Last weekend saw the launch of Activision-Blizzard’s latest eSports venture the Call of Duty League. Given its debut, it’s time to reflect on the event, how the league will work, and its potential future.
The league kicked off in Minneapolis on January 24. All 12 teams met in The Armory to face off against one another. The matches would cycle between the various maps, and modes of Hardpoint, Search and Destroy, and Domination. By the end of the weekend, many teams saw themselves in a tie for various positions. Currently, the Atlanta Faze and Chicago Huntsmen find themselves as the teams in first, with the Minnesota Rokkr and Paris Legion on their tails.
Alongside the debut of the professional teams, The Call of Duty League launched another project as well. The Challenger League where none professional players compete to play in the championship tournament at the end of the season for a large prize pool and the chance to be picked up and go pro in future league seasons. For more information on the Challenger League click here.
The biggest news that came out of the debut was the announcement that the Call of Duty League would be exclusive to Youtube streaming. No Twitch. The result pulled in 47.2 Thousand viewers. This makes it the lowest viewed league that aired of the weekend.
For those that watched the stream with the chat will notice their displeasure for no Twitch streams. This along with the many cries of how the spectator cameras were utilized. To anyone that has been watching the Overwatch League, they will notice the production is almost the exact same. Only time will tell if Activision-Blizzard will hear the cries of its viewers.
Some can begin to speculate as to the long term effect this will create. As YouTube tries to establish itself as a streaming powerhouse, it’s alienating some fans as well. Many fans in the chat wished they were on Twitch as view engagement is more prevalent. But the bigger news broke that Activision-Blizzard’s partnership with YouTube would now include the Hearthstone Esports League and the more popular Overwatch League. This will start on February 8 when the Overwatch league debuts its season on Youtube as well.
Given the Overwatch Leagues fanbase has been built on Twitch the previous 2 years it will be interesting to see if the viewership changes. I’d imagine that we will see a decline in viewership as Twitch was able to partner with Activision-Blizzard to have exclusive rewards that come from the interactivity with the viewers.
But YouTube won’t be the only place for fans to watch. Fans are also able to watch the matches live at the various team’s home arenas. The next match is set to take place in London on February 8th. That match will see the Chicago Huntsmen, Los Angeles Guerrillas, Paris Legion, New York Subliners, Dallas Empire, Seattle Surge, Toronto Ultra, and the hometown team the London Royal Ravens. At these live events, fans of the Call of Duty franchise can meet the players, sponsors, partake in tournaments that can count towards the Challenger League, and eventually launch the City Circuit. The City Circuit is for more casual fans to represent their city in two-player teams. The best will participate during the championship weekend.