The Major III gives Toronto a chance to shine in the Call of Duty League
CDL Major 3 Toronto Ultra
Provided by Michael Czar.

The Major III gives Toronto a chance to shine in the Call of Duty League

From cheering fans to excited players, Toronto's first CDL LAN has been an event to remember

TORONTO, Ontario — The Call of Duty League Major III is live in Toronto this week. It is both the first Canadian CDL LAN and the first Canadian live esports event since the COVID-19 pandemic struck down all northern plans. Players, fans and staff in attendance have all expressed excitement not only to represent their countries, but to make this return to LAN one for the history books.

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The first CDL match of the Toronto Major turned into a five map nail biter from the Seattle Surge and New York Subliners. The crowd followed every second with baited breath, from the 2-0 Surge lead to the beginning of the reverse sweep from the Subliners. It went all the way to round 11 on map five, the true clutch moment for both teams. With the game on the line, the Surge managed to win that final round and the series with the crowd going wild.

“Every two-piece we got, every momentum kill, the crowd just kept getting louder and louder,” said the Seattle Surge’s Lamar “Accuracy” Abedi. “On Call of Duty especially, those momentum kills can help push you to win.”

When asked about the feel of the venue, both Accuracy and teammate Amer “Pred” Zulbeari agreed that Toronto was in a class of its own, with respect to previous LAN events. 

“I haven’t been to many LAN events, but this atmosphere is different,” Pred said. “Toronto is a great place for games like this.”

A long time coming for Toronto

Part of the atmosphere is thanks to all the Canadian CDL fans who couldn’t make it down to the United States’ LAN games. They used their first chance to cheer for the Toronto Ultra in person to the fullest. While team veteran Benjamin “Bance” Bance said the Ultra felt some pressure on Day 1, they eventually learned to thrive off the crowd.

“The crowd has been on our side the whole time we’ve been here and, especially after we lost the first map against Paris, I knew that we need to win,” Bance said. “There was no way we were gonna lose two games and bow out with those diehard fans out there.”

The Ultra followed up their loss to the Atlanta FaZe with a needed win, making the crowd go appropriately nuts. All the Ultra players commented on how all the noise and support from the fans lifted their spirits once they started winning.

“This was the first time we’ve been in front of a crowd like this,” Jamie “Insight” Craven said. “When, as a team, you get a kill and the crowd cheers you on, its unbelievable. We’re used to the boos and hisses from the other LANs, but we got the fans on our side now.”

However, those boos still exist at the LAN — just for different teams. In this case, since Atlanta had the misfortune of beating the hometown team 3-1, they walked off the stage to a displeased crowd. Still, according to Tyler “aBeZy” Pharris, they used that energy to fuel them going forward.

“The city of Toronto itself is super vibey. The crowd is just insane and it’s been super fun so far,” aBeZy said. “As for the boos, I feel like we’re used to getting booed in these live events. We use it as motivation towards our games.” 

CDL Major 3 Atlanta FaZe
The Atlanta FaZe walk out to the Toronto crowd. | Provided by Michael Czar.

In that first series against the Ultra, aBeZy had a self-admittedly slow start in the series as the crowd cheered for his opponents’ success. After Atlanta had a rough time on Search and Destroy, the team turned it around. As map 3 and 4 came along, he was the focal point in Atlanta’s victory.

Despite the loss, dedicated Ultra fans’ kept their spirits up. Some, like Connor McAvoy, went to great lengths just to be there in person to support their team. As soon as he learned a CDL LAN was coming to Toronto, he said he looked for any opportunity to volunteer for the event.

“I was so excited that I basically harassed Overactive Media on every platform to try and help out,” McAvoy said. “I need to be there, I need to help out. I want to see everything behind the scenes.”

That same mentality that took him to volunteering at the event applied no matter the result of the Ultra’s games. As a local Torontonian, McAvoy said he just wanted to cheer for his team — whether they were losing to FaZe or defeating Paris, Florida or Minnesota.

“The guys have been solid recently, bouncing back in recent weeks,” McAvoy said. “I have full faith in the guys, and the home fans will always show up, win or lose, and make noise.”

Fans from overseas get to watch top Call of Duty play in Canada

While tons of local Toronto showed just how loud they could be at this first LAN, plenty of others decided to make the journey after nothing but watch parties to simulate the live experience. Some, like Ant Stonelake and Charlie Cater, came all the way from the UK to get to the Toronto Major.

After spending a few weeks in Boston before the event, Stonelake said xe woke up early to get to town well before the event started. And while it rained, just like it often does back home, xe said everything felt right once xe reached xis seat in the venue. As that first match kicked off, the hype set in. Cater said he experienced a similar feeling — but a familiar one.

“For me, this event has a similar feeling to the London event in 2020,” Cater said. “Both times was the country’s first LAN in the CDL, and even though the London fans were amazing, it’s clear these Toronto fans want to do the same.”

The Major III is almost over in Toronto, but the fans still have plenty to cheer for. The Ultra are one of four teams left with a chance to win the event. But whether they make it to the grand final or not, the city and its fans are certainly winners after holding a LAN for the CDL to remember.

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Michael Czar
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.