Should the Call of Duty League Format Be LAN or Online Next Year?

by in Call of Duty | Oct, 14th 2020

Activision is getting ready for the next Call of Duty League season, and it is both exciting and crazy. There is so much happening as we transition from the inaugural season to the next one. It has us wondering if it will be a CDL 2021 online or LAN season.

Call of Duty League Will Begin Its Second Season Next Year

The Call of Duty League held its inaugural season this year, which was pretty good overall. It had its troubles, but most of them weren’t the league or its organizers’ faults actually as it had to do with the pandemic, crazy year that all of us have had in 2020.

But now that we have a firmer grasp on everything that is going on and some things are somewhat returning to how they used to be, it is high time to begin talking about the next season of the Call of Duty League. There is a lot to figure out, so we don’t envy Activision right now.

There are issues like the number of teams that will participate, how the teams will pay for all of their franchise fees, and the teams themselves. They’ve had a tough objective of slimming down their teams since the match format is going back to the classic four versus four method.

But one problem that potentially reigns above them all is how the league will function in the next season. It is a big question on our minds of whether or not the league will go to a CDL 2021 online or LAN format. Both are viable methods, but they each come with their pros and cons.

2020 Season Switched League Formats

It becomes even more complicated when you think about the inaugural season of the Call of Duty League. The initial promise was that the league would take cues from the NBA, NFL, and other major physical sports leagues that exist in the U.S.

The league would be like a major shift for the video game industry, offering something that would be franchised and on par with what those other established leagues have done. Activision had done it previously with the Overwatch League. Call of Duty would follow a similar format.

So, this meant that the Call of Duty League would have that onstage physical format where the teams would compete in front of cameras and in major venues that fans would be able to watch live and in person. It was a solid idea that worked pretty well for the Overwatch League.

It started pretty great for the Call of Duty League (minus the very expensive ticket prices) with the few Home Series Weekends and launch weekend that fans could experience in person. There were events in different home cities for the teams to allow their home fans to enjoy them.

But the pandemic kicked off early in the season, which meant that a major change had to happen. Live, in-person events weren’t viable anymore, so the season shifted to an online, remote-only format. The players were then streaming from the comfort of their home.

However, this brought with it some issues of its own. Some teams stumbled and faltered because of the format changes. This led to a mixed response that fixed itself by the end of the season but has some wanting a LAN league again.

So, this leaves us wondering whether there will be a CDL 2021 online or LAN season next year. When writing this post, Activision hadn’t confirmed which one will happen, but we heard some rumors of our own about it.

Ignoring those rumors for a moment, I would like to dive deep into both of the CDL 2021 online or LAN options and figure out which one might be the best one, in my opinion. I think that both options have their pros and cons, so I will take a look at both and see which one might be worth the issues.

Possible Match Formats: Online Season Again

It all begins with the first match format that we could see happen in the next season. We had online at the end of the 2020 season. We could see it happen again in 2021. Before I dive too deep into this format, there is one thing that I think needs to be addressed.

I believe that Activision has learned from the first season and would like to avoid a repeat of what happened this season where the league had to switch to a remote format midway abruptly. This caused a lot of problems for some of the teams.

I think that above all else, Activision will pick a format and stick to that throughout the entire season. If an online format begins the season, I don’t expect the league to switch to a LAN one later on even if the world does (fingers crossed) start to get much better.

So, the first method is having an online format once again. If it starts that way, we imagine that it will continue until the end of the second season. This would be a lot like it was in the first season, where teams would compete remotely.

But I could see some major changes that would potentially improve upon how it was, understandably, thrown together in the inaugural season. I think that no matter what, every player will be required to show themselves while the matches are happening.

Even if they are in their bedroom, I imagine that Activision will require them to record themselves live. Even if it isn’t shown, this is important for ensuring that no one is cheating or anything like that. But I would imagine that it would go beyond that.

I would think that, even in a remote format, every team would create their studio of sorts. The teams would play in that studio against other teams in their studios in their hometowns. There are pros and cons with this solution, though.

Pros and Cons of Being Online

When it comes to the pros of having the match format be online-only, there are some important ones. There is the obvious benefit of not having the players be all together in one indoor room. This will, hopefully, ensure that there are fewer risks of players and staff members getting infected.

That is a crucial benefit that is the most important one for the league being online. But that isn’t the only pro that we can see for an online format as another major one is that players will be able to play the game from wherever they want potentially.

This means that they can potentially play from home. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be the team’s home. Just because a team is from Los Angeles or whatever city/country, that doesn’t mean that the player is. That isn’t the case for most of the league’s players.

But those pros are met with some significant negatives as well that need to be considered. There is the fact that everyone is in different locations, so there are many potential issues with that. Even if you do avoid the cheating issues, there are the technical ones that can come about.

Players can encounter power problems, internet issues, and lag depending on the servers they are connected to. This is especially an issue when a team is in North America while the other is in Europe. But there is also the issue of how teams play online versus LAN.

Some many teams and players prefer and even play better when they are using LAN versus online. This was directly seen in the league’s inaugural season when teams like Minnesota Rokkr went from one of the most interesting teams to one of the absolute worst (see our season-end ranking).

LAN Season With No Audience

The other potential format is to have the league go back to LAN, where everyone is playing against one another in one room but without an audience at that venue watching it live. Before I go any further with this one, there is no doubt in my mind that we will not see an audience at the venue no matter what.

But we could see the match format take a cue from the NBA and NFL yet again by having the matches be in person but without an audience. This doesn’t fix everything, but it is the best way of doing it LAN during these crazy times.

I imagine that this scenario would have the teams gather in one spot at one venue and have the same general stage setup that we had before when the league first started. They would be on stage, there would be major production features, and it would be that high-quality nature.

The only difference is that there wouldn’t be an audience to watch the event in person. Everyone in the community would have to watch it online through streaming, so, in that way, it wouldn’t be too different for the fans. Like the online format, there are some pros and cons to this.

Pros and Cons of This Method

There are a lot of pros and cons involved with this. The first main pro is that everyone can play together in person again. This is crucial to the balance and fairness of the league since everyone is in the same place playing on the same hardware at the same time.

This ensures that teams are at their peak performance and balanced, so we will likely see the best and most consistent competition through this method. Then, the production value will be increased, and the commentators, players, and general look will be at its best.

But those very important and welcome pros will come at the cost of some equally significant cons. The first of these is that there will be chances of the players and staff getting infected since they will be in close contact.

But there are other cons as well, given that they will be together but no fans to watch the players compete and there are some losses there. And then there is the problem of how this whole audience-less venue will work. We have heard that it could be a situation where a single venue is used for the whole season.

We have heard of specific cities that are being brainstormed, but this is a huge issue. This would mean that teams would either have to travel all the time or, more likely, have temporary homes in that location. This would be unfair and problematic for most of the teams and players. It is understandable to have one location, but I do think this is a bad idea.

What We Think Is the Best Option

When it comes down to it, I think the best option for safety reasons is the online one, but I don’t think that is what Activision will do. I think that we will see a LAN format with no audience. However, if this is the choice made, I would like not to see the single venue that everyone is using.

I do get that there are costs and issues involved with having a venue in every city, but this would be the optimal choice to have fairness for every team while still providing that high-quality experience.

But I am not too confident that this will be the case either. I honestly envision a format that is both good and bad at the same time and mixed in the player and community’s eyes. It would be unfortunate, but I do think that will be the case.


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