- Activision Blizzard will launch the Call of Duty League with 12 teams in January 2020.
- Call of Duty League franchise owners paid $25 million or more to secure their place in the Call of Duty League, according to ESPN.
- “Call of Duty” is a perennial best-seller with yearly releases that draw in millions of players. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” is already the best-selling video game of 2019 less than a month after its release,
- While Call of Duty has a long history of international esports events, Activision’s decision to build a franchised league with a limited number of slots offers a higher value to investors who want to monetize esports in a similar fashion to traditional sports leagues.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Activision Blizzard is establishing a professional league around one of the biggest games in the world, and it’s an important step forward for the rapidly developing esports industry.
The company is launching Call of Duty League in January 2020 with 12 franchise representing international cities. “Call of Duty” is a perennial best-seller with yearly releases that draw in millions of players. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” is already the best-selling game of 2019 less than a month after its release, and more than 100 million people downloaded the free-to-play “Call of Duty Mobile” in its first month online.
Despite the game’s popularity, however, “Call of Duty” esports events haven’t seen the same longterm success as popular esports titles like “League of Legends,” or even other military games like “CounterStrike.” Activision Blizzard has supported “Call of Duty” competitions for years, but the Call of Duty League introduces multi-million-dollar franchises and a structure that parallels the major American sports leagues.
The Call of Duty League is Activision Blizzard’s second franchise-based esports organization. Blizzard’s Overwatch League completed its second season in September 2019 after expanding the total number of teams from 12 to 20. Several of the franchise owners in the Call of Duty League also own squads in the Overwatch League.
Here’s a closer look at how Call of Duty League will work.
SEE ALSO: We attended one of eSports’ biggest events, The Overwatch League Grand Finals, and it was like a wild cross between a cosplay convention and an NBA playoff game
Call of Duty League players will have a minimum salary of $50,000, along with other benefits.
Call of Duty League teams will have between seven and 10 players. Players are guaranteed a base salary of $50,000 and they also have healthcare and retirement benefits. Teams aren’t required to provide players with housing, but they must show the league proof that they’re helping players find their own housing during the season.
Teams can earn additional prize money during the season, and each franchise is required to split at least 50% of those prizes with players. Activision posted more of the details on the official competitive Call of Duty Reddit page.
The Call of Duty League will launch with 12 teams from four different countries.
The full roster of cities and ownership groups are:
- Atlanta Faze — Atlanta Esports Ventures, a joint venture owned by Cox Enterprises and Province, Inc.
- Chicago Huntsmen — NRG Esports
- Dallas Empire — Envy Gaming, Inc.
- Florida Mutineers – Misfits Gaming
- London Ravens — ReKTGlobal, Inc
- Los Angeles Guerrillas — Immortals Gaming Club (IGC)
- Optic Gaming Los Angeles – Kroenke Sports & Entertainment
- Minnesota Rokkr— WISE Ventures
- New York Subliners — Sterling.VC
- Paris Legion – c0ntact Gaming
- Seattle Surge — The Aquilini Group
- Toronto Ultra — OverActive Media
Call of Duty League teams will play 5-on-5 team matches on the PlayStation 4 version of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.”
Call of Duty League matches will be played on the PlayStation 4 version of “Call of Duty Modern Warfare” in a 5-on-5 team format.
Teams will play best-of-five matches during the regular season and the teams with the best win-loss records will advance to a double elimination playoff bracket to decide the league champion. The regular season will begin in on January 24, 2020 and the Call of Duty League Championships will conclude in August or September 2020.
The Call of Duty League schedule is an international tour with two stops in each city.
During each week of the Call of Duty League season, a different team will play host for multiple league matches in their home city. The schedule is divided into two splits for the spring and summer seasons, with the championship planned for August or September 2020. A midseason event in April will also feature all 12 teams.
Call of Duty League’s world tour is an impressive undertaking for its inaugural season. Overwatch League teams spent most of their first two seasons playing matches in Blizzard’s Burbank, California, arena, with a handful of special events held in different cities.
Not all of the Call of Duty League teams have confirmed where they’ll be hosting their matches, but some have confirmed that they’ll be using multiple venues during the season.
The Call of Duty League will kick off on January 24, 2020 at the Armory in Minneapolis — it’s a historic venue that fits 8,400 people.
“Call of Duty” has had professional tournaments in the past, and some teams were pushed out by the new league. Franchise owners reportedly paid $25 million or more to secure their spots.
Call of Duty League franchise owners paid $25 million or more to secure their place in the Call of Duty League, according to ESPN’s Jacob Wolf. While Call of Duty has a long history of international esports events, Activision’s decision to build a franchised league with a limited number of slots offers a higher value to investors who want to monetize esports in a similar fashion to traditional sports leagues.
The Overwatch League negotiated multi-million-dollar media contracts with ESPN and Amazon’s Twitch streaming service, and the league secured major sponsors like Coca-Cola, Intel, and Toyota.
Activision’s decision to franchise Call of Duty League left lots of esports teams without a place for their “Call of Duty” players to compete. Several organizations that couldn’t raise the investment money for a Call of Duty League franchise spot dissolved their “Call of Duty” teams entirely, including 100 Thieves, the team that came in second place at the 2019 Call of Duty World League Championship.
It is with a very heavy heart we announce that 100 Thieves will not be participating in competitive Call of Duty in 2020. pic.twitter.com/cdJD9DdUvQ
Call of Duty Challengers is an amateur circuit of online and offline competitions that will provide a pipeline for players to enter the Call of Duty League. Players need to be 18 or older to enter.
Call of Duty Challengers will include online ladders, online tournaments, and open tournament event competitions throughout the year starting this month, and Call of Duty League has committed more than $1 million to the prize pool.
The league also says several pro teams will host their own competitions to spur amateur player pipeline in their home cities. You can find more information on Call of Duty Challengers events and future League events on the official Call of Duty League website.