The Call of Duty World League kicks off in Dallas this Friday with its first in-person tournament featuring Call of Duty: WWII.
The event will feature more than 832 competitors across 208 teams competing for more than $200,000 in prize money. And Activision executive Kevin Flynn said in an interview that the popularity of WWII — which is outselling last year’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare by a big margin — has also made the game more popular among esports players and fans. In that sense, the Dallas event will be a good test as to whether Call of Duty will make a good esport.
Flynn said that the return to “boots on the ground” infantry combat in World War II means that the game has a slower pace and more strategic play. No longer can players fly through the air with boost jumps. The play will focus on the maps associated with the Hardpoint (capturing a location that moves throughout the match), Search and Destroy (only one life, planting a bomb), and Capture the Flag (stealing the enemy’s flag and taking it back to yours). Previously, the third mode was Uplink, but WWII doesn’t have that mode, as you can’t fly through the air and dunk a ball into a levitating goal in WWII.
The season kicked off on November 3 with teams competing online in official matches. The teams that earned the most CWL Pro Points moved up the ladder and competed in regional events. More players have earned more CWL Pro Points than ever before. The event running Friday through Sunday is expected to draw a couple of thousand spectators to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Arena.
“So far, the number of participants has surpassed what we’ve done before,” Flynn said.
In the Call of Duty World League, players square off against each other in 4-versus-4, best-of-five matches. Sixteen teams have already qualified as “pool play” teams. And 192 teams are competing in a double-elimination tournament to get the final four spots through the open bracket. The competitors are flying in from all over the world, and the total prize for up for grabs this season is $4.2 million, the highest to date.
Last season, Optic Gaming took the top prize in the CWL World Championship, capturing $1.5 million of a $4 million prize pool. As for how it will be different, Flynn said, “The pace has slowed down. The experience is more strategic. It is not dominated by second-to-second gameplay.”
Players will not be able to use the full range of weapons in the game, as some are too powerful. One new thing is Sledgehammer enabled a sky camera view where you see the action from a top-down perspective, which the players themselves can’t see.