CDL 2021: Stage 1 Major Tournament Recap

Posted on March 8, 2021 - Last Updated on March 9, 2021

While plenty of people predicted the first Major Tournament of the Call of Duty League 2021 season would end like this, few people predicted the events that occurred as it unraveled. However, it is officially over, and Atlanta FaZe has been crowned the victor of the first Call of Duty Major Tournament, walking away with $200,000 and an extra-special injection of points that will be invaluable as they look to retain their top spot through the second stage.

FaZe now sits with eight matches won, and zero matches lost, and they have the highest game win/loss ratio, having won more than 75% of all games played. They washed through the competition this week, playing against the Dallas Empire twice, and beating them twice. Although, we also saw an incredible display from the New York Subliners, who dominated the Florida Mutineers, the Los Angeles Guerrillas, and then OpTic Chicago, before being gracefully beaten by the Dallas Empire in the penultimate match of the Major.

With all that in mind, let’s look at a breakdown of the entire Major Tournament I schedule and talk about some of those huge upsets.

Round One – Elimination Bracket


London Royal Ravens vs. Toronto Ultra

Result: Toronto Ultra win 3 – 2

Our Prediction: Toronto Ultra win

There was no love lost between these two sides, with both of them eager to kick off the Major Tournament with decisive victory that would push one of them into the next round. Unfortunately for the London Royal Ravens, that one side was Toronto Ultra, who outplayed the lacking London side following a five-map bout. We’d like to say it was a balanced fixture, but London only really showed true promise in the first Search and Destroy of the series, on Garrison.

Florida Mutineers vs. Seattle Surge

Result: Florida Mutineers win 3 – 1

Our Prediction: Seattle Surge win

The two ocean-themed forces collided in the second match of the Major, but nobody predicted the overwhelming force of Florida, driven chiefly by newly-crowned legend Owakening. While Surge showed a little resistance during the eleven-round Search and Destroy, it wasn’t enough to suppress the Mutineers, who picked up big wins in every other fixture, including a 3 – 0 wipe on a Garrison Control.

Round One – Winners Bracket

Los Angeles Guerrillas vs. LA Thieves

Result: Los Angeles Guerrillas win 3 – 0

Our Prediction: LA Thieves win

Yes, you read that right – mid-table side, the Guerrillas, beat down LA Thieves, an industry favourite, in a devastating 3 – 0 defeat, the first of the Major. Although, it was a remarkable fight, and a close one at that; the LA Thieves were reluctant to give up the spot without a real battle, but they ultimately succumbed to the unpredictable, surprising strength of the Los Angeles Guerrillas. Following a 3 – 0 sweep, the LA Thieves dropped unceremoniously from the Winners bracket.

New York Subliners vs. OpTic Chicago

Result: OpTic Chicago win 3 – 0

Our Prediction: OpTic Chicago win

In another 3 – 0 sweep, the oldest name in the League wiped the relatively rookie side of the New York Subliners clean off the Winners bracket, sending them down below. While Clayster and Co. put up a brave fight, it wasn’t enough to overcome a voracious OpTic side, with Dashy in particular handing out some slick moves against the NYSL team. Almost every round was an easy win for the OpTic Chicago side.

Round Two – Elimination Bracket

Paris Legion vs. Florida Mutineers

Result: Florida Mutineers win 3 – 1

Our Prediction: Paris Legion

The Paris Legion had been playing remarkably well throughout the Super Week… And then they came up against the Florida Mutineers. Although the Paris Legion side managed to win the first round with Skrapz at the helm, it was a quick decline from there on out. They gave away a Miami Search, a Checkmate Control, and a Raid Hardpoint to Florida, who pushed them out of the Major with no prizes to speak of.

Minnesota Rokkr vs. Toronto Ultra

Result: Toronto Ultra win 3 – 2

Our Prediction: Minnesota Rokkr

In another big upset, Toronto Ultra held on tenaciously, taking a tense face-off against the Rokkr to the fifth map. It was the Rokkr who were playing remarkably well in recent weeks, while Ultra picked up loss after loss, but the latter time grabbed a late victory in this match. It was back-to-back wins in a round of Hardpoint and then a Search and Destroy that secured the win for Toronto.

Round Two – Winners Bracket

Los Angeles Guerrillas vs. Atlanta FaZe

Result: Atlanta FaZe win 3 – 0

Our Prediction: Atlanta FaZe

Of course FaZe’s first match of the week was going to be an impressive one. The biggest brand in the League ploughed into this face-off feeling rested and raring to go, and they absolutely punished the Guerrillas side with little-to-no mercy. It was an open-and-shut match that threw the Los Angeles Guerrillas into the Elimination bracket, and pushed FaZe towards the Grand Final.

