While Call Of Duty remains the dominant FPS for gamers, for eSports fans it continues to struggle under the shadow of CS:GO. But that’s not for want of trying from Activision, and with the upcoming Call Of Duty Championship it’s clear it’s come a long way. This is the first year we’ve had the World League, a tournament running since January that has had the best Call Of Duty teams battle it out in a league format. The highest placed of these teams then qualify for the Championship - rounding off Call Of Duty’s all-new approach to its annual eSports calendar. You'll be able to watch the Call Of Duty Championships on Ginx eSports TV from 9PM BST from 1 September to the finals on the 4 September taking place at COD:XP this week, so it’s important to get yourself up to speed with the teams you need to know, and the games you need to watch. As such, we’ve rundown some of the significant things that you need to know ahead of the Call Of Duty Championship.
A Brief Intro to Call Of Duty eSports
Prior to 2016, Call Of Duty’s competitive scene pivoted almost entirely around the one official event hosted by Activision, the Championship. This was where the biggest prize money was to be found, so it was the central event for COD eSports. In a bid to fill out the scene somewhat and help Call Of Duty gain some further traction as an eSport, Activision has - this year - changed the format somewhat, keeping the Championship but turning it into a global finals rather than a one-off tournament. The World League is the result of this change, beginning for the first time in January and taking place over two separate seasons - each culminating in a playoff tournament. These allow three different regions to compete for the highest positions on the league table, spanning North America, Europe and Australia & New Zealand. Through this process we’re given the teams from each region that will be playing in the Championship, adding to the total prize pool to push the total amount given away to $3 million.
Call Of Duty’s North American Teams
The first season of the World League didn’t take long to solidify some top talent. Optic Gaming - one of the biggest names in Call Of Duty eSports - quickly began making itself known, and by the end of the season would go on to lose only 2 of its 22 matches with a massive 13-game win streak. Other names that managed to achieve great successes over the course of the first season were Rise Nation, FaZe Clan and Team Elevate, and not to mention the eSport familiars in Team SoloMid, EnVyUs, Luminosity and Complexity Gaming. Many of those latter teams have reputable CS:GO teams, too, so the crossover between the sports should be easy for many Counter-Strike fans to follow. Though Optic Gaming won at the playoffs, the runner-ups were Rise Nation and FaZe Clan. The latter, in particular, are a strong force when it comes to Call Of Duty, with the team having formed from a YouTube channel that thrived on making COD videos. Rise Nation came in second, however, after having also reached the second spot during the first season league. The team won 16 of its 22 games, had the second highest win streak with 5 and has posted some very respectable stats - in particular score-per-minute and accuracy.
The second season shifted things only a little, with the big names of the previous season still competing for the top slot. It was a little closer this time around, however, with the gap between Optic Gaming, FaZe Clan and Rise Nation significantly more closer. Team EnVyUs stepped up to the plate this time, however, and has made itself quite a name in Call Of Duty eSports as a result. NV took the top slot, matching Optic Gaming in win/loss but just edging out on top due to having one 3-1 victory extra and, therefore, having played one fewer map - causing its map win percentage to be ever-so-slightly higher. Rise Nation placed fourth beneath FaZe, but went on to claim third in the playoffs while FaZe didn’t get far at all. Elsewhere we saw Cloud9 make a bit more of a dent in the table by coming in fifth, with Dream Team managing to rescue itself from the bottom of the table for the second season. H2K Gaming also avoided the bottom four of the league, though very narrowly. What was surprising was the likes of TSM, Complexity and Team Elevate failing to show up for the second season - at least in spirit - with poor results across the board meaning they were left at the bottom of the league.
Call Of Duty’s European Teams
This region featured a slightly smaller number of teams than the NA set, but it was nonetheless equally as intense. For one thing, the competition was much closer and it wasn’t quite as easy to pick out a clear winner from the start. Team Infused stood out among the crowd more than any other, taking the top spot in the league table thanks to its 12 back-to-back victories. With that said, the strength of this side didn’t carry over to the playoff stage and they didn’t make the cut in the end. That victory went to Millenium, who had matched Team Infused for wins and losses (15-3) but without the consistency in its performance and came in second in the league phase. They were followed by Epsilon and Splyce, who are both big names in the Call Of Duty scene and similarly followed behind Millenium in the playoffs. Splyce, in particular, is a powerhouse right now, and one to keep an eye on for the upcoming Championship finals.
Though it was ultimately Millenium and Splyce that would achieve the biggest results at the playoffs, the pair didn’t quite manage to make much of the league phase. Millenium especially only managed to achieve a mid-table position in fifth. Team Infinity once against pressured for the top spot and achieved a third-place spot in the playoffs, but it was Team HG that took the first-place position during the league phase. As is typical with EU, that success couldn’t be maintained, however, and HG stumbled at the first hurdle of the playoffs. Whether Team HG will manage much at the Championship is not an easy call to make. While season two was mostly controlled by the same teams - the likes of Epsilon, Splyce and Millenium all making the biggest noise - it’s also worth drawing attention to Supremacy, who may not have made much of its opportunities in the playoffs still managed some good COD play to reach a mid-table position.
Call Of Duty’s Australian & New Zealand Teams
The smallest of the regions - with only eight teams - this region, as a result, had some of the most equal matches. How they’ll fare against the biggest and the best of NA and EU remains to be seen, but there are a couple to keep an eye out for here. Mindfreak was the clear champion of the World League, however, coming top in season one, second in season two and earning first-place position in both season’s playoffs. In fact Mindfreak is currently ranked number one for its kill/death ratio, joint first for its accuracy and has the highest average kill distance - making them a significant threat to any team. Season one saw the rise of Tainted Minds, who came in second in both the league and the playoff stages, who was followed closely by OrbitGG in third. Tainted Minds wouldn’t go on to compete for much in the second season, but OGG furthered its initial success the season earlier to claim top spot in the league and second place in the playoffs. This is a team to watch out for in the Championship, too. Elsewhere Chiefs eSports Club has made itself known, though without any real confidence. In particular it managed to achieve decent results during the second season, but would go on to drop out of the playoffs. Then there’s Immunity, who featured often throughout both seasons and even made it to both playoffs, though its third and fourth (last) place positions meant that it wasn’t able to make the most of its opportunity. Australia and New Zealand won’t be vying for much dominance over the Call Of Duty Championships, but the teams that are representing will definitely be enough wildcards to give the tournament a little extra spice.