London Royal Ravens finished this year's Call of Duty League season on a high, going above expectations to finish fourth place behind US juggernauts Chicago Huntsmen, Atlanta FaZe and eventual winners Dallas Empire.
While this would usually be a promising sign for the team’s prospects next year, the Call of Duty League has thrown new dynamics into play for 2021. A switch from 5v5 to 4v4 teams spurred a turbulent offseason with big roster changes, players will now compete on PC over PlayStation consoles, and there’s the arrival of new team LA Thieves too.
London Royal Ravens have kept three players from their previous roster, although their two largest personalities, brothers Matthew “Skrapz” and Bradley “wuskin” Marshall, will not return. The move was met with surprise and concern among fans, especially as they largely became the face of the squad.
So what’s next for London Royal Ravens? We speak with Trei “Zer0” Morris, 23, who is on the starting roster after joining in May mid-season this year, about their new squad and potential rivals for 2021.
A lot of fans were surprised Skrapz and wuskin weren’t back in the team this year. How are you feeling about their absence?
Them not being on the team… they’re a lively bunch of boys. When it comes down to the teams, I don’t pick the teams. I get hit up by the coaches, and the coaches came to me with this team. Obviously I like playing with Seany and Dylan, and Alexx, I was supposed to team up with him in Black Ops 4. So it’s nice to have some fresh faces and it’s nice being able to play with new people on a new game.
It’s a new start, but the absence is more a vibes thing. They’re a very nice bunch of boys and I truly hope they make the league again this year. I’d love nothing more than for them to just keep growing because they’re a positive thing for the league. Their branding is huge and they’re just a great bunch of guys and I wish nothing but the best for them.
There’s rumours we may see them appear on the Paris Legion roster…
Like I say, I hope they do. If I did know, I probably still wouldn’t say it. But I honestly don’t know what’s going on with them.
There’s rumours floating about and I heard Matt’s [Skrapz] on the team. If he is, then that’s great because I truly believe he does deserve a spot as well as his brother. So I hope they are true and he does get a spot.
What do you think Alexx will bring to the team next year?
So I’ve never played with Alexx. I was supposed to play with him during Black Ops 4 and then some stuff happened with Red Reserve that led to me joining FaZe.
I’ve always wanted to play with Alexx. He’s just a lively guy, lot of vibes, and brings some aggression. He’s a very aggressive player and so far, we’ve been practising for the last two weeks, and I’ve heard nothing but positive things. He listens to constructive criticism and that’s one thing I like about a player. Sometimes I get a bit hot-headed and you know, I won’t admit I’m wrong, but at the end of the day I will. But him, he’ll just straight up say, “yes I could have done something better there”. It’s just a breath of fresh air when you play with someone like that.
Alexx joins the Ravens for 2021 from Minnesota ROKKR (Picture: Minnesota ROKKR)
London Royal Ravens finished in fourth place in Champs, above expectations. Where do you think the team needs to improve to go beyond that next year?
So our top four [finish] was surprising because leading up to it, we weren’t having the best practise and weren’t playing that well in scrims. When it came down to tournament time, obviously things can change. It’s about how you play on the day, the same with the other team as well - the same as any other sport. You can cause upsets and that’s what we did, we went on a nice run and finished high for ourselves.
I feel like the only thing that can really improve that is better practise, working together and not letting any stupid thing get in the way of how you communicate with your team or how you act with your team. There can be some stupid arguments where you can end up disliking your teammate, but at the end of the day everyone’s here to make everyone better and work better together. We all want the same thing, everyone wants to win. So as long as everyone keeps that mindset, I can’t see why we can’t win every single event this year.
Do you think you’re going to miss 5v5?
I do appreciate the fact they tried it because a lot of esports are 5v5. For me, I personally feel like Call of Duty isn’t fit for 5v5. Just for the fact of, they want to make it like a three lane map, and to throw an extra person on a three lane map is just unnecessary. I appreciate them for trying it; Black Ops 4 was pretty fun, Modern Warfare was pretty fun towards the end, but for me, any game can be fun as long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing on it.
That’s why I enjoy doing what I do, because I just enjoy hopping on and getting better as a team. So 5v5 wasn’t the best, it’s definitely 4v4 for me, but I do appreciate them trying it and seeing how it worked out.
