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The Story Of John: The Return Of A Legend

Images courtesy of MLG | Activision | LA Thieves

Written by 

Jonno Nicholson

Posted 

9th Jul 2021 19:30

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When it comes to Call of Duty players that are considered some of the greatest of all time, there is one name that often slips the net. While the likes of James “Clayster” Eubanks and Damon “Karma” Barlow are always in the conversation, Johnathon “John” Perez is rarely mentioned despite being one of the most successful professional players of the past decade. Armed with an incredible understanding of the game combined with levels of aggression that are often unmatched, John is still considered to be one of the best submachine slayers, and with his return to competitive play as part of the Los Angeles Thieves, many members of the community are eagerly awaiting his return to the highest tier of competitive Call of Duty.

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For many new viewers, John won’t be a name that is familiar but for those that have followed COD esports for several years, it’s understandable to see why there are high levels of anticipation surrounding his return to action. A number of players have returned after some time on the sidelines with varying degrees of success and with the turbulent form of the Thieves, the pressure is on John in order to rekindle his form in the run-up to the season-ending playoffs.

Here’s how John managed to overcome the adversity that stood in his way in order to return to the highest level of COD esports.

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Bursting Onto The Scene

John first appeared into the competitive scene all the way back in 2011 as part of the Team FeaR roster that achieved third and second-place finishes at MLG Columbus and MLG Anaheim before taking victory at MLG Raleigh. Despite the strong performance at Raleigh, John and FeaR were unable to end the Black Ops season on a high after a top-eight placement at the 2011 MLG National Championship. Even though the end of his inaugural season ended in disappointment, managing to win a tournament at John’s fourth attempt is no mean feat.

Despite a lack of developer support for the Modern Warfare 3 season, John managed to continue winning, taking victory at the UMG Invitational in 2012. This would be John’s only win of the Modern Warfare 3 season but he had managed to make his mark on a highly competitive North American region. The high-impact slaying capable of turning the course of a match on its head saw John stand out from the crowd on a number of occasions and heading into the Black Ops 2 season, John departed Team FeaR and joined Fariko Impact for Frag Cup IV, the largest online Call of Duty tournament to take place.

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John continued where he left off from Modern Warfare 3, managing to decimate any opposition that stood in his way. After a brief stint on Fariko Impact, John returned to Team FeaR for the inaugural world championships where he and the rest of the team managed to finish fifth. Still without a championship victory on Black Ops 2, John joined Epsilon eSports, a team that had just seen Karma depart for pastures new. He and the team finished third at UMG Atlanta, the home of the infamous “KiLLA Choo-Choo Train.”

After the train had departed the platform, John left Epsilon and joined Vanquish Gaming. While the team didn’t feature the star-studded talent of his previous team, John and Vanquish managed to win UMG Dallas, defeating SoaR Gaming in the Grand Final. John’s Black Ops 2 season may not have featured the levels of success expected of him, but he was still able to show that tournament victories were never far from reach.

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A Downward Run Of Form

Heading into the Ghosts season, John was hot property and after a strong conclusion to the Black Ops 2 season, he joined Curse New York for the 2013 MLG Fall Championship where he and the team scored a top-24 placement, far from optimal considering the late-season successes under the Vanquish banner. John bounced around a number of teams including Denial eSports and Team Elevate before settling on Strictly Business for the remainder of the 2014 season. A top-six finish at UGC Niagara would be the highlight of the season, making Ghosts the first title since John started competing where he was unable to take home a championship.

Late 2014 saw the release of Advanced Warfare, a complete overhaul of traditional Call of Duty gameplay and mechanics. Out were the days of boots-on-the-ground combat and in were the days of exo-boosting and double-jumping across the virtual battlefield. With high hopes of regaining some of that explosive slaying that put him on the map, John kicked off the 2015 season with a respectable top-12 finish at MLG Columbus.

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Results quickly improved thanks to several top-four finishes in online competition and online performance turned into offline improvements with Strictly Business securing a top-eight finish at UMG Orlando. Even though the start of Advanced Warfare was a solid step back towards the top of North American Call of Duty, another top-12 result at the 2015 world championship quickly followed by another top-12 at the Gfinity Spring Masters saw John’s performance plateau, much to the surprise of the community that thought the increase in pace would suit his playstyle perfectly.

After the Spring Masters, John and the rest of his team left Strictly Business to join vVv Gaming. UMG California saw another upturn in form to the top eight but John was still well out of reach of the North American powerhouses such as OpTic Gaming that were dominating Advanced Warfare. Yet another top-eight finish at UMG Dallas marked the end of John’s time on vVv and in a bid to rescue what had been another disappointing season, John joined Enigma 6. Unfortunately, placements went from average, to much worse. On his brief tenure as an E6 member, John placed no higher than the top 20, leaving many questioning whether John was capable of ever contending at the top of the Call of Duty mountain.

