We've arrived at the most anticipated event of the year. It's the last Home Series for the 2020 CDL Season, and there's a ton on the line. Let's take a look at each team that will playing this weekend, and what they need to do to be successful.
Toronto Ultra: As always, we begin with the home team, who will be matched up against OGLA in their first match of the weekend. This is actually a big match for both these teams. The Ultra trail OpTic Gaming by only 10 CDL Points, so if the Ultra can come away with a victory, both teams will be tied as the 9th seed with 80 Points each. The real prize for Ultra is to overtake the Paris Legion for the 8th seed, which guarantees a spot in the Winners’ Bracket. That’ll be tough for Ultra to do, as they would need to win the entire event to do so. Remember, Paris holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Toronto at 2-1, so it’s not enough for Toronto to tie with Paris, they need to outright overtake them.
The Ultra really aren’t in that tough of a group, as the other teams in their group are Chicago, Seattle and OpTic. Assuming Chicago takes one of the Semi-Final spots, that leaves just one spot between the other three teams. Toronto has looked a little better every time we see them play, and their just coming off an upset over the Atlanta FaZe to reach the Semi-Finals, only to be swept by the New York Subliners.
Regardless, I believe this team has a great opportunity to at least reach the Semi-Finals again, but winning the entire event is something that will be difficult. All of the top four teams in the league will be present, and while they've already clinched a 1st round bye, the exact seeding is still up for grabs, meaning those teams all have something to play for. Still, finishing ahead of OGLA would mean that that Toronto would match up against the Los Angeles Guerrillas in the first round of the Losers’ Bracket, which at this point, has to feel like some sort of prize.
Atlanta FaZe: Remember at the middle point of the season where everyone was saying that Atlanta wasn’t looking as dominant as they did to start the season, but they kept winning when they needed to? They were still reaching the Grand Finals, but they didn’t look that great doing it. Well, they might have lost some of the Grand Finals to Florida and Dallas, but they were still racking up CDL Points, and now they find themselves as they 1st overall seed heading into the last weekend of the season, exactly where you want to be.
Of course, there are ton a different scenarios that could play out with the top four teams that could impact the standings, but FaZe can’t pay attention to those. For all four teams the goal is clear, win the tournament, and you should be guaranteed a top 2 seed. Atlanta’s 10 point lead on the Dallas Empire certainly helps, but with how dominant Dallas looked last weekend, you can’t leave it to those 10 points to be the difference maker.
Atlanta is still a top team in the game, no doubt, but they have some things that they need fix before the weekend. Their hardpoints still appear to be just a little shaky at times, and they haven’t looked as dominant as they did earlier in the season in SND. Their work will be cut out for them, as their group will feature Minnesota, Dallas and Florida. This has to be the tournament where FaZe come out firing on all cylinders and gets back to the form we haven’t seen from them this past month. They’ve had the number 1 seed for the majority of the season. Losing it at the very last tournament of the season would be massively disappointing.
Seattle Surge: Another tournament, another opportunity for the Surge to put together a run to the finals. At this point you have to almost anticipate that whatever can go wrong for this team, will go wrong. Whether its stream delays, players lagging out, this team has experienced everything that can go wrong with competing online.
Even though they trail the Paris Legion by 50 points, meaning if they were to win the event they would tie for the 8th seed, Paris holds the head-to-head tiebreaker 1-0, so they can’t qualify for the Winners Bracket. There is still the chance to move up to the 10th or 9th seed however, but they’ll have to advance to at least the Semi-Finals for that to happen, and have Chicago be the other team from their group to advance as well.
Seattle really just has to look at this as a warm-up for the Playoffs, as they will play at least one team they could end matching up against in the first round of the Losers’ Bracket. Identify the mistakes that have been holding this team back, pray that no internet issues affect this team, and try to build some solid momentum to lead into the Postseason.
Dallas Empire: The Empire will come into this weekend hot off their win in the London Home Series. This was the best we’ve seen Dallas play all weekend, dropping only 1 map the entire weekend. They’ve put themselves in a great position to take a top 2 seed, currently trailing Atlanta by only 10 CDL Points with 240. They also faced some stiff competition along the way, facing New York and Florida in consecutive rounds, and dominated them both winning 3-0.
Dallas will need to continue to keep that high level of play; they’ll start the weekend off with a rematch with Florida, and are also in the same group as Atlanta. Getting past those two teams in enough of a gauntlet, but Chicago is also in this tournament, albeit on the other side of the bracket.
With how good Dallas looked last weekend, a match-up with Chicago is something I’m praying for, as I consider those teams to currently be the best teams in this current Meta. I’ll be looking towards Crimsix to continue performing like he did last weekend, and for Shotzzy to continue his MVP campaign. Dallas has had some moments this year where the falter against the top teams in the league; this can’t be the weekend where that happens again. As long as they can continue to play the way they did at the London event, a top 2 seed is theirs to lose.
