The Dallas Empire became the first team in the Call of Duty League to win two home series this season when they beat the Atlanta FaZe in the finals of the Chicago Huntsmen home series on Sunday. How sweet it must have been for Dallas to accomplish this by beating Chicago in the semifinals and Atlanta in the finals. The Empire had been a combined 0-5 against these teams, including losing to them both during opening weekend after coming into the season with so much hype and people thinking they should be one of the best teams in the league.
It's quite the redemption arc for the Empire, and it got us thinking about which other teams or players have redeemed themselves recently or are in need of improvement.
Below is how our staff voted to rank the 12 teams after this weekend's home series. Each participating staff member ranked the CDL teams from No. 1 to No. 12, and the results were aggregated to determine the list below. All player stats are courtesy of Atlanta FaZe stat analyst Austin O'Neil.
1. Dallas Empire
Season record: 13-6 | Week 6 record: 4-0 | Change from last ranking:1
Now that they have become the first team in the league to win two home series, the Dallas Empire might be the best team in the league. The Empire have shown steady improvement throughout the season and got redemption this weekend, beating the Chicago Huntsmen and Atlanta FaZe, the two teams they lost to during opening weekend and had yet to beat this season. The whole team was clicking, as they dropped only one map against those two squads combined during their semifinal and final matchups on Sunday.
Anthony "Shotzzy" Cuevas-Castro was especially good for the Empire this weekend, as he posted the highest overall K/D among all players (1.29) and the highest on Hardpoint (1.3).
-- Brian Bencomo
2. Atlanta FaZe
Season record: 11-2 | Week 6 record: 3-1 | Change from last ranking:1
There are a few different flavors of FaZe we saw last weekend. First, there's the pedal-to-the-metal FaZe (St. Petrograd Domination vs. Seattle). Next, there's the FaZe that's full of fortitude (most of the London match). Lastly, there's the whoopsie FaZe that shows cracks in their play (vs. Dallas on Hackney Yard and New York on St. Petrograd).
The FaZe are a team that is unusually steadfast for their age. They continually rise to the occasion regardless of previous circumstances. For example, Michael "MajorManiak" Szymaniak securing the final two kills on Arklov Peak against the Ravens to close out Search and Destroy 6-5 or Chris "Simp" Lehr clutching a 1-on-2 on Search and Destroy on St. Petrograd to take a map away from Dallas in the finals (or Simp also setting -- and breaking -- kill records).
They are also a team that haven't played since the Los Angeles home series March 7-8, at which they were unable to get past the semifinals, and the long break impacted their ability to close out the tournament with a win against Dallas, whom they had beaten 3-0 twice this season.
That puts the FaZe in two spots: one for improvement in the new online era and the second for redemption to take home a second tournament win after failing to do so last weekend. Looking at the next tournament, they are the clear favorites, and we'll be a little worried if they don't show up.
-- Darin Kwilinski
3. Chicago Huntsmen
Season record: 12-4 | Week 6: 2-2 | Change from last ranking:1
The Chicago Huntsmen had a shot at redemption this weekend, but for a team that sees championships as an expectation and not a luxury, there was no solace to be found Sunday.
Chicago is in a bit of an odd spot right now. The Huntsmen managed to redeem themselves against the New York Subliners in a knockout match on Day 2 of the home series after losing to New York 3-2 on Day 1 of the tournament, but Chicago was promptly swept aside by Dallas in the semifinals.
As the rest of the league has improved on Search and Destroy, the Huntsmen have looked more and more vulnerable. It's no longer a foregone conclusion that Chicago will win its S&Ds against, say, New York, which picked up a 3-2 series win off a Map 5 Search and Destroy victory behind Makenzie "Mack" Kelley and Dylan "Attach" Price, who carried the Subliners to unexpected heights this weekend.
Not being a sure thing in S&D by itself isn't a problem. The struggles on the other map types, however, are exacerbated by it.
Peirce "Gunless" Hillman and Dylan "Envoy" Hannon, who should be the difference-makers on Domination, posted plus-minuses of -22 and -10 in that mode. Envoy also had the worst K/D of the tournament on Hardpoint, with a 0.45, and Seth "Scump" Abner's minus-29 and 0.85 overall K/D on Hardpoint didn't help.
Chicago's identity to this point has been built on locking teams down in S&D and overwhelming them with talent and experience on the other game modes. However, as the league adapts to online play and teams have to worry less about the Huntsmen's ever-present fan advantage at offline tournaments, something seems to have slipped.
That said, this could all be premature hand-wringing for a team that is still one of the best in the league -- and No. 2 in the CDL standings. Chicago can prove that the past two weekends of competition were an exception, not the rule, during the Seattle series May 22-24.
-- Sean Morrison
Check out the rest of the Call of Duty League schedule.
4. Minnesota RØKKR
Season record: 10-6 | Week 6 record: DNP | Change from last ranking:1
The RØKKR are a team that has clearly improved during the season, and the Florida home series puts them a close second in terms of team power at the event. Look for the RØKKR to be seeking redemption against the Mutineers in their opening match on May 8 after they dropped the finals to them 3-1 at the Dallas home series.
5. Florida Mutineers
Season record: 9-6 | Week 6 record: DNP | Change from last ranking:1
Florida was off this week, but the Mutineers made some waves in the Call of Duty League, with coach Ricky "Atura" Lugo saying the team has no plans to return Preston "Prestinni" Sanderson to the starting lineup any time soon.
That doesn't shake things up too much for Florida, which was the champion of the Dallas home series last time out, but it does provide some job security for Maurice "Fero" Henriquez, who showed out for the Mutineers in that tournament with a 1.24 overall K/D.