Dallas Empire vs. OpTic Chicago

Result: Dallas Empire win 3 – 2

Our Prediction: Dallas Empire

This was Dallas Empire’s first match of the Major, and it can be argued that they had tougher competition than their rivals, Atlanta FaZe. OpTic Chicago walked into the match-up fresh from the crushing defeat of the Subliners, but the Empire was ready for them. It couldn’t have been a closer finish, with Empire securing a last-second victory in the eleventh round of a Search and Destroy fixture.

Round Three – Elimination Bracket

Florida Mutineers vs. New York Subliners

Result: New York Subliners win 3 – 2

Our Prediction: New York Subliners

Although the New York Subliners were fighting off the back of a big loss, they were determined to hold their own in the Elimination bracket. To that end, veterans Clayster and Mack mustered the rookie forces of Diamondcon and Asim to overcome a scary Florida Mutineers side. The Mutineers claimed two wins, but three back-to-back victories from the NYSL side put them to sleep.

LA Thieves vs. Toronto Ultra

Result: LA Thieves 3 – 0

Our Prediction: LA Thieves

Nobody really saw the LA Thieves competing in the Elimination bracket, but here we are. Admittedly, the Toronto Ultra side was riding high on two big wins, but the LA Thieves side proved to be a force they couldn’t overcome. Aside from an impressive performance on a late-game round of Control, Ultra didn’t contribute much to this match, and they were pushed from the Major.

Round Four – Elimination Bracket

Los Angeles Guerrillas vs. New York Subliners

Result: New York Subliners 3 – 1

Our Prediction: New York Subliners

Don’t count them out until they’re really out! The New York Subliners stormed through this face-off, only allowing the Guerrillas to pick up one win on a round of Search. As both teams approached the final, a desperate fight was laid out ahead of them, but it was the Subliners who proved to be victorious, eliminating their second team of the Major.

OpTic Chicago vs. LA Thieves

Result: OpTic Chicago 3 – 1

Our Prediction: LA Thieves

In truth, LA Thieves entered the Major on an extreme high, having played impeccably well throughout the Super Week. However, a second defeat, this time at the hands of OpTic Chicago, sent them packing from the Major much earlier than they’d intended. They’ll need to fight hard to reclaim lost ground when Stage 2 of the Call of Duty League starts.

OpTic Chicago vs. New York Subliners

Result: New York Subliners 3 – 0

Our Prediction: N/A

It was payback time for the New York Subliners, who devastated the OpTic Chicago side in a similar fashion to their earlier defeat – a 3 – 0 sweep. OpTic were left looking helpless as the Subliners punished them in every match, first a round of Hardpoint on Crossroads, then a Garrison Search, and finally, a Control on Checkmate. Sorry OpTic, it’s time to leave the Major.

Winners Bracket Final

Dallas Empire vs. Atlanta FaZe

Result: Atlanta FaZe 3 – 0

Our Prediction: Dallas Empire

There was bad blood between these two giants before the match, and you’d best believe there was bad blood afterwards, too. Both the Empire and FaZe were as strong as they could be in this match-up, but Dallas ultimately succumbed to a crushing 3 – 0 defeat at the hands of an extremely capable FaZe side. But it wasn’t over yet for Dallas.

Elimination Bracket Final

Dallas Empire vs. New York Subliners

Result: Dallas Empire 3 – 0

Our Prediction: N/A

It’s fair to say that nobody thought the New York Subliners would get this far, but they’d been playing remarkably well leading up to this point. However, Dallas were obviously invigorated by their last-second loss handed to them by FaZe, and they wanted to get a little retribution. So, they embarked on a spree against the NYSL side, who in turn gave as good as they got. It came down to the wire in every match, but Dallas ultimately overcame the Subliners, and they were ejected from the Major at the final stage.

Grand Final

Atlanta FaZe vs. Dallas Empire

Result: Atlanta FaZe 5 – 2

Our Prediction: Dallas Empire

The first Bo9 of the tournament wasn’t a surprising one, with many fans of the Call of Duty League predicting it would end this way. It was a clash of titans; the reigning champions versus the second-place team from the last season. Atlanta FaZe had breezed through the Major thus far, and they entered this match-up ready to send Dallas packing, as they had already done mere hours before.

It looked like an easy win for Atlanta FaZe, who picked up three victories back-to-back before Dallas Empire responded with a Hardpoint win on Checkmate. However, FaZe’s Search and Destroy game was just too strong, and they grabbed a fourth victory in the series on Moscow. Dallas made one last stand on a round of Control, securiring a 3 – 0 sweep, but it just wasn’t enough. Another Search and Destroy, this time on Raid, put Dallas to bed, and Atlanta FaZe was crowned the victorious team of the first Call of Duty League Major.

Grant Taylor-Hill Avatar
Written by
Grant Taylor-Hill

Grant is a freelance writer and gamer from Surrey, England. He is an avid 'omnigamer' but plays primarily on PC, enjoying a diverse collection of games. His favourite esports title is Call of Duty, and he backs Dallas Empire in the CDL.

View all posts by Grant Taylor-Hill
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