Dallas Empire’s James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks became something of a stranger to winning after that infamous four year drought without a major title. But now at 28 years of age – which is borderline ancient in the realm of Call of Duty esports – he’s on the verge of being a back-to-back World Champion.
This year has already seen one stalwart of CoD esports hang up his boots – the scene’s only three-time world champion, Damon ‘Karma’ Barlow, who was part of a struggling Seattle Surge roster. Yet Clayster, the oldest player in the Call of Duty League, is just a few series away from potentially winning his second Champs in as many years and equalling Karma’s record of three world titles.
Ahead of Dallas Empire’s winners bracket clash with the CDL’s top seeded team, Atlanta FaZe, Clayster tells The Loadout that retirement was tempting during his trophy-less spell, but reveals how he manages to stave off the thought of ending his competitive career.
“I have definitely toyed with the idea of retirement,” he admits. “Especially during my drought of not winning a major championship. Not winning as long as I did was tough to deal with. But, I think that there are decisions you have to make as a person and priorities you have to set up and the top priority for me each year is winning major championships and being in contention for a ring at the end of the year.”
After asking Clayster why he thinks he’s outlasted someone with legend status like Karma, the answer was simple: the team around him. The AR player says he was offered much bigger pay packets on other rosters, but thought Dallas was the best option for a championship challenge.
“I took a huge pay cut to play for Dallas this year,” Clayster reveals, “and that was something that I had to decide on before the season started. It was: ‘Do I want to get paid $100,000-200,000 more on another team but I’m gonna have to pick up a bunch of amateurs, or do I wanna take the pay cut and play with people I know can win and work well with me and will be able to contend for a championship.
“That’s really what it is man – if I was on Seattle Surge this year and only won like five series in a season or whatever it is, then that would be insanely rough on me and that’s something that I might retire from. But being on a team like Empire, having the teammates and coaches that I have, it’s just the perfect thing for me.”
CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND for @DallasEmpire 🔒
They defeat @TorontoUltra 3-2 to punch their ticket to the Winners Bracket Final next week! Ultra will play tomorrow in the elimination bracket.#BuildAnEmpire | #CDLPlayoffs | #CDL2020 pic.twitter.com/r7aDhouaX7
— Call of Duty League (@CODLeague) August 22, 2020
Clayster, along with teammate and fellow CoD veteran Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter, will join Karma in having three Champs rings if they become CDL champions. However, he says that after his title with eUnited last year, his motivation to win doesn’t necessarily come from personal accolades anymore, but from helping others taste victory.
“It’s what keeps me going now and keeps the drive high – I want to win for my teammates and the org more than I actually want to win for myself,” Clayster says. “It’s the satisfaction from doing that that drives me. I might be a little different [from other veterans] in that way but winning is the number one priority, and as long as I have the chance to win, I’ll still stick around.”
The Call of Duty League Championship Weekend will see Dallas Empire, Atlanta FaZe, Chicago Huntsmen, and London Royal Ravens battle to become the first ever champions of the CDL.