Best Series Of CDL 2021: Dallas Empire Vs Toronto Ultra
Mayhem vs calculation. Magic vs science. Masters vs Prodigies. Dallas Empire vs Toronto Ultra.
One team basked in the chaos during the Black Ops Cold War era, whilst another re-scripted the playbook for good, and as both sides looked to get one hand on the Call of Duty World Championships trophy, two worlds collided to make one moshpit of the highest quality and entertainment.
Matches throughout the season tossed up some unforgettable moments, and Toronto Ultra and Minnesota Rokkr were never too far from the action, especially when the two met in the Stage 5 Grand Finals, now dubbed as the Rokkr Resurrection. But when the cookie crumbles at the World Championships, the season goes out of the window, and only the winners go down in Call of Duty folklore.
With fans back in the arenas for just the second time of the entire season, the online under-hype was ridiculed and Call of Duty was poised to return to its scintillating best, and the stakes were higher than ever before. Meeting in the Elimination Finals were Dallas Empire and Toronto Ultra. One would go home, one would make it to the Grand Finals and a shot at $1.2million. What happened next was the most closely contested series of the year, with an unforgettable Map 4 Hardpoint masterclass.
Champions Back For Glory
After being crowned 2020 World Champions on Modern Warfare, Ian "Crimsix" Porter and the Dallas Empire were rather out of sorts throughout the five stages of the season, being forced into multiple roster changes and struggling with the transition to four versus four. However, a return to the live arenas had Crimsix feeling his best, and Anthony "Shotzzy" Cuevas-Castro was beginning to fire on all cylinders once again.
Finding form at just the right time, Crimsix eyed his fourth ring, and Dallas Empire, who had already bettered Toronto Ultra in the upper bracket Round 2, were more prepared than they had been all season long.
Tipping The Tables
Toronto Ultra, however, were quite the opposite. Having been a pillar of consistency throughout the season after making just the single roster change following Stage 1, finding the top 3 on each of the last four stages including one Major win, the all-European roster was humiliated in their last time out on LAN. The aforementioned Rokkr Resurrection loomed largely in the back of Ultra's minds, having been victims of their own downfalls, losing a 4-0 map advantage.
Entering the World Championships, Toronto Ultra had more questions surrounding them than any other team in the tournament. From second favourites, their position had wobbled significantly, with many wondering how they would overcome such a loss. A first game loss to Dallas made their World Championships look bleak, but a fighting comeback was typical of Toronto's season, and a revenge tour against OpTic, then Minnesota Rokkr, set up a grand-stand Elimination Finals versus Dallas to make it to the Grand Final.
With Atlanta FaZe waiting in the sidelines, the two contrasting playstyles went to work. Dallas centring around the chaos of Shotzzy, Ultra waiting for the calls of Ben "Bance" Bance to put their moves into motion. It was set to be a clash for the ages, and it didn't disappoint.
Map one and two went as expected. A Garisson Hardpoint kicked things off, Ultra's worst map and game mode combined against a notoriosly slick and punishing Dallas Empire. Slick performances from Shotzzy, Crimsix, and Indervir "iLLeY" Dhaliwal left Ultra limited to just 141 points, with all three players going with a 1.4 K/D ratio or higher.
Back to their bread and butter on Search and Destroy, Toronto put the sword to Dallas, with Tobias "CleanX" Juul Jønsson dropping ten kills in nine rounds to take the tie 6-3 and square up the match.
That was just about it for the ordinary in this tie. The third map, a Raid Control, turned into a slaughter-fest, with the individual performance of Cameron "Cammy" McKilligan being the decisive. Swinging like a pendulem, each side drew their quiver and pierced an arrow into the hearts of the other, 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, last minute heroics on each round to keep the defences strong and brilliant punishing attacks. Having started the game double negative at 12-25, Cammy's single-handed turnaround was nothing short of miraculous. Turning the tie on its head by going 21-4 for the latter half of the game, the seasonal MVP candidate diminished the Empire, with his Cruise Missile and Artillery barrage being the decisive blows to get his time onto the objective and to take the tie 2-3 (1-2 in games).
With Ultra on map point, cue one of the greatest Hardpoint comebacks of the year in Map 4. Back on Toronto's playground that is Raid, neither side could nail down a hill, with the momentum being smashed to smithereens every twenty seconds. Having been neck and neck for the entire bout, Toronto finally opened up a large 60-point lead with the control of Garage, and with just 11 points needed to book themselves a Grand Final appearance, Dallas Empire had other ideas. In the words of legendary caster Miles Ross, "we're witnessing a break-down", as Dallas poured into the final objective to slash back at Ultra's lead. Despite breaks from Ultra to force 248 points, Dallas' complete and utter determination and chaos combined with close spawns saw Crimsix and iLLeY pave the way for Shotzzy and Reece "Vivid" Drost to close out the remarkable comeback and level the game to a Search and Destroy shootout.
An old-school battleground was the decisive nature for these two teams as they steamrolled towards Grand Finals on Express. For Search and Destroy, this had everything. Never more than two-round difference, Ninja Defuses, 1v1 clutches, bomb-site retakes, the sides traded blow after blow. Despite the Empire striking back in Map 4, the Kings of the North proved too tough of opponents for the stormtroopers, and with the unofficial Rookie of the Year Jamie "Insight" Craven notching up a 9-2 scoreline, Ultra squashed the sith and moved onto the top two teams in the world.
For what could have been a cagey affair riddled with nerves, the Elimination Finals between Dallas Empire and Toronto Ultra showcased perfect Call of Duty, and goes down as our Series of the Year.