TORONTO, Ontario — In the first match of the 2022 Call of Duty League Major III, the Seattle Surge faced off against the New York Subliners in what would become one of the tournament’s longest series — going all the way to map 5, round 11. With one round deciding it all, Surge veteran Lamar “Accuracy” Abedi and rookie Amer “Pred” Zulbeari died early, putting the team in a 2v3 fight for the series. But the two players left, former New York Subliners player Makenzie “Mack” Kelley and rookie talent Daunte “Sib” Gray, clutched up when it mattered most.
A Sib kill to even the teams out was followed by a trade, leaving Mack in a 1v1 to keep the team in the upper bracket. As his opponent tried to slide slid by him, an easy kill prevented a reverse sweep loss, helping Seattle advance by the seat of their pants. And from there, the team never looked back, earning their first championship title since franchising in 2019 at the start of the Call of Duty League itself.
Despite multiple tough years in the past, the Surge’s Major III performance was relatively in line with their current form. After a stronger than expected showing at the 2022 CDL Major II, some wondered whether the Surge could improve and compete in Toronto. Little did anyone know, the Seattle Surge would fight tooth and nail in every series, clear the upper bracket and beat the Atlanta FaZe 5-3 to win it all at the Major III.
Seattle’s journey through the upper bracket has been the consistent run that the organization was hunting for, through multiple rebuilds and painful losses. However, being able to overcome a dominate competitor like Atlanta FaZe twice was the cherry on top of everything else, according to Accuracy.
“It feels amazing to win back-to-back against FaZe,” Accuracy said. “We’ve put in the work over the past month. All of these boys work hard to perfect their craft — to go out there and show that our practice is working and our formula was satisfying.”
A tough road to the top
As an upper bracket finals team, the Surge squad only played four series in their journey to the top. However, all of their games were close. Two out of those four series went the distance, to five maps. But, that only made it better when the team won it all on the final day.
“It makes the story sweeter to win it scrappy all the way through,” Accuracy said. “These boys, they all got that dog in them. I don’t have to do anything special to keep them focused, they’re already special.”
Accuracy, as the oldest player on the active roster, is the anchor for the rookies to lean on. According to the Surge’s coaching staff, his importance both in-game and outside of it was crucial to this title win.
“When I wanted to build a young roster, I knew I needed someone older to rely on,” said head coach Sam “Fenix” Spencer. “So, when I found [Accuracy], I knew I found the perfect guy. We’ve had our ups and downs, but with the journey we’ve had, I’d go through it again in a heartbeat.”
Proving doubters wrong
At the same time, in their season’s early peak and dip in form, fans were upset with the Surge’s inconsistency according to the players. Yet, the Seattle players and coaches took those comments and used them to fuel this title run.
“I’ll speak for myself, some people definitely lost faith in me as a player recently,” Mack said . “So, it feels good to shut people up with our play.”
As much as getting to demonstrate that their skills mattered helped the team’s mentality, the whole Seattle Surge roster had already developed more confidence during their performance at the Major II. They only finished in the 5-6th spot, but their win over OpTic Texas helped them realize their potential peak.
“There’s a big difference between we can win and we can win, actually hold up the trophy,” Sib said. “Minnesota was unfortunate, but we came into this tournament with more certainty that we could win it all, knowing that we could win this no matter what.”
Throughout Seattle’s Major III run, they consistently proved doubters wrong, with their rookies Pred and Sib leading the charge. When the tournament wrapped, Pred won MVP and Sib said he was happy to finally get confirmation of how good the team is.
“This is proof that we can be the best and beat the best, whoever the best is,” Sib said. “Everyone knew we could, we have the potential. We also knew we could, but we did not execute until today, this major.”
Australia’s first CDL champion
As for Pred himself, he still couldn’t believe the run the team just had and that he was finally on top.
“Still hasn’t sunk in yet, to be honest, doesn’t feel real,” Pred said. “It felt like there was no stress or pressure, we just stuck together. Being the first Australian to win a chip is pretty cool.”
Accuracy backed Pred up and said it wasn’t just pretty cool — it was “insane.” Most of that insanity comes from the path Pred took to get to this point. After starting in the Oceanic region in 2015, he fought all the way to reach the big leagues until the Surge acquired him in late 2021. Not only was he the first Australian player to win a Major, but he was also the first Asia-Pacific player to do so.
“Going from playing local events in Australia to playing in the league, for me, I’m just blessed with the people that I have around me,” Pred said. “I feel like I’ve been put in a place to succeed, to get greatness. It could’ve been a lot worse if it wasn’t for the people around me.”
In those last two series against FaZe, he combined for 284 kills, leading his team in both series. In the grand final, his 173 kills for the series led the lobby by 12. When he heard that stat for the first time, he stayed humble regarding how he did it.
“I don’t even know how I got that. I just feel like my team sets me up to be in the spots I am,” Pred said. “They believe in me and I believe in them. We all completed our jobs.”
The Surge’s future in 2022
Now, the future is much brighter for the Seattle Surge. After multiple poor seasons in the league, roster rebuilds and drama, they’ve found a roster that works. But even after a title at the Major III, the Seattle Surge players are already looking for the next potential run.
“What’s next for us is that we’re gonna celebrate tonight, wake up tomorrow like nothing happened and get back to the lab,” Accuracy said. “One chip is not enough — that’s the start. We’re not gonna get complacent.”
[Disclosure: The Seattle Surge are owned by Enthusiast Gaming, which owns and operates Upcomer.]
About the Author
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.