OpTic Gaming Los Angeles: OGLA will be looking to continue building on the improvements they made last weekend. There’s a lot of debate going around about how much better OGLA looked this weekend, and whether their near upset of Florida was due to their high level of play, or Florida just not playing well.
I’d argue a mix of both. Florida certainly didn’t look like the team that won back to back Home Series, but OGLA looked like a better team as well. Specifically, it looked like Slasher finally got some help from his two new teammates, Drazah and Hollow. Their performance against Florida seemed to spark something in Kuavo and TJHaly, who stepped up their gameplay from the Florida series and played fairly well against Seattle.
But the honeymoon phase for this team is over, and they have a huge matchup against the Toronto Ultra to start the event. Should they get past the Ultra, they would presumably play the Chicago Huntsmen for a spot in the Semi-Final, which will be an even harder thing to accomplish. Regardless, this team still has a great opportunity to advance to the Semi-Finals.
They’ll be trying to compete with Toronto and Paris for the 8th seed in the Playoffs, but even if they can’t pull that off, a good performance this weekend would go a long way in giving this team momentum for the Playoffs. A poor performance would give their critics all the ammunition they need to claim that their performance last weekend was just a fluke. It’ll be up to them to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Florida Mutineers: The Florida Mutineers find themselves in probably the toughest situation of the top four teams. They were only able to come away with 20 points during the London Home Series, they were easily swept by Dallas in the Semi-Finals, and their first match of the weekend is against that same Dallas team. Not a great way to come into the biggest even of the season.
Nevertheless, Florida is still in a great position to get a top four seed. They hold the tiebreak over Chicago 3-0, and are currently tied with Dallas and Atlanta at 2-2. This puts a lot of pressure on the three teams in Group B to win and advance to the Semi-Finals as quick as possible. The last thing you would want the playoff seeding to come down to would be head-to-head tiebreakers.
I expect Florida to bounce back and play considerably better than they did last weekend. This team was the first to win three Home Series this year for a reason. The main improvements have to come from Frosty (0.89) and Havok (0.93). Their inconsistent play isn’t the sole reason this team lost, but it certainly didn’t help. If they can get back to form and start dominating again, they can beat any team in the league.
Minnesota Rokkr: It’s do or die time for the Rokkr. The team started the season off hot, but the move to online hit them hard, as they’ve failed to qualify for the Semi-Finals in their last four events. GodRx has seemingly lost his MVP form, although he’s still a solid player. This team has seemingly lost all momentum they built early in the season, leading to questions as whether they were actually a good team, or if they had just figured out the game earlier than other teams.
I still believe this team has what it takes to beat the top team in the league. The roster might not scream talent, but they prioritize team work and chemistry, and teams that are built on those two things are usually solid. Believe it or not, the Rokkr are currently tied with the London Royal Ravens for the 6th seed with 120 points each, and trail the New York Subliners by only 20 points.
If they can make it to the Grand Finals, they can overtake New York for the 5th overall seed, which would be insane considering the last couple of months they’ve had. It’s not an impossible thing to do, and they’ll need an entire team effort to get it done. I’ll be looking toward Asim to continue his stellar play from CDL New York to help his team capture the CDL Points they need. Most people have written this team off, but they haven’t made a single roster change all season, so the team that started off the year so hot is still there somewhere. It’s up to Minnesota to find and get back into that form if they want a successful weekend.
Chicago Huntsmen: Chicago is looking to come into the event and continue their stellar play from the New York Home Series. Yes, they were swept by the Subliners in the finals, but they still played well the entire weekend, especially against FaZe. The two AR setup with Formal and Arcitys was working to perfection, as both players dominated the tournament. Minus their performance in the Grand Finals, that was the best the Huntsmen have looked all year.
Their still very much in the hunt for a top 2 seed, and to their credit, they hold the head-to-head tiebreakers over both Atlanta (1-0) and Dallas (3-1). They don’t hold the tiebreaker over Florida (3-0) however, so they’ll have to hope that they don’t end up in a tie with Florida when it’s all said and done.
Chicago really looks to be coming into form as the season closes, and they’ll need Envoy and Scump to play better than they did in the New York Home Series. Both players seemed to struggle with the new Meta a bit, which is understandable as it favors AR’s considerably. But they’ve had time to get adjusted now, and they’ll need to be performing at a high level for Chicago to win this tournament. It can’t be Formal, Arcitys and Prestinni carrying the load with the AR’s.
If the sub-machine gun players for Chicago can step up and play as like their usual selves, I expect Chicago to take this tournament. The only thing that gives me pause is if they can continue their high level of SND play. Chicago was never a bad SND team, currently ranked 3rd in the league in SND win percentage (62%). They looked stellar in their SND at New York, and as long as they can keep that up, they should be able to walk away with another tournament win and a top 2 seed for the playoffs.
Credit to 11Stats and FaZe Easy Mac for the statistics used in this article. Give them a follow down below!