Call of Duty League

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Call of Duty League
CDL Logo.svg
FormerlyCall of Duty World League
Call of Duty Pro League
GameCall of Duty
Inaugural season2020
CommissionerJohanna Faries
No. of teams12
Most recent
Dallas Empire
Most titlesDallas Empire (1)
Call of Duty Challengers
Current sports event 2021 Call of Duty League season

The Call of Duty League (CDL) is a professional esports league for the video game series Call of Duty, produced by its publisher Activision. The Call of Duty League follows the model of the Overwatch League as well as other traditional North American professional sporting leagues by using a set of permanent, city-based teams backed by separate ownership groups. In addition, the league plays in a tournament point system and playoffs format rather than the use of promotion and relegation used commonly in other esports and non-North American leagues, with players on the roster being assured a minimum annual salary, benefits, and a portion of winnings and revenue-sharing based on how that team performs. The League was announced in 2019 with its inaugural season starting in 2020.


The Call of Duty League is owned by Activision Blizzard and is the company's second franchise-based esports organization. The league plays out similar to most North American professional sports leagues, in which all teams play scheduled games against other teams to vie for position in the season's playoffs, rather than the approach of team promotion and relegation more commonly used in other esports leagues. The league currently features twelve teams.[1]

Each match between two teams consists of a best-of-five through different games based on gameplay modes and maps within the Call of Duty game. The inaugural season used the 2019 release, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, played on standard PlayStation 4 consoles and other equivalent equipment for all players. The three multiplayer modes used by the CDL include: "Search & Destroy", where one team attempts to plant a bomb and defend it at one of two control points while the other team tries to eliminate the bomb team, or if the bomb is activated, to defuse it in time; "Hardpoint", where a rotation control point appears on the map, and teams earn points for maintaining control on that point; and "Domination", where three control points appear on the map, and teams are awarded points by maintaining control of one or more of these points. In the case of "Search & Destroy" and "Domination", multiple rounds are played, switching the role of each team, while "Hardpoint" is played until a point limit is reached. Once a team has won three games in a match, the match is over, and that team given the match victory.[2] Coaches for teams have a limited number of time outs which they can use during a game, and can substitute players during this time; this is in contrast to the OWL format where play substitutions may only occur between games.[3]

The 2020 season schedule is evenly divided into two splits for spring and summer, with a mid-season all-star event taking place after the spring split, and culminates in the Championship Weekend.[1] Each team will host a weekend tournament-style event in their home city, and the top teams from the weekend earns points. The top eight teams at the end of season based on points claim a berth in the playoffs.[4] A total US$6 million prize pool is available to teams in the inaugural season.[5] To standardize play at each homestand weekend, Activision constructed a transportable esports stage with input from each of the teams.[3] To support viewership, Activision studios Infinity Ward and Beenox created a server architecture for the Call of Duty games, the CODCaster, that enables a match to be viewed from multiple different angles and identify which angles have the most exciting action to follow, as to allow the commentators and producers of the broadcast events to help show key action in the match. CODCaster also compiles key in-game statistics, and is able to render the team's characters in their team's colors for the viewing audience, though players themselves will not have this benefit.[3]

Each team must have a minimum of seven players with a maximum of ten. Players are guaranteed a minimum US$50,000 salary with health and other benefits, though players may negotiate for higher salaries. At least 50% of the winnings a team earns must be shared with the team members. Players are not required to live in the city/region that the team represents. Teams are not required to providing housing for players during the season, and if they do not choose to offer it, the team must instead offer a means and stipend to help players to find such housing with approval from Activision.[6]

Activision also established a Call of Duty Challengers series for amateur players to compete in matches and potentially be played into teams that vie for a US$1 million prize pool alongside the main League season. This provides the League teams with a pool of talent that they can draw from for their teams.[1]

Changes for the 2021 season[edit]

The 2021 season will be played on the 2020 release, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, played on PC, using any league approved controller. This season competitive Call of Duty will make the switch back to 4v4, after two seasons on 5v5. The three modes used this season will include: "Search & Destroy"; "Hardpoint"; and "Control", where one team attempts to capture two points on the map, while the other team defends them. The round can end with the attackers capturing both zones within the allotted time, the defenders winning by the time expiring or by either team killing the other thirty times.

