Michael “MajorManiak” Szymaniak is one of the star Call of Duty League (CDL) esports players for the Minnesota Røkkr. And this young man who plays Call of Duty for many more hours than we can imagine will coach the upcoming Call of Duty Endowment’s CODE Bowl, a charity event sponsored by the United States Air Force on December 11. As a virtual military player who has never served in the military but was the son of an Air Force veteran. Szymaniak will advise real military soldiers who will spar with their comrades in the different armed forces.
At the second annual event, the Call of Duty Endowment will raise money to create jobs for veterans. At this year’s event, three new teams will make their debut from the US Marine Corps, US Air Force and US Space Force. Additionally, with the participation of the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, the CODE Bowl will also be the first transatlantic military esports competition to include all of these branches. I spoke to Szymaniak about what he’s going to tell these veterans about how to fight in a virtual military game, this year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War multiplayer.
Szymaniak was quite respectful of the irony in that situation, but he’s not shy when it comes to giving advice on a game he’s been playing untold hours. I asked him about that advice and let him take a break from his mission to focus on what really matters: his recommendations for making me a better Call of Duty player.
Before my colleagues say that this is not possible, I have to report my results so far this year. I played a full day and three hours and 26 minutes. I hit Prestige (the highest level) in multiplayer battles and played 167 matches. I’ve been on the winning side 79 times and lost 77 times, for a win / loss ratio of 1.03. My Kill (Eliminations) / Death ratio is 0.91, which means I die 100 times for every 91 kills I get. My personal best streak is 13 kills before I was ignored. My weapon of choice is the Stoner 63 light machine gun (LMG), but I am currently trying to improve my M82 sniper rifle.
My global rank is 2,591,806. That means there are 2.5 million players who are better than me. Before you chuckle too much, I think that puts me in the top 90% of players. I remember being ranked around 4 million or 5 million in recent years. Any explanation of why I’m doing well this year probably has to do with practice, as I’ve been playing Call of Duty: Warzone for much of the year and I’ve also been more involved in this year’s alpha and beta tests. And with a fully elevated LMG, I can now get more kills in a game than kill. One of my top games on the cartel map was 46 kills and 22 deaths.
While I am proud of these results, they are laughable to someone like Szymaniac. During our interview, he was kind enough not to laugh at my scores.
“Anyone can really grab a controller and play the game and shoot the enemy in front of them,” he said. “But I think what distinguishes many of the pro players from others is how they play the game fundamentally. It’s all about knowing how to properly play the Hardpoint (the point on a map that everyone should try to hold) in respawn game modes, and making sure you spin properly while the Hardpoint is spinning. You have to watch the radar, which tells you where your people are and where the action is. “
Another important thing is to communicate with your other players and not just swear at them. Hardpoint, Search and Destroy and Control are the maps that the pros play in the Call of Duty League. These modes are less forgiving and focus players on control points on the map. You have to find the right position so that you can dominate the Hardpoint, Szymaniak said. This can mean “camping” for other players, which is rejected as unsportsmanlike. Campers stay in one spot and lash out unsuspecting players and collect the kills. But Szymaniak sees it as taking advantage of the terrain, so you can hurt the enemies if they respawn or take them out if they expose themselves by trying to attack the Hardpoint through a bottleneck.
“It’s easier to win the fights when you’re in the right position,” he said. ‘If you are in the right place on the map, you are in the position of power. You will get more kills and you will be harder to kill. “
He said you should always try to memorize the maps and the order of rotation, such as where the Hardpoint is going. That comes from practice. And Szymaniak practices all the time. He gets up in the morning, trains, eats well and then plays with his teammates for hours. He treats it like a job. He likes to be competitive, and he doesn’t get tired of it. He occasionally picks up other games like Fortnite, but always comes back to Call of Duty because he considers it a career. He’s one of only 48 players in the CDL, and a lot of people would like to get paid to play games like him. Players can get rich by playing the game, and they have full health benefits.
“I always tell people I don’t have another job because I can’t,” he said. “I scrim every day, just like a normal job. There is no clock in or out time. You continue with this. I can’t have another job. And I blessed I don’t need another job. “
In terms of weapons, he noted that the Tundra and the Pellington are the best sniper rifles. When fully leveled they are much easier to fire quickly and come with scopes that magnify the targets so they are hard to miss. But playing as a sniper is also about positioning, like lining up on the cliffs on the Crossroads map while your buddy sets up on a rooftop so you can get the enemies into a crossfire.
“You put yourself in those positions of power to get multiple kills, dive, reload, and pop up again to fire those long corners,” he said.
On the cartel map, the tower is a good place to stay and try to dominate the map. Overall, I enjoy Cartel, Crossroads, Miami and Armada the most. Szymaniak loves them too, but he also loves Moscow, Garrison and Checkmate.
While LMGs can be impressive, they are banned in competitive play and the assault rifles can yield better results because they are faster to handle and are still quite deadly. He likes the AK-47 and the Krieg, using the Microflex LED scope or the Red Dot scope. The attachments you unlock as you progress are very important, and you can watch videos all day talking about the correct attachments. The pros also use submachine guns like the AK-74u and sometimes the MP5.
“You can move more freely and change your position compared to the LMG, where you are not that mobile,” he said.
He doesn’t usually have hip fire unless he’s nearby and in a near-panic situation and about to be killed. But pointing down is critical. You want to fly or jump around corners and aim inside to finish a surprised enemy.
Paying attention to your teammates is also important. Rather than running all the way to the enemy’s spawn, Szymaniak will lag behind teammates and stay close to them.
“You don’t want to play basketball and beat the other team all by yourself,” he said. You want to count your blessings. Keeping crossfires with your team and running that is good. “
Back to reality
I could have stayed on the phone for hours and got tips, but we only had a short time to talk. I realize I can never put as much time into the game as someone like Szymaniak, and he fully deserves to be among the top 48 esports players in the league with his dedication. And I realize that millions of players will probably always be better than me because they put hours into it and are just more convenient. But I enjoy doing better than usual this year, and I look forward to returning to Warzone as well when it turns into Cold War.
While this game made us all feel better during the pandemic and distracted us from our crazy real world, it’s important to remember that Szymaniak is a good sport and he’s working towards an important goal as well. His own father has been in the army for 37 years and has been deployed twice.
“I’ve been in the military all my life and if I hadn’t played Call of Duty, I probably would have joined the military,” he said. “My dad does the real work, and I’m on the virtual side.”
The Call of Duty Endowment has funded the placement of more than 77,000 veterans in high-quality jobs since its inception, and it aims to place 100,000 veterans in meaningful jobs by 2024. And if Szymaniak does his coaching well enough, maybe some of those veterans will get jobs in the Call of Duty League themselves.
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