How does Call of Duty work? What is the CDL? Our guide explains it all
From how many teams take part to the winners' prize money, our guide explains everything you need to know about the Call of Duty League.
What is Call of Duty?
Often referred to as 'CoD', Call of Duty is a one of the world’s most popular first-person shooting game series.
The latest release in the series is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which was the best-selling game of 2019.
A spin-off battle royale game mode called Call of Duty: Warzone racked up 50m players just one month after launch earlier in 2020.
Modern Warfare is available on both console and PC, while there is also a standalone mobile game available called Call of Duty: Mobile.
How does Call of Duty esports work?
Competitive Call of Duty pits two teams of five against each other in a variety of game modes:
Hardpoint – a bit like king of the hill, teams earn points for each second they control an area of the map called the hardpoint.
The hardpoint position moves to a series of predetermined locations, and the first team to earn 250 points wins.
Search and Destroy – Players have just one life per round. In each round, the offensive team’s objective is to plant and detonate a bomb at one of two bomb sites. The defensive team’s objective is to prevent this.
Whoever succeeds in their objective wins the round.
Alternatively, either side can win the round by eliminating all five enemy players. The teams alternate between offensive and defensive objectives, with the first team to win six rounds winning the game.
Domination – Teams aim to control three static objectives marked by flags.
Points are earned every five seconds based on how many flags are under a team’s control. The more flags you control and the longer you control them, the more points you score.
The winner is the team with the most points when times runs out.
Official CDL matches follow a best-of-five format, where teams play three matches, one in each of the Hardpoint, Search and Destroy and Domination modes, before playing Hardpoint and then Search and Destroy for a second time if required.
What is the Call of Duty League (CDL)?
Following the success of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the series has launched its own franchised league where the world’s best CoD players compete – the Call of Duty League (CDL).
The league is comprised of 12 teams from four countries (USA, Canada, UK and France).
Teams compete for $6m in prize money over the course of the season.
How do the CDL format and points work?
Over the course of the season, franchise teams take turns hosting tournaments, known as home series events:
24th-26th April: Chicago Huntsmen Home Series
8th-10th May: Florida Mutineers Home Series
22nd-24th May: Seattle Surge Home Series
5th-7th June: Minnesota Rokkr Home Series
19th-21st June: Paris Legion Home Series
10th-12th July: New York Subliners Home Series
17th-19th July: London Royal Ravens Home Series
24th- 26th July: Toronto Ultra Home Series
Each tournament features eight of the 12 teams, beginning with pre-determined group stage matches before knockout stages and a Grand Finals match to crown the winner of the tournament.
Teams earn CDL points for every match they win as well as bonus points for each tournament victory. These points determine teams overall place in the regular season standings.
The top eight teams at the end of the year qualify for the Championship Playoffs.
The top four teams automatically advance to the final championship bracket, while the teams finishing fifth to eighth compete in single-elimination play-in matches to secure one of the remaining two spots.
Who are the best Call of Duty teams?
After winning their first home CDL event and reaching the semi-finals at CDL Los Angeles, Atlanta FaZe have the best record in the CDL (at time of writing) with eight wins and just a single loss.
With last year’s world champions Simp and aBeZy in their roster, FaZe have some of the most individually talented players in the scene.
Pair that with James Crowder, one of the most experienced coaches in the world, Atlanta FaZe are certainly the team to beat.
Their biggest challengers look to be the Chicago Huntsmen. With Scump and Formal in their roster – two players who were a part of the 2015 to 2018 OpTic Gaming team, considered to be the greatest team ever to play Call of Duty – the Huntsmen have championship-winning pedigree.
Can Scump and Formal build on their dynasty and help Chicago stand on the top of the CDL?
Who is the best Call of Duty player?
Chris “Simp” Lehr, who now plays for Atlana FaZe, was widely recognised as the best player in the world last season.
In what was his rookie year, he won the two biggest tournaments and was awarded the MVP award in both.
He took home a share of $1.3m in prize money, a World Championship ring and won Esports Rookie of the Year.
This season, Simp remains at the top of the debate for best player, but faces tough competition from Dylan "Envoy" Hannon of the Chicago Huntsmen, Adam "GodRx" Brown of the Minnesota RØKKR and Bradley "Wuskin" Marshall (of the London Royal Ravens).
The debate for the greatest player of all time is fierce within the Call of Duty community. Most fans agree that the title belongs to one of the following:
- Damon "Karma" Barlow, the only player to win three World Championships.
- Ian "Crimsix" Porter, the winningest player of all time with over 30 tournament wins, including two World Championships.
- Seth "Scump" Abner, regarded as the most talented player of the three, with 26 tournament wins and a World Championship of his own.
How to watch Call of Duty esports
The CDL is streamed on the league’s official YouTube channel, which also provides great CoD content.
Check the league’s official website for the schedule.