the lowest in CDL over that time period). Evidently, these results did not suffice for the LA Thieves front office or Nadeshot, who invested in this team to win championships. A change was needed, though this roster decision may not have been the one everyone was expecting.
Since starting the season 4-0, the LA Thieves have gone 2-7 over their next 9 matches, tied with London for the worst record in CDL over that period. (Correction credit to @boston6114 on Twitter)
Slasher World League
Slasher is one of the greatest Call of Duty players of all time, winning numerous major events including CoD Champs in Black Ops 3. He is currently ranked 6th in career earnings, and 5th among active players. In addition, Slasher possesses a reputation as a leader with strong mind for the game, and as an IGL, he has always placed an emphasis on fundamentals and discipline.
Statistically speaking, Slasher has been the best player on the LA Thieves this season. He is 1st on the team in hardpoint K/D (1.03) and control K/D (1.02). It should be noted that Slasher is the only player on the roster with a positive kill differential in both respawn modes. Additionally, Slasher is tied for 2nd on the team in SnD K/D with a 0.94. Only Thomas “TJHaLy” Haly has been better in SnD with a 1.07 K/D. In terms of overall K/D, Slasher leads the way with a 1.02, while Kenny, TJHaLy, Temp & Venom have a 0.96, 0.93, 0.92 & 0.80 respectively.
Given his reputation and performance level, the question remains: why was Slasher benched?
A Fresh Start
Several publicly available sources confirmed that this roster change did not come down to individual performance, but rather that the team had differences in terms of playstyle and philosophy. This was evident prior to signing Venom, when we witnessed Slasher and Temp have an on-camera disagreement after their first Stage 2 match against the Toronto Ultra. Despite winning the series, the players on LA Thieves were visibly disappointed by the performance, as very public fractures emerged.
On his stream yesterday, Kenny confirmed many of these team differences, stemming from longstanding performance and chemistry issues, which culminated in Kenny notifying the team to bench or trade him from the LA Thieves.
In the words of Muddawg, the LA Thieves general manager: “Slasher is a controversial personality”. On yesterday’s episode of The Flank, Parasite noted how Slasher’s attitude can take a toll on his teammates, especially when the team is not performing at a high level.
With numerous teams in the CDL bolstering their roster and improving in Stage 2, it became increasingly difficult for the LA Thieves to sit by and wait for their team to improve. If they aspire to win championships, an immediate and drastic change makes sense. Due to the team’s Stage 2 performance, they now start in Loser’s Round 1 at the Stage 2 Major.
Welcome Back Drazah
Drazah is no stranger to the CDL. Last season, he played last year alongside Kenny, TJHaLy & Slasher on OpTic Gaming Los Angeles. Fans will remember Drazah and Darien “Hollow” Chverchko being inserted into the OGLA starting lineup in July. They made an immediate impact, helping to turn around a struggling OGLA team by earning top 4 placement at the Toronto Home Open event, as well as top 6 placement at CoD Champs (losing a narrow Game 5 Round 11 series to the Chicago Huntsmen). Drazah’s performances were strong enough to warrant a substitute position with LAT going into the Cold War season.
This season Drazah has been one of the standout players in the Challengers scene. Drazah finished 1st in Challenger Cup #8, 1st in the NA Challengers Open #1, and won the most recent Stage for the NA Elite series. He notched a 1.29 K/D in the Grand Finals of the Stage 2 NA Elite series to help his team, Fantastic Four, secure the win.
Challengers placements for Drazah, 2021 season
Drazah has been touted for his strong SnD gameplay, producing a 1.12 K/D across Stage 2 of the Elite Series. He is no slouch in respawn either, producing a 1.04 K/D & 1.02 K/D in Hardpoint and Control respectively.
Drazah is an attractive asset for LAT due to his ability to play both an aggressive SMG role and the second AR. This allows LAT to try out different combinations for the fledging team in tandem with Kenny, who has been known to play both SMG and flex.
Drazah gets in behind enemy lines in Checkmate Control
Assuming he is on the second AR role, Drazah will complement Kenny nicely and provide the LA Thieves with a faster presence in the backline. The team’s first match is this coming Wednesday, April 7, 2021, against a tough Paris Legion squad. Regardless of their placement at the second major, the message from the LA Thieves camp is clear—they want to change their approach to the game. Unfortunately, changes of this magnitude are rarely quick to take hold.