You’ve got LA Thieves and OpTic Chicago next year, are there any teams you think could surprise people? Any you think could be your biggest rival?
I mean mine is Paris Legion because I don’t know what they’re doing. I think every team has got a powerhouse. We’re taking it 4v4 again and 4v4 is not about out-slaying anyone or getting the most kills, 4v4 is straight up working together and playing the game right.
You can beat the best players in the world with your not-so-best players in the world on 4v4 and make it look really convincing. We’d done it on Red Reserve in World War 2. I don’t think any of us went positive, but we’d 100 point club teams, so as long as everyone’s playing it correct, you literally can’t lose.
How are you feeling about Black Ops Cold War? Seems like the general sentiment is it’s better competitive wise than Modern Warfare, but what’s your stance on it?
It’s very early in the game. We’re like three weeks in, so far it’s all been positive. I didn’t really have much of an opinion on Modern Warfare. I didn’t play it all year so I can’t judge it on everything. When I came back and started playing again and started having to prove myself, I enjoyed the end of it, I enjoyed the last few months of it.
It’s the same with anything you do day in day out though. It does get a bit tedious, especially if you’re not having the best of times on it. We did when we were scrimming towards the end with it. Right now, I’m enjoying Cold War. I can’t see it changing - especially with the team that we’ve got because I just enjoy playing with the boys, so hopefully that lasts all year.
Black Ops Cold War is developed by Treyarch and Raven Software (Picture: Activision)
Read that you spoke with developer Treyarch during the beta stage - how did those chats go?
We have an open channel with them where we can discuss things because, from my knowledge, they want to make competitive the best thing they can and obviously the players do too. During the beta, they asked us things and like to try things out as well, because a lot of the things we say can be helpful to the public game as well which is their main player base.
We have an open channel with them and every change they do, they tell us straight away. It’s been three weeks in and we’ve had endless support. I appreciate them for that because everyone’s trying to make the game the best it can be.
Are you hopeful then for changes potentially further down the season? Or at least to suggest things?
We can suggest things. Everything we suggest it’s, “is this possible?” We don’t straight up say, "this needs to be changed right now”. They’re very thoughtful on everyone’s behalf, competitive side and public side. They want to make everyone happy and they can’t just change things for us to ruin something on the public end, so we’ve also got to be hand-in-hand in what they can change and what they can’t change.
We’ve got to be thoughtful of that so, right now so far it’s been unreal, communication has been there. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year pans out.
How do you think the shift to PC will impact competitive play? Have you been kitted out with a fancy new PC?
Right now I’m in the UK and I did kit myself out with a new rig - a NASA space station over here. Shout out to London Royal Ravens as well, when I get back over to America, they’ve already kitted out the whole facility with souped up rigs, better than my rig which is crazy.
I think a move to PC is a good move. There’s a lot of in-game things you can do with a PC that you can’t do with a PlayStation that I feel like can help out the Call of Duty League. And gameplay it’s just generally better.
So it was welcome on console, but I feel like this is the best switch we can do. It just irons out a lot of things which could potentially go wrong with a console. It’s just nice to play on something we’re I’m getting 200 frames and everything running smoothly.
Do you think we could ever see a shift to mouse and keyboard controls?
Call of Duty has always been a console thing. Whatever the Call of Duty League want to do, it’s up to them. If it goes mouse and keyboard, I don’t know what I’ll do. It’d look like I’d start having to try and get used to it. I’m not dreadful on it but I could definitely use some tips.
Until I hear anything different, I’ll still be using controller all the time. But for me, Call of Duty has always been a console game, it’s just got that console feel about it when you’re aiming and shoot. So hopefully it never goes mouse and keyboard just for the sake of my job. It’s not up to me, if it comes to it it comes to it, but I’m happy where I’m at right now.
Are you happier too as you’re starting out with London Royal Ravens this time around, instead of coming in mid-season?
I’m more happier to do it with London Royal Ravens for the pure fact they took a chance on me last year. I didn’t have the best start last year [with New York Subliners], then I got dropped for like 3-4 months and they took a chance on me and I’m still here. So I’m happy to have a full season and fresh start with London, and show people, show London, the coaches, the players, what I can do for them right now and continue it for the rest of the year. I owe them a lot.
The Call of Duty League returns in 2021.