The 2021 season schedule is split into five stages, with each ending with a Major Tournament. In each stage the teams will be split into groups, determined by the teams themselves, via a draft system. Every team will complete in each homestand event with the finals of each event being a meeting between teams from the opposite group. During each homestand teams will earn CDL points and the top eight teams at the end of the season will enter the playoffs to compete for the CDL Championship.[7]


In February 2019, Activision Blizzard officially confirmed their intention to launch a city-based, franchised league for Call of Duty, marking their second such organization following the Overwatch League, founded in 2017.[8][9] To prepare for establishing the League, Activision terminated the Call of Duty World League in mid-2019.[10]

The first five teams to purchase a spot for the league was announced in May 2019; the companies – OverActive Media, Atlanta Esports Ventures, Envy Gaming, c0ntact Gaming LLC, and Sterling.VC – were also parent companies for teams in Activision Blizzard's other franchised league, the Overwatch League.[11] All twelve franchises were finalized in October 2019, with a majority of the franchised having never professionally competed in Call of Duty.[12] The Washington Post estimated that the franchise cost was US$25 million.[10]

Initially, the CDL announced that they would be running a regular season format culminating in postseason playoffs. However, after criticism from the Call of Duty esports community, the league elected to switch to a tournament system, which was officially announced in January 2020.[13]

In the days prior to the launch of the inaugural season, Activision announced it had made a multiyear deal with Google for all of its esports content, including the CDL, to be exclusively shown through YouTube. Prior Activision esports, particularly OWL, had used Twitch.[14] Activision also announced other official sponsors of the league on eve of the first season:[15] On March 9, Activision announced partnerships with both Twitter and the United States Army.[16]

  • PlayStation 4 as the official platform of the CDL and an official partner of the Call of Duty Challengers League.
  • Mountain Dew Amp Game Fuel as the official beverage of the CDL through to the 2022 season.
  • Astro Gaming as the official Headset and MixAmp provider through to the 2022 season.
  • SCUF Gaming as the official controller of the Call of Duty League through to the 2021 season.
  • United States Air Force will create on site opportunities for fans to experience flight simulators and other military activities on a one-year deal.
  • United States Army as the presenting sponsor of Call of Duty Collegiate and to offer activities alongside the Air Force on site.
  • Twitter as "the source for Call of Duty League highlights and community engagement."
  • Sony Xperia as the official mobile partner of the Call of Duty League.[17]

Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

On March 13, 2020, the Call of Duty League released a statement entailing that all live home series events were cancelled due to concerns over the novel COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, to which they said that upcoming events will be done via online play and possibly return to live events if logistically and feasibly possible.[18] On May 19, 2020, the Call of Duty League announced changes to the 2020 Call of Duty League Championship. Instead of 8 teams making it to the Championship weekend all 12 teams would now compete for the Championship in a double-elimination tournament. A US$4.6 million prize pool was announced, with the winning team taking home US$2 million.[19]

On July 5, 2020, the Call of Duty league announced that the postseason would also be played online as a result of the pandemic. Additional measures to further protect the competitive integrity of the league were also announced. All competitors are to be provided with a universal camera which will need to be activated throughout all matches with the camera providing league officials visibility each competitor's console, controller and monitor.[20]


The Call of Duty League follows the model of the Overwatch League as well as other traditional North American professional sporting leagues by using a set of permanent, city-based teams backed by separate ownership groups.[21] The CDL launched in January 2020 with twelve teams, each based in a global city. Of the twelve teams, nine are based in the United States, while the remaining three are based in Canada, the United Kingdom, and France.[22]

On November 6, 2020, 100 Thieves announced that they would join the league as the "Los Angeles Thieves" after acquiring OpTic Gaming's slot.[23]

For the 2021 season, the Chicago Huntsmen have rebranded to OpTic Chicago as Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez reacquired the OpTic Gaming brand.[24]

Current teams[edit]

Team Location Venue Joined Owner
Atlanta FaZe United States Atlanta, GA, United States Gateway Center Arena 2020 Atlanta Esports Ventures, FaZe Clan
OpTic Chicago United States Chicago, IL, United States Wintrust Arena 2020 NRG Esports
Dallas Empire United States Dallas, TX, United States Toyota Music Factory 2020 Envy Gaming
Florida Mutineers United States Orlando, FL, United States Addition Financial Arena 2020 Misfits Gaming
London Royal Ravens United Kingdom London, United Kingdom Copper Box Arena 2020 ReKTGlobal, Inc.
Los Angeles Guerrillas United States Los Angeles, CA, United States Shrine Exposition Hall 2020 Kroenke Sports & Entertainment
Los Angeles Thieves TBA 2021 100 Thieves
Minnesota ROKKR United States Minneapolis, MN, United States Minneapolis Armory 2020 WISE Ventures
New York Subliners United States New York City, NY, United States Pulse Esports Gaming Arena 2020 Andbox
Paris Legion France Paris, France La Seine Musicale 2020 c0ntact Gaming
Seattle Surge United States Seattle, WA, United States WaMu Theater 2020 The Aquilini Group
Toronto Ultra Canada Toronto, Canada Mattamy Athletic Centre 2020 OverActive Media

Former teams[edit]

Team Location Venue Joined Final season Owner
OpTic Gaming Los Angeles United States Los Angeles, CA, United States Shrine Exposition Hall 2020 2020 Immortals Gaming Club

League championships[edit]

As of the 2020 season, 12 different teams have competed in the league, with one having won at least one Grand Finals title.

