Takeaways From The 2022 CDL Kickoff Classic
After a lengthy off-season, the Call of Duty League (CDL) came roaring into life as it gears up for its third season of competition. While players and fans may not be the biggest fans of Vanguard, excitement surrounding the pre-season Kickoff Classic was high as all 12 teams faced off on LAN for the first time in 2022.
The event featured everything from incredible clutches to shock results, laying the foundations for what’s looking to be another hotly-contested year of competitive action with more teams than ever doing battle towards the top of the league table. As the dust settles on the first competitive outing for Vanguard, here are a few takeaways from the Kickoff Classic and how the pre-season event highlighted some of the positive elements of Sledgehammer Games’ latest release.
Seattle's Impressive Turnaround
Despite hiring several world champions in the first two CDL seasons, Seattle Surge took a gamble by overhauling its roster, bringing in a range of Challengers talent in the latest bid to turn the tide of its disappointing run of form. Lamar "Accuracy" Abedi joined the team from the bench of Minnesota ROKKR alongside former New York Subliner Makenzie "Mack" Kelley, Daunte "Sib" Gray, and ex-Renegades player Amer "Pred" Zulbeari.
On paper, the lack of mainstage experience may have hindered the Surge but after a spell of solid online practice, the team kicked off the season with a convincing sweep of the London Royal Ravens before taking down defending champions Atlanta FaZe, and the New York Subliners to book their place in the finals against Toronto Ultra. While they were unable to take home the title, Surge’s showing was a sign that the team was finally on the front foot after two years of holding up the rest of the league table. The rookies of Sib and Pred proved their worth in spades, with their relentless speed and mechanical understanding making them a formidable slaying partnership. We will have to wait and see if they can maintain the momentum heading into the Major 1 qualifiers that start on February 4.
Further Disappointment For Paris
In contrast to Seattle’s upturn in form, the Kickoff Classic showed that Paris Legion continues to be the laughing stock of the CDL despite overhauling its roster from last season. A 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Thieves bought an abrupt end to their pre-season campaign, far from ideal when its rivals have made significant progress during the off-season between Black Ops Cold War and Vanguard.
With another season of potential disappointment looming, is it time for the Legion’s owners to wave au revoir to the CDL? With other regions lacking support despite having a passionate amateur community packed with talent, is it time for an Australian franchise to take the slot to open the league to new areas of the world? We’ve already seen the impact Pred has made on the big stage and considering the rich history of APAC Call of Duty over the last decade, a team comprising of familiar names and new talent waiting to get the chance to prove themselves could be a great move for all involved.
Toronto: The Early Frontrunners
After Seattle usurped Atlanta, all eyes were on Toronto Ultra, one of the few teams that opted to stick with its roster from the previous season. Ultra dispatched the Florida Mutineers with relative ease and overcame the LA Thieves to secure its first finals of the year. Momentum was in full swing for a team that came close to becoming the first all-European roster to win a world championship and it showed against the Surge. Unmatched chemistry and teamwork prevailed in a clinical 3-1 victory to secure the $30,000 prize.
Based on Toronto’s win, it’s clear to see that the Ultra is one of at least three teams likely to contend for championship glory throughout the Vanguard season. Despite the flaws of the game, Ultra has started the season on the front foot, and if the form can be built upon, this team is going to be incredibly difficult to beat.
Snipers Belong In Competitive Call Of Duty
The concept of an entire weapon category being restricted from competitive play is nothing new in Call of Duty, but when the category is sniper rifles, fans and players were quick to share the pros and cons of their inclusion into the competitive ruleset. The weapons capable of swinging momentum with a single bullet were added to the notorious Gentlemen’s Agreement (GA) prior to the Kickoff Classic taking place, but after further consideration, the rifles were allowed to be used, much to the approval of the community.
Their inclusion into competitive Vanguard added to the high-octane spectacle that is Call of Duty esports. Whether it was an opening pick through the tightest of angles at the beginning of a Search & Destroy round or a quick-scope clutch that sent the fans wild, it’s fair to say that sniper rifles belong in competitive Call of Duty, even if they are deemed to be overpowered in some capacity.