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Regular Success Inbound

For Black Ops 3, John found himself on Luminosity Gaming. He and the team managed to qualify for the inaugural CWL Pro League through online qualifications and began the season on the front foot with a second-place finish at UMG South Carolina, a tournament plagued with issues surrounding Bluetooth connectivity. Despite the issues, the result was the closest John had got to a victory for the past two years. The first stage of the Pro League saw Luminosity finish in seventh place and despite the strong start to the season, John had shown signs of brilliance with an SMG equipped and a slightly slower speed in gameplay. The team qualified for the Stage One Playoffs but only managed a top-eight finish. This would be the final straw for John’s time on Luminosity and found his way onto Team Envy, one of the most recognisable names in Call of Duty esports.

Joining Envy would be the turning point for John after several seasons of missing out on the top spot. Even though his time as one of the boys in blue started with another top-eight result at MLG Anaheim, things quickly turned around for John. After an average season, Envy managed to win the Stage Two Playoffs, marking John’s return to the pinnacle of competitive Call of Duty. With a huge weight lifted from his shoulders, John began to shine as the aggressive submachine slayer that saw him burst onto the scene all the way back in 2011. A second place at MLG Orlando was shortly followed by a clinical run through the winner’s bracket at the 2016 world championship where Envy managed to overcome a dominant OpTic Gaming roster in the very first round. With the momentum flowing and John finally getting the opportunity to showcase his talents on the biggest stage, the boys in blue overcame every hurdle in their way to take home the world title. After two years of sub-standard results, John had managed to cement himself as the best SMG slayer on the entire planet. There was no better example of his skill than a clinical ace scored by the 2016 Champs MVP in the Grand Finals.

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Now a household name and with regular success coming in John was now a formidable force to be reckoned with and heading into Infinite Warfare as defending champions, the pressure was on for him and Envy to defend the crown earned in 2016. Just like Black Ops 3, Infinite Warfare was another slow burner for John. A number of surprisingly low results eventually paved the way for a third-place finish at CWL Atlanta but those results quickly went downhill at CWL Paris, where the defending world champions dropped into the top 12 once again. Even though the high levels of consistency weren’t there combined with rumours of a roster change coming before the end of the season, John and Envy managed to stick it out until the end of the season where a second-place finish at the Stage Two Playoffs seemed to lay the foundations for an unprecedented defence of his Black Ops 3 ring earned a year before. Much to everyone’s surprise, Envy managed to find themselves in the Grand Finals in what appeared to be a surprise defence of the Black Ops 3 title. Standing in their way was OpTic Gaming, a team brimming with momentum and when the finals took place it showed. John and the rest of the team were unable to send the Green Wall crashing down but John appearing in back-to-back finals seemed to have halted his turbulent form.

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A Sudden Disappearance

Black Ops 4 would be the final full season of competition for John before suddenly disappearing from the Call of Duty limelight, much to the surprise of the community that had seen him transform from a player regularly scoring average results to one that had nearly won consecutive world championships. Prior to his absence, he rejoined Luminosity where he scored a solitary victory at CWL Fort Worth thanks to utilizing the metagame to their advantage. Fort Worth would be the final victory for John at an Activision-sanctioned event until March 2021.

After revealing that he had been suffering from health issues, John stated that he would eventually make his return when he felt capable of competing and in March he managed to continue where he left off by taking victory in Stage 2 of the North American Challengers Elite circuit under the EastR banner. John was back with a bang and after taking another victory at the third Open Challengers event of the Black Ops Cold War season, it was revealed that John would be joining the Los Angeles Thieves, much to the excitement of the community that had been longing for his return at the highest tier of competition.

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A New Chapter

The New York Home Series will kick off the fifth and final stage of the 2021 CDL season and John will be playing an integral role in providing some kind of stability to the LA Thieves, a team that has made the most roster changes out of all 12 teams competing. Now back at full fitness, John’s slaying prowess has the potential to set the CDL alight once again, making his return one of the most exciting to take place in recent years.

John has seen it all when it comes to Call of Duty esports. From the heights of winning a world championship all the way down to finishing high-stakes events with disappointing placements. Regardless of his past achievements, John now has the chance to rescue what has been a period of turbulence for the LA Thieves and with the Playoffs secured, there is every opportunity for John and the Thieves to steal a shock victory at the season-ending CDL Championships.

 

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Can The Los Angeles Guerrillas Contend For Titles In 2022?

Call of Duty League

Written by 

Jonno Nicholson

Posted 

10th Sep 2021 19:22

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