After taking in all the action, here are some winners and losers on the weekend.
Loser: Preseason Power Rankings
This past offseason was a particularly weird one in Call of Duty as the game made the transition from established organizations and home-grown labels to official franchises. Rosters were put in a blender, with players landing on various new organizations for the 2020 league launch. A myriad of factors — the state of the game itself, visa issues, lack of visible scrim practice — led to the preseason power rankings, which were almost immediately proven false by the actual gameplay over the weekend.
Paris Legion, ranked as the worst team in the most visible preseason rankings and coaches’ polls, emerged 2-0 on the weekend, including a 3-0 sweep of the London Royal Ravens on Sunday. Let this be a reminder that power rankings are only around to create discussion, especially in preseason where no one truly knows how rosters will perform onstage until they see them.
Winner: Paris Legion
Defying all expectations going into this weekend were the Paris Legion, who are now 2-0 after the league’s first event. The Legion were ranked dead last by their peers, thanks in large part to the fact that they weren’t able to get much practice in before the event due to visa issues. Despite this, they looked like one of the most well-coordinated teams on the weekend alongside the Atlanta FaZe.
“We decided the starting five, everyone flew back to their respective cities for another month where we didn’t play the game,” Conrad “Shockz” Rymarek said. “So the amount of practice in America against American teams was only around seven to eight days.”
“We don’t ever have butthead moments,” Matthew “KiSMET” Tinsley said of his Legion teammates. “We always are laughing together, cracking jokes, if something is getting tense in the room, we’re always there making sure everything is calm and mellow. This is the best team I’ve ever had when it comes to that kind of stuff.”
Loser: The Dallas Empire
One of the most highly-rated teams going into this weekend was the Dallas Empire. On paper this made sense, with veterans Ian “Crimsix” Porter and James “Clayster” Eubanks heading up a team of younger talent. This was also from practice, since both the Empire and FaZe were shown to be dominating scrims leading up to the event.
In their post-match press conference, multiple members of the Empire admitted that the patch hit them hard, and they didn’t adjust in time for the stage this weekend.
“It sucks that a patch hit two days before the tournament but it’s on us,” Indervir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal said. “We didn’t play at our full potential and it’s a learning experience, and good thing the learning experience is now instead of the tournament, and in the tournament we’re just going to come, we’re going to outgrind everyone, and show why we’re best in the game.”
Whether it was due to the way the game played onstage versus an online environment, the sudden nature of the patch, or simple first-event nerves, Dallas indubitably has the talent on this lineup to perform well during the rest of the year. Even their peers still rate them highly after this weekend. Their greatest challenge moving forward will be recovering from what would have been a disappointing showing, even without the pre-event hype.
Loser: Infinity Ward and Activision
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has played Modern Warfare that the game has major issues that affect competitive Call of Duty specifically. Leading into this weekend, game developer Infinity Ward came under heavy fire for a variety of in-game bugs, slide-cancelling and promises to fix these issues, only to release a patch days before the event that initially crashed the entire system. In fact, a lot of issues from this weekend, including the Los Angeles Guerrillas’ accidental perk selection and map loss against the RØKKR, came from the game directly and were well out of event organizers’ hands.
By now, most people in the competitive Call of Duty community have likely seen Crimsix ripping into Infinity Ward for the game state, later bringing up the fact that it’s not just Infinity Ward and Modern Warfare, but every year, COD pros have had to play at major tournaments with patches that have come days in advance.
Crimsix, it’s alright if you complain about answering media questions at every press conference so long as you also come out against something like patching mere days before playing live (among many other game issues). You can be the Call of Duty League’s Marshawn Lynch. As you said, “In other esports, to do what we did is considered a joke. So IW, get your s— together, cause it sucks.”
You’re absolutely right, so go off, king.
Winner: The Los Angeles Guerrillas
Before this weekend, the Guerrillas were low in most preseason polls, hovering around 10 or 11. More importantly, no one was talking about them. They went up 2-0 over the Minnesota RØKKR in their first match until Andres “Lacefield” Lacefield was found to have selected a banned perk, Hardline, in their match, awarding the RØKKR the second map. This caused a massive momentum shift and the ensuing fallout from this was immediate. The Guerrillas lost the match, team captain Patrick “ACHES” Price went off on Twitter and entered their match against the Florida Mutineers the next day with a note scribbled on a piece of paper that said “RØKKR got a free W.” This did not endear him to the Minnesota crowd, who booed him at every opportunity, especially after the Guerrillas got the win later that afternoon.
I’m not always a proponent of “all publicity is good publicity,” but no one was talking about the Guerrillas prior to the season and, for a large portion of this weekend, the Guerrillas were all anyone was talking about. ACHES has said that the team doesn’t mind being the villains of the league and that they in fact lean into it, so here’s to the Guerrillas making the best of an admittedly awful situation.
Winner: The London Royal Ravens homestand
Watching Call of Duty in a league format as opposed to a tournament was very odd. This weekend was full of slightly awkward broadcast pauses or extended analyst desk segments in between maps.
The broadcast itself was good, and it picked up the pace by Sunday, so I have no doubt that the broadcast will be smoothed out in the coming weeks, especially when the league returns to tournament format for its second event, hosted by the London Royal Ravens.
The Royal Ravens themselves are a fascinating team to watch, and are 1-1 going into a weekend where the crowd will be fully behind their entertaining and charismatic all-European lineup. With Paris, Chicago and Dallas all at the event and two weeks to prepare, this should be an interesting tournament.