CDL 2021 Season to Open with Kickoff Classic Exhibition Event

Posted on January 21, 2021

The second season of the CDL is expected to draw in record-breaking viewers, all anxiously watching to see how the $5 million prize pool will be split.

The Call of Duty League makes a valiant return on the 23rd and 24th January, with an exciting six-match exhibition event taking place. These preseason matches have been voted for by fans of the franchise and will definitely help to set the pace for the upcoming season. It’s a tantalising taster of things to come, with the reigning champions, Dallas Empire, opening the event in a match against the New York Subliners.

CDL Kickoff Classic 2021

While these matches are worth nothing but early bragging rights, they will serve as an opportunity for these twelve teams to flex their abilities. We’ve seen nothing considerable from any team involved since the inaugural season of the CDL closed on August 30th, 2020. In the final match of the season, Dallas Empire ploughed their way through Atlanta FaZe to victory, with an impressive final tally of five points to one.

Although Atlanta FaZe put up the best fight in season one, they were beaten out in the postseason competition. They’ll be looking to reclaim some lost ground this season, having effectively bolstered their ranks with the inclusion of Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson, a former CWL Pro League All-Star and AR legend. However, many of the twelve teams have also made amendments to their roster during off-season, and there’s plenty of new talent looking to flex their skills.

One of the most highly anticipated matchups in this preseason exhibition is the face-off between OpTic Chicago and LA Thieves. In the 2020 season, OpTic Chicago fought under the name Chicago Huntsmen, but were forced to rebrand following 100 Thieves’ acquisition of the OpTic Los Angeles’ CDL position. Although, HECZ feels this was the best decision possible, and it has allowed OpTic – arguably the most legendary name in Call of Duty – to have a real presence in the CDL.

CDL Kickoff Classic Schedule

Here’s the schedule for the upcoming preseason exhibition:

Saturday 23rd January

3pm ET

  • Dallas Empire v. New York Subliners

4.30pm ET

  • LA Guerrillas v. Seattle Surge

6pm ET

  • Atlanta FaZe v. Florida Mutineers

Sunday 24th January

3pm ET

  • London Royal Ravens v. Paris Legion

4.30pm ET

  • Toronto Ultra v. Minnesota Rokkr

6pm ET

  • OpTic Chicago v. LA Thieves


Almost every match has been cherry-picked by fans to ensure the ultimate level of excitement for these preseason friendlies. There’s a buzz surrounding the opening match of the second day, featuring rivals London Royal Ravens and Paris Legion. These are the only two European teams in the CDL, and both have something to prove. In the 2020 season standings, the Royal Ravens finished 6th and Paris Legion ended up in 10th place.

Following a paltry performance in the inaugural season, the Royal Ravens effectively dismantled their entire roster and rebuilt the team from the ground up. After a painstaking training period, ZerO, Dylan, and Seany return to the league, with Alex ‘Alexx’ Carpenter joining the squad, transferring from Minnesota Rokkr. It’ll be interesting to see if this shake-up has had a positive effect on the team’s abilities and morale.

CDL Kickoff Classic Line-Up

Here’s the complete line-up for the 2021 season:

Atlanta FaZe:
  • Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson
  • Tyler ‘aBeZy’ Pharris
  • Chris ‘Simp’ Lehr
  • McArthur ‘Cellium’ Jovel
  • Daunte ‘Sibilants’ Gray (Sub)
OpTic Chicago:
  • Seth ‘Scump’ Abner
  • Matthew ‘Formal’ Piper
  • Dylan ‘Envoy’ Hannon
  • Brandon ‘Dashy’ Otell
  • Jordon ‘General’ General (Sub)
Dallas Empire:
  • Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter
  • Cuyler ‘Huke’ Garland
  • Anthony ‘Shotzzy’ Cuevas-Castro
  • Indervir ‘iLLeY’ Dhaliwal
Florida Mutineers:
  • Cesar ‘Skyz’ Bueno
  • Colt ‘Havok’ McLendon
  • Joseph ‘Owakening’ Conley
  • Josiah ‘Slacked’ Berry
  • Travis ‘Neptune’ McCloud (Sub)
London Royal Ravens:
  • Sean ‘Seany’ O’Connor
  • Trei ‘ZerO’ Morris
  • Dylan ‘Dylan’ Henderson
  • Alex ‘Alexx’ Carpenter
LA Guerrillas:
  • Reece ‘Vivid’ Drost
  • Bryan ‘Apathy’ Zhelyazkov
  • Adam ‘Assault’ Garcia
  • Justin ‘SiLLY’ Fargo-Palmer
  • Martin ‘Chino’ Chino (Sub)
  • Billy ‘MentaL’ Putnam (Sub)
Minnesota Rokkr:
  • Dillon ‘Attach’ Price
  • Lamar ‘Accuracy’ Abedi
  • Michael ‘MajorManiak’ Szymaniak
  • Preston ‘Priestahh’ Greiner
New York Subliners:
  • James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks
  • Thomas ‘ZooMaa’ Paparatto
  • Makenzie ‘Mack’ Kelley
  • Paco ‘HyDra’ Rusiewiez
LA Thieves:
  • Thomas ‘TJHaly’ Haly
  • Austin ‘SlasheR’ Liddicoat
  • Kenny ‘Kuavo’ Williams
  • Donovan ‘Temp’ Laroda
  • Zack ‘Drazah’ Jordan (Sub)
Paris Legion:
  • Ulysses ‘AquA’ Silva
  • Nicholas ‘Classic’ DiCostanzo
  • Matthew ‘Skrapz’ Marshall
  • Luis ‘Fire’ Rivera
Seattle Surge:
  • Same ‘Octane’ Larew
  • Pierce ‘Gunless’ Hillman
  • Preston ‘Prestinni’ Sanderson
  • Daniel ‘Loza’ Loony
Toronto Ultra:
  • Ben ‘Bance’ Bance
  • Cameron ‘Cammy’ McKilligan
  • Tobias ‘CleanX’ Jonsson
  • Anthony ‘Methodz’ Zinni
  • Jamie ‘Insight’ Craven (Sub)


On the second day of the preseason kickoff classic event, the Group Selection Show will be hosted, bringing a brand-new format for selection to the CDL. This comes in the form of a reverse snake draft, with reigning champions Dallas Empire making the first pick for Atlanta FaZe’s group. Then, FaZe, last season’s second place, makes the next pick, selecting a team to compete in Dallas Empire’s group. At that point, the team picked by Dallas Empire makes the next selection, and so on.

It’s an opportunity for teams to be tactical, potentially shifting a troubling competitor out of their group into the opposing side. Ultimately, the 2021 regular season will be played across five stages that each feature a stage-closing Major Tournament. There will be a fresh group pick for each stage before it opens, meaning the landscape will change as time goes on. There’s a huge prize pool on offer this year, so every competitor will need to be on top of their game to dominate the groups they end up in.

For every team taking first place in the stage Majors, there’s a $200,000 reward, with only the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th positions going unrewarded. When the league closes later this year, the team crowned champion will receive a massive pay-out of $1.2 million. It all kicks off in full on February 11th with the Week 1 matches taking place at the Atlanta FaZe Home Series.

Check back on Sunday 24th to see who claimed an early victory in the preseason classic kickoff, and how the groups have come together.

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