It’s that time of the year when various sports start to figure out who is the best of the best. Esports is no exception to this, and the Call of Duty Endowment took it to a new level by bringing out the oldest rivalry in the Call of Duty Endowment Bowl. Which military branch has the dominant esports team?
This year saw the Second Annual Call of Duty Endowment (C.O.D.E.) Bowl. This year featuring 8 teams from the US and the UK; the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Airforce, US Space Force, British Army, Royal Navy, and the Royal Air Force. The teams consisted of members from each branch, a pair of popular streamers, and a professional from the Call of Duty League would be a coach prior to the bowl. Each team would be playing Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War.
Due to COVID-19, the rules for how this bowl was conducted are different from a normal tournament. Each Team would stream from the home or duty station, while commentators would broadcast from a studio in Columbus, Ohio. With 3 teams on a different continent, the tournament was scored differently to figure out team standings based on their performance in 1-hour public lobby races. The first round would be in Team Death Matches, the second in Control, and the top two teams from that would face off in a final round. The Final round would depend on the teams. If both teams were from the same country then a best of 5 Call of Duty Match would take place. If the teams were from different countries then another hour of the public run would determine the leader.
During the first hour, teams played Public Lobby Team Death Matches. Points for teams would be determined by the following factors:
- Lobby win +10 Points
- Win Margin by 19-29 Kills +3 Bonus Points
- Win Margin by 30-39 Kills +5 Bonus Points
- Win Margin by 40+ Kills +10 Bonus Points.
Going into the First Round it seemed that the top picks were either the U.S. Airforce or the US Army. The Air Force with 2 top tier streamers and the other 4 members pulled from the best of a 600 player tournament from across the Air Force. One of those four being Air Force Pilot and Twitch Streamer IceManIsaac. Meanwhile, the Army has experience going for them. They won last year’s CODE Bowl as well as being a team that’s taken seriously in the esports world.
The U.S. Space Force acknowledged that they were the underdogs. While Symfuhny is a prolific player, the members of the Space Force admitted to being more casual players. They were excited to be in a competitive environment.
As the round progressed it was interesting to see teams have to choose how they run TDM. Either run and gun and win as many matches as possible or try to find the balance to get the max point spread. Playing on public lobbies was the biggest variable as one match a team could sweep only for the next to be a grind. As the round progressed it seemed that teams began to gel more and became more efficient.
Going into Round 2 saw The Royal Air Force on top with 126, Space Force with 123, Royal Navy with 118, USMC with 117, British Army 113, US Army 108, US Air Force with 105, and the US Navy with 87. With the top two spots on the line, it was no holds bar for all the services.
The second round was played in Domination with the scoring going as follows:
- Lobby Win +10 Points
- Win Margin by 20-34 Points +3 Bonus Points
- Win Margin by 35-49 Points +5 Bonus Points
- Win Margin by 50-99 Points +8 Bonus Points
A shift in strategy was needed from TDM to controlling points to maximize point acquisition. Teams displayed effective communications as they progressed from 2 caps to 3 caps across the maps. The U.S. Navy saw the first match loss that separated them from the pack in the worst way. While the Royal Air force maintained a top position, the other branches seemed to play musical brackets. The Space Force did display 2 monster games with scores of 200 to 13 then 200 to 46 back to back.
The finals came down to The Royal Air Force vs the American Underdogs the Space Force. Given that the teams were from different countries, it came down to another 1-hour run in Team Death Match. The scoring system was the same as the first round.
The round could only be described as a nail bitter. Both teams already displayed their top tier teamwork. Royal Airforce hit a rough game where they played against a good team, a huge highlight came from one of the Royal Airforce members who went 24 and 1 for the game. Space Force had the momentum to win it all, but in the final match Space Force was short by 1 point and resulted in a tie.
The tiebreaker looked at which team scored the highest score in the round. The winner with 13,000+ was the Space Force. When interviewed the members of the Space Force said they hope to move towards more competitive plays.
I imagine that next year’s C.O.D.E Bowl will be more competitive. Will the Space Force return and proclaim dominance? Or will we see them dethroned in a heavily competitive environment? I also hope to see more branches and countries in the next bowl. For more information on the Call of Duty Endowment click here. You can re-watch all the drama on YouTube.