Team Wins Losses Seasons won Seasons runners-up
Dallas Empire 1 0 2020
Atlanta FaZe 0 1 2020



The regular season began January 24 and continued through July 2020, with a two week post season playoffs to crown the season winners in August. Teams were due to hold in person tournaments in their respective cities with a rotation of eight of the 12 teams in attendance for each event. However due to the COVID-19 pandemic only 3 homestand style events were held, with team owners and players voting to have the league move online for the remainder of the season. [25] The Grand Finals were held online, on August 30, in which the regular season number 2 seed Dallas Empire defeated the regular season number 1 seed Atlanta FaZe 5-1 to become the first Call of Duty League champions. [26]


  1. ^ a b c Webb, Kevin (January 24, 2020). "12 teams reportedly paid $25 million each to join a new esports league that starts today — here's everything you need to know about Call of Duty League". Business Insider. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  2. ^ "Call of Duty League - About". Activision Blizzard. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Fanelli, Jason (January 24, 2020). "How 'Call of Duty' League Will Bring the Competition to Fans". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  4. ^ Webster, Andrew (January 24, 2020). "Can the new Call of Duty League be the NFL of competitive gaming?". The Verge. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  5. ^ Pei, Annie (January 24, 2020). "Activision Blizzard's next esports bet hinges on the power of the Call of Duty franchise". CNBC. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  6. ^ Finch, Adam (August 21, 2019). "Roster rules detailed for Call of Duty franchise league". Esports Insider. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  7. ^ "Call of Duty League - Article Detail". Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  8. ^ Wolf, Jacob (February 12, 2019). "Activision Blizzard announces layoffs, Call of Duty league geolocation". ESPN. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  9. ^ Fitch, Adam (October 29, 2019). "Call of Duty League's inaugural season commences on January 24". Esports Insider. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Hume, Mike (September 25, 2019). "New Call of Duty esports league will begin play in home markets in 2020, start with 12 teams". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  11. ^ "Five Call of Duty franchises announced". ESPN. Reuters. May 2, 2019. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  12. ^ Byers, Preston (October 28, 2019). "All confirmed Call of Duty League franchise teams and owners". Dot Esports. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  13. ^ Barth, Nicholas (January 8, 2020). "Call of Duty League Explains How Tournament Format Will Operate". Twin Galaxies. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  14. ^ Spangler, Todd (January 24, 2020). "YouTube Scores Exclusive Streaming for Activision Blizzard's E-Sports, Including Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues". Variety. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  15. ^ "Activision announces Call of Duty League sponsors". January 23, 2020. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  16. ^ Luongo, Cody (March 9, 2020). "Call of Duty League partners with Twitter and U.S. Army". Esports Insider. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  17. ^ "CDL On-Air Talent Going to War in Call of Duty: Mobile". Call of Duty League. August 17, 2020. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  18. ^ "Call of Duty League announce event cancellations and online play". Call of Duty League. March 12, 2020. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  19. ^ "Midseason Update: Championship Changes, Modes & Maps Discussions, Server Testing, and Drops Coming". Call of Duty League. May 19, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  20. ^ "2020 Postseason Update: Competition Integrity Enhancements for Playoffs & Championship Weekend". Call of Duty League. July 5, 2020. Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  21. ^ Stedman, Alex (October 18, 2019). "Call of Duty League Commissioner on Why It's Time for a Franchise Model". Variety. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  22. ^ Skrebels, Joe (October 18, 2019). "Call of Duty League 2020: First Details Announced". IGN. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  23. ^ Settimi, Christina. "Esports Leader 100 Thieves And Nadeshot Return To Call Of Duty With LA Thieves Franchise". Forbes. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  24. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ Webster, Andrew (March 13, 2020). "Call of Duty League moving online". The Verge. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  26. ^ Byers, Preston (August 30, 2020). "Dallas Empire win 2020 Call of Duty League Championship". Dot esports. Retrieved November 7, 2020.

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