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The CDL Kickoff Classic starts Friday, which means the 2022 season is finally underway. While this event doesn’t count for CDL Points in the standings, it does allow viewers to get their first glimpse at the new rosters — from completely revamped teams to merged ones.
While pros can finally experience Call of Duty: Vanguard on LAN for the first time and test how their strategies work in a real, competitive environment, fans will get a taste of who might challenge the Atlanta FaZe for their throne in 2022. But before anyone steps foot on stage, here’s a list of five players who could have a big impact on the upcoming season.
1. Pred – Seattle Surge
Amer “Pred” Zulbeari is one of the Seattle Surge’s highly-touted rookies, joining Daunte “Sib” Gray. Pred is one of the most exciting rookies to enter the CDL, as he comes from the APAC region where he dominated for two years straight under Renegades. In online scrimmages, Pred has been a menace on the map, consistently dropping high-kill games.
However, the Kickoff Classic will be his first time on LAN as a professional. It will be interesting to see how he rises to the test against the London Royal Ravens in Seattle’s first match. London also boasts a solid rookie tandem, making for an intriguing matchup.
2. iLLeY – OpTic Texas
OpTic Texas are the merger between the Dallas Empire and OpTic Chicago’s rosters from 2021. What remains is one of the most talented rosters in the CDL. While every member of the roster has proved themselves at one point or another, Indervir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal is the player to watch.
iLLeY had an up-and-down 2021 season, being moved from Flex to Main AR in the middle of the year. The Flex role seemed to suit him more, which is exactly what he gets to do in Vanguard. While he’ll still be running an AR most of the time, he has Brandon “Dashy” Otell to back him up as the Main AR. This should give iLLeY more flexibility on the map and lead to him popping off more than he did in 2021.
3. Owakening – Florida Mutineers
One of the most underrated roster changes of the 2021 offseason didn’t actually involve dropping or adding a player. Instead, it involved the Florida Mutineers moving renowned AR player Joe “Owakening” Conley to an SMG role. This also corresponded with the Mutineers also moving Cesar “Skyz” Bueno to a Flex role.
Owakening has been one of the most consistent AR players in the CDL’s two-year history. However, the addition of rookie David “Davpadie” Maslowski moved Big Wake off the role and into a completely new one. In online scrimmages, the Mutineers have been struggling against any team they face. Their first match against the LA Guerrillas will give us the first glimpse of whether Florida made a mistake moving Owakening to an SMG.
4. Methodz – Boston Breach
Anthony “Methodz” Zinni is back in the CDL after two years with the Toronto Ultra. The popular player spent the majority of last season on the bench but got the chance to lead a new franchise this offseason. The Boston Breach took a chance on Methodz’s roster for the start of the 2022 season and, so far, it seems to be paying off.
Boston has been playing extremely well in online scrimmages. While the rookie tandem of Dylan “Nero” Koch and Kenyen “Capsidal” Sutton is making great strides, Methodz is the backbone of the roster. Methodz’s slower style of play works extremely well in Vanguard, as it did in COD WWII. He took home an MVP award during that season and it seems like he could be on a similar trajectory in 2022. Fans will see Methodz in action for the first time on LAN since 2020.
5. Huke – LA Guerrillas
Cuyler “Huke” Garland had arguably the most tumultuous 2021 season of any CDL player. From being dropped by Dallas to spelling his name wrong on a COVID test, last season didn’t treat Huke well. He got a second chance with the LA Guerrillas, though, as the organization went on a spending spree to completely revamp their roster.
Huke comes into the 2022 season as one of the biggest wildcards. His talent is undeniable, but after last season, fans are wondering if he still has what it takes to compete at a high-level. The CDL Kickoff Classic is the perfect event to show fans how he can perform in Vanguard.
The CDL Kickoff Classic begins on Friday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. ET on the Call of Duty League’s YouTube Channel.
Joey Carr is a full-time writer for multiple esports and gaming websites. He has 6+ years of experience covering esports and traditional sporting events, including DreamHack Atlanta, Call of Duty Championships 2017, and Super Bowl 53.