Boston Major: Winners Round 1 Preview and Predictions
With the first split of Call of Duty League (CDL) online qualifier matches in the rearview and the Boston Major now on the horizon, it’s time to take a deep look into the winners round one matchups and what all they entail. Using stats and analysis of the matches played thus far, I intend to get to the bottom of each matchup and determine whether there is any hope for underdogs to arise, or if we’ll be seeing the expected outcome of the widely accepted ‘Top 4’ matching up against one another in round two.
Atlanta FaZe vs. Los Angeles Guerrillas
While Atlanta steamrolled their way through the first split with a perfect 7-0 record, only dropping a total of five maps throughout, LAG managed to limp into the winners bracket at the final bell with a record of 2-5. Despite my personal belief that the Guerrillas are a better team than what they have shown thus far, they have unfortunately been plagued by the inability to close out maps on an alarmingly frequent basis. While they sit just below .500 in both respawn modes, SnD is where my worries for this team truly start to arise.
If one thing has presented itself as a clear key to victory when it comes to playing against Atlanta, it’s that taking SnDs is absolutely pivotal. While it’s not impossible to take a respawn off of FaZe (or maybe even two if you catch them on an off day), the chance of them dropping three respawns in a best-of-five series with all the talent they possess is astronomically low. For a team to come out on top of the Tiny Terrors and co., they’re essentially required to take a minimum of one SnD. For me, this is the primary hurdle that LAG must find a way over if they have any hopes of progressing through the tournament. While taking a Hardpoint or Control off of Atlanta will be no walk in the park, in the end it’ll mean very little if they aren’t able to conquer their demons in SnD.
Expected Vetoes -
HP: FaZe vetoes Terminal / Guerrillas vetoes Karachi
SnD: Guerrillas vetoes Skidrow / FaZe vetoes Terminal
CTL: FaZe vetoes Highrise / Guerrillas pick Karachi
While a Guerrillas upset could have potentially been on the cards had they managed to match up against a different opponent, taking down FaZe seems too tall of a task for the Guerrillas at this point in time. Coming away with a map win isn’t outside of the realm of possibility for LAG, but with the lack of prowess shown in SnD thus far, I don’t see them being able to go toe-to-toe with FaZe until they’ve improved upon their weaknesses as a team.
Final Prediction: Atlanta FaZe 3-0 LA Guerrillas
AD GOES HERE
New York Subliners vs. Minnesota RØKKR
Somewhat surprisingly, I believe this matchup between NYSL and Minnesota has the potential to be closer than many would expect. While the Subliners have been relatively solid in Hardpoint and quite poor in Control, their SnD has been outstanding; they have a 9-1 record despite a plethora of down-to-the-wire finishes. RØKKR, on the other hand, has been a tale of two teams. While Minnesota started out this season with a dreadful 0-4 record and signs pointing toward an early-season roster change, they have since shown their resilience and ability to improve as a unit, rallying with three wins in a row and resembling the team fans expected coming into the season.
While New York has finished the first split near the top of the standings as many would have expected, it certainly hasn’t been in the cleanest fashion. With half of their wins going to a fifth map and their sole loss being a thrashing at the hands of their newfound rivals in Toronto, there is undeniably room for improvement despite their impressive record.
When it comes to RØKKR and their hopes of making a run in Boston, on an individual level, it starts with Owakening. While Lynz has performed admirably as a rookie despite the team’s slow start and both Accuracy and Vivid having produced numbers close to what many would expect of them, Owakening has simply not performed up to the level of which he has shown himself previously capable. While success in competitive Call of Duty primarily depends on how you approach the game as a team, this Minnesota roster is constructed in a way in which Owakening is set up to supply the lion’s share of the squad’s slaying. As it stands, Owakening has a 0.87 overall KD, a 0.71 SnD KD, and the least engagements per 10 minutes in both Hardpoint and Control. These stat lines are simply unacceptable if RØKKR are going to reach their ceiling as a team. Owakening must improve individually and provide the impact expected out of him.
On the Subliners’ side of the statistical aisle, it’s about what you’d expect. HyDra and Skyz both sit above a 1.1 overall KD while Sib is just behind them with a 1.07. KiSMET is the only player below a 1.0; he sits at a 0.93 overall, which is absolutely fine given the role he masterfully plays for this team as the selfless enabler. New York’s overall impressive stats, despite their respawn leaving a bit to be desired, points to them needing to clean up their approach as an overall team when it comes to both Sub Base and Terminal Hardpoint, where they are a combined 0-3, and in Control as a whole. Assuming they’re able to clean up their Control and veto accordingly in Hardpoint, they’re going to be the scary team we’ve come to know and a deep run in Boston is absolutely on the table.
