Call of Duty is one of the world’s most popular gaming series and it’s making a splash in eSports in a huge way in 2020. Last fall’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was a title that pleased both critics and fans and a return to its impressive roots for the franchise, making it one of the most popular games of 2019. Modern Warfare proved that the shooter is bigger than ever and now it’s serving as the groundwork for Call of Duty League, a retooled pro eSports operation vying for a spot among the top eSports leagues in gaming with a dozen teams from the US, Canada, France and the UK battling for gaming glory in a multi-city international tour.
There’s a lot to take in as the competitive Call of Duty scene divides into three tiers, with pros representing cities in four countries and others competing in the Challengers and City Circuits. Not to mention some of the certain fan-favorite elements that are set to be part of the show. With that in mind, let’s get you prepped for the league’s first round of competition so you know what to expect in Minnesota this weekend.
The Where And When
Call of Duty League kicks off on January 24-26 at an inaugural weekend event hosted by the Minnesota Røkkr at the Minneapolis Armory. The Armory is a historic building that went through a full renovation to reopen as a concert and event venue. How historic? The old school Minnesota Lakers played there for a time. Prince even shot his 1999 music video there. Obviously, it’s a storied site and now it’s where the Call of Duty League will be born.
All 12 teams will play over the course of the three-day weekend. Here’s the rundown:
Chicago Huntsmen vs. the Dallas Empire
Seattle Surge vs. Florida Mutineers
Los Angeles Guerrillas vs. the RØKKR
New York Subliners vs. London Royal Ravens
Toronto Ultra vs. Surge
Guerrillas vs. Mutineers
OpTic Gaming LA vs. Paris Legion
Atlanta Faze vs. Empire
Legion vs. the Royal Ravens
Huntsmen vs. OpTic Gaming LA
Subliners vs. Faze
Ultra vs. RØKKR
There’s a lot of other action happening, too, including a special battle with some hometown flair.
Can The Huntsmen Come Out Strong?
The Chicago Huntsmen are perhaps the team with the most hype headed into the inaugural Call of Duty League season. Out of a dozen teams, they were the one chosen to lead a YouTube series, The Campaign, detailing how they prepared for Call of Duty League and assembled the squad largely considered the favorite of the tournament.
Much of that is to do with all the star power the team has, from owner Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez to talents like “Scump” Abner, a former champion who has a decade of Call of Duty experience under his belt, Matthew “FormaL” Piper, and Alec “Arcitys” Sanderson, another reigning champion. But competing against the top-tier gamers that make up the Call of Duty League is no easy task and it will be fascinating to see if they can live up to the hype as the season moves forward.
One other angle of note is the budding rivalry between the Huntsmen and LA’s OpTic Gaming. Huntsmen owner H3CZ was the former CEO of OpTic and is plenty familiar with both the LA outfit and the gamers he brought with him to Chicago. Scump and FormaL are former OpTic gamers. Without that duo in the lineup, OpTic will feature three-time champion Brandon “Dashy” Otell, Thomas “TJHaLy” Haly along with Kenny Williams and Austin “SlasheR” Liddicoat.
It’s also worth noting that Crimsix and Clayster, now of the Dallas Empire, are also former OpTic stars, which adds a bit of familiarity to the matchup when they play the Huntsmen on Friday. If those battles look a bit more intense, well, it’s because they have lots of history.
How Will It Play Out?
It’s tough to say, but for Call of Duty fans the biggest thrill of the weekend will simply be in watching these skilled athletes face off against each other. There have been months of speculation about what Call of Duty League would become in this new iteration, from the scheduling to who will play and how the matches will look moving forward. Seeing the three tiers of competition at play will give fans an idea of how future dates will shape up and what to expect from each level of the competition.
Update: This article has been edited to reflect the cancellation of the basketball-themed Hype Battle event due to the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing.