From January 24-January 26, 2020, Call of Duty League had its opening weekend in Minneapolis, MN. I watched a good amount of it, mostly watching games with Chicago Hunters, Dallas Empire and Atlanta Faze. After the weekend, I wanted to give my thoughts on it!
The Minneapolis Armory looked like a nice venue but I’m surprised that they didn’t pick a larger city to host the opening weekend. I wish their first weekend was in Los Angeles, Chicago or Dallas. The Armory looked small and even high profile games like Chicago vs Dallas looked empty. I don’t think Minneapolis has a large enough audience in esports like Dallas or a large enough population like Chicago and Los Angeles. This opening weekend was supposed to set the tone for the rest of the league and seeing a half empty audience was honestly disappointing. I am interested to see how London will fair in terms of getting a live audience.
Now I watch a lot of Overwatch League and one of the biggest things I noticed that makes CoD League different from OWL and more entertaining is culture of competitive Call of Duty. In Overwatch League, the crowd is more “wholesome” than Call of Duty. The crowd cheers for everyone even though they’re supposed to support a certain team. Players also respect each other on stage. However, in Call of Duty, the crowd won’t cheer for teams they don’t care about. I remember when Subliners came onto the stage, the crowd was silent but when Rokkrs came on stage, there were loud cheers and people were more hyped. Audience will even boo the opposing team. Players are also open to shit talk to each other on stage and even to the crowd. This isn’t new in competitive Call of Duty. When I went to my first MLG in 2011 as a spectator, players were yelling at each other from across the stage. During interviews, players will straight up shit talk the other team. I actually really like this more than wholesome OWL because it is just more entertaining.
Because competitive Call of Duty has been around for a long time, there’s a lot of history with the teams and players. The stories basically write themselves in this League. The best story would have to be LA OpTic vs Chicago Huntsmen. OpTic wants to overcome the shadows of old OpTic and I was so hyped when their game against each other was up. Another story is that Aches is the villain of Call of Duty. He has unconventional plays and fires back at the crowd when they boo him. I know people think, “Well we have to show more respect so society will take us seriously.” Well, no. Traditional sports are like this as well. I occasionally go to NHL games and I remember we’d boo the opposing team. We’d even boo louder when specific players from the other team scores. It’s just the nature of large scale competitions.
The last thing I want to mention is the Call of Duty Challengers. Now most of Challengers is held online but during League events, eligible teams can compete in a LAN tournament for money. I really like this idea because it nourishes the amateur scene. Unlike OWL, the Path to Pro system in CDL gives importance to amateurs and provides a great pool for professional franchises to pull from.
So before I end this post, I want to share that I am cheering on for the Chicago Huntsmen since I live in the suburbs of Chicago. I even bought the limited Founders version of the sweater! I’m looking forward to more CDL and see where this goes. Be sure to check out the post with my initial thoughts on the Call of Duty League. But that is it for me. I will see you all next time!