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The Untold Truth Of Dallas Empire

Back in May 2019, Activision Blizzard announced that it has sold its first five franchise teams in its Call of Duty League (CDL). One of those slots went to Envy Gaming, the eighth most valuable esports organization in the world and the owner of the powerhouse Texas-based team Dallas Empire. 

Founded in September 2019 by Mike Rufail, Dallas Empire currently consists of members Ian "C6" Porter (formerly "Crimsix"), Indervir "Illey" Dhaliwal, Cuyler "Huke" Guyland, and Anthony "Shotzzy" Cuevas-Castro. James "Clayster" Eubanks, one of the most popular Call of Duty pros, held a spot on the team until Dallas Empire returned to 4v4 format ahead of the 2021 season. 

Less than one year after the esports team's conception, Dallas Empire became the very first team to win the CDL Championship in August 2020. The second-seed team went up against the first-seed Atlanta FaZe and came out with $1.5 million, the championship trophy, and some exclusive CDL swag. Dallas Empire undoubtedly had a great season, but it was a bit of a rocky road to get there.

Huke took a $100K pay cut to join Dallas Empire

Joining Dallas Empire meant a pretty hefty pay cut for young pro gamer Huke, who previously held spots on Team Envy and Splyce. As Dextero reported, when he was under 18 years old, Huke temporarily switched to Halo before joining Dallas Empire with WWII by age 21. Crimsix revealed to Clayster during an episode of the CouRage and Nadeshot show in September 2020 that the transition meant a $100,000 drop in pay for Huke.

"Huke ... took a $100k+ salary cut to make this team happen ... That could have been half his f**king contract, for all you know," Crimsix said to his former teammate. Clayster then pointed out that "100K when you're 21 is a lot of money, dude," but Huke knew what he wanted. Huke made a sacrifice in pursuing a less lucrative contract, but Dallas Empire had a lot of promise at the time. If those CDL Championship results were any indication, it seems that Huke's sacrifice came with even greater satisfaction in the end.

Nameless called Shotzzy a bust

When Shotzzy joined Dallas Empire, he wasn't given total support. Ahead of the CDL Championship, former COD pro and current analyst Anthony "Nameless" Wheeler spoke about the rookie during a February 2020 episode of ASTRO Gaming's Contesting the Point, and he had some pretty strong opinions. "I think Shotzzy is a bust," Nameless said. "I don't think he's ready for the CDL spotlight yet and he probably won't be all the way until next year." Nameless went on to note that Shotzzy hadn't been playing well during the season. Nameless remarked, "He had one of the worst maps I have ever seen a player have, ever, in my entire life, in my last 10 years of Call of Duty."

Fast forward to the CDL Championship, where Shotzzy very much proved Nameless wrong. He became CDL's MVP and took home three Home Series titles in one year. "From the beginning of the year with all the hate and just putting my head down and putting so many hours into improving day to day and have it pay off like this is a special feeling," Shotzzy tweeted after his MVP win. He'll no doubt be a valuable asset to Dallas Empire in the upcoming season.