5 major questions heading into 2021 Call of Duty League Stage 4 group play

Call of Duty is returning to LAN and six teams have made roster changes. Who knows how this is going to play out.

Photo via Call of Duty League

The 2021 Call of Duty League season has mostly been par for the course at the top of the standings. But beyond the Atlanta FaZe, anything can happen.

The roster that Atlanta constructed in the offseason has truly been a dream team of sorts and the rest of the season looks to be a formality before FaZe capture their first Call of Duty World Championship, which would give Arcitys, aBeZy, and Simp their second rings.  

Beyond Atlanta, the standings are wide open. New York sit in second place after consistent showings all year. Dallas, who have been a mess since dropping Huke, are in third but they haven’t looked like a top-three team in over a month. Toronto, who looked like a legitimate threat to challenge FaZe consistently after their Stage Two Major win, are in fourth. And OpTic Chicago, who have been as up and down as a team can be, round out the top five in the standings. 

Heading into Stage Four, many CDL fans have questions on the uncertainty surrounding the roster changes that were made since the end of Stage Three and how the rest of the year will play out. Here are five questions that will need to be answered before the end of the season.

Can anyone slow down the Atlanta FaZe?

It’s no secret that Atlanta have been the dominant force in the Call of Duty League all season, holding a match record of 22-4. Their entire starting lineup sits in the top 10 for overall K/D in the 2021 season, according to Breaking Point. It looks like Atlanta could cruise through group play yet again in Stage Four since they’ll avoid both the Toronto Ultra and New York Subliners until at least the upcoming Major. Atlanta should head into the first CDL LAN event in over a year with a 5-0 record. 

What OpTic Chicago team will we see?

OpTic Chicago have been a Jekyll and Hyde team so far in 2021. In Stage One, they nearly beat Atlanta 3-1 before a 250-245 loss on Moscow Hardpoint and 6-1 loss on Moscow Search and Destroy. In their last match in Stage Three group play, they were on the wrong end of a quick 3-0 loss to Atlanta. Chicago seemed to find their rhythm, though, in the Stage Three Major, starting off with three straight match wins before falling to Toronto 3-2. Chicago have the ability to be a top team and compete with FaZe, but they’ll need to try to find the ability to be consistent.

Which new-look roster has the best chance for success?

Half of the entire CDL will have a new roster heading into Stage Four. The Dallas Empire, Seattle Surge, Paris Legion, London Royal Ravens, Los Angeles Thieves, and Minnesota RØKKR have all made at least one move since the Stage Three Major ended. At this point in the season, there are only two teams who have yet to make any roster changes: Chicago and Atlanta.

It’s unclear if these additions will help propel any of the teams to the place they want to be: contending for championships. Dallas might have the best chance to turn their season around since they still retain three-fifths of the lineup that won CoD Champs 2020. If Vivid can play to his potential, we could see Dallas return to glory sooner than later. 

What does LAN look like in 2021?

Call of Duty has always been best played and spectated with in-person events. This June will mark the CDL’s return to LAN for the first time since March 2020. Many CDL veterans are curious as to how the younger generation of pros will handle LAN competition for the first time. LAN is a completely different beast than online play, which the CDL has been relegated to for more than a year.

While Stage Four group play will stay online, the Major, which will be held in Dallas next month, will look a lot different than what folks are used to with no fans and what will most likely be a skeleton crew and limited production. Still, getting back to LAN is a huge win for Activision and the CDL. 

What teams further cement themselves as a top-tier squad?

It’s well known that Atlanta are the best team in the CDL. As we inch closer to the 2021 playoffs, the question that remains is what teams are going to firmly solidify their status as a top-three squad? New York and Toronto are the most likely candidates since Toronto have been extremely impressive dating back to Stage Two. New York have continued to look like a typical Clayster-led team, scrapping, clawing, and fighting to set themselves up to be right there at the end of the season. Chicago, Dallas, L.A. Thieves, and Minnesota all sit on the heels of the upper tier of the CDL. Stage Four could determine which one will firmly establish themselves as a top-four team.

Stage Four group play begins on May 27 at 2pm CT when the Atlanta FaZe take on the Paris Legion.