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Call of Duty League Opening Weekend & Kickoff Classic announced

Call of Duty League 2021’s opening events of the year have been confirmed, with the Kickoff Classic and Atlanta FaZe Home Series announced.

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The Call of Duty League has officially confirmed the start date for the competition’s second season, announcing the Kickoff Classic in late January, and the Opening Weekend Home Series in February.

A new year means a new competitive season in Call of Duty, and after weeks of speculation, Activision Blizzard have finally confirmed details for Black Ops Cold War’s first two competitive events.

Coming off the back of a successful first season for the franchised competition, the Call of Duty League will host a celebratory pre-season event to mark the one year anniversary of 2020’s Minnesota event, before heading into proper league action two weeks later.

Call of Duty League Kickoff Classic

The CDL’s 2021 season gets underway on January 23-24, with a special pre-season event titled the Kickoff Classic. The special broadcast will celebrate the one year anniversary of the competition’s Launch Weekend in Minnesota.

Fans will have a major say in the match-ups we see at the Kickoff Classic, as avid CDL viewers can vote and choose the opponents of the top-three regular season teams to determine who they’ll square off against.

There are some tasty possible match-ups, with Clayster given the chance to face his former team Dallas Empire, while OpTic Chicago’s first match could be against the L.A Thieves. You can view all the options below.

  • 2020 CDL Champions Dallas Empire: New York Subliners, Paris Legion, London Royal Ravens
  • Atlanta FaZe: Florida Mutineers, Los Angeles Guerrillas, Seattle Surge
  • OpTic Chicago (formerly Chicago Huntsmen): LA Thieves, Minnesota RØKKR, Toronto Ultra 

Teams who don’t win their poll will still compete at the Kickoff Classic, so even if your favorite team doesn’t finish first in their poll, you’ll still see them in action.

CDL Atlanta FaZe Home Series Opening Weekend

Just three weeks later, the 2021 Call of Duty League will officially kick-off, with Atlanta FaZe set to host the Opening Weekend Home Series from February 11-14. Like most Home Series in 2020, the first event of the 2021 season will take place online.

During the Kickoff Classic, the CDL will feature a “unique Group Selection Draw Show,” which see a “special snake draft format [that] will allow teams to select the team that will be placed in its next-ranked opponents group.”

This means Dallas Empire will be able to select Atlanta FaZe’s first Group B opponent and will continue down the order of teams based on their 2020 CDL positions.

More details about the draw format and the Atlanta FaZe Home Series will be made available in the near future, along with additional season format details, the full 2021 schedule, and information about prizing.

Call of Duty League

CDL Kickoff Classic 2021: results, stream, schedule, teams

The 2021 Call of Duty League season starts with the CDL Kickoff Classic, a 12-team exhibition event with matches voted for by fans.

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Scump and Clayster

Call of Duty League is officially back for 2021 and before the full season swings into action, all 12 teams will compete in the Kickoff Classic — a six match exhibition event to celebrate the league’s first anniversary.


  • 12-team online exhibition on January 23 & 24
  • Every CDL team in action, three of six matches voted for by fans
  • Dallas Empire play New York Subliners, OpTic Chicago vs LA Thieves

The 2021 CDL regular season starts in February, but Call of Duty fans will get an opportunity to see teams’ updated lineups for the first time this weekend at the Kickoff Classic, where each team will compete in a special show match to celebrate one year of the competition.

The Kickoff Classic runs over two days on January 23 & 24, with three matches each day. Like a large part of the 2020 season, this event will take place online.

CDL Kickoff Classic promotional image

CDL Kickoff Classic stream

As always, the Call of Duty League Kickoff Classic will be live broadcasted on their official YouTube channel.

