Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War League Play Guide

by in Call of Duty | Feb, 9th 2021

Treyarch has finally released perhaps the single most anticipated piece of content for Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War, and that is the long-awaited League Play. This new Black Ops Cold War League Play ranked mode is the answer to many players’ problems with the multiplayer progression. 

Black Ops Cold War League Play Is Finally Here

If you asked the dedicated Cold War players what their most desired game mode for the game is, it would likely be the Black Ops Cold War League Play mode. This has been a staple in many a Black Ops games, but this latest entry launched without the ranked mode in sight. 

We did get confirmation late last year that it would be coming to the game at some point, but the first season dropped, and it still wasn’t there. This left many players wondering what would happen. We theorized that it was either coming at the start of Season 2 or whenever the Call of Duty League gets its start.

It seems that the latter was the decision as the Black Ops Cold War League Play is now available right now, just before the actual start of the Call of Duty League 2021 season. By the time you are reading this, you can jump in there and start raising your rank through the unique Call of Duty ranked system that it uses. 

In many ways, the Cold War version of League Play is similar to the Black Ops 4 iteration, but, in the end, it does have a bold format that might not be too appealing to some players. Fortunately, the game mode is here and offers some competitive content not seen outside of it. 

If you are looking to check out the League Play mode for yourself, all you need to do is head on over to the game and boot it up. When you get to the launch screen, you will find a new option under the Cold War umbrella this season.

Before, it was campaign, multiplayer, and Zombies, but now we also have the League Play option between multiplayer and Zombies. Select that one, and it will take you to a new multiplayer screen separate from the normal version but looking very similar in its design. 

How This Ranked Mode Works

In general, the Black Ops Cold War League Play is a pretty unique mode compared to other ranked playlists in other multiplayer games. Instead of the standard ranking system, Cold War complicates it by making it so that you can earn your way to the next rank on your list. 

For the most part, it is a pretty standard design where you will compete in ranked matches against other players of similar skill. This means that you should always be challenged in this playlist. It will not be for those players who want to have a casual, good time. 

What makes this version of ranked mode so complicated is that it has two different ranks of a sort: a skill division and the actual rank you have online. This makes it potentially a lot tougher to grasp for newer players and even veterans from other titles.

The skill division is important, sure, but it seems that the actual rank you have might be more important, but there is room for debate. It is hard to gauge which one you should be aiming for mostly, but we think that raising one will likely result in raising the other in the end. 

How It Takes From the Call of Duty League 2021 Rules

The Black Ops Cold War League Play playlist uses the same rules with only a couple of minor tweaks as the Call of Duty League itself, hence, the name. This means that you will be playing on the same maps in the same game modes and with generally the same restrictions as the pros.

In this way, it helps to know what you are getting into when you join the Black Ops Cold War League Play matches. You should keep in mind that the Call of Duty League is fair but harsh, making it so that many players are on the same general page and can’t break the meta. 

There are three entire weapon categories unavailable in the Call of Duty League: tactical rifles, shotguns, and light machine guns. You won’t enjoy those here at all, which is unfortunate for those users who like them to be their primary or secondary weapons. 

This means that you will be more limited to weapons like sniper rifles, assault rifles, SMGs, pistols, and the like. This is the same restriction that the Call of Duty League pro teams agrees to, so you can take it up with them if you aren’t a fan of the rules that here in place.

Additionally, there are other minor restrictions like not using one particular wildcard, removing specific attachments from the Gunsmith options, taking out some of the perks, and so on. Equipment and score streaks restricted, too, ensuring that you can’t use certain items. 

If you are a fan of the stim in normal multiplayer, you are not alone, but you won’t be able to use it and some other items in this competitive playlist. The same goes for stuff like the spy plane and counter spy plane scorestreaks, as this is not the place for quickly finding your enemies. 

But there are some minor tweaks from the Call of Duty League that are present here. You can customize your loadout to the point of having camos and appearance changes if you want. You can use a good number of scorestreaks still, and there are weapon blueprints available, but some of their attachments may be removed. 

Beyond that, there is the actual playlist itself. This isn’t your standard ranked mode where you select the game mode you want to battle out in. Instead, the map and game mode is picked for you from among the list of official Call of Duty League playlists. 

