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C.O.D.E. Bowl IV's champions speak out
The Royal Canadian Air Force took it to the stars in their first Call of Duty Endowment Bowl. We spoke to them about winning it all, and more.
Call of Duty Endowment Bowl, the annual esports competition benefiting veterans, had always been a bilateral affair between the United States and the United Kingdom.
For this year’s tournament, presented by USAA, Canada joined the fray—and surprised everyone by winning it all.
In four rounds of gameplay, the Royal Canadian Air Force Game Force (joined by streamers Natarsha and Smixie) bested a talented slate of competitors—including defending champs from the U.K.’s Royal Air Force and previous winners from the U.S. Space Force—in Call of Duty: Warzone.
Ten military branch esports teams, augmented by top Call of Duty streamers, faced off in a mini battle royale format that forces players to compete to be the last ones standing in a continuously shrinking map. This year’s setting was the arid urban city of Al Mazrah.
Moves were made, shots were fired, and in the end, the team with the massive red maple leaves on their shoulders hoisted the trophy.
(Miss it? You can watch the entire thing here.)
We sat down on the competition floor with the six members of the RCAF—who were still visibly buzzing from their win—to find out how they pulled it off.
Let’s first go around the table and introduce yourselves: name, gamertag, rank, job, age, and hometown.
NC: I’m Nancy Coelho, founder and chairwoman of Game Force. I go by Astra. I’m a civilian and the vice president of partnerships for the Air Force. I’m from Ottawa.
AC: I’m Alex Clark. I go by Rook. I’m a Corporal and avionics technician. I’m 30 and from Woodstock, Ontario.
RM: I’m Ryan Mezei. My gamertag is GetPicked. I’m an Aviator and firefighter. I’m 25 and from Brampton, Ontario. (Note: Mezei, the team’s captain, was also named MVP of the tournament, and took home a very large ring from Monster Energy.)
RI: My name is Roxanne Ibrahim. I go by MizzWhisky. I’m Second Lieutenant, infantry officer. I’m 28 years old and from Ottawa.
BJ: I’m Brendan Jatsura. My handle is Librim. I’m Corporal, infantry soldier, 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment. I’m also from Brampton.
JD: I am Julies Deslauriers, or ItzDlow. I’m Corporal, combat engineer. I’m 22 and from Québec City.
Thanks, everyone. What was this experience like for you?
RM: Amazing. We were all super excited for it. It was even better that we got to win it the first time.
BJ: It was a great experience. We appreciate the opportunity to see what happens when we can compete. We don't get to leave the country too much; we're usually doing training in our own country. It's an incredible privilege.
AC: It's a dream come true.
JD: I never thought that playing video games, I'd end up in L.A., winning a tournament.
What surprised you during the gameplay?
RM: After the first game, I was hyped when we won and dropped my controller on the floor and broke it. I had to borrow one from our friend Lucky Lou.
BJ: It's always about adjusting to the land—adapt and overcome. We managed pretty well. I didn't really notice the steamers too much, and this is their bread and butter—they’re the big players. That means we're on the same level.
RM: We were the big players out there.
What led you into military service?
RI: It started with video games. I've been playing my whole life. As a woman, it wasn't cool to play games when I was young. But it made me feel very accepted. I would play Call of Duty. I'd buy BB guns. My shooting was really good; my tactics were really good. I thought, where can I do this and also travel? I thought I'd go into a job like Call of Duty...which ended up being the military. It was perfect. I wanted to be an officer.
JD: My uncle was in the military as a combat engineer, and this is why I'm a combat engineer now.
BJ: I was 18. I wanted to do something hard—something bigger than myself. That's why I chose infantry. I wanted to do something not many people could do.
RM: I just wanted to be a firefighter and saw I could be a firefighter here.
AC: I watched Independence Day and fell in love with airplanes.
What led you into gaming?
RM: I played a lot of competitive sports growing up. With gaming, you could hang out without actually hanging out.
BJ: My whole life I loved competition and competitive shooters. I've always loved games like that.
AC: I had a Nintendo 64 in my basement and I never left.
JD: It's pretty basic; I've been gaming my whole life.
How does one go about joining a military esports team?
AC: You call me! I'm our tournament director and run all of our esports events. To get on one of our teams, you have to compete in a national tournament that we put on internally. Everyone here is a winner.
Did you practice together before competing at C.O.D.E. Bowl?
BJ: No. A couple of us knew each other before, but we just met each other in real life for the first time here at this tournament!
Incredible. OK, before I let you go celebrate, I have to ask you about the stories behind your gamertags.
NC (“Astra”): The Air Force is celebrating its 100 year anniversary and has been using its tag “ad astra”—to the stars. Mine is a tribute.
AC (“Rook”): Fifteen years ago, I asked for a random gaming tag from an Xbox Live gaming tag generator. It evolved from there.
RM (“GetPicked”): When we were gaming, anytime someone got sniped, we'd say, “Get picked!” It became my name because I said it all the time.
RI (“MizzWhisky”): I got injured and was on medical leave from the military. I liked whisky and made a handle related to that. As I started getting bigger on streams, a viewer told me he thought I was a mom because of the original format—which I’m not! So I changed it to this.
BJ (“Librim”): I just made it up when I was a kid. I've been running a handle since I was eight year old. It doesn't mean anything.
JD (“ItzDlow”): It's a version of a nickname for my last name.
The Call of Duty Endowment (the C.O.D.E. in C.O.D.E. Bowl) is a nonprofit organization committed to helping veterans find high-quality careers and transition to civilian life after military service. The Endowment has funded the placement of more than 125,000 veterans since its founding in 2009, generating more than $7 billion in economic value for vets and their families. All of the net proceeds from the tournament go toward placing more veterans into high-quality jobs.
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