The 2022 Call of Duty League was the most competitive season in the history of COD esports. Even with CDL Champs still to go, the season has been a wild ride full of twists and turns, resulting in six different teams winning events thus far. It seemed like no one knew who was definitively going to win any given match due to the chaos that is Vanguard. Unless, of course, that particular match included the Paris Legion.
The Legion only managed to win two matches throughout the entirety of the 2022 season, a new low for CDL teams. While they kept things competitive during various points of the season, like their last match against Atlanta FaZe at Major IV, they rarely had the talent to complete a five-game series. This was even despite Donny “Temp” Laroda’s career year as a slaying SMG player. Temp finished the season with a 1.08 KD, which was good for second among all pure SMG players in the league (Pred – 1.09).
While the 2022 season was certainly one to forget for the Paris Legion, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is beaming directly from the city of Las Vegas, where the Legion, and the OWL’s Eternal, are moving to for the 2023 season. Las Vegas immediately becomes one of the most attractive markets of any CDL organization, and the Legion have the opportunity to truly turn their fate around after an abysmal three-year run.
In order to do that, though, the organization, owned by C0ntact Gaming, needs to do something they never have before: spend money on talent.
The Paris Legion’s Off-Season
It’s well-known throughout the CDL community that the Legion rarely shell out large sums of cash for their roster. Past Paris and other CDL players have come forward and said that Paris only pays their players the minimum salary required by the league. Naturally, this leaves the team with bottom-of-the-barrel players that simply need an organization to represent after being passed up by the rest of the CDL.
Heading into the 2022 off-season, the Legion has team control on their entire starting roster. CDL contracts work in 1+1 fashion, meaning that players sign for one year guaranteed, and then the second year of the contract is a team option. If a team picks up that option, the player stays for one more year. If a team doesn’t choose to exercise the option, the player becomes a free agent and can sign with any team they desire.
Paris and its players
With the exception of Jonathan “John” Perez, all of Paris’ players from last season have a team option for 2023. While the Legion could choose to exercise all of those team options, we find it highly unlikely that they go that route. Through several different rosters, Paris only managed two wins throughout the 2022 season. This was largely in part due to the fact that the Legion ended the year sporting three rookies on the roster (Johnny, Jimbo, GRVTY).
From our vantage point, it seems C0ntact Gaming and the Legion have two options. The first option is to build around Temp, who certainly looked like a franchise player in 2022. This would involve the team dropping the three rookies from last season. Temp was consistent in his slaying, consistently kept the Legion in matches, and displayed solid leadership qualities. With Paris moving to Las Vegas and, hopefully providing a better environment for its players, the organization could see Temp as their cornerstone moving forward. If the team follows this route, then Temp would likely have a large say in which players come to Paris. He would act as a recruiter of sorts. Of course, that would require the organization to spend some actual money in order to attract free agents.
The second route that Paris could go is to completely start over from scratch for the fourth year in a row. The team has never kept a player in back-to-back years, even though they’ve all had team options for the next season. With the move to Las Vegas, the Legion could see this as an opportunity to completely start over from square one. If the organization is serious about competing in 2023, they could put together solid pitches to free agents.
The Legion are in one of the most attractive markets in the league, for starters. If the team sets up an actual facility in Vegas for the players to practice and play out of, that could be quite the compelling bait for free agents. However, above all else, C0ntact Gaming would need to give the go-ahead to offer competitive salaries and benefits. The desirable market of Las Vegas means nothing if the Legion doesn’t establish a facility there or spend real money to acquire players.
Possible moves for the Paris Legion
In our opinion, we believe that the Paris Legion could hang onto Temp for the 2023 off-season. If this happens, there are a number of high-quality free agents that the team could go after; assuming the organization will offer competitive salaries to free agents and not keep any of their 2022 rookies.
The top move we would like to see the Legion make is going after Marcus “Afro” Reid, who currently plays for London. Afro will be a free agent after this season and seems like a match made in heaven for Temp’s style of play. Afro is an entry SMG, meaning that he’s the first one in on the objective and accumulates the most objective time in Hardpoint/Control. This is the opposite of Temp’s role, which is a slaying SMG. The two could make for quite the formidable SMG duo if Afro is ready to leave London.
Moving onto the ARs, this is where things get a little dicey. One interesting option would be three-time world champion James “Clayster” Eubanks. Clayster was dropped by New York early on in the season and has been competing in Challengers ever since. Clayster is one of the best AR players of all time, but his intense personality and leadership style might not gel too well with Temp, who also has a strong personality. Still, Clayster knows how to win, which is something the Legion have rarely done.
If Clayster signs as the main AR, then all the Legion would need to fill out the roster is a flex player. There are a couple of current free agents that would fit the bill, but we think Preston “Priestahh” Grenier makes the most sense. Priestahh is almost certainly leaving the Minnesota ROKKR after an up-and-down year as a flex. While his stats might not show it, he’s a valuable piece to any roster. His unselfish style of play, paired with his slaying ability, would make him a great option to slide in on this Legion roster.
Aside from CDL free agents, the Legion could also look to the amateur scene if they didn’t want to spend top dollar for players. Numerous Challengers players turned in terrific 2022 campaigns, and the Legion have shown a propensity for picking up rookies in the past. Maybe they could keep Temp, sign one or two top free agents, and then dip into the pool of amateurs for the last roster spot.
Lastly, the Legion could choose to keep Temp and then maybe one of their 2022 rookies, like GRVTY of Jimbo. GRVTY had an underrated season while Jimbo was simply dealt a bad hand. Jimbo was forced to play from EU for the online qualifiers, which resulted in high ping and inconsistent gameplay. When he was on LAN, though, his stats were much better. Perhaps the Legion see Jimbo or GRVTY’s potential and brings them back for 2023.
At this point, the Paris Legion are a huge question mark, as it’s unclear if they’ll actually spend money in the off-season or be content with a rookie roster once again. However, the move to Las Vegas absolutely makes the Legion a potential player in the upcoming off-season.