What Call of Duty League Season 2 Needs to Change
Activision outdid itself with the inaugural season of the Call of Duty League. Though the first season is technically not over at the time of writing this, the normal season is. We can look back at the season and see what Call of Duty League changes need to be made next.
Call of Duty League Season 1 Was Great
Overall, I would personally say that the first season of the Call of Duty League was great. For the most part, this season would have gone on a potentially different path if the pandemic didn’t happen in 2020.
But even with all of the changes to the online format and doing everything remotely, the first season ended up pretty awesome overall. The teams only got more complex and talented as time went on, with the second half more entertaining than the first half.
Despite the less interesting switch to having the players running their rigs and matches from home, the competition was far more fierce than ever before in the final few Home Series Weekends. Despite all of the great parts about the league, some Call of Duty Leagues changes need to be made.
Call of Duty League Season 2 Needs Changes
As we near the very end of the first season with the Championship this month, it is time to start looking ahead to what’s next. The second season of the league will likely use a different game than Modern Warfare in the first season, but there are other changes needed beyond just that.
Despite all of the great features of the league, there are some problems, gaps, and so on that need to be filled in Season 2. As such, I will go over the Call of Duty Leagues changes that I think need to happen in the second season in 2021.
For this post, I will ignore some obvious changes that we all know are coming like the (eventual) switch back to in-person events and the new game that will be played on. Instead, I will focus on Call of Duty Leagues changes that aren’t necessarily guaranteed like more teams, better Home Series, and so on. Let’s get started.
Changes That Need to Happen: More Teams
First and foremost, the first change that I would like to see in 2021 with the second season is more teams in the league’s roster. With the launch of the Call of Duty League, 12 franchised teams came together from around the world to compete for prizes, fame, and more.
In 2021, those 12 teams will come back together for Season 2 in a brand new game and have a fresh start. Everyone will be back on the same footing, and the new Call of Duty game will mean that it could go in any direction, but another way to shake the formula up is to have new teams.
Twelve teams is a decent number, and it would be fine if the league continued that way, but it is also small enough that expanding upon it slightly would help the league get even stronger overall. But this particular change has to be done in a certain way.
The Call of Duty League’s sister organization, the Overwatch League, had a fantastic first season, but as I’ve gone over in a previous post, should learn from the mistakes of expanding too quickly in its second iteration. More teams are a great thing but in smart moderation.
We’ve already seen teams interested in shelling out the massive sums of cash needed to build a Call of Duty franchise, but I would personally like to see only two new teams in the league. Fourteen teams would be a weird number but could be alright with proper organization.
The highest, though, that the league should go up to in Season 2 is 16. It should not at all reach the 20 mark that the Overwatch League reached in Season 2. Sixteen would make things more tournament-friendly, for sure, which is understandable, but even it could be a bit too much for a still newer league.
More Impactful Home Series Weekends
With these new teams and the new game, players will find themselves competing in the Home Series Weekend events in Season 2. Overall, I would like to see a couple more Home Series Weekends as each of the 12 teams only individually participated in nine of them this year.
With the expansion of teams, we could see there be one or two more Weekends thrown in the mix. But that isn’t the only change that I want to see for these competitions. I would also like to see the Home Series Weekends have more impact through some key changes.
For one, the Home Series Weekends feel so rigid at this point. One way to alleviate this problem is to have all of the teams participate in each of the weekend events, instead of only eight. It is understandable to give some teams a break, but this could just let everyone get the same breaks at the same time.
Of course, if there are more teams in the league, this could be a bigger problem as it would require the group stage to shake up. In that case, it would be interesting to see a Home Series Weekend every weekend or so. If there are 16 teams, eight will play at one and then eight at the next one.
This could keep the league exciting. Fans wouldn’t have to wait too long to see the next event. The last few weeks of the first season were the most exciting. Part of that was because we had back-to-back Home Series events, and none of them felt stale or repetitive.
Just because a team like New York Subliners nailed a recent event didn’t mean that they would suddenly do the same again in the next and so on. Having a tighter pacing and schedule could work wonders at keeping the league a permanent part of everyone’s schedule.
No More YouTube Exclusivity
Having the Call of Duty League Home Series Weekends as part of everyone’s schedule would allow for the league to potentially grow in viewership and fan base. Again, this is something that we already saw at the end of the season when there were several weekend events back-to-back.