CDL Kickoff Classic Day 2 Stream

CDL Kickoff Classic Day 1 Stream VOD & Recap

Day 1 of the CDL Kickoff Classic Wrapped up with a few surprises. Here’s the final match scores for Saturday’s three games:

  • New York Subliners 0 – 3 Dallas Empire
  • Seattle Surge 2 – 3 Los Angeles Guerrillas
  • Florida Mutineers 3 – 2 Atlanta FaZe

CDL Kickoff Classic Schedule

Saturday, January 23

MatchPSTESTGMTAEDT
Dallas Empire vs New York Subliners12:00 PM3:00 PM8:00 PM7:00 AM (Jan. 24)
LA Guerrillas vs Seattle Surge1:30 PM4:30 PM9:30 PM8:30 AM (Jan. 24)
Atlanta FaZe vs Florida Mutineers3:00 PM6:00 PM11:00 PM10:00 AM (Jan. 24)

Sunday, January 24

MatchPSTESTGMTAEDT
London Royal Ravens vs Paris Legion12:00 PM3:00 PM8:00 PM7:00 AM (Jan. 25)
Toronto Ultra vs Minnesota ROKKR1:30 PM4:30 PM9:30 PM8:30 AM (Jan. 25)
OpTic Chicago vs LA Thieves3:00 PM6:00 PM11:00 PM10:00 AM (Jan. 25)

CDL Kickoff Classic team lineups

The CDL Kickoff Classic sees a number of new rosters make their competitive debuts for the first time, with all 12 teams forced to drop a player following the decision to revert back to 4v4 after spending two years playing with 5 members of each roster.

For 2020 Call of Duty League Champions Dallas Empire, the switch lead to James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks departing the roster just days after securing his third ring. Empire fans won’t have long to wait to see him back in action though, as his New York Subliners squad was voted by fans to be their Kickoff Classic opponent.

Sunday sees the triumphant return of a H3CZ-owned OpTic to Call of Duty, as they face off against the team owned by one of OpTic’s all-time greats, Nadeshot’s LA Thieves. Atlanta FaZe face a tough task against Florida Mutineers, while it’s an all-European affair for the London Royal Ravens and Paris Legion.

TeamRoster
Atlanta FaZeSimp, aBeZy, Cellium, Arcitys
Dallas EmpireCrimsix, Shotzzy, Huke, iLLeY
Florida MutineersSkyz, Havok, Owakening, Slacked
London Royal RavensSeany, Alexx, Dylan, Zer0
Los Angeles GuerrillasSiLLY, Assault, Vivid, Apathy
Los Angeles ThievesKenny, SlasheR, TJHaLy, Temp
Minnesota ROKKRAttach, Accuracy, Priestahh, MajorManiak
New York SublinersZooMaa, Clayster, Mack, HyDra
OpTic ChicagoScump, FormaL, Dashy, Envoy
Paris LegionSkrapz, Classic, AquA, Fire
Seattle SurgeOctane, Gunless, Prestinni, Loony
Toronto UltraMethodz, CleanX, Cammy, Bance

Image Credit: Activision Blizzard

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Opinion

Opinion: Call of Duty: Warzone desperately needs anti-cheat for its competitive future

Warzone’s successful competitive future is all in Activision’s hands.

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Call of Duty: Warzone is in desperate need of a proper, clarified anti-cheat system to prevent the influx of hackers as Activision looks to develop the game’s competitive future.

Call of Duty: Warzone launched to much fan fare in March 2020. It was the first free to play Call of Duty experience ever for consoles & PC. And that opened up the amount of players that could enter the Call of Duty world. There was no $60 barrier anymore to experience Call of Duty.

But with that, an influx of cheaters and hackers on the PC platform stormed into Call of Duty: Warzone. Since the game’s launch, there has been an extensive amount of hackers in Call of Duty: Warzone on the PC platform. And with cross play, those hackers infest the PlayStation and Xbox lobbies, too.

The biggest issue has been: Activision’s lack of a concrete plan to address the hacking situation. The company has issued a few statements in 2020 on how they combat hacking in Call of Duty: Warzone, but none of them have left fans with hope of a sustainable future for the title on PC.

It makes sense, in other ways, that Call of Duty is being infested with cheaters at a higher pace compared to other free to play Battle Royale games. Call of Duty is one of the biggest entertainment franchise available, and Warzone was the first chance that allowed everyone to play Call of Duty. There’s always been cheaters and hackers in Call of Duty MP. But that was on a more controllable scale with the game being $60 to play. With Warzone, the entry barrier is gone, and now hackers who could never hack in Call of Duty before, can do so now. And with Activision’s lack of aggressive action within the game itself, it welcomes more to the field.

