The start of the Call of Duty League is right around the corner, as teams will start playing online qualifiers on December 2nd for Major 1. With the League now starting to pick up steam, there are many questions around the League that will be hot topics when competitive play returns. The trio of Lionman, Tactical Rab, and Easy Mac are here to tackle some of those topics and make some early predictions!
Coming into the season, many rosters have changed drastically. With the Major 1 rapidly approaching, who are your favorites to reach Sunday?
Tactical Rab: The first event of every year is historically unpredictable, especially with how early Major 1 falls this season and the state of the game right now. Both grand finalists from this year’s Champs looking in strong form at the start of MW2, so I reckon LA Thieves and Atlanta FaZe will both make Top 4. Then it gets spicy, and I’m not sold on what I’ve seen from OpTic so far, despite their historic early-game prowess. I’m picking Toronto instead, Tactical Scrappy is going to turn up hard and make Sunday on his first try. I’m also hoping Vegas have a good year, and this chaotic Major 1 is probably their best chance, so they are my 4th team making Sunday.
Lionman: In years gone by, it always feels like the first event of the game can often be a total mix. Usually it’s teams who adjust to the mechanics and meta first that will dominate from the jump and only later in the year do majority of other teams catch up, and then finer margins start to separate the field. It’s an easy pick to choose Atlanta FaZe or LA Thieves, they go straight into my top 4. And then for the 2 teams outside the obvious favorites, I have Seattle Surge and Toronto Ultra taking the remaining 2 spots, purely because of their raw ability and flair, which I think will play a big component early on in the year.
Easy Mac: You guys are spot on. The first event is always anyone’s game but this season has the earliest start we’ve had since Black Ops 4. Tie in disrupted practice, thanks to the Warzone update, and this could be a crazy first tournament. My gut tells me that LAT and my team [Atlanta FaZe] will make it to Sunday as the top 2 seeds. The next two are extremely hard to pick because there are 7 teams extremely close to each other. I’d have to go with Toronto based off Scrim results and go with the dark horse Las Vegas to add some crazy storylines. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a couple other teams on Sunday but these are my four picks for now.
Last year we had an exciting battle for MVP between multiple players. This year, many players look good early. Who are your early players to look out for in the MVP race?
Easy Mac: Last year we saw two ARs in Cellium and Dashy fight it out for the MVP award. This year I think we’ll see more players involved in this fight, including some SMGs. Names that will surely be in that fight are Pred, Shotzzy, Envoy, and of course the Tiny Terrors.
Tactical Rab: No surprise you’re backing FaZe but the last two MVPs have been Simp and Cellium so it’s hard not to have them in the conversation. The game mechanics and current meta in MW2 looks to favor AR players, and while the standout SMGs will always deserve credit, I’m predicting another AR MVP. I’m excited to see whether Octane can step up his game again this year as his impact last year was probably underrated for LA Thieves. Outside of Octane, I reckon Cammy will get back to MVP form on Minnesota, but you can’t overlook his replacement Scrappy‘s potential to takeover like Simp did in his rookie season.
Lionman: I see there being a few options. Last year there was a clear winner in Cellium who dominated the year with ridiculous stats on an extremely consistent top 2 team in FaZe. In most circumstances MVP is decided based on personal impact, but also heavily on the competitiveness of the team and the narrative said player had throughout the year. I foresee; Dashy, Pred, Envoy or Cellium (going back to back) as my early favorites. This is strictly out of the belief that the 4 teams these players represent are all going to be extremely competitive, and they were all already in the conversation during the Vanguard season.
Rookie of the Year is looking much smaller of a race this season. Currently we have Scrappy, Prolute, and Vikul in the League with WarDy & Beans as substitutes. Who do you think by the end of the season will be the Rookie of the Year?
Lionman: The answer is Scrappy. He’s the most exciting prospect in CoD Esports since Simp. In-game he’s nasty, out of game he’s even nastier. That is all. You turn Austin.
