16 teams will compete for the season's first championship.
The first Major of the 2023 Call of Duty League season is about to start with the Major One LAN tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina hosting the 12 CDL franchises and four Challengers teams. After two weeks of online qualifiers, and a one-day qualifying event for Challengers teams, the stage is set to crown the seasons first champion with action beginning today, Dec. 15.
This early in the season, there is not a lot of clarity, though, so this weekends event will shed light on the contenders and pretenders in the early part of Modern Warfare 2’s first premier tournament. Here are three massive questions heading into the weekend that the Major should answer.
After two weeks of qualifiers, there isn’t much separation from the top of the standings to the bottom. The top two teams in the league, the Minnesota RØKKR and Toronto Ultra, are both 3-1 with 30 CDL points apiece. After that, though, there are eight teams who finished the online qualifying stage with two victories and two losses. Even a team like the Seattle Surge, who many thought coming into 2023 would be a title contender, have only won one of their first four matches.
Its still very early in the season, but the lack of separation will be interesting to watch throughout the rest of the year. A team like Toronto, who have wins over Seattle and the Atlanta FaZe, look like the front runners heading into the seasons first Major, but it remains to be seen how the new-look squad will perform in Raleigh.
Stuck in the clump of 2-2 teams are three of the biggest names in the CDL: OpTic Texas, Atlanta FaZe, and the Los Angeles Thieves. All three of these teams finished in the top four of the CDL Championship last season, with the Thieves taking home the season title over FaZe. These three were all favorites heading into the 2023 season but have had some bumpy moments in the early stages. Odds are that one of these three teams will make a run at the Major, but they dont want to let their early season struggles linger beyond the online qualifiers.
Scump, who has been a consistent face of competitive Call of Duty for more than a decade, announced ahead of this season that his 2023 campaign will be his last as a professional player. For an organization as storied as OpTic, expectations are always extremely high. But for Scumps last dance, expectations from fans have been raised to an almost unreachable height. OpTic had some very high moments in 2022 but also dealt with some incredibly low situations after winning the seasons first Major.
Following a controversial start to their season that saw Texas forfeit their match against the RØKKR after a bugged killstreak gave Minnesota new life in a map that OpTic looked poised to win, OpTic bounced back with back-to-back victories over the Florida Mutineers and London Royal Ravens. Despite this being his last season competing, Scump looks like he could play another five years after having one of his best starts to a season in recent memory.
The 2017 CoD world champion is third in the entire CDL with a 1.18 K/D so far, behind only Cellium of FaZe and Afro of RØKKR, according to Breaking Point. His Search and Destroy stats are even more eye-popping, with Scump holding a 1.50 K/D in SnD, second in the league only to Afro. While Scumps strong start has been an awesome sight for fans, there are still question marks surrounding OpTic.
The team had an opportunity in back-to-back maps to close out games against the defending CDL champion Thieves on the last day of online qualifying but let a 5-3 lead in SnD and a defensive round slip away in their 3-1 loss to Los Angeles. If the team can clean some things up, they certainly have a chance to win another Major in 2023.
With four Challengers teams competing this weekend alongside the CDL franchises, there is ample opportunity for up-and-comers and former CDL players alike to make a statement and shoot to the top of the wishlist for teams that need to make roster changes. The four teams that made it out of the Challengers play-in event are Elevate, Decimate, the Los Angeles Guerrillas Academy team, and Pollodrom.
Elevate, whose roster consists of Denza, Vortex, Harry, and Gismo, are coming off a victory at the Challengers Europe Cup No. 2. The team went 2-0 yesterday during qualifiers, taking down Decimate and EXM to clinch a spot in this weekends major. Both Harry and Gismo spent time with the Royal Ravens, while Denza and Vortex are looking to make the jump up to the CDL for the first time. Elevate will take on the Boston Breach to start their tournament in Group D.
Decimate had to bounce back from their loss to Elevate in the first round of the winners bracket, taking down Awobabos and EXM to punch their ticket. Decimate features a lineup of 2ReaL, Hollow, Mock, and Uli. 2ReaL spent time with the Florida Mutineers last season while Hollow was a part of OpTic Gaming Los Angeles during the inaugural 2020 CDL season. Longtime pro player and CoD world champion Parasite acts as the teams head coach. The team is coming off of a top-eight finish at the Challengers NA Cup No. 2. They will take on the Minnesota RØKKR to start in Group A.
The LAG Academy team waltzed through their bracket with a 6-1 map count over D1 Gaming and Minnesota RØKKR Academy. This squad might be the most decorated with Assault, Diamondcon, and Exceed all spending time in the CDL and Assault winning the 2018 world championship with Evil Geniuses, while rookie JoeDeceives rounds out the roster. LAG Academy will face FaZe in Group C to start their hopeful run.
Pollodrom had to fight back through the elimination bracket, taking down D1 Gaming and RØKKR Academy to punch their ticket to the main event. The Spanish team features JurNii, SupeR, YaKo, and Lucky. Both JurNii and Lucky have spent time in the CDL with Atlanta and Toronto, respectively, while SupeR and YaKo are longtime veterans looking to break into the league. Pollodrom will face off with Toronto in Group B.
There are plenty of talented Challengers players competing in this tournament, many of whom are trying to get back into the CDL or join the professional ranks for the first time. This tournament is a unique opportunity for these teams and players since no Challengers teams have been invited to a Major tournament before this season (outside of the midseason Pro-Am last year). There is no doubt these players will be looking to put their stamp on the event.
The first Major of the 2023 Call of Duty League season will take place from Dec. 15 to 18.