Although this event does not count towards points for the 2021 Call of Duty League season, the Kickoff Classic gives some of the best COD teams in the world the opportunity to fine tune and showcase their skills for the upcoming season, while also competing for the $5 million total prize pool and $200,000 major grand prize.
Your first taste of #CDL2021 comes this weekend with the Kickoff Classic!
⚔️ Fan-voted show matches
🆎 Group selection show
1️⃣ Stage 1 schedule reveal
🗓 2021 season schedule reveal
— Call of Duty League (@CODLeague) January 21, 2021
Here are our picks for each matchup of Day 1 of the 2021 Call of Duty League Kickoff Classic.
Dallas Empires (-600) vs New York Subliners (+350)
The matchup between the Dallas Empires and New York Subliners has been highly anticipated since James Clayton Eubanks (AKA Clayster) was removed from the Dallas’ squad just three days after winning the playoff championship. Clayster has since joined the Subliners and is preparing to kick off the 2021 season against his former team.
Given the addition of Clayster to their line-up and that ZooMaa’s wrist injury has forced him into early retirement, the more unified and experienced Empires team are heavily favored by the bookmakers and should have no trouble getting their 2021 season off to a strong start with a win over New York.
Pick: Dallas Empires (-600)
We are thankful for everything that @ZooMaa has done for the Subliners & our entire org wishes him a speedy recovery. His incredible talent as a teammate & competitor has always made him amazing & the positivity he brings to the community is truly special. We’ll see you soon. https://t.co/P5ZIKnvE72 pic.twitter.com/Lm4xLRsEAd
— NYSL (@Subliners) January 19, 2021
LA Guerillas (+110) vs Seattle Serge (-150)
With both the Serge and the Guerillas having had disappointing 2020 campaigns, their matchup on Day 1 of the 2021 Call of Duty League Kickoff Classic could shape how the season unfolds for these two team’s and their new rosters.
As Call of Duty esports returns to a 4v4 structure, a team like the Guerillas is a frightening prospect with three of their four starters boasting World Championships success. However, with players such as Prestinni, Gunless and Octane competing for Seattle, the Surge’s level of skill with assault rifles will be tough for any opponent to overcome this season. Seattle to win.
Pick: Seattle Serge (-150)
London Royal Ravens (-138) vs Paris Legion (+100)
In terms of the odds, this is recognisably the closest matchup of the weekend, which should make for another great instalment of the London Royal Ravens vs Paris Legion rivalry. The two European franchises both underwent some roster changes this offseason, after the Royal Ravens shockingly released the Marshall twins. Matthew Marshall (AKA Skrapz) has since joined Paris Legion for 2021 with a chip on his shoulder.
Last year’s UK breakout star, Alex Carpenter (AKA Alexx) has replaced Matthew Marshall on the Royal Ravens in the hope of helping London improve on last year’s fourth place finish. After a complete roster overhaul, Skrapz will be joined by Ulysses Silva (AKA AquA), Nicholas DiCostanzo (AKA Classic) and Luis Rivera (AKA Fire) for the new look Paris team. Despite being less experienced when playing as a team, the new look Legion are stacked with talent and are our pick to upset the Royal Ravens this weekend.
Pick: Paris Legion (+100)
OpTic Chicago (-150) vs LA Thieves (+110)
In what has the potential to be one of the closest matchups of the weekend, OpTic Chicago and the LA Thieves have rebranded for the 2021 season and will face off on Day 1 of the Call of Duty League Kickoff Classic. Previously known as the LA OpTic, the Thieves underwent a name change this offseason, as did OpTiC Chicago who changed their name from the Chicago Huntsman.
While both team names have changed, as have both rosters, with Brandon Otell (AKA Dashy) joining OpTic Chicago after being benched by the now LA Thieves last season. The Thieves are certainly capable of an upset in this one, however OpTic being the superior Search and Destroy team should result in a Chicago victory.
Pick: Optic Chicago (-150)
Toronto Ultra (+100) vs Minnesota ROKKR (-138)
Like the London Royal Ravens vs Paris Legion matchup, this weekend’s clash between Toronto and Minnesota is predicted to be a close one by the bookmakers. The Ultra had a strong finish to the 2020 season and look to have a solidified roster for the upcoming season, headlined by Anthony Zinni (AKA Methodz).
Contrastingly, Minnesota ROKKR had a strong start to the 2020 season before undergoing numerous roster changes in a mid season rebuild ahead of the Black Ops Cold War season last year. With both team’s possessing well balanced and talented rosters, this has the makings of another tough contest. Given their strong finish to tournament play in 2020, Toronto’s squad should carry their form into the new season, knowing what it takes to win and how to win together.
Pick: Toronto Ultra (+100)
— Call of Duty League (@CODLeague) January 21, 2021
Atlanta FaZe (-334) vs Florida Mutineers (+240)
With 2019 Call of Duty champion Alec Sanderson (AKA Arcitys) joining three experienced FaZe members for the upcoming 4v4 season, FaZe are the favorites to take down the Florida Mutineers this weekend. The Mutineers also made some changes last year, adding MVP contender Owakening in May.
Joseph Conley (AKA Owakening) is gearing up for his first full season with Florida and will be the key to any Mutineers success given the rookies on their current roster. The Mutineers certainly have more to prove this season, however FaZe have only gotten stronger adding Arcitys to their solidified squad. Making them the pick for this early season matchup.
Pick: Atlanta FaZe (-334)
*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of Bet365
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Image by: Ben Pursell