Easy Mac: Scrappy will be the heavy favorite in this award, especially after the performance he put up last year at the Pro AM and with how highly Toronto are ranked in the coaches poll. Beans is my sleeper pick for this season. I think there is a very high chance he makes it into a pro team, whether that’s in Boston or elsewhere. He was fantastic in the BP Next tournament and I can’t wait to watch him more.
Tactical Rab: It would be all too easy for me to say Scrappy, but I’m with Austin on the sleeper picks and my favourite is WarDy. The two main contenders in 2021 were Insight and Standy, both brought into starting rosters a couple months in. I don’t expect NYSL to be competing for titles with their current team, and whether it’s Priestahh or Kismet that make way, WarDy will get his chance and elevate the roster.
An interesting topic that has arose this season is the issues that the game has early on and the impact on the season. With the season starting early this year, this has been a major issue. Do you think it is still worth starting the season this early in the future.
Tactical Rab: I love the chaos. Early game issues date back many years and have affected prior seasons which used to start in December as well. While it’s not ideal for the players, it’s more exciting for the fans with the first event “wide-open” upon many updates, changes and patches when the game launches. An early season start is necessary to maximizing the potential of the CDL, and pushing it back is a weak-minded solution. The correct solution is to establish specific units of the development teams to focus on competitive updates and stability.
Lionman: The season starting in December does 2 things. It allows for the hype of the new game to feed into the popularity of professional play, giving the league the potential to capture more of the casual audience. Starting the season in Jan/Feb flattened the initial anticipation of a new CoD, and that has to be taken advantage of. Secondly it makes the first event of the year a little more ‘up in the air’ as teams are yet to fully understand the new game. A lot of creativity from players exposing new spots, routes and mechanics that may have been kept under wraps.
Easy Mac: I still think starting the season early is a must to capitalize on the early season hype. Like you said Rab, anyone can win at the start of the season which gives the events a different feel.
This season specifically has shown the need for pro players to be more involved in getting the game ready for launch. Having them play a couple of maps for fun in April doesn’t help the game come out polished at launch. A major problem is that QA testers are going to prioritize Warzone, DMZ, gunsmith, etc. before they even think about competitive tools like CoDcaster, private matches, and CDL mode. This leads too many issues that could easily be avoided. This is going to have to be improved majority if we have another early start.
Finally, who is your “wayyyy to early” pick to win CoD Champs this season. No team has even won back-to-back World Championships, could LAT be the first? Or are we going to have a team that has never won one in the past?
Tactical Rab: In the 10-year history of the World Championship, no organization has achieved back-to-back titles. This year that changes, with the LA Thieves running it up for two years on the bounce. The reigning champions have the chemistry and pure ability to win in dominant fashion as we saw in Vanguard, but also showed great resilience after a difficult start to the season. Add in a full season of SHANE’s assistance in the coaching department, and the team’s hunger to keep winning, and you have the recipe for your first back-to-back champions.
Lionman: This is tough because I have no clue where the game will be or which teams will adapt over time. My head is screaming Atlanta FaZe, but my heart is pushing for scumperjumper to get his 2nd ring and retire on top. No player has ever retired as a world champion and it would be a perfect ending for the most prolific personality in the game.
Easy Mac: I’ll answer this without picking my own team. I like Rab’s pick of LA Thieves, as they will always be one of the most fundamentally correct teams. If they don’t find themselves lacking confidence, like the Stage 2 run from Vanguard, then they will be a top team for the entire season.
I do like Lion’s OpTic for the season, but the problem will be it the team can overcome their dislike of the game. They haven’t been able to practice too much so far so I’d expect them to get better as the season goes a long.
A sleeper pick that will most certainly pick up steam after Major 1 will be Toronto. They have been one of the best scrim teams so far, and I expect that to carry over to matches. One thing that is for certain, is that this season will have a really good battle for the top spot in the League!