Call of Duty League | The Event
The Call of Duty League will return after an extended holiday weekend layover with the first matchups of Stage Five, the final competition of the season before the World Championships.
Stage Five Group Play will return to an online format while bracket play at the Major will be held on a local area network, just as the Stage Four Major was.
Group A is the tougher of the two groups and features Atlanta FaZe, New York Subliners, OpTic Chicago, London Royal Ravens, Paris Legion, and Los Angeles Thieves.
The FaZe are the undeniable favorites, having reached all four championship matches in every stage, and winning three, including the most recent event. They are 30-4 this season and are beginning to rival the dynasties of compLexity in Black Ops 2 and OpTic Gaming in Black Ops 3 and Infinite Warfare.
The New York Subliners will be another heavy hitter as Asim returns to the lineup, having sorted out visa issues that restricted him to his native Canada and thereby missing the Stage Four Major. New York looked nothing like themselves when he was gone, showing just how integral this overlooked star is to his team’s success.
OpTic Chicago will be another team to watch; they have dominated easier opposition and performed very poorly against the top dogs despite the overwhelming talent on their roster. Two series losses to the rival Dallas Empire knocked OpTic out of the Stage Four Major in fourth place, a position that they have not been able to eclipse this season.
The Thieves made another major roster change for what seems like the tenth time, bringing in former world champion John and Drazah for Huke and TJHaly.
The Legion and Ravens are 10th and 11th in the league and are set up for failure in the coming weeks.
The Dallas Empire headline Group B; they pushed FaZe to a final map in a best-of-nine series in the Stage Four Major Championship match. They are also in second place for the season, just five points ahead of Toronto Ultra, and will have one last chance to improve their positioning for the World Championship.
Toronto has been the surprise of the season, with mid-season addition Insight putting them over the edge and helping them win the Stage Two Major. They could very well end up on top of the group, and it would be to nobody’s surprise.
The rest of the teams— Minnesota Rokkr, Florida Mutineers, Seattle Surge, and Los Angeles Guerillas— are all somewhere between mediocre and bad. This group has a two-horse race between Dallas and Toronto, and the rest will fall where they may.
Call of Duty League | Expectations
Atlanta, New York, Dallas, and Toronto will be expected to dominate; OpTic could improve its stock with wins over one of the first two if not both, but their regular-season performance does not inspire confidence in that.
With qualifying being restricted to the top eight teams in the league, the Guerillas, Legion, Royal Ravens, and Surge are essentially guaranteed to miss the World Championships, regardless of their performance in this stage. The players will be playing for pride and a contract, though they are likely to underperform their low expectations with an off-season vacation on the horizon.
The LA Thieves will be the team to watch out of pure intrigue over their new signings; if everything clicks, they have enough talent to rival the best in the game; if it does not, they could easily finish with a losing record in their group.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.