Signing European Challengers Talent Is A Step In The Right Direction For The CDL
Since the inception of the Call of Duty League (CDL), the majority of the 12 franchises competing have frequently overlooked amateur European talent that has been achieving success in Challengers, the second tier of Call of Duty esports.
Despite several players regularly featuring in the podium places in the Open tournaments, franchises continue to settle for proven North American players that may be past their prime rather than taking a risk on promising young prospects and European veterans that are no strangers to competing at the highest level.
Just as it looked like very few European names would be competing and coaching in the 2022 CDL season, a number of franchises have come to their senses and recruited some of the continent’s best talents into their team ahead of what could be another highly competitive season. With the likes of the Seattle Surge and the New York Subliners calling on Europe, it’s about time that franchises begin to utilise an immensely deep talent pool to their advantage.
Insight: The Talk Of The Town
Perhaps the best example of a European player being drafted into a roster and instantly making an impact is Toronto Ultra's signing of Jamie "Insight" Craven during the Black Ops Cold War season. While many had never even heard of, or watched, Insight in action, he immediately stamped his authority on the opposition and displayed incredible slaying ability with the Krig 6 assault rifle in hand.
The addition was met with plenty of scepticism from fans and analysts, but as soon as the Ultra managed to win the Stage 2 Major, the franchise’s decision to sign Insight was a stroke of genius. It transformed a team struggling to pull away from the mid-table battle into a regular championship contender.
Plenty Of Unsigned Talent
Even though Insight quickly became a mainstay in the CDL since his arrival, there are a number of unsigned players residing in Europe that are more than capable of competing against and alongside the household names from North America. A prime example of a European player continuing to be overlooked is Stephen "Vortex" Allan - a player that has dominated Challengers for the last two years as well as finishing fourth at the 2016 world championship.
Armed with an average placing of 2.5 and 32 out of a possible 64 tournament wins, Vortex is arguably the best European player without a spot on a starting line-up, which is criminal. Why is a player with a proven track record of winning still left battling it out in Challengers when they could easily mix it up with the best in the world?
It’s safe to say a lack of expansion is partly responsible for a lack of opportunity for European Challengers players to take the next step to the top of the Call of Duty mountain but with several North American veterans beginning to call time on their careers, it’s the perfect time for franchises to invest in talent from elsewhere.
Europe's Coaching Prowess
Since the switch to a franchised model, the coaching staff has become an increasingly important ingredient in the recipe for success, with teams often recruiting coaches and analysts to ensure players are performing at their best. While there may not be many European players in the CDL, plenty of teams have acquired the services of European coaches to great effect.
Mark "MarkyB" Bryceland and Ryan "Flux" Oldfield have been instrumental in engineering the success of Toronto in 2021 and for 2022, former player Ehsan "DREAL" Javed has joined the New York Subliners as the team’s performance coach.
DREAL may not be a name many have heard of but he has achieved a wealth of success in European Challengers coaching the likes of Team Singularity and Elevate. The newly appointed Subliners performance coach is partly responsible for highlighting the immense talent of French phenom Paco "HyDra" Rusiewiez. Now reunited with HyDra alongside the iconic partnership of Ian "Crimsix" Porter, and James "Clayster" Eubanks, DREAL’s experience in Challengers is going to play an instrumental role as New York attempts to dethrone the Atlanta FaZe as the very best team in the CDL.
Will More European Talent Make It?
Based on the incredible depth of European talent continuing to compete in Challengers, it’s only a matter of time until more teams take a leaf out of Toronto’s playbook and recruit some of the best players on the continent to showcase their skills on the biggest stage in Call of Duty esports.
As the inevitable expansion draws closer, there are only so many North American talents to build teams around, so why not take the plunge and invest into a group of hugely talented European players and begin a new era where Europe finally overtakes North American as the very best region in all of competitive Call of Duty?