Where Prestinni goes from here, be it waiting for another chance in the starting lineup or, more likely, moving to a different roster, is unclear. What's certain, though, is that Florida has gone from an on-paper bottom-half team to a dark horse in this league, with few setbacks along the way.
To see rosters for all of the Call of Duty League teams, click here.
6. London Royal Ravens
Season record: 4-6 | Week 6 record: 0-2 | Change from last ranking:
The London Royal Ravens made their first appearance after recent bye weeks and lineup changes, and it didn't quite live up to what we were expecting of them. Their first match back (and first online) was against the Atlanta FaZe, a top-tier team these past few weeks. They managed to keep each game close (234-250 in Hardpoint, 5-6 in Search and Destroy, 144-166 in Domination), despite being swept 3-0.
They went on to face the Chicago Huntsmen (also surprisingly in the losers' bracket) in a roller-coaster ride of matches. The Ravens looked like they might pull out the Hardpoint map (a 243-250 loss), but a poor 1-6 S&D loss followed, then a 195-102 win in Domination and a 235-250 loss in a fourth-round Hardpoint. Despite this, the Marshall twins came out of the weekend with positive K/D stats (1.23 for Matthew "Skrapz" Marshall and 1.06 for Bradley "wuskin" Marshall).
I like the Ravens' path to redemption in Week 7. They'll first face an OpTic Gaming Los Angeles team that has looked lackluster so far this season and will enter as one of the top teams competing in the Florida home series.
-- Elizabeth Baugh
7. New York Subliners
Season record: 2-8 | Week 6 record: 1-2 | Change from last ranking:4
Hey, talk about a redemption arc. How about the SUDDENLY DANGEROUS New York Subliners? The team no one wants to play! It feels weird to say that after a weekend when they went 1-2, but that 1-2 featured a win over the Huntsmen in which they held off a furious comeback after going up 2-0, a back-and-forth loss to the FaZe and a closer-than-it-looked 3-1 rematch with the Huntsmen. It seemed like every member of the team contributed, though the Lamar "Accuracy" Abedi/Dillon "Attach" Price duo looked the most dangerous on the whole. New York are still near the bottom of the standings, but really, would you want to risk playing an important match against them right now?
-- Joe DeMartino
8. Paris Legion
Season record: 6-6 | Week 6 record: DNP | Change from last ranking:1
After a disappointing Dallas home series, the Legion get a shot at redemption in Florida. They're under .500, but it's easy to see a scenario in which the Legion put on a strong showing and get back some of their mojo in two weeks.
9. Seattle Surge
Season record: 4-10 | Week 6 record: 2-2 | Change from last ranking:
Whew, this squad is hard to pin down.
Seattle beats the Los Angeles Guerrillas twice. Not much to write home about. But the Surge also kept it very close with Dallas throughout a 3-1 loss, with Sam "Octane" Larew putting up 40 kills in his team's lone win of the series and the Empire needing a triple cap to pull off a Domination win in Game 3 of the series. Then, Seattle took a map off Atlanta, and just what is this team actually?
The difference is in the complementary pieces. Octane continued to do Octane things, with the second-highest K/D of the tournament at 1.28, but Josiah "Slacked" Berry (third) and Bryan "Apathy" Zhelyazkov (sixth) were also among the best SMG players in the home series in terms of K/D. Despite a 2-2 record coming out of the weekend, this tournament was certainly a step up for the Surge, who could live up to their namesake if Casey "Pandur" Romano doesn't post the second-worst plus-minus (-48) of the tournament next time out.
10. OpTic Gaming LA
Season record: 2-7 | Week 6 record: 0-2 | Change from last ranking:2
It looked like OpTic Gaming had finally redeemed their glorious brand when they won two matches during the Los Angeles home series after starting the season 0-4. Their performance this weekend showed that perhaps OpTic still face a long road to improvement.
OpTic can start by building on their strong performance in Search and Destroy against Dallas this weekend. The Empire have been particularly strong on S&D, so for OpTic to take that map 6-1 was impressive. Austin "SlasheR" Liddicoat, Kenny "Kuavo" Williams and Brandon "Dashy" Otell were all top five in S&D K/D this weekend, which is something this team can use as a base going forward.
11. Toronto Ultra
Season record: 2-7 | Week 6 record: DNP | Change from last ranking:1
The Ultra are coming together slowly -- more slowly than other teams -- but that doesn't mean improvement can't be seen. They had their strongest showing in the Dallas home series, with a 3-2 win against a rising Mutineers (though they later lost to them in that tournament 3-1) and a 3-2 loss against the formidable Empire. Coming up is the Florida home series, with teams such as Paris, OpTic Gaming LA and New York, so the Ultra might be able to string together some good wins.
12. Los Angeles Guerrillas
Season record: 2-9 | Week 6 record: 1-2 | Change from last ranking:
The Guerrillas at least got redemption this weekend against fellow L.A. team OpTic Gaming, whom they lost to during the Los Angeles home series.
When you're at the bottom of the league standings, you have to take a look at the positive, and at least the Guerrillas can claim this week that they were the better L.A. team. Of course, there's much more room for improvement beyond that.
The Guerrillas have shaken up their roster this season, adding good young players such as Rasim "Blazt" Ogresevic, Kris "Spart" Cervantez and Reece "Vivid" Drost into the starting lineup recently, so improvement might be just around the corner for them. Blazt shined this weekend with 1.16 K/D overall, which was fourth best among all players.
Improvement can come in other ways, too: The Guerrillas can start by beating the Seattle Surge, who are 4-0 against L.A. so far this year. In fact, the Surge's only victories this season have been against the Guerrillas. The teams will face off at least once more this season, so revenge will likely be on L.A.'s mind if the team continues to shore up its previous problems.
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