But aggressive action from Activision is needed to counter cheaters and it’s needed ASAP.

Activision’s responses to cheaters in 2020

The first big stance Activision took on cheaters was a few weeks after launch, where the company announced that over 50,000 hackers and been banned and said “cheaters not welcome” in the Warzone world. Activision said they take cheating “very seriously” and would work hard to maintain “a level and fair playing field for everyone” as one of their “highest priorities.”

That did not change much. Hackers continued to flourish in the Warzone world on PC. And at the same time, Activision started to build up their vision for a competitive Warzone future. They started it with Live From Warzone series, which highlighted fan run tournaments and events for Warzone.

On April 24, 2020, the next big step from Infinity Ward: hackers would be match-made in the same lobbies only forward. They also said the studio “increased resources” to help alleviate the cheater concerns.

And then, the worst statement of all time was released on July 24, 2020: Infinity Ward was kindly asking players to not use 3rd party software while playing Call of Duty: Warzone.

Please do not use unauthorized 3rd party software to mod or hack,” said an image statement from the studio, as shown below. They said listed out what items they believe to be considered hacking/cheating, and failed to lay out an progress on what they’re doing themselves to combat it.

Lastly, the final update we’ve received on the hacking issue with Warzone was in Sept. 2020. Infinity Ward said they had banned 200,000 accounts since the game’s launch.

But 200,000 it not even close to enough. There’s, according to Activision, over 90 million players who have played Call of Duty: Warzone. Only 200,000 accounts banned (that’s the last official number of banned accounts Activision has informed the public about).

Focused on the Wrong Thing

Now, we’ll give credit to Activision in some areas. The company has taken a legal path of action against many cheater makers that were designing cheats for Call of Duty: Warzone.

The company issued cease and desist orders to two cheat manufactures. The first one was CXCheats, which received a cease and desist in August 2020. Once they were threatened by Activision, the site removed all cheats related to Call of Duty: Warzone. And then in September, Activision filed another lawsuit against GatorCheats and even sent a representative to the owner’s house. GatorCheats removed all Warzone cheats from their site.

But the problem with the cease and desist orders is that there’s an infinite number of companies out there that can create and manufacture cheats for games. Just because you take down two through legal action, does not mean more will spawn up. Activision probably thinks that threatening a few will make many more stop, but that has not been the case. There’s also a wide variety of online forums where players share cheats they’ve created, and those never hit or show on an ‘official’ cheat manufacturer’s website.

The only real action Activision took on the public side, which was a major step for them, was being able to detect EngineOwning cheats in Warzone. EngineOwning updated their website in Sept. 2020 to state Warzone cheats were ‘now detected’ by Activision, and over 20,000 accounts got banned.

That’s what we need more of: focus on fixing the game itself, not trying to stop cheats from being made on the manufacture’s side. A comprehensive anti-cheat system is the best way for Activision to ensure that cheats cannot continue in Warzone.

There will always be hackers & cheaters in every game, but having an extensive anti-cheat software will be able to reduce the overall number of hackers and help promote and more enjoyable game environment.

For example, Riot Game’s VALORANT FPS title has an entire anti-cheat developed for it called Vanguard. Riot makes players install Vanguard anti-cheat in order to play VALORANT on their PC. While some players have been able to get by the software, this has stopped the game from being infested by hackers, even if it’s a free to play title.

Competitive Integrity

The situation with anti-cheat and hackers kicked into high gear on the competitive integrity side over the last several months. Many high profile content creators having been playing in Warzone competitions, some of which have prize pools thanks to Activision. And there’s always suspects of hacking occurring during these events, and Activision has yet to address that problem.

The most recent example was the $250,000 Twitch Rivals tournament for Warzone. This tournament was hosted in a private lobby, meaning all players were known and required to join into a specific server code. During the 5th match of the event, the game was stopped. There was suspects of hackers in the match.

Twitch had to remove teams from the match & ban them, and then had to continue the tournament.

This is the problem we face in Warzone: it’s a massively successful game for Activision, and truly has a bright future as a big force in the gaming industry. But why can’t Activision and Blizzard take the time to implement a proper, anti-cheat system to ensure competitive integrity. More importantly, why won’t they do it to just improve the overall quality of the game?

