LONDON -- This weekend, the Call of Duty League crossed the pond for its first overseas homestand and first tournament-style event of the season.
The Royal Ravens had full support from a London crowd like no other, the Chicago Huntsmen took home a championship in convincing fashion, and the Dallas Empire proved that maybe it was just the patch after all.
In case you missed the action this weekend, here's an "I went to a Call of Duty League tournament in London and lived to tell about it" account of the weekend.
London just hits different
The crowd brought some hooligan-level excitement to this event. I'd like to tell you all of the good English chants I heard over the weekend, but most are so NSFW that it might cost me my job. The pints were flowing, people were dressed up as ravens mascots, and there was no shortage of Royal Ravens merchandise. You can tell this team means a lot to the local fans -- not to mention they are one of only two teams in the league that represent an entire country.
Watch this to get a sense of the hype that lasted for the entirety of the weekend-long event:
The Chicago Huntsmen also had a huge number of supporters in the room. The Green Wall has officially followed Hector "H3CZ" Rodriguez and Seth "Scump" Abner to Chicago. Matthew "Skrapz" Marshall, a native Englishman, got the rare opportunity to play in front of his home crowd, family and friends.
"It gives me tingles, like, as soon as I walk on that stage," Skrapz said. "Even when I was walking through the crowd is the best feeling in the world. Just, that's what it's all about: the fans."
Fan favorite Matthew "FormaL" Piper also weighed in on what it meant to be on stage in front of this level of energy.
"London events are always just different," the Huntsmen AR player said. "They're just a little bit more special. The atmosphere is a little bit different. The energy is incredible. You can feel it on stage, and it's really fun to play in front of."
A London vs. N.Y. rivalry is born?
We saw the Ravens make light work of the New York Subliners in Week 1, with Bradley "wuskin" Marshall going off for 28 kills to 17 deaths on Hardpoint in that match and kickstarting of a lot of "Piccadilly bias" jokes.
When they met Saturday in the qualifying round, the Subs came to play (yeah, the power rankings might have been off on these guys). They went five rounds, and London pulled off a reverse-sweep win -- shout-out to Dylan "Dylan" Henderson's epic, midair takedown of Lamar "Accuracy" Abedi in Round Five on Search and Destroy -- but the win wasn't without drama.
The London crowd really went in on Donovan "Temp" Laroda (again, NSFW stuff from the lads in the crowd), who then stood up and started to give it back to them. In the end, it didn't pan out so well for the guy.
How many maps did New York win? pic.twitter.com/yOUywYhsfy— London Royal Ravens (@RoyalRavens) February 8, 2020
If these guys keep matching up like this throughout the season, we're likely to get a lot more where this came from.
No one is better at trash talk than Scump
He did it in Minneapolis, and he did it again in London, and we really hope this trend continues, especially when the Huntsmen play the Dallas Empire, and especially while Scump is looking Crimsix or James "Clayster" Eubanks directly in the eyes. Insert this beef into my veins!
The thing about Scump, though, is that he backs it all up when it's game time. He was 10th overall in KD this weekend, according to stats from Atlanta FaZe analyst Austin O'Neil. That top-10 performance benefitted from an absurd 2.13 KD on Search and Destroy maps, which led the CDL on that map type in London.
Other players tried it (looking at you, Temp and Crim), but in front of this tough London crowd, Scump remained on top of the trash-talk power ranking. Go off, king.
Tournament-style play is way more fun to watch
Who doesn't love an elimination round? The stakes were way higher this weekend than they were at the Minneapolis opening, and the effects were felt all around.
That is probably why we got a lot more smack talk from players this weekend and why the crowd was much more engaged: This format feels more like the original competitive CoD scene in that every mistake is magnified because it means you could be sending your team home.
Although it's still early in the season, every game matters, and the teams that left without points have a lot of ground to make up. The Huntsmen don't have that problem, but what Scump said goes for the rest of the CDL teams, too.
"These points are really important," he said. "You don't want to get left behind, like, at all, in this point system ... because it's really unforgiving."
The Guerrillas vs. everyone
It seems that no one has moved on from Launch Weekend, and Patrick "ACHES" Price and the Guerrillas are still very much the villains of the CDL.
For as much as the crowd got behind the Ravens and Huntsmen, the L.A. team got the brutal opposite. At least during Week 1, they were able to back up their talk with their gameplay, but this time the team left London with zero points and an uneventful performance.
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Only one member of the Guerrillas went positive this weekend, with Ulysses "AquA" Silva posting a 1.13 KD. And ACHES? He had a tournament to forget, with the worst overall KD of the tournament at 0.74.
The MVP award goes to ...
We were all witnesses to some incredible CoD action this weekend. But what the broadcast didn't catch was the real MVP moment, when H3CZ, who spent Chicago's final knockout round vs. Paris Legion watching in the middle of the crowd, came to the aid of a fan.
It had gotten late, and some fans had decided to build a tower of empty pint cups, and, well ... security didn't love that. Officers began to escort a man out, and H3CZ noticed it happening and started to sprint to the door (to the chant of "Hec-tor to the res-cue! Hec-tor to the res-cue!") to convince security to let the guy stay. And it worked! The man watched the rest of the match from the front row, and Chicago went on to win the first championship -- on H3CZ's 40th birthday, no less. People say it helps to pay it forward.