The Call of Duty League is the newest franchise league by Activision-Blizzard, and it’s slowly starting to come together. Now, we know all twelve “franchise cities” that will be represented in the CDL.
Much like in its Overwatch equivalent, the Overwatch League, Activision-Blizzard requires the organizations involved to choose a city to represent. In that city, they’re asked to take up local initiatives to promote a “community.” The city system also provides a sense of “home” for newer fans looking to get into esports without the mess of esports’s usual sole “follow who’s best” mentality.
In alphabetical order, by city, here are the twelve teams:
- Atlanta, Georgia, USA — Atlanta Esports Ventures (Reign in OWL)
- Chicago, Illinois, USA — NRG (San Francisco Shock in OWL)
- Dallas, Texas, USA — Envy (Fuel in OWL)
- Florida, USA — Misfits (Mayhem in OWL)
- London, UK — Rogue (owned by ReKT Global)
- Los Angeles (#1), California, USA — Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (Gladiators in OWL)
- Los Angeles (#2), California, USA — OpTic Gaming (owned by Immortals, Valiant in OWL)
- Minnesota, USA — WISE Ventures Esports
- New York, New York, USA — Sterling VC (Partial owners of OWL’s NYXL)
- Paris, France — c0ntact Gaming
- Seattle, Washington, USA — Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment (VancouverTitans in OWL)
- Toronto, Ontario, CA — OverActive Media
The moves are pretty interesting for many of these organizations. As listed above, two organizations own teams in entirely different cities for CDL versus OWL. NRG, which holds the Chicago slot here for CDL, owns the San Francisco slot in OWL. And given there’s no Vancouver slot, Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment opted for Seattle instead. CDL has also chosen to maintain two slots in Los Angeles, owned by the very two same parent companies as the OWL slots.
Meanwhile, there are two new regions to pay attention to. First is Chicago, which is fairly ignored in the world of esports but can likely spring to life. Minnesota is also on the list, which is an interesting choice, but fair given CoD‘s widespread American popularity. Many events will likely be held in the state’s most famous city, St Louis.
It’s assumed that the city participation draws similar benefits for local fans to the OWL. Cities often hold viewing parties, tournaments and more with local businesses. In New York City, for instance, there was a local NYXL viewing party at a bowling alley. NYXL also partners with local LAN cafes to hold events, and they even had their own “pop-up LAN” earlier this year. Teams local to the LA studio, or teams with representatives in LA, will often hold “tailgates” or hand out merch at live events.
As with any major esports (or sports) league, the CDL has drawn some controversy already. The concept of a franchise system, according to many, goes against Call of Duty (and other first-person console shooters’) traditions of community-focused events. Some larger brands who started in such games, such as 100 Thieves, rejected CDL entirely for mixed reasons.
Meanwhile, within the league itself, the initial buy-in price was reportedly higher than that for OWL, at $25 million versus $20 million (or $30-60 million for second-season slots). This is while the OWL starts to become profitable before its third year. The league has drawn some ire also for forcing players to use consoles for official play.
You May Also Like:
- Which Character Should You Play in Borderlands 3?
- How to Link Your Destiny 2 Account with Steam Before Shadowkeep
- I Watched 55 Minutes of New Death Stranding Footage so You Can Skim It
But console-versus-PC debate aside, the league seems like mostly good news for the players involved. According to the CoD esports division per a Reddit announcement, the base salary is a $50k contract with health care and retirement benefits, and dropped players must receive the rest of their salary in a lump sum. Teams are required to give at least 50% of prize earnings to their players (though it’s assumed players can negotiate this percentage higher). The teams must either house their players, by renting a location or giving a stipend, or help their players find reasonable housing.
For those not in the CDL, CoD’s esports division states it will hold amateur competitions with dedicated prize pools, plus a “Path to Pro” system, likely similar to OWL’s too. However, in OWL, this system has critcisms, with players and community members claiming that the system does not actually support tier-two teams and community in a sustainable manner.
The CDL is slated to start in 2020.