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Everything is about teamwork for Toronto Ultra in CDL 2023 cover image

Everything is about teamwork for Toronto Ultra in CDL 2023

#News

Toronto Ultra are building a culture to go alongside a, hopefully, winning team in CDL and its 2023 season.

The Toronto Ultra head into the new season of the Call of Duty League with a fresh look. New faces in playing and coaching staff are at work for the CDL 2023 season.
Even with changes in the different levels of the team, Ultra already seem like a unit. They're thrust together with one shared mentality: to win.
"Everything has always been about winning," new star Thomas "Scrappy" Ernst said, with his teammates and coach sat beside him. "Getting the attention, we all want to win so it hasn’t really changed too much because we all have one angle and we want to achieve that together.
"It’s going to be a crazy season competitively for everyone for everyone. It’s also going to be a really fun season to watch."
Standy is new to Toronto. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Standy is new to Toronto. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Ernst was already part of the Ultra organisation before this season, with fellow newcomer to the starting roster, Eli "Standy" Bentz the only one new to Toronto. He's already feeling at home in the 6ix, though.
"I am finding Toronto really fun," Bentz said. "I am getting to know my teammates here and I am getting to know the city, I love adventures and it has been a wild ride to be honest."

Learning is key for Toronto Ultra

The 2023 Call of Duty League season starts earlier than it ever has done. Action is already underway in the league. The amount of time that teams have to learn and practice the game, in this season's case, Modern Warfare 2, has been stripped way back to just over a month.
In that month of practice, a week was taken away from players thanks to in-game bugs. The CDL ruleset and private match-type was missing for an entire week, leaving players without scrims or any other kind of regular reps.
Insight is Toronto Ultra's oldest player. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Insight is Toronto Ultra's oldest player. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Jamie "Insight" Craven is oldest player in the Toronto Ultra squad and is still just 23-years-old. He's been competing since 2015 when he teamed with EU staples such as Sean "Seany" O'Connor and Dave "Dqvee" Davies. Those seven, nearly eight years, of competition mean that Craven is used to adjusting to new games, no matter how long he has to adjust.
"As pros we have had long enough time to figure out the game," Insight said. "It’s nothing new to us. It's still a similar cod to one that we have already played.
"People have already figured out how to play squad spawn games so it’s more of the fact that people are already on the job. Every team now has the best players in the world on them right now so it’s always going to be a difficult task to beat them."

"It becomes an arms race"

All 12 CDL teams are all rushing to try and be the best team in the early stages of the season. The limited time that teams have to develop their gameplay means that some will be further ahead in different aspects than others. Ultra coach Ryan "Flux" Oldfield thinks this could present itself in surprise results.
"It becomes an arms race with every team trying to get ahead," he said. "There is a lot of knowledge that you need to learn about the game, the spawn system and how everything works. In that respect, teams are grinding and everyone is figuring out all maps at different rates.
Toronto Ultra face off against LA Thieves in Toronto. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Toronto Ultra face off against LA Thieves in Toronto. Image via Toronto Ultra.
"There may be some random results that may not happen later in the year but every team is trying to get ahead. With our philosophies and the way that we want to play the game we it will ultimately benefit us."
Flux was absolutely correct, too. On opening day of the CDL 2023 season, Boston Breach shocked the world by taking down Atlanta FaZe. That result surprised many.

In-game bugs have hindered practice

In that month of practice, a week was taken away from players thanks to in-game bugs. The CDL ruleset and private match-type was missing for an entire week, leaving players without scrims or any other kind of regular reps.
"We don’t have any problems with the game," Scrappy added. "When little things happen that stop us from playing, we may get a little frustrated. We just love Call of Duty, we just want to play."
Toronto hosted the Major 3 event of the 2022 CDL season at the Mattamy Athletic Center, TO. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Toronto hosted the Major 3 event of the 2022 CDL season at the Mattamy Athletic Center, TO. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Whilst players can get quite frustrated when issues crop up, the communication between them and league officials continues to reassure them.
"Us as players, we have clear channels to the league," Insight added. "They are very transparent with what is going on and the team behind them that are trying to fix stuff. We just have to be patient because the league is on our side. They always try to fix issues that arise for us as players."

