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Call of Duty League

CDL Caster Benson no longer with Activision over pending legal investigation

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In just two weeks, two CDL casters have been removed from working on the League.

Ben “Benson” Bowe has announced on his Twitter that he is ‘no longer’ with Activision and no longer casting the Call of Duty League after being absent during the CDL New York event this past week.

In a tweet, he claims he cannot reveal any more information after receiving advice from his “legal council” and says “that should tell you everything” about why he is no longer part of the CDL.

On Reddit, discussion has sparked after esports reporter Slasher said not one, but two CDL casters were fired. The first was confirmed to by Momo, who was fired after sexual assault allegations surfaced against him.

Although there has not been direct confirmation of why Benson has been fired, a Reddit post that is circulating on the CDL reddit claims that is related to sexual harassment allegations.

Call of Duty League PR has not issued a statement about the firings of the two employees.

Feature Image: Benson is on the right by his long time casting partner Chance. It’s not fully clear who Chance will be casting alongside for the remainder of the season.

Call of Duty League

How to get Call of Duty League Stage 1 rewards

Call of Duty League Stage 1 kicks off on February 11, and by watching you can get in-game rewards such as calling cards and double XP.

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CDL Stage 1 rewards

Call of Duty League 2021 kicks off on February 11 and offers viewers a ton of free in-game items to earn, so here’s how to unlock the CDL Stage 1 viewership rewards.

Following the CDL Kickoff Classic, the Call of Duty League will officially kick off on February 11 with the Opening Weekend hosted by Atlanta FaZe.

With Dallas Empire looking to defend their title, the return of H3CZ’s OpTic, and newcomers LA Thieves looking to prove themselves, it’s shaping up to be a great year for competitive Call of Duty fans.

While watching the narratives of the year unfold, you can also earn free in-game rewards such as calling cards and double XP just for watching. Here’s how to get the CDL Stage 1 rewards.

How to earn CDL Stage 1 rewards

black ops cold war gameplay

To earn the free in-game rewards for the CDL launch weekend, you must have an Activision account. If you don’t have one already, you can create one on Activision.com by heading to ‘register’ in the right-hand corner.

Link CoD account to YouTube

Rewards are earned by watching CDL Stage 1 through a YouTube account linked to Call of Duty.

To link your account on PC and mobile:

  1. Open YouTube.com or the YouTube app
  2. Select your profile photo and hit ‘settings’
  3. Click on ‘Connected Apps’
  4. Locate ‘Activision’ and hit ‘connect’
  5. Sign in to your Activision account

While signed in with your linked YouTube account, watch CDL matches on YouTube, CallofDutyLeague.com, or the COD companion app to earn the rewards.

Account linking begins on Wednesday, January 27, so make sure to link accounts between then and February 11.

CDL Stage 1 in-game rewards

CDL viewership rewards

For watching at least 60 minutes of the CDL opening weekend on February 11-14, you will earn the ‘cash stack’ weapon charm to hang on your weapons in multiplayer and battle royale.

And as you watch matches throughout Stage 1, you’ll earn Double XP and Double Weapon XP tokens to redeem for Black Ops Cold War and Warzone.

For watching at least three hours of the Stage 1 Major in the first week of March, you can earn three competitive CoD themed calling cards and an emblem. With these, you can channel your inner Cellium by rocking the ‘Snaked’ calling card and taunt your opponents with the ‘salty’ emblem.

With League Play confirmed to be arriving in Black Ops Cold War in the coming weeks, the calling cards and emblem will be perfect additions to complement your grind.

Image Credit: Activision

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Call of Duty League

CDL Kickoff Classic 2021: Results & recap

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.


  • LA Thieves lose first CDL match in 3-0 sweep vs. OpTic Chicago
  • 2020 CDL Champions Dallas Empire dominate NYSL
  • Four of six Kickoff Classic matches go to Game 5

The 2021 CDL regular season doesn’t start until February, but Call of Duty fans got an opportunity to see teams’ updated lineups for the first time this weekend at the Kickoff Classic, where each team competed in special show matches picked by the fans.

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

CDL Kickoff Classic promotional image

CDL Kickoff Classic recap

The Kickoff Classic gave fans their first chance to see CDL teams compete in the returning 4v4 format, and it was 2020 Champions Dallas Empire and OpTic Chicago who staked their claim to be counted as favorites heading into the Atlanta FaZe Home Series.

Clayser’s first match against his old squad didn’t play out as he had hoped, with Empire sweeping the New York Subliners’ updated roster, which lost ZooMaa to a thumb injury that will keep him out of action for a prolonged period. The highly anticipated OpTic Chicago vs. LA Thieves match turned out to be a fairly comfortable return to action for the Green Wall, who swept Nadeshot’s side in their first competitive outing.

Elsewhere, Minnesota ROKKR won the “Battle of the North” against Toronto Ultra, while the widely-criticized Paris Legion side put on an impressive performance to beat London Royal Ravens in a tense Game 5 S&D.

CDL Kickoff Classic Schedule

Saturday, January 23

MatchPSTESTGMTAEDT
Dallas Empire 3-0 New York Subliners12:00 PM3:00 PM8:00 PM7:00 AM (Jan. 24)
LA Guerrillas 3-2 Seattle Surge1:30 PM4:30 PM9:30 PM8:30 AM (Jan. 24)
Atlanta FaZe 2-3 Florida Mutineers3:00 PM6:00 PM11:00 PM10:00 AM (Jan. 24)

Sunday, January 24

MatchPSTESTGMTAEDT
London Royal Ravens 2-3 Paris Legion12:00 PM3:00 PM8:00 PM7:00 AM (Jan. 25)
Toronto Ultra 2-3 Minnesota ROKKR1:30 PM4:30 PM9:30 PM8:30 AM (Jan. 25)
OpTic Chicago 3-0 LA Thieves3:00 PM6:00 PM11:00 PM10:00 AM (Jan. 25)

CDL Kickoff Classic team lineups

The CDL Kickoff Classic saw 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 didn’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 saw the triumphant return of a H3CZ-owned OpTic to Call of Duty, as they faced off against the team owned by one of OpTic’s all-time greats, Nadeshot’s LA Thieves. Atlanta FaZe faced a tough task against Florida Mutineers, while it was 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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