The Los Angeles Thieves have made a roster change for Stage 2 of the Call of Duty League season, benching veteran Donny ‘Temp’ Laroda for rookie and former Challengers player Carlos ‘Venom’ Hernandez.
The news was made official on March 22 in a video that LA Thieves posted on Twitter, in which General Manager Eric ‘Muddawg’ Sanders and head coach Jordan ‘JKap’ explained the reason for the change.
According to the announcement, Venom will be slotted into the starting lineup immediately in place of Temp for Week 2 of Stage 2. Thieves just completed Week 1 (Toronto Home Series) with a 1-1 record, getting reverse swept by New York Subliners in the final match of the week.
“Heading into Stage 2, we’re going to be inserting Venom into the lineup,” Muddawg said. “Venom is a top rookie prospect, he started off the game with four straight victories in Challengers with WestR. He’s an aggressive sub but he’s really good at playing his life, and we’re hoping this change will be a catalyst to help us implement some of the changes we talk about so frequently.”
LA Thieves CDL Stage 2 starting lineup:
- Kenneth ‘Kenny’ Williams
- Austin ‘SlasheR’ Liddicoat
- Thomas ‘TJHaLy’ Haly
- Carlos ‘Venom’ Hernandez
LA Thieves roster update:
— LA Thieves (@LAThieves) March 22, 2021
This move lands Temp on the bench just mere months after starting the LA Thieves chapter of his career. After a decent season with Subliners last year, Temp was recruited to be part of Thieves’ first-ever CDL roster.
However, his form has taken a noticeable dip over the past few weeks, most notably during the Stage 1 Major and the first week of Stage 2.
“We looked very good at times so far this year, but not the level we want to be,” JKap said. “It’s best to be proactive and make a move, and that’s what we’re doing. Hopefully, we see a turnaround from the boys.”
Thieves looked set for a successful start to their CDL journey when they went 4-0 to open Stage 1. However, a final-day loss to Dallas Empire lost them the group, and in the Stage 1 Major, they were stunningly upset by cross-town rivals LA Guerrillas in the first round of the winners bracket.
They ended up finishing the tournament tied with Guerrillas for top-six, but Stage 2 started with a shaky 3-2 win over the struggling Toronto Ultra and getting reverse-swept by Subliners, which appears to have been the final straw.
During Stage 1, Temp was lowest on the team with a 0.98 K/D, including negative ratios in both Search & Destroy and Control. The numbers dropped even lower in Stage 2, as he finished the Toronto Home Series with a 0.86 K/D, including 0.76 in Hardpoint.
Hours after the announcement, however, and Temp already found a new home. Dropping into the Challengers circuit, Temp has joined the WestR lineup in place of Venom.
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Venom will make his CDL debut for Thieves in Week 2 of Stage 2, which starts on March 25. LA Thieves play twice, against London Royal Ravens and Atlanta FaZe, so it will be a good opportunity for fans to see what the former Challengers star is all about.
His success in the amateur circuit can’t be denied – winning the first four NA Challengers Cups and the NA Stage 1 Elite – but the competition can get a lot tougher in the big leagues, especially against the likes of FaZe.
You can keep track of all the roster changes and player signings with our CDL 2021 Rostermania hub.