The Call of Duty League returned to LAN for the first time in 15 months Thursday afternoon with four matches in the Stage Four Major at the Esports Center in Arlington, Texas.
Seattle Surge vs London Royal Ravens
The first match of the day featured the last-place Seattle Surge and 11th-place London Royal Ravens in a Loser’s Round One matchup, with the loser heading home and the winner living to fight another day.
Seattle proved too much for their European competition, dominating them in respawns and winning 3-1 behind an inspirational performance from Sam “Octane” Larew. Octane’s last full season on LAN culminated with a runners-up trophy at the Black Ops 4 World Championships and the unofficial title of “best assault rifle player” in the game. Seattle’s main AR had a 1.8 kill/death ratio in the series, while his AR partner Gunless had a 1.4.
The Surge is still not getting the production it needs from submachine gun players Prestinni and Classic to pose a real threat to top-half teams, but a 250-89 win on Checkmate hardpoint to close out London shows how dangerous they can be when they are in their rhythm. The Surge will take on the Paris Legion Friday at 3:00 p.m. ET for a chance to take on OpTic Chicago in the following round.
Battle of Los Angeles: Thieves vs Guerillas
Thursday’s second matchup was a battle for Los Angeles between the Thieves and Guerillas— the drama started about an hour before the match when news that star player Huke would not be eligible to play due to a missed COVID test. The Thieves substituted in Drazah, who was benched two weeks ago and played with him in place of their young talent.
The match was very back and forth, with the Thieves winning both hard points, but it was the Guerillas that closed out their inner-city rival in a map five Search and Destroy on Miami, 6-3. Only one player on the Guerillas (Chino) posted a positive K/D for the series compared to three for the Thieves, led by SlasheR’s 1.3, but their clinical S&D play saw them over the line. LAG is 18-17 on the season in this game mode, and it is the only one that they have a winning record in.
The Guerillas’ next match will be Friday at 4:30 p.m. against the Florida Mutineers.
Dallas Empire vs OpTic Chicago
The third match of the day was a rivalry contest between the Dallas Empire and OpTic Chicago, who were 3-0 on LAN against their rivals. OpTic Scump and Dallas’ Crimsix squashed their beef at the start of the new year after being on bad terms for the Modern Warfare season, ending a feud stemming from Scump’s decision to separate from his longtime teammate that he had won a world championship with. OpTic FormaL, another former teammate of Crimsix during the championship run, chose to follow a different path and reignited his tension with Crimsix earlier this week, setting the stage for an epic showdown during the return to LAN.
Crimsix and the Empire ended up laughing at their favored opponents, winning the series in a clean 3-0 fashion. OpTic struggled to keep up with Dallas’ coordination despite nearly matching their slaying power for stretches, though they fell in the end. The Empire’s sub duo of Shotzzy and Vivid finished with K/Ds over 1.3 while the only player with a positive margin on OpTic was Dashy, who finished the series with a 1.15.
Dallas plays the Toronto Ultra in Winner’s Round Two tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. while OpTic will face the winner of the Seattle Surge and Paris Legion at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 19.
Minnesota Rokkr vs New York Subliners
The final match of the first day back on LAN featured the Minnesota Rokkr and the New York Subliners: Minnesota has had a relatively disappointing season after they appeared to have a good offseason while New York has been on fire lately, though they were forced to play without usual starter Asim who could not obtain a visa to travel from his native Canada to the United States to compete.
Asim was replaced by former Seattle Surge-flameout Decemate, who was given less than a week to practice with his new teammates before flying out to the event. New York’s usual cohesion and team play were greatly reduced by their new arrival, and it showed in their performance, ultimately dropping the series 3-0 to Minnesota. Standy led the way for the victors with a 1.47 K/D, while HyDra was the only Subliner to get more kills than deaths in the series.
Minnesota will play the Atlanta FaZe, favored to win the whole event, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, while New York will play the winner of the Florida Mutineers and the Los Angeles Guerillas.
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.