Major III Madness: Analyzing Each Team’s Chance to Win
There’s a lot of anticipation as to who’s the favorite heading into the third Major of the Call of Duty League 2023 Season. Could Atlanta FaZe or New York Subliners capture their second Major victory of the year? Or, will a new Major Champion be crowned on March 12? In this article, we are going to make the case for why each team can emerge victorious at Major III in Arlington, Texas.
(1) Seattle Surge
The #1 Seed for Major III, Seattle Surge has finally started to click in their online qualifier matches. The Major I Runner-ups didn’t have the same level of success at Major II, but head into this week as a clear favorite to win their first event since Major III in Call of Duty Vanguard. Although, some may point out that 3 of their 4 victories in the qualifiers were against the bottom three seeds for the Major.
Seattle has been more dominant at LAN play anyways so this shouldn’t cast too much shadow of a doubt towards their chances of entering and exiting Arlington as the #1 Team. Closing out online play for Stage III with a crushing 3-0 sweep over the Subliners shows what Pred and company are capable of. It also has to be mentioned that Seattle by far has the easiest WR1 matchup when they face-off against LAG.
(2) Boston Breach
A little over a month ago, Boston Breach made an incredible run at their own Major until they ran head first into a Green Wall. Methodz announced his retirement at the event following their Top 6 finish and has since rejoined OpTic Gaming as a content creator. Beans was elevated from the Breach Academy team at the start of Stage III and has had an instant impact on the success of this team. Improved Search and Destroy play led to a 4-1 record for Boston in the Major III qualifiers, good enough for the second seed.
Their first match of Major III will be against the team that eliminated them from Major II, OpTic Texas. This time around, it will be Breach looking to silence the home crowd while playing with a chip on their shoulders. Sending OpTic to the Loser’s Bracket to start the tournament could be the spark plug that gets Boston over the hump and into Sunday.
(3) Toronto Ultra
Scrappy and Toronto Ultra have been a force throughout the 2023 CDL Season but have yet to reach their full potential on LAN. Their 3-2 record throughout Stage III was tied with six other teams, but they were able to secure the third seed based on tie-breakers. After suffering a 1-3 loss to Boston, Ultra decided to move Standy to the bench in place of Hicksy. The move itself came as a relative surprise based on their record, but so far has looked promising. Hicksy himself hasn’t exactly been playing at a standout level, but the team chemistry has certainly improved and Ultra are feeling good headed into Major III.
A 9-1 Map Count over three straight wins vs Vegas, OpTic, and New York respectively was a sign that Toronto could make other top teams in the league look bad in comparison. To throw a wrench into our expectations for Major III, Toronto lost 2-3 in their final qualifier match against the 10th seeded London Royal Ravens. A WR1 matchup vs the New York Subliners is certainly one of the more difficult starts to this tournament, but Ultra put themselves in an ideal spot to make it to the Grand Finals with a victory. CleanX will be the X-Factor that determines how far Toronto will go.
(4) Atlanta FaZe
Atlanta are the defending Major II Champions and will look to repeat at their rival’s home Major. You can’t quite use the word flawless, but Cellium’s play this season has been the closest thing to it. Their performance during Stage III qualifiers is somewhat of a concern and definitely begs the question of how they will fare against the other top contenders. Defeats by a Map Count of 1-3 against the LA Thieves and OpTic Texas speak louder than their three victories against teams starting in LR1 at Major III.
Veteran players like SlasheR tend to shine brightest on LAN and that is what led to their success at Major II in Boston. They’re probably not the favorite to win it all for too many people, but it will come as a surprise to no one if FaZe ends up playing at an elite level during in-person competition once again. WR1 (vs LA Thieves) and WR2 (vs Seattle or LAG) will be telling of whether they are able to overcome two teams that have finished second at the previous Majors. If they’re able to make a run, the only team that may stop them in their tracks from advancing to the Grand Finals could be OpTic Texas who has been their kryptonite as of late.
(5) Los Angeles Thieves
LAT almost pulled off one of the most impressive Loser’s Bracket runs in recent memory. Eventually they ran out of gas and finished as the runner-ups at Major II. A puzzling defeat to Vegas to kick off Stage III was not a good look for this team, but they were able to rebound with some statement victories over the Seattle Surge and Atlanta FaZe.
The Thieves will be starting off Major III with a WR1 Matchup vs Atlanta FaZe with the likelihood of facing Seattle Surge in WR2 if they advance. As stated above, they were able to take care of both of these strong teams during the qualifiers. Replicating that success will be huge for LAT to have a legitimate chance at breaking their own Champs curse and adding another trophy to their collection. Search and Destroy will be the mode that makes or breaks the defending CDL Champs at Major III as it is currently their most glaring weakness.
(6) New York Subliners
NYSL enters this weekend as the only other team to have won a Major during Modern Warfare II aside from Atlanta. Stage III qualifiers were very quick for this Subliners team as their last four matches all ended in sweeps. Surprisingly, their closest matchup came against the Minnesota ROKKR when they were able to beat them 3-2. A dominant 3-0 victory over OpTic Texas was a highlight moment for this team, but that performance may have been overshadowed by the 0-3 defeats that they suffered at the hands of Toronto Ultra and Seattle Surge.
