Dallas Empire sweep New York Subliners in Call of Duty League Kickoff Classic show match

The Empire picked up right where they left off last year.

For the first time since August, fans of professional Call of Duty have some competitive matches to watch today—even if they’re just fan-voted exhibition series.

The Call of Duty League is celebrating its one-year anniversary this weekend with the Kickoff Classic event. All 12 franchises will play in preseason show matches over the next two days that have absolutely no impact on the CDL regular season, which officially starts on Feb. 11. And the first match today previewed one of the most anticipated showdowns heading into the 2021 season.

The Dallas Empire, the 2020 Call of Duty League champions, took on the New York Subliners today. One day after Dallas won CoD Champs 2020, the CDL announced the switch from five-vs-five to four-vs-four gameplay for 2021. This forced the world champs to drop one player and Clayster was the odd man out. Clayster eventually joined the Subliners during the offseason, setting up this grudge match between the veteran and his former team.

But today, Dallas were in complete control of this series and won 3-0. It started on Garrison Hardpoint, which the Empire took 250-192. Shotzzy, the 2020 CDL MVP, led the lobby with a 35/17 scoreline, while Huke also contributed 30 kills for the Empire.

Dallas carried the momentum from that map one victory into Checkmate Search and Destroy, which they won 6-2. Huke had the most kills in the game with nine but Search and Destroy superstar iLLeY was right behind him with eight, including an impressive one-vs-three clutch in the fourth round. The Empire closed out the show match with a 3-1 win on Raid Control, led by Crimsix's 34/23 performance and iLLeY's 32 kills.

Although the Empire looked strong today, New York were heavy underdogs coming into this exhibition match. The roster of Clayster, Mack, Diamondcon, and Asim had less than a week of practice together following ZooMaa unexpectedly stepping away from competing on Jan. 19. The Subliners now have a few more weeks to practice before the 2021 CDL season officially begins next month.

The next match of the Kickoff Classic will feature the Los Angeles Guerrillas facing off against the Seattle Surge. You can watch all the action on the official Call of Duty League YouTube channel.