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Royce O’Neale Tells Us Why Athletes Love ‘Warzone’ And Names The Best ‘Call Of Duty’ Player On The Nets

Brooklyn Nets wing Royce O’Neale took quite the path to get to the NBA. The 29 year old is now a starter in Brooklyn, but his path to getting there involved spending his college career at Denver and Baylor before stops in Europe and the G League that he parlayed into becoming a member of the Utah Jazz. He’s seen a lot of the world, and when you travel like that, you need to find ways to keep yourself entertained and connected to the friends made along the way.

Enter Call of Duty. O’Neale has been playing video games since he was a kid — he even has the SEGA Dreamcast to prove it — but through Call of Duty, he’s found a game that lets him keep in touch with friends while providing an escape from basketball.

With the historic launch of Modern Warfare 2 earlier in the month and the release of Warzone 2.0, we sat down with O’Neale to talk to him about why it is that everyone loves Warzone, the best Call of Duty players on the Nets, and more.

What was your first Call of Duty?

Growing up, I was always a Halo fan, so my first Call of Duty that I played consistently and heavy was probably Black Ops. That was probably the one I played the most before I got into Warzone. Ever since then, my teammates played, and all my friends back home play as well. Even when I’m just meeting people, we know we have some of the same interests with Call of Duty, it’s been great.

I know you traveled internationally for a while with the start of your career, maybe connect to some of his old teammates from back then as well.

Oh yeah, for sure. I don’t see my friends as much and so we all got a group chat so we can see when each other’s getting online. And even my teammates, we all still play together when we’re out of practice or just hanging out.

How often do you play during the season?

I play, like, every day. I go to the gym, get my work in, and come home and play video games all day. I play Call of Duty, 2K, FIFA, you know, it’s like my escape outside of basketball.

Did you ever get a chance to play the original Modern Warfare 2 at all?

Yeah, I did. I played a little bit. That was kind of a time when I was bad at Call of Duty, so I didn’t really play it as much or get the hang of it. I didn’t really play a lot of multiplayer. I like to go straight to the Warzone. That’s what I kind of picked up and played a lot.

What is it about Warzone that makes it so much more attractive? I’ve talked to a handful of athletes and they all seem to gravitate to Warzone.

I don’t know. Just from myself, I would probably say the competitiveness, strategy, and teamwork. You can’t play it like it’s an individual game. I feel like multiplayer is more single-player, because you see how many kills you can get personally. I feel like in Warzone you gotta be smart, move as a team, and loot.

Do you bring a set up with you on road trips?

Yeah, [an] MSI [gaming laptop]. I have a deal with them, so I actually just got a whole new setup and everything. They got a new gaming laptop that I travel with on the road and it’s very convenient because I don’t have to carry my big Xbox or PlayStation. I can just carry that and just play right on there. I’ve been playing a ton of PC and stuff.

Who would you say is the best Call of Duty player on the Nets?

I mean myself [laughs]. Nah, probably I’d say Ben [Simmons]. He’s pretty good at it and has been playing for a while.

So you and Ben Simmons in some order.

Yeah. I’m first, and he might be tied for first, but he’s second.

What about across the entire NBA? I know you played with Donovan Mitchell back when you were both in Utah.

I haven’t played really with that many guys in Call of Duty. Mike Conley, he’s pretty good. Rudy Gobert, he plays a lot, and they say Devin Booker and Karl Anthony-Towns are pretty good. Josh Hart, he’s good, I played with him a couple of times. There are a lot of guys that actually game.