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Minnesota's 'Call of Duty' team prepares to spill (virtual) blood at the Armory this weekend

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, 2019

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, 2019

Justin “SiLLY” Fargo-Palmer is coming to kick someone’s ass this weekend at the Armory.

Call of Duty League Launch Weekend

Armory
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The Las Vegas transplant is one of the star players on the Minnesota ROKKR, which will kick off the 2020 Call of Duty League this weekend in downtown Minneapolis.

“I started playing when I was 13 and I don’t think I’ve ever hopped off the game,” Fargo-Palmer says while hanging out at the team’s brand-new 11,000 square foot practice facility in Eagan.

For those who don’t know, Call of Duty is probably the most popular first-person shooter game ever. The Call of Duty League will feature 12-teams from all over the world competing against one another over the next six months, fighting to be Call of Duty League Champions.

Justin "SiLLY" Fargo-Palmer

Justin "SiLLY" Fargo-Palmer Patrick Strait

For years, Fargo-Palmer has been one of the most well-known gamers in the CoD world, before making the move to the pros.

“Most of my friends who play at the casual level like watching me play as opposed to wanting to play against me,” he says. “They all think it’s pretty cool that I’m on the team.”

For all of the adults who hear “professional esports” and assume it’s a bunch of nerds who are wasting their time, all they need to do is take a walk through the ROKKR headquarters to see just how big of a deal this really is.

With a scrimmage room complete with 12 gaming stations, a review room to watch game film, a full kitchen, and even sleeping pods, the ROKKR are being treated like real athletes. They’re also being paid pretty well, with the minimum player salary starting at $50,000 plus a share of prize money from matches throughout the season.

It’s not all fun and games in the CoD League, however. Just like any other sport, there are rivalries, villains, and plenty of shit-talking.

“We’re all pretty familiar with each other in the league,” Fargo-Palmer says. “A lot of us were in the Call of Duty World League [the predecessor to the newly-structured Call of Duty League], so those rivalries carry over. We can still talk trash to each other, but we have to keep it a little more PG now than we did before we were on the team.”

Fargo-Palmer also says that there are plenty of big personalities in the league, many of which already have quite a following through Twitch and other platforms.

“If you have kind of a villainous persona you can still be who you are out there,” he says. “But you might have to tone it down a little, especially on social media.”

Players on the ROKKR range in age from 18 to 27. Fargo-Palmer is one of the elder statesmen of the crew at the ripe old age of 24.

The Armory is set up for audiences and players.

The Armory is set up for audiences and players. instagram.com/codleague

“There are some younger players we picked up who are taking spots, so that can get a little intense and competitive,” he says. “There’s a lot of talk out there about how your reaction times slow down when you get older. But I still got it. No worries.”

This weekend is the season kickoff for both the team and the league as a whole. In addition to featuring five-on-five matchups from all of the teams in the league, there will be special attraction grudge matches, a celebrity hype battle featuring Vince Staples and Karl Anthony-Towns, and a performance by Shredder on Friday. But the real stars of the weekend are the people behind the screens.

IF YOU GO:

Call of Duty League Launch Weekend
January 24-26
The Armory
Visit www.callofdutyleague.com for details and tickets