"We have confidence through our practice"

Toronto Ultra were ranked third in the pre-season poll of all of the Call of Duty League coaches. That may put a level of expectation on normal players but Toronto are doing their best to ignore it.
"I don’t know if we really pay attention to that," Scrappy said. "We have confidence through our practice and what we achieve together in our practice. I don’t think we need anyone to tell us how good we are. We know how good we are."
Scrappy is expected to be one of the candidates for Rookie of the Year this season. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Scrappy is expected to be one of the candidates for Rookie of the Year this season. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Scrappy was one of the most talked about players during the Vanguard season. His rise to the top of Call of Duty Challengers was something quite special.
"I’m a super high confidence person already," he added. "It really showed me that I am getting better every year. What people thought about me last year, maybe a one-game wonder, but that’s just not true at all. I’m going to come in every new year and just fry everyone. You could say that it gave me more confidence but I was just slamming people."

Top 10 CleanX

When you have one of the top 10 players in the league as part of your team it's easy to understand why the confidence is there. Tobias "CleanX" Jonsson was voted as part of the top 10 players of last season by his fellow pros. That is despite, in his eyes, a poor campaign.
CleanX was voted in the top 10 players for the Vanguard season. Image via Toronto Ultra.
CleanX was voted in the top 10 players for the Vanguard season. Image via Toronto Ultra.
"The ranking came as a surprise," the Dane admitted candidly. "The year was underperformed for our whole team and me individually, so it definitely came as a surprise for me but nonetheless it feels good to be rated as highly from professional players and colleagues. It feels good to be top 10."

A long-term project

Modern Warfare 2 is going to be unlike any other competitive Call of Duty game. The game will be used for two full seasons of the Call of Duty League. That's something that has never happened before with yearly releases of the franchise refreshing things every year. Coach Flux believes that it is the perfect opportunity to grow a team as a unit.
Toronto Ultra coach Flux. Image via Toronto Ultra.
Toronto Ultra coach Flux. Image via Toronto Ultra.
"We made some changes going into this season and we have [one of] the youngest teams in the league," Oldfield said. "A big focus for us was building a team that has a high ceiling. These young talented players that we have here, we really think that we can mould them into a team that we believe that they can ultimately become."
The Toronto Ultra team has always reflected the culture of the city of Toronto and Oldfield also believes that growing as a unit can help with that even more.
The city of Toronto. Image via Ant Stonelake.
The city of Toronto. Image via Ant Stonelake.
"With the two-year game cycle and the skill ceiling that we have and the younger players that can mould and grow with the team culture here," he added. "The prospects are super exciting.
"That was a big focus for us going into a two-year cycle. There is a lot of opportunity for us to grow, especially when faced with the challenge of a two-year cycle."

Back on Twitch

The CDL returned to Twitch this year, with opening day beating the record for a non-Major event in terms of viewership of the league. More than 140,000 people tuned in to watch OpTic Texas forfeit their match against the Minnesota Rokkr.
Match controversy aside, being back on Twitch is seen as great news on the whole for the League, with discoverability at the forefront of the bonuses to come from being back on the site.
"Call of Duty has always had a storied history when it comes to Twitch," Flux said. "There are a lot of newer viewers who can get into it because they go to the Twitch home page and it’s easily seen.
"There is a lot of fan and chat engagement that you can see next to the gameplay. Twitch has been a big platform for promoting Call of Duty historically. It will help new people to get into it."
Twitch does lack a rewind feature and the stream struggled a bit with bandwidth issues on Opening Day. It's all part of the learning curve in the new era of Call of Duty.

Ultra's kick-off

Toronto get their year started against their biggest rivals in the league. They'll go up against the Minnesota Rokkr in what has been dubbed the "Battle of the North" for several seasons up to this point.
Their rivalry goes deep, with two of Rokkr's new team having played for Ultra last season. Standy went the other way, joining Toronto from Minnesota.
One of the most famous matches between the two teams was the Stage 5 Grand Final in Cold War. Toronto Ultra raced out to a 4-0 lead but ended up losing the match 5-4. It's one of the most famous reverse sweeps in history and Standy, now on Ultra, was part of the Rokkr team that managed it.
Toronto Ultra will be keen to avoid a repeat of that result in their opening match of the 2023 season. That match starts at 12 p.m. PST, 3 p.m. EST, 8 p.m. GMT. Fans can watch the game live on Twitch on the official Call of Duty Twitch channel.

Stay tuned on Esports.gg for all the latest Call of Duty and Warzone 2 news and updates.
Ant Stonelake
Ant Stonelake
Contributor | Twitter @itsjustantnow
Doubling as a football (soccer) journalist following EFL League Two club Tranmere Rovers, Ant has a long-standing passion for gaming. That, combined with the drive to create content in the esports space led to the creation of The Rotation, a Call of Duty news platform.