Who Are The Best Call Of Duty Esports Players Ever?
Call of Duty esports is defined by microsecond decisions and teamwork that prevails until one team is crowned World Champions, year upon year. With the stakes now higher than ever, more money and investment than ever before, few players have stood the test of time and enjoyed continuous success at the highest level.
So, who are the best Call of Duty esports players ever?
5 – Jordan "JKap" Kaplan
There was only space on the list for two players outside of the elitist “Three Rings Club”, leaving much competition for the fifth slot.
Names such as Matthew “FormaL” Piper, Patrick “ACHES” Price, and Bryan “Apathy” Zhelyazkov could have all made fifth place too, but JKap’s consistency until Modern Warfare 2019 has earned him a seat at the table.
Kaplan has been a consistent top-calibre player since March 2010, where he signed for Xtravagant during the Modern Warfare 2 era. Just as Call of Duty esports began to form, JKap posted up two top-three finishes in major tournaments, before the time of a world championship.
Multiple spells at OpTic Gaming and Team Envy are where JKap really put his name on the map, appearing in three back-to-back world championship grand finals, in which he won two rings.
JKap goes down in the history books as one of the most solid players in the game, and whilst not being one for flashy plays, his role and leadership qualities have seen him define the in-game leader role in Call of Duty esports, evident by ten major wins, two of which were World Championships and a whopping prize collection of roughly $700,000.
Now coaching the LAThieves, Kap’s legacy is one that shall not be forgotten.
4 – Seth "Scump" Abner
Whilst many on this list derive their success from rings, Scump’s one World Championship doesn’t reflect the in-game skill that he possesses – although his ring erases any doubts that he shouldn’t dine amongst the CoD gods.
For many, Scump is the most skilled player to ever play Call of Duty esports - and still is.
Skill does come with glory too, and in Scump’s case, a bucket load of it.
Having played the majority of his Call of Duty career at OpTic Gaming (barring a total of three months since 2011 and the season at Chicago Huntsmen following Hecz’s selling of OpTic), Scump articulates everything achieved at the organisation that is a hallmark of Call of Duty. As the second “most winningest” player of all time with 28 major championships under his belt, Scump has also been in numerous All-Star nominated teams, namely on three consecutive occasions in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Having a knack for being the outstanding player of the series, and making moments of magic in games, Scump will forever be a top-five Call of Duty professional, and should he add another World Championship, could climb even higher up the ranks.
For Scump, his current position sees him as the “Veteran Player of the Year” 2020 and considered as one of the top players in the league, bound to take home more gold medals.
3 – James "Clayster" Eubanks
The first of the infamous Three Rings Club is Clayster, who despite being of veteran status, remains arguably the best player on the list at the time of writing. As a reigning World Champion, Clayster’s New York Subliners roster, which revolves around his own guidance, placed second in the CDL Stage III Major, showing that he’s still in tip-top shape.
For Clay, his early showings at compLexity went almost unnoticed, despite being a successful part of the roster. However, it was CoD: Ghosts and Advanced Warfare where Clay began to shine. In a season of utter chaos in the Rostermania department, Clayster found himself on OpTic Gaming for the X Games Series, in which the roster took home the first-ever X Games gold medals.
As a stalwart player, OpTic’s decision to remove Clay from the roster surprised everyone, and he found himself bouncing from Team Envy to Denial. Here, Clayster, alongside teammate JKap, took home the 2015 World Championships, where he was named MVP and even knocked out former teammates OpTic.
Clay’s success did stutter for some time, with lengthy stints at both FaZe and eUnited seeing him named in the CWL Pro League All-Star team between 2016 and 2018, but with no World Championships success. It was only until 2019 in Black Ops 4 where Clayster marshalled his pair of duos to success, embedding the tiny terrors and Sanderson brothers to success. In the final year of non-franchised CoD, eUnited stomped their way through the opposition, eventually beating 100 Thieves and taking home a second ring for Clay.
Going back-to-back, Clay’s time as the oldest player in the league ended with yet another ring, this time on the Dallas Empire roster. Alongside an array of talent, he was able to set aside many of his former teammates on the road to victory, coming out with yet another trophy, and, most importantly, the respect he deserved as one of the best players ever in Call of Duty esports history.
2 - Damon "Karma" Barlow
Similar to JKap, Karma’s high-quality consistency has him rated so highly in the minds of many, and if it wasn’t for his retirement, he could well have been considered for number one.
There’s no doubt though that Karma was, for a large part of Call of Duty’s history, the best player in the game.
Just as the Call of Duty esports scene began to kick off, it was Karma that was grabbing all of the headlines. The Canadian flex really put his name on the map after an infamous 28-killstreak on Hardpoint Yemen, versus Enigma Gaming, which to this day stands as the longest time without dying by any professional player nine years on. His Ninja defuse on Meltdown just added to a highlight reel that had Karma in a league of his own, eventually winning the first-ever CoD World Championships as part of Fariko Gaming.
Playing by the motto of "Hate losing more than you love winning", Karma’s reign as the best player in the game continued as he played a pivotal part in two of the best dynasties in the history of the game. After being snatched up by a compLexity roster that dominated the end of the Black Ops 2 era and the start of the CoD: Ghosts season, Karma and his teammates became almost untouchable. With the roster picked up by Evil Geniuses, Karma went back-to-back by winning the first two World Championships, putting two rings on his hand.
It took three years for Karma to get his hands on his next ring, although his time at OpTic Gaming was not without success. Over his time at OpTic, Karma won 17 major championships, but question marks were cast over their success, having fallen to Cloud9 in the Black Ops 3 Champs at the Quarterfinal stage. Going into the Infinite Warfare era, it was on Karma and co. to win the world championships and cement themselves as the greatest dynasty of all time.
That they did. Karma got his third and final ring against Team Envy, becoming the first player ever to do it three times.
Many regard Karma as the greatest player of all time, and with good reason. For the early years of Call of Duty, Karma was the best player around.
1 – Ian "Crimsix" Porter
Crimsix sealed the deal as the undisputed GOAT of Call of Duty following the retirement of former teammate and dynasty partner Karma, having now joined the elite group of The Three Rings, and topping the charts for most major championship titles won and total prize money earned.
Crim also began his career out in Black Ops 2, being a part of the compLexity dynasty that would miss out on the World Championships before taking over every other competitive event in that year.
Much of Karma’s success was down to Crimsix, and vice versa, as both players teamed at coL and OpTic, which saw them win two World Championships together. Crim left compLexity before Karma, joining an OpTic Gaming roster and enjoying instant success in Advanced Warfare, before being reunited and embarking on the journey that has them both down in the history books for being a part of the four-man roster to conquer the world.
However, as Karma’s career dipped following Infinite Warfare and the change to 5v5, Crimsix was far from done.
After a rotten WW2 season for OpTic, Crimsix parted way with the organisation, and at the start of the franchised Modern Warfare era, he joined Dallas Empire. Alongside former teammate Clayster and some young guns, C6 continued a story of success, eventually winning his third World Championship and defining him as the greatest player ever.
Still, C6 continues to win events, having placed first in Stage 1 of the CDL 2021, proving that the Porterhouse is out for number four, which will cancel any doubts that he deserves his seat on the throne.
Having surpassed $1million in prize money and wearing the title of the ‘most winningest’ player ever with 37 gold medals, Ian “Crimsix” Porter is the best Call of Duty player ever.
Header Image via MLG | CDL | Activision