Call of Duty is one of the most popular video game franchises on the planet, in fact you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t either played or heard of the series.
Not just a video game franchise anymore, Call of Duty has evolved into a fully-fledged sport where the best players in the world can compete against each other throughout the year winning huge cash prizes from $1,000 all the way up to $2,000,000.
That competition is called the Call of Duty World League and this weekend marks the end of the season with the World Championships.
These players have trained 8-10 hours a day, 6 days a week to fight through their respective group stages so they can be in with a chance of flying to Los Angeles and competing for a place in the final.
Before we get into the specifics of the sport itself, here’s a brief explainer of what Call of Duty actually is.
What actually is Call of Duty?
Since the original Call of Duty came out in 2003 there have been 11 games, immersing players in conflicts around the globe across time periods that have spanned from the Second World War to the far future.
Call of Duty in numbers:
- 250 million copies sold since 2003.
- It has made $11 billion dollars in profit (that’s more than the entire Star Wars saga).
- The total number of hours people have spent playing Call of Duty would be longer than the entirety of human existence on this planet.
- Since 2010, 250 million people have played Call of Duty.
Call of Duty is what’s known as a first-person shooter. That means that gamers will see and play the video game from the first-person perspective of the character they’re playing.
Each Call of Duty centres around combat, with players’ wielding guns, grenades and in later versions of the games, special abilities which can give them an advantage while playing. These can include jetpacks, the ability to become invisible and increased speed.
While each Call of Duty has a single-player campaign which you can play on your own and without an internet connection the game has become renowned for its multiplayer experience.
This allows you to connect your games console to the internet and play against other human beings, earning prestige among other players, forming teams and unlocking upgrades which can give you an advantage over other players.
The huge popularity of online multiplayer led to the creation of unofficial tournaments, something which the games’ publisher Activision tried to remedy through the creation of a single, official sporting competition called the Call of Duty World League.
What is the Call of Duty World League?
The World League is an eSports tournament for Call of Duty, there are many other eSports tournaments for many other video games including Halo, Gears of War, DOTA 2 and League of Legends.
eSports tournaments vary in their financial viability but the record for the highest prize pool goes to The International, a DOTA 2 competition which this year has a staggering prize pool in excess of $20 million.
Back to the World League though.
32 teams from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand will fight through the group stages over the next at an event called Call of Duty XP held in Los Angeles.
Now this is where things get a little tricky, Call of Duty XP is a fan event, almost like a convention. It’s not annual and it has only happened twice, it’s essentially a celebration of the franchise where fans can go and play the latest upcoming game, attend events and watch that year’s Championships.
There are two Divisions where players can qualify for the Championships the Pro Division and the Challenge Division.
The Pro Division is for professional eSports teams who essentially make their careers out of playing Call of Duty. The Challenge Division is for everyone else, essentially giving anyone the opportunity to try and earn a place in the Championship.