Fortnite has many tournaments and events, with over $20 million in prizing planned for 2021. They’ve solved a lot of the cheaters problem on their end with an anti-cheat system. Apex Legends’ has a ranked play mode that has an anti-cheat system in place to avoid these issues Warzone faces.

Popular content creators have been vocal about the lack of anti-cheat in Warzone for months.

NICKMERCS commented saying he won’t be playing in any Warzone tournaments until there’s an authentic anti-cheat system implemented to avoid controversial wins.

And recently, Dr. Disrespect also commented on the drama calling out Activision for lack of proper action to prevent the situation from happening.

Warzone most certainly continues to be a very popular free to play battle royale option for many fans out there.

Warzone’s Future

And Activision seems to be invested in its future too. Johanna Faries, VP & Head of Leagues at Activision Blizzard Esports, recently revealed the company has plans for Warzone to become part of the Call of Duty League.

“There are [plans to bring Warzone to Call of Duty League], and we’re excited to announce those plans in the coming weeks and months. We’ve been closely monitoring the introduction and the wild popularity of Warzone since last spring. We did bring in Warzone-related content with our pros last season, but we’ve taken the off-season to think bigger about what a more structured investment could look like. There are really exciting things to come as early as this season.”

That’s great to hear. But if they want a CDL based around Warzone or integration of the title into an esports program to be successful, Call of Duty: Warzone desperately needs an anti-cheat system setup to ensure there’s competitive integrity and no disputes over the legitimacy of wins.

We hope Activision has plans — sooner, rather than later — to deliver on this.

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Call of Duty League

Warzone to join Call of Duty League confirms Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard’s Head of Leagues confirmed that competitive Warzone will be coming to the Call of Duty League.

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Activision Blizzard’s Johanna Faries has revealed there are plans to add Warzone to the Call of Duty League.

Call of Duty’s battle royale has been an instant hit since its launch in early 2020, so it’s no surprise that an esports scene has blossomed from the popularity. Unlike the official Call of Duty League, these events have been hosted by third parties, and often take the form of kill-races.

In these events, teams competing don’t actually battle each other on the same map. Instead, two duos drop into a quads game, and whichever team gets the most kills wins, or the top five matches over a three hour period count towards a final score.

It’s highly entertaining to watch, but the competitive integrity of these tournaments has been questioned. With players apparently abusing the skill-based matchmaking algorithm, as well as the possibility of cheaters and stream-snipers being in the lobby, they can never be absolutely fair.

With the success of these third-party tournaments, it seems that Activison have serious plans to bring these events under the Call of Duty League banner, according to an interview with the company’s Head of Leagues Johanna Faries from ScreenRant.

Call of Duty League logo

Warzone coming to Call of Duty League

In the interview, Faries said: “There are [plans to bring Warzone to Call of Duty League], and we’re excited to announce those plans in the coming weeks and months. We’ve been closely monitoring the introduction and the wild popularity of Warzone since last spring.”

She continued: “We did bring in Warzone-related content with our pros last season, but we’ve taken the off-season to think bigger about what a more structured investment could look like. There are really exciting things to come as early as this season.”

Here, Fairies refers to the CDL Warzone Weekends which took place during the 2020 season. CDL pros and coaches all fought each other in Verdansk to find out who the best battle royale players are.

CDL teams have hosted Warzone kill race tournaments in the past, but it’s clear that Activision wants to vastly expand how competitive CoD battle royale is run.

players fighting in Warzone's gulag

We’re not sure what these official tournaments will look like, but it’s very likely that they will have a system similar to Fortnite or Apex Legends, where all competitors must fight each other. And who doesn’t want to see the world’s best players 1v1 in the Gulag?

After joining the CDL as the LA Thieves, Nadeshot’s 100 Thieves are already gearing themselves towards this, adding CoD veterans Tommey and Rated to their competitive Warzone team.

With Activision now officially taking an interest in battle royale tournaments, we can hope that they will further address the number of cheaters that plague both casual and competitive Warzone.

And with Black Ops Cold War getting League Play during Season 1, perhaps a ranked Warzone mode will be coming along with this announcement.

Image Credits: Activision

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