The Call of Duty League starts its inaugural season in January 2020 but criticism over its scheduled format created waves in the professional scene. Many popular players and figures are highlighting the model’s flaws. In the midst of securing team rosters and adapting to game patches, the recent Modern Warfare is full of controversy since its release.
Changes disrupt many aspects of the familiar competitive formula, especially in the construction of events and tournaments. Past tournament formats packed with hours of matches are eliminated as the league looks to mimic a traditional sports platform, a decision many find frustrating. Each team hosts events in their home cities in a 5 vs. 5 best-of-five format. Each event covers the span of a weekend, but several players see this format to be a waste of travel.
James “Clayster” Eubanks of Dallas Empire spoke out about the format, criticizing the wasted time.
Then we fly to LONDON for ONE match, come home, then fly to PARIS for one match. I’m so confused, these better be best of 11’s cause if I fly overseas to lose a 30min series and fly back ima lose full composure
— Empire Clayster (@Clayster) November 15, 2019
Clayster is not the only player voicing concerns. Chicago Huntsmen’s Matt “Formal” Piper, responded to people arguing against their criticisms. “Trust me, I’m truly grateful for the position I’m in. It’s awesome,” he said. “But at the same time I’m a competitor, and I’d like to compete.”
While many pro players criticize the format, others fight back against the complaints. Doug “Censor” Martin of New York Subliners acknowledged the frustration, stating, “I’m seeing pros complain about traveling international to play 1 series. I get it, but c’mon man. Be a PRO. Go in there, take care of business, and say GG. We’re better than this.”
Adam Apicella, founder of Major League Gaming, former VP at Activision Blizzard and current CEO of Esports Engine, also criticized the format.
I’ve been preaching this for a while:
Franchises for esports: Awesome!
Home team hosted events for esports: Awesome!
Moving away from epic weekend long tournaments: not awesome
I know that a model can made that marries both. The NBA is spot on https://t.co/qnlNIRlNmq
— Adam Apicella (@MrAdamAp) November 23, 2019
The event format affects more than just professional players. Fans of teams find little reason to purchase event tickets. The league’s launch weekend, hosted by Minnesota RØkkr on Jan. 24 to Jan. 26, offers several ticket options for attending fans. A VIP season pass costs $550. And while the premium package offers benefits such as included merchandise, reserved seats, and a behind-the-scenes venue tour, many fans complain that the prices of tickets, including general admission, do not offer much value compared to the total matches offered.
Eric “Muddawg” Sanders, General Manager of OpTic Gaming, jumped in on Formal’s conversation, revealing that the team has to “fly to Paris to play a singular, regular season match vs Atlanta.”
Brian “Saintt” Baroska, Head Coach and General Manager for Minnesota Rokkr, replied to Muddawg, adding, “We play 1 match there as well, flying off Eiffel tower if we lose it”
Even Matt “Nadeshot” Haag, founder of 100 Thieves and former Call of Duty pro, shot down the new system. “I think franchising was a mistake,” Nadeshot said. “I think charging teams $25 million to be part of a league that hasn’t grown year on year is a mistake. I think flying teams across the world to play one best of five series is a mistake. I think there’s a lot of dumb money and people who don’t understand esports, spending money on things that will not work.”
The first year of the Call of Duty League is likely to run into growing pains. Many changes must be implemented in order to smooth out the season’s rocky beginnings. It will be interesting to see how Activision responds to this criticism.
Written by Crystal Mills
Featured image via Call of Duty League