Expected Vetoes -
HP: Subliners veto Terminal / Rokkr veto Karachi
SnD: Rokkr veto Skidrow / Subliners veto Invasion
CTL: Subliners veto Karachi / Rokkr pick Invasion
So, what does Minnesota need to do in this series to stand a chance at upsetting their way into round two? On an overall team level, it starts with continuing the success they have been able to find in map one throughout their series this season. With a 6-6 record in Hardpoint, shockingly, all six of their wins have come in map one. While this is strange, it’s far from the worst problem to have as a team, and it’ll prove crucial to continue this trend vs. New York due to the Subliners’ strength in SnD. If the RØKKR are able to come out strong and take map one, in the likely event they aren’t able to win the map two SnD, they still have great odds of being able to put New York on the backfoot in Control and take a 2-1 lead in the series. Even in Minnesota’s best case scenario of being able to go up 2-1, I expect New York will find a way to battle back and win the series in a map five. Nevertheless, winning both maps one and three will prove crucial if the RØKKR have a chance to push this series the distance and come away with an upset victory. In the event that Minnesota isn’t able to come out hot early and take the map one win, I expect New York will go up 2-0 in the series and will either close it out 3-0 or 3-1
Final Prediction: New York Subliners 3-1 Minnesota RØKKR
AD GOES HERE
Toronto Ultra vs. Seattle Surge
Toronto Ultra, as expected, have shown themselves to be one of this season’s powerhouse rosters. With the exception of a surprising 3-0 loss to a struggling Boston roster in their third match of the season, the Ultra have had little difficulty dismantling every opponent put in front of them. Toronto have yet to be pushed to a game five, with all of their wins coming in 3-0 or 3-1 fashion, largely in part due to their dominant 9-1 Hardpoint record. With a staggering average differential of 86.30, the Ultra are, without a doubt, the strongest Hardpoint team in the league at this point. While their SnD record comes in at 4-3, leaving much room for improvement, their Control record is a strong 5-2, with both of their losses being isolated to Highrise.
Seattle Surge on the other hand, come into this matchup with a sub-40% win rate in Hardpoint and sub-30% win rate in Control. While Surge’s SnD record sits somewhat comfortably at 6-3, any advantage they hope to find in the mode will surely be drowned out by the seemingly insurmountable strength of Toronto’s respawn modes. While I like Surge’s chances when it comes to the map two SnD, it’s hard to see where any semblance of hope lies in the respawns. The bright spot in Surge’s otherwise lackluster Hardpoint performances has been Terminal and Sub Base with a 3-1 and 1-0 record on the maps respectively, with all the other maps in the pool tallying up to a 1-7 record. The issue in this particular Hardpoint matchup for Seattle is that Toronto is 3-0 on Sub Base with an impressive average differential of nearly 81 points and they will almost certainly use their veto to take Terminal off the board.
While the respawn statistics don’t bode well for Surge, SnD is the primary area of advantage that they absolutely must capitalize on if they have any hopes of taking this series the distance. Seattle will most likely veto Karachi SnD, where all of their losses in the mode have transpired, leaving Skidrow as Ultra’s likely pick. Seattle will have their pick of the litter when it comes to the other SnD map.
A quick aside: if I was on the Toronto Ultra’s coaching staff, as the higher seed I would elect for Team B in this series’ veto process. They shouldn’t really care what Hardpoint map is played first as they’ll be feeling confident as the heavy favorites on any of them. Similarly in Control, even with allowing Surge to veto first, they will still have the opportunity to remove Highrise, leaving one of two maps, both of which they are undefeated on. While they’d be sacrificing next to nothing in losing out on Team A’s veto privileges, as Team B, they’d gain the ability to pick Skidrow as map two. Aside from Karachi, which we can assume Seattle will veto, Skidrow SnD is far and away Toronto’s strongest SnD map. With a 2-0 record and a stellar round differential of 3.5, having Skidrow as game two would drastically increase Ultra’s likeliness of winning the second map, more likely than not leading to a 3-0 win. In the event Seattle are somehow able to steal map one, Toronto having Skidrow as map two would be a handy insurance policy to ensure they don’t end up in an 0-2 hole.
Expected Vetoes -
HP: Ultra veto Terminal / Surge veto Invasion
SnD: Surge veto Karachi / Ultra veto Terminal
CTL: Ultra veto Highrise / Surge pick Invasion
While it’s difficult to see how the Surge can come away as the victors of this matchup. The most probable way would be by their ability to win both maps two and three, swinging the series to a 2-1 lead and giving them two chances to close out the series. While I expect Ultra to take care of business in a relatively comfortable fashion, if Seattle is able to push this series the distance and make Toronto play their first game five of the season, all bets are off at that point and we could potentially see a highly unlikely upset.
