For Call of Duty streamer Liam ‘Jukeyz’ James, it was his money-making and record-chasing gameplay during the early days of the original Warzone that really put him on the map. However, it’s safe to say his relationship with the battle royale began to sour towards the end of its three-year run.
It’s no secret that the Red Bull and London Royal Ravens streamer, who is a regular competitor in some of the biggest competitive Warzone tournaments, was not a fan of Caldera or the Vanguard era in general. The prospect of a refreshed experience in Warzone 2 was salivating when we last spoke to Jukeyz earlier in the year, so now that it’s here, what does he think of the sequel to the game where he made his name?
“It’s the nicest breath of fresh air I’ve ever had to be honest,” the streamer tells The Loadout. “I’m so happy with it, I love it. I mean, obviously, there are a few things that you can say about the game that need fixing, to perfect it, but even just being close to perfect is enough for me right now… It’s definitely made me want to grind again.”
One of the biggest reasons for Jukeyz’s loathing of the original Warzone towards the end of its life was the open, rather samey battlefield of Caldera. With Al Mazrah, things couldn’t be more different.
“I love all the buildings,” he explains. “I love being able to make plays in them and not really get caught in the open so much – which I just spent a full year doing on the other game.”
He firmly believes that once some of the technical issues are ironed out and a few quality of life changes are made, the Al Mazrah battle royale experience “has the potential to be the best, even better than Verdansk.”
Jukeyz is also full of praise for the movement in Warzone 2, which has been one of the biggest adjustments players have had to make in comparison to Warzone. He acknowledges that it is slower, but that over time, players will find ways to overcome this. What separates the best players from the rest is “how you make a slow game fast”, in Jukeyz’s eyes.
One thing most players will agree on is that the gunplay – and, generally speaking, gun balance as well – has been pretty good. Of course there will always be some outliers that will be named the best Warzone 2 guns – in Jukeyz’s case, the RPK and the Kastov 74-u grace his favourite loadout right now- but the Liverpudlian is equally as happy with this aspect of the game as he is with the rest.
On top of simply being a fan of the new game, Jukeyz tells us that the release of Warzone 2 has also helped in bouncing back from a serious health scare a few months ago, which resulted in the streamer being in a coma.
After going through a tough emotional time after the incident, which he tells us more about here, Warzone 2’s release came at the perfect moment. Jukeyz now has a game to get passionate about again. He says the effect it has had on him is profound, and his viewers notice his change in energy and drive too. But while Jukeyz has become one of the great entertainers in Call of Duty, deep down he is a competitor first.
He says he is “praying” for a lot of opportunities to compete and hopes that the Warzone 2 competitive scene can, at the very least, match that of its predecessor. A few third-party tournaments, some boasting six-figure prize pools, have sprung up already, and there are high hopes for many more. Jukeyz also reveals he wants to try and host his own tournament this year, and while nothing is confirmed, there is an aspiration for it to be an in-person event.
The original Warzone showed that those in the Call of Duty community will do what it takes to keep the scene going with tournaments and events. Aside from partnering with some teams or creators for events, and hosting its annual World Series of Warzone, Activision’s support for competitive Warzone has been fleeting, to put it kindly. When we ask Jukeyz about whether we will see more support from Activision for the competitive battle royale scene now Warzone 2 is in town, there isn’t much in the way of optimism.
“You don’t really know with Activision and Call of Duty,” he says with a laugh and a sigh. “There’s potential, but then it’s never executed, especially with Warzone over the past three years.”
Despite the question mark that has always loomed over competitive Warzone, whether that be in Verdansk, Caldera, or now Al Mazrah in Warzone 2, Jukeyz says he’s now motivated and focused on two main things for the next chapter of his career.
“With tournaments back, I just want to be one of the best again, if not the best,” he says confidently. “That’s definitely the main goal. I want to grow my community as well. I want to be able to go bigger than what I used to be and at least get back to how things were when Warzone first came out.”
With aspirations of hosting and winning tournaments, growing his following, and becoming Warzone 2’s best player, the next 12 months are sure to be relentless. But after a year that’s been both a personal and professional rollercoaster, that appears to be just what Jukeyz wants.