August 14, 2017 might go down in infamy as the lowest point in Team Kaliber’s history. After narrowly qualifying for the 2017 Call of Duty World Championships by way of the North American Last Chance Qualifier, the once revered organization bowed out of the pinnacle tournament without winning a single game. However following the team’s stunning win at the first LAN event of the new season, CWL Dallas, and continual success during CWL New Orleans, it’s clear the disappointment has set the stage for a resurgence unparalleled in competitive Call of Duty, as Team Kaliber have evolved into not just a popular streaming organization, but one capable of competing for a championship.
You’d have to go as far back as 2014 to find the last time Team Kaliber have had prolonged success in Call of Duty. Known as an organization focused on roster continuity and cohesiveness rather than cycling through available talent, Team Kaliber waded through muddy waters, struggling throughout the last three iterations of the competitive season. Whether by unusual circumstances, unlucky draws, or simply lack of talent, the team that was always in the running during Call of Duty: Ghosts had fallen off the radar.
If you ask Dylan “Theory” McGee, long-time leader of Team Kaliber, the onus behind the downfall fell squarely on his shoulders. Distractions, some of which stemmed from the organization’s prominent YouTube channel, only made it more difficult to stay on a consistent practice regime. What’s more, an insistence to stick with familiar talent only seemed to hold the competitive roster back from hitting its peak.
Following the team’s final pool play loss at the 2017 Call of Duty World Championships, changes were in order.
It began with an innocent enough direct message from Martin “Chino” Chino, who was also looking for a fresh start himself after a disappointing run during Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, in which the slayer failed to even qualify for the 2017 Call of Duty World Championships.
Chino recalls, “I went and hit up some teams and TK (Team Kaliber) was one of them, and I was like ‘Hey if you guys have an open spot, I know I didn’t have the best season, but I’m going to work hard and prove the next season that I’m good.’”
A renowned slayer throughout the better part of his career, Chino’s most memorable run may have come with Dream Team during the waning stages of the 2016 season in which the unheralded roster nearly won Stage 2 of the inaugural CWL Pro League, falling just sort in a grand finals loss to eventual 2016 World Champions, Team EnVyUs. However, disinterested by a game that didn’t suit his style, and an ever-changing role on a variety of teams that couldn’t mesh together, Chino faded into the background of the competitive scene in Infinite Warfare. In a community that prominently emphasizes the “what have you done for me lately” mantra, Chino needed a lifeline.
Enter Lamar “Accuracy” Abedi, Chino’s former teammate who had found a home alongside Theory on Team Kaliber. Yet another player with enough talent to break into the upper echelons of the competitive ranks but devoid of potential opportunities, it was Accuracy’s decision to add Chino that eventually fast-tracked both players rise to prominence. While it was Accuracy who would win the MVP award at CWL Dallas with a blistering 1.10 KD (kills/deaths) ratio across eight series, it was Chino who practically beamed players off the map in order for him to move around unencumbered, finishing with a team-best 1.12 KD.
Still, it’s fair to question where Team Kaliber would be without the addition of Kenny “KuavoKenny” Williams.
While KuavoKenny was a relatively known name among professional players, age restrictions implemented by Major League Gaming during the 2014-15 season forced the burgeoning star to wait out his eligibility, occasionally teaming with a handful of pro players in low stakes Search and Destroy matches online while also dabbling in competitive Halo on the side. It wasn’t until the conclusion of Infinite Warfare that KuavoKenny finally turned 18, age-eligible and ready to compete. But by that point, players in a similar position, such as Donovan “Temp” Laroda, Cuyler “Huke” Garland and Thomas “TJHaLy” Haly, were far more in-demand. KuavoKenny had simply been passed over.
It was a baffling situation to watch unfold according to Accuracy.
“We knew the rosters that were going to go down before they happened. We knew that Temp and Huke were going to get picked up, we knew that TJ was going to get picked up, but for some reason everyone else that was making roster moves forgot about Kenny, and we didn’t let him fly past our radar. We knew that this kid was nasty, so right when he turned 18 we picked him up instantly.”
Chino teases that he brought the move to the forefront, “When we first made the team, we still had Nick ‘Happy’ Suda and they asked if I thought we would be better off with someone else. I felt like having the set people they did on (previous) Team Kaliber, they were pretty good, but not amazing. And they said we could talk to Kenny. And immediately I said we need to pick up Kenny cause I knew him before that. I was always one of those guys who would play against Kenny in AW (Advanced Warfare) and Ghosts and I would play in S&D and I knew he was a beast. I just knew it. He’s also a person that’s easy to get along with so it just made sense.”
Intrigued by the talent, Team Kaliber capitalized on the relative lack of awareness, scooping up KuavoKenny heading into the new season to round out its roster. The returns were immediate, as the younger slayer put together an impressive list of highlight-reel plays throughout the team’s run to a first-place finish at CWL Dallas. A relative unknown alongside his age-eligible colleagues, it’s now KuavoKenny’s star that might be shining brightest with TK continuing its torrid pace to begin the season.
Throughout it all, the roster remains grounded, intent on taking the Call of Duty: World War II season in increments. Having already clinched goal number one, that being a spot in Stage 1 of the CWL Global Pro League, consistent success is now on the agenda. A second straight LAN upper bracket final appearance following a hardfought victory over eUnited only reinforces that notion. It’s an area Theory revels in.
“We are coming from a position of strength instead of weakness. And we’ve been playing at a spot of weakness for the last three years now. My whole life has been an uphill battle in every aspect. I’m not going to get a pity party or anything like that. I’ve never been in an advantageous position in my life, so I’m not used to it, I’m not comfortable with it. I’m a fighter and an underdog. And so is our team.”