Minnesota RØKKR upset Dallas Empire in 2021 Call of Duty League Stage One group play

Search and Destroy was Minnesota's key to success.

Photo via Call of Duty League™

The 2020 Call of Duty League champions have lost for the first time in the new season.

The Dallas Empire, widely considered the best team heading into the 2021 season, were upset by the Minnesota RØKKR 3-2 today. While Dallas won both Hardpoint maps in this five-game series, Minnesota took the all-important Search and Destroys.

Related: Group play results for Stage One of 2021 Call of Duty League

Heading into this series, Dallas kicked off their 2021 CDL season with a dominant 3-0 win over the Seattle Surge on Feb. 11. Minnesota, on the other hand, lost 3-1 to the Los Angeles Thieves earlier in that day. But the one map they won against L.A. was Search and Destroy—and that mode was the key to their upset of the Empire today.

After replaying the first map of this showdown due to connection issues, Dallas took Checkmate Hardpoint 250-201 behind the slaying efforts of Shotzzy and Huke, who dropped 34 and 33 kills, respectively. But Minnesota answered right back, winning Moscow Search and Destroy 6-3.

With Minnesota's struggles in Hardpoint early in the season, it seemed like this series would come down to the third mode, Control. And the RØKKR gained a 2-1 series lead by taking Garrison Control 3-2.

From there, the previous pattern in this match repeated itself. The Empire looked strong again in Hardpoint, winning map four Garrison 250-201 to force a decisive fifth map. But Minnesota closed out the upset with an impressive 6-2 victory on Garrison Search and Destroy, handing Dallas their first loss of the season.

Heading into the second week of Stage One group play, both Dallas and Minnesota are now 1-1, which means the L.A. Thieves are on top of Group A for the moment at 2-0. The RØKKR's first match next week will be against the Seattle Surge on Friday, Feb. 19 at 2pm CT. The Empire will play the London Royal Ravens on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 2pm CT.

There's still one match left to go before the first week of the 2021 CDL season official concludes today, however. The highly-anticipated showdown between OpTic Chicago and the Atlanta FaZe is now underway on the Call of Duty League YouTube channel.