August of 2015 Activision announced the Call of Duty World League. Just shy of a year later, we are nearing the end of the inaugural year of a dedicated league for Call of Duty, a first for Activision.
Since the beginning, PlayStation has been part of this journey with us. Beginning in January 2016, we kicked off our first official matches. Looking ahead to this weekend, it’s hard to believe that the end of the Stage 2 competition is upon us.
We’ve seen some amazing moments and great gameplay that have left fans and pros amazed. For example, there was an epic Search and Destroy run that decided a match late in Stage 1, a player who took matters into his own hands against three opponents in the European region, and an Uplink play that has been identified as one of the best moves in Call of Duty gameplay.
More than a few players have approached us during the year with appreciation for the developer and publisher support behind the CWL. This has been something that players have said they were hoping would happen, and now to see it continue to unfold is exciting. The feedback has been the same from the community and the amateur players. The CWL’s goal is to grow Call of Duty esports across the board. Amateur players widen the talent pool and help create the drama and excitement at open live events. Fans are always on our mind and the CWL has done a lot to improve the fan experience from broadcast to live events to creating the biggest Call of Duty fan event at Call of Duty XP.
To catch up to where we are today, the end of Stage 1 had two great teams in North America come down to the wire, as Optic Gaming took a final round, final map win to beat Rise Nation in an instant classic. Stage 2 did not disappoint either, as the final day of regular matches came down to four teams fighting for three spots at Stage 2 finals. It’s because of this exciting gameplay week in and week out that our fan base continues to grow. More than 850 million minutes of the CWL have been watched so far and we still have some of the biggest events still to go.
As a league, there are still things we are always improving and evolving. There have been a lot of great things to come into play, like the BO3 Live Event Viewer. The team at Treyarch brought the highest level of competitive action directly in-game in Black Ops III for PS4, so fans could watch CWL matches without leaving the game.
We’ve worked closely with our friends at MLG to create a smooth broadcast directly to the console. And, between Stage 1 and Stage 2, we also started the “Match of the Week.” This was a way to highlight the best match-up of any given week, and feature it with a dedicated broadcast. We took this same idea and created the “Stage 2 Showdown” on the last day of Stage 2. It was a key event and the stakes were high, as four teams were competing for three spots to qualify for the Stage 2 finals.
With the conclusion of Stage 2, all eyes are going to be on the CWL Championship at Call of Duty XP this September. You’ll see 32 teams from North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand competing for a $2 million prize pool on-site — the largest single event prize pool in Call of Duty history. This prize is part of the more than $3.5 million total prizing the CWL will have awarded this year, another first for Call of Duty. A full month of online qualifiers and tournaments await fans and players alike, as anyone with the ability and the dedication has a chance to earn their spot in CWL Champs qualifiers.
Through July and August, we will be in the midst of the Road to Champs. Immediately after Stage 2 Finals, the ANZ and EU regions will compete in their online qualifiers (July 22-24) to determine the final teams that will represent those regions at the CWL Championship. For North America, there is one more chance to earn CWL Pro Points at a live event during the Call of Duty MLG Orlando Open (August 5-7). The North American CWL Championship online qualifier will take place the very next weekend (August 12-14). Once we know all the qualifiers, we have plans to get the community involved as the teams get ready for the biggest Call of Duty competition of the year at Call of Duty XP.
This is just the start. We look forward to the future with great excitement. The Call of Duty World League is going to continue to get better week to week and year to year, and we hope you will be part of the journey.
If you are interested in learning more about Call of Duty esports and the CWL, please visit CallofDuty.com/esports. You can also check out the action of the Stage 2 finals this weekend (July 14-17) at www.twitch.com/callofduty.