Final Prediction: Toronto Ultra 3-0 Seattle Surge
AD GOES HERE
OpTic Texas vs. Miami Heretics
In what is by far the most interesting of the first-round matchups, as well as the most difficult to predict, we have OpTic squaring off against the Heretics. While being the bane of OpTic Texas has seemingly transferred from the decommissioned Florida Mutineers to the new-look Miami Heretics, both of these squads enter the Boston Major with a number of question marks surrounding them.
After the off-season acquisitions of both Pred and Kenny, OpTic entered the season with incredibly high expectations. Unanimously expected to be amongst the very top teams in the league, under no circumstances were they expected to fall out of the top four; yet they enter the Boston Major as the fifth seed with a record of 4-3. While I don’t believe it’s time to start ringing the alarm bells quite yet, it’s clear those expectations haven’t exactly been met at this point in time.
When looking at the individual statistics for OpTic, nothing necessarily jumps off the page as particularly exceptional or distinctly worrisome. With Dashy and Kenny sitting at a 1.07 and 1.05 KD respectively, Pred at 1.12, and Shotzzy just below a 1.0, the issues Texas are facing seem to be stemming from an overall team approach, as opposed to individuals underperforming. With a 7-4 Hardpoint record and only a 14-point average differential, they are able to come away with the win more times than not despite the maps often going down to the wire, which should be an encouraging sign for the team moving forward as they look to continue to improve. Their Control sits slightly above .500 with a 4-3 record, and their SnD is lagging behind significantly with a record of 3-6, although half of their losses have come in round 11.
Miami, on the other side of the coin, came into the 2024 season expected to be on the lower end of the standings. But they ended the first split with an impressive 5-2 record, awarding them the fourth seed and exceeding most expectations set out for them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come without some caveats.
While the Heretics started the season 3-0, questions quickly arose about just how strong of a team they actually were, mainly due to the lack of strength in their schedule. While a team can only beat who is put in front of them, it doesn’t change the fact that Miami began the season playing against the 11th and 12th-seeded teams, followed by a matchup against a then-struggling Minnesota squad. While two consecutive losses to Boston and Seattle followed their 3-0 start, seemingly affirming speculation about Miami’s true skill, doubters quickly ate their words as the Spaniards rattled off back-to-back 3-0 victories over both OpTic and LAG.
When combining Heretics’ results altogether, it is a bit difficult to place where exactly they fall on the spectrum of teams. While I personally started off in the school of thought that they were farming wins by playing weaker teams, I’ve come around after seeing the totality of their split. While I believe there’s a good chance they still regress toward the sixth-eighth range in the standings as the season progresses, at this point in time, they’ve shown that they are a team capable of contending with the top dogs.
Statistically, these two teams aren’t too far removed from one another. While both are sporting 7-4 records in Hardpoint with similar average differentials, Heretics have shown themselves to be the better team when it comes to both SnD and Control. In the event that OpTic has a star performance from one or two of their players, I could easily see the match going in their favor. If Heretics can prevent the players on OpTic from single-handedly taking over maps, I think they will be able to squeak out the victory through superior teamwork and gameplanning.
Despite Miami recently getting the better of OpTic in their 3-0 sweep, I expect this match will be a much closer affair. When it comes to the vetoes, they will likely play out relatively similarly to their previous matchup. While Heretics has no real reason to divert too heavily from the strategy that resulted in a 3-0 win, assuming the same vetoes for Hardpoint, I’d like to see OpTic pick Karachi instead of Invasion. While Texas is 0-1 on Karachi, Miami is merely 1-0. Heretics’ one win on the map came from beating Boston, who isn’t a particularly strong Karachi team. Overall, Invasion is much more of a comfort map for Miami, and even if OpTic don’t view themselves as a top Karachi team, this is a good time to play it.
Expected Vetoes -
HP: Heretics veto Terminal / OpTic veto Sub Base
SnD: OpTic veto Skidrow / Heretics veto Terminal
CTL: Heretics vetoes Highrise / OpTic pick Karachi
While I anticipate the vetoes to play out in a familiar manner, as previously mentioned, I don’t expect the result to end up lopsided in favor of one team or the other. I believe this will be the closest series of the winners round one matchups and ultimately, it’s primed to go the distance. While OpTic clearly reigns supreme in the talent department, Miami has shown themselves to be the more cohesive of the two when it comes to overall teamplay and approach to the maps.
Final Prediction: Miami Heretics 3-2 OpTic Texas
AD GOES HERE