New York Subliners are the 2023 CDL Champs, and a look back at the season.

The New York Subliners lifting the 2023 CDL Championship Trophy.
The New York Subliners lifting the 2023 CDL Championship Trophy.(Image via Call of Duty League)
Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 8:50 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2023 at 8:51 AM CDT
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(Gray News) - This year’s Call of Duty League season finished on June 18th with a dominant Grand Finals performance from the New York Subliners. The CDL Champs event took place in Las Vegas and drew a prodigious audience online and in person. The tournament was full of ups and downs as fan favorites failed to live up to the hype while others proved they shouldn’t be overlooked.

OpTic Texas struggled at the start of the season when they failed to make the first Major, followed by a string of unexpected roster changes. Their predominant roster hit was losing their longtime star smg player Seth ‘Scump’ Abner. The scramble to fill the gap took until Major III when their final roster addition of the season in rookie Dan ‘Ghosty’ Rothe proved to be the way forward.

OpTic finally seemed to be the powerhouse the Greenwall expected, as they came second in Major III and IV. They were also undefeated in Major IV and V qualifiers. But their newfound momentum slowed as they were knocked out in Major V Elimination Round One, despite being the favorite to win. Having failed to win a regular season Major, fans looked to Champs to be the tournament that would officially put OpTic back on top.

Unfortunately, after a decisive Winners Round One win, OpTic had reached their limit. New York Subliners knocked them out of the Winners Bracket in round two, and a tough battle against Seattle Surge in the Elimination Round Two saw OpTic exit Champs with a disappointing sixth-place finish. All said and done; OpTic gave us a glimpse at the potential they hold and will be a team to fear in 2024 once they iron out the kinks of their newly minted roster.

Thieves was another team that failed to live up to expectations. The reigning 2022 CDL Champs couldn’t seem to get in a rhythm all season despite making it to two Grand Finals. They couldn’t convert in Major II and ended up second behind Atlanta FaZe, but in Major IV, they took down OpTic to win. Outside of that, their Major finishes were rather lackluster.

Despite this, Thieves are a team committed to their starting roster and had established that they could thrive at Champs. Unluckily, they had one of the more challenging round-one matchups against Toronto Ultra and lost. Thieves were the first team knocked out of Champs when they failed to recover against Seattle Surge in the Elimination Round One. A disappointing finish for sure, but the Thieves still have an inherently strong group of players if they decide to stick with them for 2024.

Toronto Ultra used Champs to show they belong in the discussion of top CDL teams. Ultra had a solid year overall which included a win at Major III. Like several other teams this year, they put their faith in the up-and-coming pool of rookie talent. They started the season by adding Thomas ‘Scrappy’ Ernst, who is very outspoken regarding his ability. Ultra didn’t see the expected results quickly enough, so they added Charlie ‘Hicksy’ Hicks into the mix ahead of Major III. Hicksy’s entry smg prowess matched Scrappy’s aggressive gunplay perfectly.

After their bout with Thieves in Winners Round One, Ultra took a stress-free path to Grand Finals. Most notably, they took down New York Subliners 3-0 in the Winners Finals. However, this may have been their ultimate downfall because, in Grand Finals, Ultra got swept by Subliners in what appeared to be a revenge plot. Ultra took home $660,000 and second place.

The Subliners have been an exciting team to watch all year, winning several Majors. Conversely, they also struggled for a good portion of the season. They came in hot with a win at Major I. Still, they cooled off immediately by not exceeding Elimination Round Two in Major II and Elimination Round One in Major III. A spark began to appear again in Major IV when they made it to the Elimination Round Four, but the fire reignited when they won Major V.

Subliners were the only team to enter Champs with multiple Major wins, but some remained uncertain they had what it took to win it all. Barely squeaking out a win over Minnesota RØKKR in Winners Round One and a brutal shutout loss to Ultra in the Winners Finals only added to the doubt. But unfazed by FaZe in Elimination Finals, Subliners made it to Champs Grand Finals for a shot at redemption against Ultra.

Subliners performed one of the most relentless sweeps in the history of Call of Duty esports and CDL Champs. They started Grand Finals with an emphatic Hardpoint map one win on Zarqwa Hydroelectric. Then followed it up with a near-perfect Search and Destroy map two win on Breenbergh Hotel, a map played three times in the series. In map three, they returned to Hotel for the game mode Control and eviscerated Ultra 3-0.

At this point, Ultra was gobsmacked. In map four, they showed a little bit of life, only losing the Hotel hardpoint 236-250, but clearly, the Subliners still had the upper hand. The preferred finishing game mode of Call of Duty fans, Search and Destroy, was played on Embassy for map five, and Subliners won 6-4.

The Subliners had left Ultra fans speechless in one of the fastest CDL Champs Grand Finals ever played. The final result of the series was 5-0 in favor of Subliners. Matthew ‘KiSMET’ Tinsley received the CDL Champs Finals MVP, and fittingly, Paco ‘HyDra’ Rusieweiz won the 2023 CDL MVP. New York Subliners also took home the $1,000,000 first-place winnings.

Gray Television is an investor in OpTic Gaming.