This means that you are limited to around five or fewer maps per game mode, of which there are only three. You have Control, Hardpoint, and Search & Destroy, and that is it. There is no Team Deathmatch, Domination, or anything like that for you to find in the League Play. 

You will play on the same maps on the pro, so there is a heavy focus on locations like Checkmate, Garrison, and Raid, with a few other locales like Miami, Crossroads Strike, and Moscow sprinkled throughout. The League Play is pretty standardized across the board, ensuring that players have the same experience, if possible. 

Skill Divisions and How Moving Up and Down Works

When you enter into the League Play, your skill division will be determined for you. There are five possible skill divisions in the League Play. Your skill division is dependent on many factors. This is the first of the two ranked systems that are at play in the League Play.

While your overall rank might seem important, we think that the skill division will likely be the bragging rights material that players use to show off their skill. The five divisions are competitor, advanced, expert, elite, and master at the very top. 

In general, the breakdown is that the bottom 50% of the players will be in the competitor, the top 50% will be in advanced or higher, the top 30% will be in the expert, the top 15% will be in elite, and only the top 2% of all ranked players should be in the master division. 

These five divisions are crucial to how your League Play will go because they will help determine the other players you match up with. The higher your skill division, the more likely you will be up against some highly skilled players who are among the hardest to beat. 

How to Advance Your Overall Rank

From there, we come to the other half of the Black Ops Cold War League Play: your overall rank. There are 30 ranks in Cold War, and they are like the levels of sorts you have in the normal multiplayer. These rise but don’t fall as the skill division can. 

Everyone will start at rank one. You will need to earn some unique gems to rise through the 30 ranks and get the various rewards that come with them. To do this, you need to do well in your skill division. It works because you have five placement matches that you must do when you first boot up League Play.

This is similar to other ranked games where your performance in these five matches will determine what skill division you are in. Once the five matches are up, you are put on a division ladder, a group of up to 50 other players who are in the same skill division as you.

They are basically like your tournament group in a sort of way, without actually having a tournament that you are participating in. It will rank you and your fellow division members from one to 50. Depending on your rank at the end of the event, you will be given gems to raise your overall rank.

How you rise through the skill division ladder is by winning matches of League Play. Queue up for matches. You should be matched with players generally around your skill. Win that match, and you will earn points, potentially allowing you to beat out your fellow members on your ladder.

But if you lose matches, you will lose points and possibly lower your rank on the ladder in the process. It is a tough system since you could risk your current rank to try and rise higher, if possible.

Tips: Loadouts and Quitting Matches

While the Black Ops Cold War League Play can be tough to figure out, I have some initial tips for you based on my personal experience with it thus far. But, first, let me explain where I am at currently in the league. I was given the competitor skill division at the launch of the system after my five placement matches. 

We won four of the matches, lost another one, and did mostly in the top three players in the winning matches, if not first place, so I would say decent enough. This placed me in a skill division where I was already in the top 10 players out of 50 without doing anything. 

Winning one match rose me to the first place position, and then losing the next match made me fall to third place. As I mentioned, it is a risky system, so you have to decide if you want to risk your place or not. Since then, I have mostly stayed in third since I have avoided matches, whereas my fellow members have rose and fall due to their matches while I stayed in the same spot. 

You need to look at your points, the points of those around you, and keep an eye on everything. If you reach first place, there is the temptation to keep playing and increase the gap between you and second, but that might not always be the most beneficial thing, especially if you get some cruddy teammates as I did in some of my matches.

Worse, you get some matches where you are down a person compared to the other team. Matches in League Play follow the Call of Duty League formula where you have four on four matches instead of the usual six on six in Cold War. 

This means that losing even a single member of your team will put you in a terrible spot, so keep this in mind. Of the five placement matches I did, two of them were three on four. I won only one of them and very barely. Players will not join mid-match since this is a competitive scene. 

The other thing to keep in mind is your loadout. While you can bring in a custom loadout to use, you need to make it before joining your first placement match. Your loadouts will not carry over and, though Treyarch says that there are preset classes to use, I didn’t have access to them in my first match.

As such, I started with my fists in the first match, had to throw the towel for the first Search & Destroy round while I tried to makeshift recreate my loadout in the middle of the match. Be sure to do this ahead of time, and you should be good to go for your first ranked match. This includes scorestreaks, so don’t ignore those, either. 


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