Seattle Surge were the kicking boys of the Call of Duty League for the first two seasons of franchising.

Their best moment before the Vanguard season started was a freak win against FaZe in the Major 5 tournament at the back-end of Cold War.

Nicky “Classic” DiCostanzo was the x-factor in that series and he’s brought his knowledge and oversight to this new roster.

At the start of the season, many people doubted the new-look Seattle roster. It comprised of a Vet, an NYSL-leaver and two untested rookies.

Now, that exact same roster, has won Major 3, etching their names into Seattle Surge and Call of Duty history.

Amer “Pred” Zulbeari becomes the first Australian to win a chip in the franchised era of Call of Duty.

He tried to tell us that: “Being the first Australian to win a chip is pretty cool.”

But before he could get to the end of his sentence, Lamar “Accuracy” Abedi interrupted to make sure the young Aussie doesn’t downplay his accomplishment.

He piped up and reminded Pred that: “It’s not pretty cool, it’s insane.”

Hard work pays off

Lamar is a veteran of competitive Call of Duty and brings a unique playstyle that many struggle to match and cope with.

To finally have a chip to his name in the franchised era is something special. The last Major tournament that he won was the 2018 CWL Stage 2 Playoffs.

Accuracy told The Rotation: “It feels amazing. We’ve put a lot of work in over the last month. We wanted to perfect our craft.

“We wanted to show that our formula was working. In the lab day-in, day-out, we were working hard.”

The hunger is already there to get straight back to the grind and win another tournament.

“One chip is not enough. We’re just getting started. We’re not going to get complacent. This is just the first taste of victory and we want to take it again.

“These boys all have that dog in them. They live for the moment that the game is on the line, they live for those types of situations and we show that in every match that we go into. I don’t have to do anything special.”

Their run was far from smooth at the Major, having to go to a game five twice in their upper bracket run, including a reverse sweep against FaZe.

Accuracy told us: “We play with no fear in our heart. Everyone else gets a little shook when they play [FaZe] and we’re not going to back down. That’s what’s going to make us successful.

“It makes the story sweeter. It would have been great to come in and destroy everyone and coast our way through. But still winning after doing it like this just makes the story better.”

From down under to putting FaZe down (under)

The rise of Australian Pred has been nothing short of remarkable. He came into the league with the weight of having played in APAC Challengers on his shoulders.

He dominated the APAC scene in Cold War, and that ability quickly translated into him being one of the most feared SMG players in Vanguard.

Pred told The Rotation: “I’m proud of where I’m from and I’m doing it for the Australians.

“I don’t think anyone will ever experience the things I have. Coming from Australia to the League, for me, it could have been a lot worse but I’ve been surrounded by people with the same kind of aspirations as me. It’s made the transition a lot easier.”

One of the reasons the team was able to come away with the win against FaZe in the Grand Final was because of how calm everything stayed.

Pred added: “It still hasn’t sunk in yet. The whole time we were playing it felt like scrims. I couldn’t even explain it. There was no stress and no pressure. It felt like we were just playing.”

The Austrlian managed to put together 284 kills against FaZe across the two series he played against them on Championship Sunday.

“My team sets me up to be in the spots that I am. I wouldn’t be in a position to fry and play at my potential without my team.

“They believe in me and I believe in them. That’s the most important thing. We have that trust in each other to do our jobs and we’ve done that.”

Worldwide talent

Pred also believes that he’s just one of many hidden talents around the world but does believe it takes an extra step to make it in the league.

He said: “There’s hidden talent everywhere. It’s just about who has the mental to take that step and focus on who they want to be.”

From Paris to Berlin Toronto

The Seattle team seem to have finally put their inconsistency behind them. They have been up and down so far this season. In fact, they are just one of two teams to have lost against the Paris Legion in the league this year.

In the first series against FaZe, they managed to come away with a reverse sweep victory. It was a truly special moment. Understandably, during that series, the communication between the team was a bit shaky.

Daunte “Sib” Gray told us: “I remember, the comms were hectic. I threw a nade and rotated. We played our set that we talked about and it came down to awareness and comms. We came out and pulled it off.”

FaZe started to mount a small comeback when Seattle were 3-0 up in the Grand Final. They won two maps in succession but Seattle quickly got back to winning ways.

Sib added: “Our comms were a little bit flat and our comms were a little bit less intense.

“I had Pred next to me, geeing me up and telling me to take over. He was telling me I was the best in the game.

“Coming away with the win is living proof that we have the potential to be the best and beat the best. One of the problems was our inability to execute.

“We’ve gone from losing to Paris, to beating FaZe to win an event.”

Emotional experience

Winning Major 3 was an emotional experience for everybody involved with the Seattle Surge franchise.

There’s something poetic about being the first team in the history of an organisation to win a Major tournament.

Surge coach Sam “Fenix” Spencer funnelled that emotion in being proud and appreciative of what his team has just accomplished.

Fenix told The Rotation: “It’s an unbelievable experience. I’m just happy for these guys.

“No-one gave Lamar the credit that he deserved before this season. Everyone quit on Mack.

“Everyone said that Daunte was a loud-mouth kid who wasn’t going to make it and then I picked up Pred and everyone said: ‘A kid from Australia?’

“That was the thought process on our team. It was a pretty emotional experience to win after everybody had said all those kinds of things about us.”

That attitude translated to the players too. Makenzie “Mack” Kelley left NYSL at the end of the season in Cold War. He continues to show his quality this year and in no moment better than taking the Major 3 crown.

Mack told us: “It definitely feels good to prove some people wrong. Although some people definitely lost faith in me as a player, it feels good to shut people up.

“Honestly, this has probably been my favourite event. Not just because I won it but even during the first few matches.

“It’s the most fun I’ve had at an event. Toronto have definitely set the standard for how an event should run. The city is a really nice place, it’s beautiful.”

Sam’s personal journey

Coach Fenix has had a long few years in the Challengers system. Many seemed to, for some reason, not believe in his ability.

That’s now been completely disproven in his leadership of this team that’s gone on to win Major 3.

Fenix told The Rotation: “A lot of people doubted me for a very long time, for years and years.

“I finally found the franchise and the players that are willing to believe in me. They listen and respect to the things I say to them and the things I’m trying to help them with.

“I didn’t think I was going to find it, it didn’t seem like it was going to happen but it did. It just hasn’t sunk in.”

Fenix had a specific idea in mind when it came to building this roster for the Vanguard season. He wanted that delectable mix of experience and youth to drive the team forward.

He said: “Going into this season, when I built this team, I knew that I needed young talent. I knew the talent that I wanted.

“I got that and then I knew that I needed the leader, the head piece. We got the best guy that we could get.

“This whole season has been up and down but it’s been nothing but a journey. I’d go through it again in a heartbeat.”

None of Seattle’s success could have been possible if it wasn’t for the hard work and effort that the team had put in over the last few months.

The contribution of everyone involved with the team, even Classic on the bench, means everything.

Sam added: “Everyone comes in, works extremely hard. We are all humans and have our ups and downs.

“They bring as much passion as they can every day. They work as hard as they can every day. This was my first year coaching.

“Having someone like NickyD and Lamar, they helped me grow and made sure that I was doing better and better as a coach.”

Deserved success

Seattle’s Major win will go down in history as one of the best of the franchised era. You’d struggle to find a group of players and coaches that deserve the success more than these guys.

Seattle Surge now head back to the lab before coming out ready to fire for Stage 4 qualifiers and beyond. With Champs on the horizon, this is the perfect opportunity for the team to catch fire.

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