Now, that could have been because it was the end of the season, but it also could be because fans had a steady grasp of what was coming next and excitement didn’t have time to drop off for what was happening in the league. But there is another way to increase viewership.
Without a doubt, the Call of Duty League struggled many times to garner a ton of viewers and certainly not on the level of the inaugural Overwatch League season. That said, it was a pretty good success given the restrictions in place. You could only watch it live on YouTube.
Sure, you could watch it on the official league website and app to earn some prizes for the games themselves, but they weren’t easy to access. If you were on your phone or console, your best bet was to pull up YouTube. And sure, YouTube is rather successful.
But there is a problem with that. Fans mostly go to YouTube for other pre-recorded game content, not necessarily live streams. When it comes to live content, it is likely more successful to be on Twitch as well. This is something that should honestly change in Season 2.
The YouTube live stream exclusivity might have been profitable for Activision at first, but the lowered viewership than it could have been a great outcome. Of course, the problem with this change is that we don’t know the exact details of the YouTube and Activision agreement, so this change can’t legally come just yet.
Earlier, I mentioned how I would like to see more teams show up in the second season of the Call of Duty League. As part of that change, it would allow my next point to happen more easily, which is having new talent show up in the second season of the league.
One of the weird things about the Call of Duty League’s initial launch was how exclusive it was. Instead of fostering a whole bunch of up and coming new players, it focused solely on the players who were the best of the best in previous years.
That is great, as you can shine the light on the veteran pros of the league, but it also meant that it didn’t leave much room for the shocking newcomers to appear. It was only worsened by several of the veterans past their prime.
For instance, Karma might be the greatest of all time, but it was clear from his performance and his own opinion that he might be past his prime, hence his retirement. Unfortunately, Karma isn’t the exception but the general rule of thumb in this case. Many of the former champions lacked quite a bit, and highly anticipated teams didn’t live up to expectations.
But in the end, this led to newcomers and lesser-known pros joining the league later on in the season. And it is because of them that some teams started doing much better and we had some of the best players around.
There are players like Owakening who came out of the Challengers to join Florida Mutineers and helped the team recover from a slight dip in quality to be easily one of the best teams around. Then there is Drazah, a player you didn’t even know before this year but showed up near the end of the season and helped OpTic Gaming LA to improve a bit at the last moment.
These are players who are new to the scene and are in their prime, but if the Call of Duty League doesn’t actively reach out to them, we could miss out on seeing the league truly become what it has the potential to be. New and old teams should start recruiting some of the newer players to shake up the meta next season.
Better Use of Benched Players
While bringing in new talent is necessary, it is also necessary for teams to better handle the benched players. One of the worst things about the league rules is that players can’t play in other Call of Duty events, tournaments, and so on that aren’t officially sanctioned.
If you aren’t competing in official Call of Duty League affairs, you aren’t competing at all. That is fine as you want your pros doing the Activision-sponsored events, but you can’t do that without giving your players a chance to play.
It led to so many benched players who sat there all season long and didn’t touch a controller. Unless some got injured, there was no reason for a substitute even to get a chance to play. This not only means that their talent is wasted, but a team could be doing worse off because of it.
In Season 2, there needs to be a way for teams to allow their benched players to show their stuff. It could be through better practicing sessions, scrimmaging with other benched players, and so on. This could even allow players to move to the starting roster because of their performance, not just because a starting player is screwing up badly.
A Stricter Championship Event
And last but not least, we need a stricter championship event in Season 2. The Call of Duty League Championship in Season 1 is unique and interesting, but it shouldn’t necessarily replicate next season. It is understandable the changes are needed, given the remote nature.
It was a smart move to let anyone and everyone play, but it does rob the Home Series Weekends of their impact as talked about in a previous point. Besides the teams’ placements in the playoffs, there was no point to the Home Series Weekends this season.
This is something that shouldn’t be copied next season at all. Instead, the Home Series Weekends and the standings should matter, resulting in how the playoffs will go. If there are 16 teams next season, the normal season should tell us the top 12 teams that will move into the playoffs.
There should be a stricter championship tournament that doesn’t just let anyone into the event, but only the best. That will lead to a potentially more exciting, fun, and unpredictable event overall. Plus, it is unfortunate for the teams that are just there for one match to lose and possibly not get any money at all for their efforts. They might as well not even be in it at that point.