May 13, 2020 / 2:55 AM / 12 days ago

FaZe look to shake off Empire in second half of CDL season

As the Call of Duty League enters the second half of its season, any talk of what has gone down thus far seems to always come down to one question:

Atlanta or Dallas?

Through seven weeks, the Atlanta FaZe and Dallas Empire have combined to win more than half the CDL’s series (four). They are the only two teams with multiple series wins (two each). Each won the last series in which it played, and the two teams rank first and second in the standings.

After a series win last weekend, the FaZe sit atop the standings with 170 points, 20 ahead of the Empire.

On Tuesday, the FaZe’s Chris “Simp” Lehr and Preston “Priestahh” Greiner took part in a conference call with the media, and it didn’t take long for the question about the CDL’s best to come up again. For their part, Simp and Priestahh weren’t taking the bait.

“I wouldn’t say we’re the best team in the league right now. I would say we’re probably top two with Dallas,” Simp said. “Until we have another chance to play against them and beat them or have another series against them, I’d say they’re No. 1 until we can prove that we’re better.”

Priestahh concurred, saying that the edge goes to Dallas — at least for the time being.

“I think we have to go up against Dallas again, just because they beat us (the last time the teams faced off),” he said. “Until we play them and beat them, then you can probably say we’re the best again.”

While the argument over who’s No. 1 has plenty of voices on each side, it’s difficult to counter the notion that any team is playing better than the FaZe and the Empire since the CDL returned from its near five-week halt because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the three series since play resumed a month ago, each team has had a bye and won a weekend. Dallas’ worst showing was a loss to the Minnesota Rokkr in the semifinals of the Empire’s “home” series. Atlanta’s only loss was to Dallas in the finals of the Chicago “home” series in late April. The FaZe won last week’s Florida “home” series while the Empire had a bye.

Though the CDL has maintained the home team designations for each weekend, the remainder of this season will be played online only because of the coronavirus pandemic. The last series played in a host city was March 7-8 in Los Angeles. The FaZe are the only team thus far to win their home series, doing so Feb. 22-23.

The FaZe actually have had a strong showing against Dallas this season, with sweeps of the Empire in both Launch Weekend and the Los Angeles series. But the teams’ most recent meeting — the FaZe’s stinging 3-1 loss in the Chicago final — certainly got Atlanta’s attention and intensified the FaZe-Empire argument.

But as Atlanta turns its attention to the back half of the schedule — and remains clearly aware of where it stands in relation to Dallas — the FaZe’s most recent win may have actually opened the team’s eyes to the strength of the rest of the league. And that awareness could be rather valuable down the stretch, as it was last weekend.

Entering last weekend with only 20 points apiece, the Toronto Ultra, the New York Subliners and OpTic Gaming Los Angeles joined Atlanta in making the final four of the Florida “home” series. OpTic advanced the final and nearly had the FaZe down 2-0 in maps before Atlanta nipped L.A. 6-5 on Arklov Peak Search and Destroy en route to sweeping the last three maps.

“Honestly, there are still good teams besides Dallas and Chicago,” Simp said. “OpTic made the finals (last weekend) and no one thought they were gonna make it. A lot of teams are getting better right now. Teams like New York, Toronto, OpTic ... everyone is just advancing in how they play the game, and I think we’re going to keep seeing that throughout the season.”

The CDL returns to action with the Seattle “home” series May 22-24. Both the FaZe and the Empire are off that weekend. Both return to action June 5-7 in the Minnesota series, and they could play each other in the second round.

Atlanta FaZe Call of Duty League results

Launch Weekend

FaZe 3, Dallas 0

FaZe 3, New York 1

Atlanta Weekend

FaZe 3, OpTic Gaming Los Angeles 0

FaZe 3, London 1

FaZe 3, Minnesota 2

FaZe 3, Florida 0

WON WEEKEND

Los Angeles Weekend

FaZe 3, Florida 0

FaZe 3, Dallas 0

Minnesota 3, FaZe 2

LOST IN SEMIFINALS

Chicago Weekend

FaZe 3, London 0

FaZe 3, New York 2

FaZe 3, Seattle 1

Dallas 3, FaZe 1

LOST IN FINAL

Florida Weekend

FaZe 3, Paris 1

FaZe 3, London 1

FaZe 3, New York 2

FaZe 3, OpTic Gaming Los Angeles 1

WON WEEKEND

Atlanta FaZe remaining Call of Duty League schedule

June 5: Minnesota series (open vs. Seattle)

June 19: Paris series (open vs. Toronto)

July 10: New York series (open vs. Los Angeles Guerrillas)

July 24: Toronto series (open vs. Minnesota)

Call of Duty League standings through Week 7:

1. Atlanta FaZe, 170 points

2. Dallas Empire, 150 points

3. Chicago Huntsmen, 130 points

4. Minnesota Rokkr, 110 points

5. Florida Mutineers, 100 points

6. Paris Legion, 60 points

T7. Optic Gaming Los Angeles, 50 points

T7. London Royal Ravens, 50 points

T9. Toronto Ultra, 40 points

T9. Seattle Surge, 40 points

T9. New York Subliners, 40 points

12. Los Angeles Guerrillas, 20 points

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