Similar to other top contenders like the LA Thieves, NYSL needs to clean up their SnD game in order to make a deep run at Major III. KiSMET currently leads the squad with 45 first bloods in the mode, but also leads with 57 first deaths. When playing with the right pacing, NYSL looks like an unstoppable force. HyDra is a superstar and his play alone makes them a favorite to win their second tournament this season. Strong play from the supporting cast is necessary for getting the job done by the time Championship Sunday rolls around.
(7) OpTic Texas
It was a little over a year ago that OpTic Texas was able to win Major I during the Vanguard season in front of their home crowd. This weekend, they will have the opportunity to replicate that success albeit with a revamped roster. Even in esports, it’s noticeable when a particular team has a home crowd advantage, and this is certainly a factor that will play into OpTic’s chances of securing their first Major win since Scump decided to hang up the sticks.
They have to tweak their Control play if they want to have any real chance of getting to the Grand Finals. Dashy and company are currently 8-13 in Map 3’s this season which makes the first two maps all the more important. An off day of Hardpoint or SnD automatically puts the Green Wall at high risk of a 1-2 deficit through three maps during any given series. The player that will make or break the success of OpTic Texas at Major III is Ghosty. The rookie was able to win the Challengers Open in Boston, but this will be his first LAN action since being signed to a CDL Roster.
(8) Los Angeles Guerrillas
After a rough start to Stage III, the Guerrillas were able to get two important victories over the Florida Mutineers and Vegas Legion that propelled them into the final Winner’s Bracket spot. Since making the decision to elevate 3/4 of their Academy roster, the team hasn’t proven that this move gives them the best chance to win. Assault has looked very solid in his return to CDL action, but Exceed and JoeDeceives have had their struggles, especially in Control.
Arcitys would have to elevate to the championship caliber play that we know he’s capable of in order for LAG to have a fighting chance. Their WR1 matchup vs Seattle is going to be the first big hurdle standing in their way at Major III. Dropping down to LR1 would have them facing off against a hungry Vegas Legion team that nearly earned their first ever start in Winner’s Bracket for the franchise. LAG was the team that put Vegas in a scenario where they needed OpTic to lose vs FaZe in order for that feat to be accomplished, but it just wasn’t meant to be. A deep run is improbable for the Guerrillas, but similar to how they did at Major II in Vanguard when Spart made use of the Volk AR, perhaps they have another ace up their sleeves.
(9) Vegas Legion
Home crowd favorites aside, Vegas enters Major III as one of those teams that every CDL fan wants to see make a splash. Stage III was arguably their most successful set of qualifier matches in team history that led to them just barely missing out on starting in Winner’s Bracket. Swapping Prolute for 2Real has proven to be a very solid change for Vegas and he has already made some highlight level plays that had Twitter asking for a PC check.
The Legion’s biggest strength is their SnD play which greatly increases their chances of making a miraculous Loser’s Bracket run at Major III. Cleaning up their Hardpoint or Control is going to be the deciding factor of whether they can compete against the league’s best and be considered a true threat to run the table. This is the most hype that has ever surrounded the Legion franchise and a big reason for that is the passion that Clayster brings to every performance.
(10) London Royal Ravens
Through the first four matches of Stage III, it seemed obvious how Major III was going to play out for London. Another start in Loser’s Bracket paired with a futile attempt at making it out of LR1 to send the Ravens packing. Then they decided to turn things up a notch in their final qualifier match and defeat a powerhouse Ultra squad in a five map series. Asim hasn’t played at the same level recently compared to how he started the season, but part of that can be attributed to playing through illness.
LRR’s poor performance so far in both SnD and Control is very concerning and doesn’t give much hope for a run through the Loser’s Bracket. Their recipe for success will come down to winning Map 1 in their series and putting that pressure on the opponent heading into Map 2. That’s about the only blueprint that will lead to anything better than a one and done appearance at Major III.
(11) Florida Mutineers
Amid a series of roster changes, not much changed regarding the success of the Florida Mutineers. Brack was brought back to the starting lineup along with the additions of Capsidal and Felo from Challengers. Only the Boston Breach had any fear for the deep as they were the only team to suffer a defeat vs Florida in Stage III. Looking back at previous tournaments, the Mutineers have a tendency to turn up when it comes to LAN and upset some teams that no one thought they would have a chance against (looking at you, OpTic).
Havok has been the one constant for this Mutineers squad in Modern Warfare II and at times has made some elite plays to secure wins for them. He will be the player to pay attention to mainly because if he’s not on his A-game, this squad really doesn’t stand much of a chance outside of a quick LR1 exit.
(12) Minnesota ROKKR
Where do I begin with Minnesota… not many of us were expecting them to be in this position in the first place. They are the first team to go winless during qualifiers this season and the players have consistently gone to Twitter saying that the game plays completely different on LAN with the absence of Loudness EQ. Four of their last six matchups dating back to Loser’s Finals of Major II have ended in defeat via sweep.
On paper, everyone can agree that ROKKR has a roster that should be much better than 0-5 during qualifiers. It’s possible that the team lacks the chemistry to turn that on paper success into victories or, they simply had a rough go during Stage III and it was nothing more than a fluke. To view the glass half full, Minnesota has the element of surprise in their favor and could spoil the tournament for a team that gets knocked down to Loser’s Bracket from WR1.
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