Call Of Duty League 2022: Week 1 Preview
The pre-season Kickoff Classic laid the foundations for what’s expected to be a thrilling 2022 Call of Duty League (CDL) season. After Toronto Ultra emerged from the pre-season tournament as champions, attention quickly turned to the start of the regular-season competition. The Vanguard season has seen further changes to the format, with all 12 teams competing in three weeks of online matches to determine seeding for the first of four Majors taking place throughout the season.
With a change of setting combined with further Vanguard updates from Sledgehammer Games, there’s a possibility of overlooked rosters to get the season started on the front foot while others will be looking to continue the precedent set during the pre-season LAN. Here, we take a deep dive ahead of the first week of online CDL action.
CDL Week 1: A Closer Look
Out of all the teams competing, Minnesota Røkkr, Boston Breach, and Los Angeles Thieves only play once, giving them one chance to earn 10 CDL Points. Røkkr faces off against an OpTic Texas roster already feeling the pressure after losing to the Thieves at the Kickoff Classic while Boston takes on the LA Guerrillas, a roster packed with talent looking to find its stride on Vanguard. Arguably the most difficult of the three fixtures, LA Thieves plays defending champions Atlanta FaZe, but after Thieves managed to take its match against Toronto to a game-five decider, there’s an opportunity for a team that’s flown under the radar to score its first points of 2022.
In addition to those with one match in the opening week, some rosters have the perfect opportunity to start the season with the maximum haul of 20 CDL Points. Having taken a look at each fixture, the Florida Mutineers has a great chance of doing so with matches against the London Royal Ravens and Paris Legion. Both opponents dropped out of the Kickoff Classic at the first hurdle and with minimal time between the event and online matches, it’s hard to see anything other than the Mutineers heading towards the top of the table at the end of week one.
Toronto, Atlanta, And Seattle: The Early Frontrunners
Following on from the Kickoff Classic, Toronto, Atlanta, and Seattle Surge all impressed, particularly the Surge who has finally managed to reverse its fortunes after two years of attempting to find success with household names many considered to be past their prime. Armed with a new batch of immensely talented youngsters, the Vanguard season could be the breakthrough Surge has been looking for since 2020.
Atlanta FaZe may not have won the Kickoff Classic, but it’s difficult to write off the 2021 champions completely, having seen them in action in one best-of-five series. Despite the loss to Seattle, the fast pace of Vanguard suits the deadly SMG duo of Chris "Simp" Lehr and Tyler "aBeZy" Pharris while Alec "Arcitys" Sanderson operates as the main assault rifle player and McArthur "Cellium" Jovel slots in between as FaZe’s selfless flex player. With a chance of becoming back-to-back champions, Atlanta will be intent on brushing off their defeat to Seattle and looking ahead to locking in the top seed for the opening Major of the year.
Throughout 2021, Toronto Ultra was hot on the heels of Atlanta, narrowly losing to them in the CDL Championship finals. Fresh from taking victory at the Kickoff Classic, Ultra is primed for another season battling towards the top of the league table as one of the few rosters to stick with its Black Ops Cold War lineup. After a turbulent 2021 season, Ben "Bance" Bance has discovered a rich vein of form that was clear to see during the opening tournament. If he can keep pace alongside the rest of the team, there’s every chance Toronto can go one better and take home a championship in Texas.
Potential Struggles For London And Paris?
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It’s tricky to determine the performance of certain CDL teams on Vanguard due to the single-elimination format of the Kickoff Classic, but it’s safe to say that another sub-standard season for the London Royal Ravens could be on the cards if performances don’t turn around quickly. Despite capitalising on the new talents of Byron "Nastie" Plumridge and Joey "Gismo" Owen, the Ravens were swept aside by an in-form Seattle Surge. The team might be adapting to the nuances of Vanguard but if they don’t do so quickly, the Ravens won’t be spreading their wings anytime soon.
The same can be said for Paris Legion. While the franchise opted for a fresh start with a new set of four players, the team was unable to fire on all cylinders despite Jacob "Decemate" Cato’s stellar showing. Kicking off the season against Atlanta and Florida could result in a pointless opening week for Paris unless some kind of corner has been turned in scrims.
Three Matches That Will Steal The Show
With a total of ten matches taking place over three days, the opening week of online play features matches that could easily steal the show thanks to the evenly-matched nature of the teams involved. For day one, I’ve selected the New York Subliners against Seattle Surge. Both squads feature that explosive slaying ability while NYSL has experience on its side. It has all the makings of a potential classic.
The second day features a rematch of the Kickoff Classic final between Surge and Ultra, two teams that will go toe-to-toe until the very last second. Seattle will look to avenge its loss to Toronto from a few weeks ago while the all-European roster has an excellent chance to keep the momentum rolling into the Major.
The third and final match set to be a banger involves Atlanta FaZe facing off against the LA Thieves. Kenneth "Kenny" Williams has rekindled the form that saw him spring onto the scene back in the World War 2 season, making him a formidable force to go against the likes of Simp and aBeZy. Will FaZe come out on top or can the Thieves steal a victory against a tough opponent in their opening match?