The Call of Duty League was meant to usher in a new era of professional Call of Duty. Following the success of the Overwatch League, Activision Blizzard decided to take the CoD scene in the same direction. The Call of Duty League was born–the next esports scene to adopt the franchised, location-based format of the Overwatch League and traditional sports leagues.
The twelve-team league started off strong with good showings in Minnesota, London, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. The promise of a league across the globe had started taking shape, but unfortunately, not everything always goes as planned. For the Call of Duty League, the COVID-19 outbreak forced changes no one could have foreseen heading into its inaugural season.
COVID-19 places the Call of Duty League in a tough predicament. Should they continue with their Home Series plans as the virus began its outbreak in North America? Or should they cancel those live events and figure out a plan to salvage as much as possible? Following the Los Angeles Home Series, the Call of Duty League decided to cancel the rest of the Home Series events for the season, citing the health and safety of players, organizations, and fans as the highest priority for the league. Finally, after a month of no competition, the Call of Duty League returned with an online format many other esports leagues adopted because of the outbreak.
The Home Series continued only in name with the new online format as teams had the options to play from any location of their preference. So far, two online home sets have been completed; Dallas Empire and Chicago Huntsmen. The Florida Mutineers took the Dallas event while Dallas became the first team to win two events following their victory over Atlanta in Chicago. So far, the switch from Lan events to an online format has mixed things up a bit as players adjust to the new status quo. Some of the weaker teams prior to the change in format look stronger and vice-versa. It’s expected players will indeed adjust accordingly as the rest of the online events unfold. The next event is the Florida event starting May 8th.
Another response from Activision Blizzard in response to the COVID-19 outbreak was their #PlayApartTogether initiative with the World Health Organization (WHO) to encourage everyone to take part in reducing the risk of spreading the virus with social distancing, following correct hygiene steps and getting the gaming community together through gaming to help people in a time of great uncertainty.
This certainly wasn’t the start for the Call of Duty League Activision Blizzard had hoped for their latest franchised esports league hoping to bring professional Call of Duty to a wider audience than ever before. The response from the league itself, transitioning into an online format and providing fans with more of the heart-pounding excitement they were looking for, has been successful, though, despite the troubled times for the entire world. The Call of Duty League will recover from COVID-19 and in time, could become the league many envisioned from the start.
Written by Brandon Howard | photo credit: press.activision.com