Recapping the 2023 Call of Duty League season-opening Raleigh Major I
(Gray News) - An unexpected turn of events for fan favorites and reigning world champs kicked off the 2023 Call of Duty League (CDL) season. The first Major took place over the weekend in Raleigh and delivered some exciting results to fans attending the event and watching on Twitch.
The reigning world champs, Los Angeles Thieves, were looking to establish themselves again as a driving force in the CDL, keeping their starting roster intact in the off-season. Another team, Dallas OpTic, also showed faith in their starting four from last season and looked to capitalize on the first major.
The group stage started last Thursday, and OpTic ground out a round-one win against the Florida Mutineers. The match saw two close Search and Destroy (SnD) maps, with Mutineers taking round 11 on map two, but OpTic clutched round 11 on map five. However, things quickly fell apart for OpTic, and they lost 3-0 to Toronto Ultra in the qualifier round for the first seed in Group B. It was still possible for OpTic to move onto the bracket stage of the major, but the Mutineers wouldn’t falter their chance at redemption. Unfortunately for OpTic, they crashed out of this season’s initial major with a hard-fought 2-3 loss to the Mutineers.
The New York Subliners dominated the group stage, seeing little resistance from Los Angeles Guerrillas and Minnesota RØKKR. Both matches ended in 3-0 finishes that started a hopeful buzz amongst fans supporting the Subliners. The RØKKR also succeeded in making it to the bracket stage from Group A after defeating the Guerrillas themselves.
The Thieves also thrived during group play, claiming the first seed in Group D. Vegas Legion also managed to scrounge their way out of Group D, taking down the CDL Challengers team Elevate.
Another team with a World Championship, Atlanta FaZe, took first seed in Group C. FaZe looked shaky in the first round of group play with the Los Angeles Guerrillas (LAG) Academy forcing a map five. FaZe quickly denied any hopes fans of LAG Academy had for an upset as they trounced them 6-1 in SnD on Embassy. Following that close call, FaZe recovered and breezed past Seattle Surge in the qualifier round with a 3-0 win. The Surge managed to grab the second seed in Group C.
Winners round one spelled trouble for the Thieves as they lost their footing against the Surge, and the resulting 1-3 loss took them to the elimination bracket. A 3-0 victory over the Mutineers in Elimination round one excited Thieves fans, knowing an elimination bracket run is never out of the cards.
It was not to be as Toronto Ultra swiftly shut down the Thieves in Elimination round two taking the Thieves out of Major I. Ultra was sent to the Elimination bracket by FaZe, who was making a run through the Winners bracket. FaZe joined Surge in the Winners Finals, and Surge took map one, leading to both teams trading map wins until Surge finally won map five, knocking FaZe down to Elimination Finals.
The Subliners had scrapped their way through the Elimination bracket, having also been sent there by Surge, so they were ready for FaZe in Elimination Finals. The momentum of the Subliners coming off a win against Ultra, and FaZe still reeling from a gutting loss to Surge, could be the root cause of a 3-1 victory for the Subliners. FaZe was out, and the Subliners went on to face Surge in the Grand Finals.
Grand Finals opened with an incredibly close map one Hardpoint on Hotel reaching 250-248 in favor of Subliners. The Subliners went on to win maps two and three leaving the arduous task of a reverse sweep as the only option for Surge. For Surge fans, there was a quick glint of hope with a map four win, but the Subliners hushed their doubters and closed out map five with a crushing SnD performance.
Some takeaways from Major I
Two fan-favorite teams, OpTic and Thieves, failed to advance as far as their fan bases had hoped.
OpTic, who started last season off hot only to have an injury midseason cool them off, wanted to demonstrate they’re still a top team. In their first CDL match of the 2023 season, OpTic decided to forfeit due to a disagreement over the replay ruling. With a difficult start to the season and Seth ‘Scump’ Abner retiring, the squad is looking to ignite the fire again.
LA Thieves made it to the bracket round but couldn’t find a steady footing. Going without a roster change in the offseason shows that they have faith in the team they have built. Being the reigning world champs, they have proven their ability to adapt and refocus.
Two teams demonstrated their grit and capability to take over a Major.
The 2022 season for Surge included a top 3 finish at the World Championship and a Major win, so it wasn’t a surprise to see this young team put up a solid showing. With the two rookies Amer ‘Pred’ Zulbeari and Daunte ‘Sib’ Gray being able to use the experience they gained last season, this team is looking to plague other squads in the Grand finals this season.
Subliners have shown that their roster changes with a focus on team chemistry paid off. After struggles in vanguard last season, being the Major I champions this season solidifies their place as a team to beat.
Boston Breach will host the next Major at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway. The tournament weekend will take place February 2nd to 5th, and qualifiers for the event start January 13th. These events are broadcast and replayed on the Call of Duty Twitch channel here.
Gray Television is an investor in OpTic Gaming.
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