Jukeyz Discusses NA Tour, Warzone League, Caldera Hate, And His Favourite Meta
Born and raised in the suburbs of West Derby, spitting distance away from Liverpool FC's training ground where the shadow of the Liver bird casts over its people, Liam "Jukeyz" James has set his sights on conquering the world, just as his beloved football team is doing year upon year. But, less than a five-minute drive from the streets of Croxteth, the 25-year-old is armed with nothing but a PlayStation controller. While the Liverpudlian lad would often be heard chanting 'The Fields of Anfield Road' from his mum's box room - the Big Apple beckoned. Just one lengthy flight from John Lennon Airport and the content creator had his first taste of the success built on the back of Call of Duty: Warzone.
Despite being terrified of flying, there's no turbulence in the way Jukeyz chops around the maps in Warzone, and in partnership with Red Bull, the London Royal Ravens superstar flew the UK banner over to America, as part of a brand-new series labelled "See Me In NA".
Now, upon his return to the room where "he belongs", we caught up with Jukeyz to discuss everything from meeting fellow Warzone pros for the first, playing in a LAN setting, the future of competitive Warzone, and his favourite ever meta.
See Me In NA
"It all began in New York," Jukeyz explained. But where you might think the trip was all skyscrapers and Times Square, he was more enticed by the gaming side of his tour, and then the occasional snoop around Footlocker.
"We did do some sightseeing, of course. But, shopping, we did a bit. We were supposed to go up the Empire State Building as I had two hours to spare before one of the wagers, but I saw a Footlocker. I was in there for like an hour and a half, and we didn't actually have time to go up after that. There was so much crazy Nike stuff like we get over here," he laughed.
While the Statue of Liberty called his name and the lucrative spoils of the many shops used sales to lure him in, Jukeyz was there to conquer the streets of Caldera, rather than Manhattan.
"To be honest we were there for work, and we spent most of the time gaming. I was just there to actually spend some time playing competitively in America."
When it came to competing across the pond, Jukeyz faced some of the biggest Warzone talents in the world, with NA dominating the competitive scene. The first wager against Alex "Destroy" Benabe and Riley "zSmit" Smith, alongside teammate Kasimili "HiSoka" Tonga Tongamoa, the four met at OS Bar, competing on a LAN setting for the first time.
"I played the best in the first Wager", Jukeyz humbly bragged, despite the format leading to a reverse sweep in favour of his opponents. But for a first-time spar against the heavyweights of America, it showed Jukeyz had the eye of the tiger needed to compete at the highest level.
From New York, the Red Bull rabble packed away their footlocker hauls for a connection to Los Angeles, where Warzone royalty Jordan "HusKerrs" Thomas and Gavin "UnRationaL" Ackley awaited, and Texas where a long-time online friend Thomas "Tommey" Trewren was to be his next opponent with teammate Ben "Almond".
A victory came in against Team HusKerrs, while Destroy and Tommey's duos got a one-map win over the Brits, proving that the competition is as even as ever, especially with a ridiculous final-day K/D ratio of 12.0.
Having been marooned to the indoors for so long throughout the pandemic, Jukeyz also relished the opportunity to finally meet some of these players, who he played alongside and against for years. "It felt like I was just seeing one of my mates. Tommey was one of the first guys I ever watched on Call of Duty and on Twitch, and he's a big inspiration for me. But when I saw him, it wasn't like 'oh my god it's Tommey', I've been speaking to him for years and years, and it felt like we were all mates.
The Future Of Competitive Warzone
The See Me in NA tour did much more than bring West Derby's most prolific shooter over to conquer North America. It also paved the way for a competitive standpoint in Warzone, proving that the skill-gap between regions wasn't as apparent as it may seem, and opening up avenues for the future of Warzone esports.
With a sequel title in the works, Jukeyz now has his eye on a format that will see the world's best players replicate the large-scale LANs seen in Apex Legends and Fortnite, where duos, trios, or quads can gather in an arena to duke it out in one private lobby.
"I think with Warzone is at the moment, with Caldera, the casuals aren't really interested in it because it's too hard, but I think when the new Warzone comes out, if it's going to happen, it needs to happen on there, and we can't be waiting around," said Jukeyz.
"When Warzone 2 comes out, if we just crack on straight away with Major tournaments and LANs, it can work."
The format of Private Lobbies is appetising to Jukeyz, who to this day remains the highest earner of Custom Lobby winnings in the world on Verdansk. "That's my favourite, it's where my heart is," he began.
"In and against the other pros, there's nothing better than getting locked in and get mixed. That's where I want to be, that's where I want Warzone to be! A big league, with teams in custom games where we all fight for it, that's what I want.
The format isn't unfeasible either. We've already seen the Call of Duty league return to live events, and despite playing their Warzone resurgence mid-season play around in an online setting, a combination of both could easily be arranged and begin the path to a fully-fledged Warzone league.
If Jukeyz comes in as a favourite, due to his Verdansk crown, who would be the most formidable opponent? Well, fellow Briton Tommey is top of the list according to Jukeyz, with Almond and Edy "Newbz" Juan, who he described as the "best ever".
Why Does Caldera Get So Much Hate?
"I'm starting to like Caldera now." It's not necessarily an opinion shared by most Warzone players, but in comparison to Rebirth Island, Jukeyz prefers the challenge, and it's quickly paid off.
"Ever since I won the $150k BoomTV TimTheTatman tournament, I've begun to like Caldera, and the updates are making me prefer Caldera at the moment."
"My whole stream says, 'oh get on Rebirth Island, you'll love it', blah blah blah. But you know what I like about Caldera? I like setting a challenge for myself. I enjoy dropping in as a solo and playing against squads of four and trying to break a record. I'm obsessed with doing that at the moment."
It wasn't always like that though, as Jukeyz admitted, "I wasn't enjoying the map until last week," adding that, "there's too much open space," which makes the skill level incredibly inconsistent. Despite this, he's still managed to win the biggest 2v2 kill race to date, and while he yearns for Verdansk to return, putting in the shift on Caldera is becoming increasingly fun, and rewarding.
Jukeyz Favourite Warzone Meta
Since being born over two years ago now, Warzone's metas have been praised, scrutinised, hailed, slaughtered, hated, and loved, with every patch bringing new weapons and class setups to rejig playstyles and the entire flow of a single game.
Whether it be the despised DMR meta, the more calculated Sniper and LMG combination, or a run and gun SMG style, there's been enough for everyone to find a favourite. Surprisingly though, the current combination of Assault Rifle and a sub is Jukeyz favourite, and the recent STG44 and Owen Gun is the one that he's chosen to be the best one yet.
"When Vanguard first came out I was using the STG44 when nobody knew what the meta was, and I was like 'yo, this STG is it'. For me to think it was hitting back then, you should see what it does now, it's so powerful."
But it's more the AR/SMG duo that makes competitive Warzone more fun. "For a player like me who prefers to play fast and sneaky and take on gunfights, I can because I'm good at that as the meta suits me."
Back in his natural habitat of his mum's box room, overlooking the Bill Shankly Playing Fields, the echoes of Shankly's voice ring true. "A lot of success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and make sure you are," and for Jukeyz, the target of being the best Warzone player in the world is the motivation that could see a permanent move to LA on the cards.