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Now that we got that out of the way…let us begin.
Call of Duty as an eSport has been on a somewhat steady rise since 2012 with the release of Black Ops 2. The game was one of the best Call of Duty of all time and it was marketed really well and driven through ‘league play’ also known as Ranked matches to most.
Black ops 2 gave the general public and the masses of Call of Duty a taste of what eSports are like. League play offered up ‘pro’ settings and at the top division is where you could even get matched up with pros. With all that momentum and an incredible Call of Duty Championship (CoD’s million dollar tournament) we saw the fruition of a potential eSport powerhouse.
The following year saw the release of Call of Duty ghost. Now although Ghosts was (at the time) considered poor in the eyes of the Call of Duty community you saw a bunch of tournaments and a lot of community growth. Call of Duty eSports players are some of the
most followed and subscribed on YouTube and Twitter alike. You also saw the introduction of Mlg.tv as a competitor to Twitch. You saw most if not all Call of Duty players migrate over to MLG from Twitch as it seemed MLG was the new home for the franchise.
Going into 2014 saw Call of Duty take it’s first leap into ‘next gen’ with the introduction of Advanced Warfare which had jet packs, double jumps, and a new game mode in uplink. AW (Advanced Warfare) also saw the introduction of a more structured MLG league for players to participate in. This allowed for more of a structure behind the game with 2k’s and
5k tournaments happened every Saturday and Sunday respectively. Although the players weren’t thrilled with the shotty ranked modes, poor weapon buffs/nerfs and an overall lackluster Call of Duty, it seemed the eSport was moving together quite well.
2015 saw the return of Black Ops in the form of Black Ops 3. This was also when CoD introduced us to the Call of Duty World League, offering up weekly matches on Twitch.Tv/CallofDuty weekly and having a season structure to the game finally. The players seemed to enjoy the chain movement mechanics offered in Black Ops 3 more than the advanced movement in AW but still yearned for some good ole boots on the grind CoD. In the end Black Ops 3 was looked at as a quality Call of Duty with the eSport taking another step in the right direction.
For Activision, the sales were up again on Black Ops 3 as opposed to Ghost and AW. For the eSport more fans were tuning in than ever, the prize pools were being ever so slightly expanded (still nowhere near other eSports in terms of payouts). In general the game seemed to be moving in the right direction, then came Infinite Warfare.
Infinite Warfare is essentially a carbon copy of Black Ops 3 in terms of its movement (don’t @ me). The game just plays way worse than Blops and took weapon specialists (the most hated thing from Black Ops 3) and named them rigs. This game launched with a lot of turmoil. It wasn’t your typical happy go lucky CoD launch. This one had a lot of hate behind it and a lot of pros with their hundreds of thousands of followers took to twitter and YouTube to let everyone know.
Not to mention IW (Infinite Warfare) launched alongside Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which is arguably the best CoD of all time. So now you have half the camp of pros and enthusiasts alike yearning more and more for boots on the ground having been able to play both Cod4 and IW side by side which is a poor look for CoD as an eSport.
Its surely going to be an interesting year for the franchise and hopefully now more than ever they allow crowd funding into it’s biggest tournament of the year. Hopefully the CWL (CoD World League) runs smooth and players suck it up and get used to the game.
My fear is this is going to lead into next year being the make or break year for Call of Duty as a potential top eSport franchise. Since 2012 Activision has made great steps forward in making the game a successful eSport. However, if the games that keep coming out are not up to par for both viewers AND players alike, this is going to be a real tough year.
Lets hope for the best and hope this isn’t the case. MLG Las Vegas begins December 16th. I’ll check back in after that tournament for an update.