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Opinion – Black Ops Cold War’s League Play is a colossal failure

Black Ops Cold War’s League Play launch has been nothing short of a heartbreaking failure for a blossoming esports community.



Black Ops Cold War’s League Play launch has been nothing short of a disappointment among the fanbase it was created to please.

It has been no industry secret that the release of Black Ops Cold War has been a shaky one for developer Treyarch, who had to step in to finish the development of Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty title.

With one less year under their belt for development of their next title (two compared to the usual three) Black Ops Cold War was off to a shaky start. Unfortunately for Treyarch, the responsibilities would continue to amp-up with the success of Infinity Ward’s Warzone, which was due to be handed down to them and Raven Software during Black Ops Cold War’s year as well.

As a result, Multiplayer in their premium title feels all but a side-piece in the larger picture. Black Ops Cold War has all of the customization and gunplay of a standard Call of Duty title, but doesn’t do anything particularly different from previous titles, nor offers much variety in launch content.

Black Ops Cold War Multiplayer Launch - Miami Map

With the passing of time, Treyarch is adding more free DLC to Black Ops Cold War, which has included some remastered multiplayer maps, small gunfight maps, and maps for the oddball “fireteam” mode. Fireteam is rumored to be using a similar strategy in content delivery to Infinity Ward’s “Ground War” mode, using pieces of the much larger Battle Royale map – due to drop in the coming months.

As you can clearly see, Treyarch has a lot of work on their plate – this isn’t including the various bug fixes and optimization for a total of five gaming platforms as well. (PS4, PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox Series X|S)

Unfortunately, this has shown up clear as day in the newly added “League Play” mode to Black Ops Cold War, which has disappointed many esports fans on launch.

Black Ops Cold War's League Play/Ranked Play start screen

League Play’s Failed Launch

Fast-forwarding to day 1 of the official League Play launch, disaster is possibly the best term. “Playing like the pros” has never felt worse, and core issues with the modes ruleset and ranking were quickly brought to light by the community.

Unfortunately, due to the unrestrictive and outdated nature of the CDL league ruleset, professional players have opted to play on a “Gentlemen’s Agreement” or “GA” system to restrict access to equipment and streaks in-game that are considered to have low competitive integrity.

This list includes the Jammer field upgrade, Molotov lethal, Perks Gearhead & Gung-Ho, and the Wildcard Perk Greed. The full GA list is quite tedious and large, but many players will agree a large portion of the list is acceptable to be banned in competitive play.

At launch, all of these aforementioned items were usable in-game, which transitioned to a mess of an experience, to say the least.

Worst of all, scorestreaks persisted between deaths – which means all players can get powerful scorestreaks at least once with ease, each and every game.

Black Ops Cold War's League Play skill divisions explained

A Horrid Ranking System

The cornerstone of any effective ranked system is a fair and exciting skill rating system that awards players for improving at the game. In Black Ops Cold War, the League Play system feels like it goes against these very principles.

Instead of opting for skill rankings that go up based on overall performance, players are hard-locked into their placement ranks for a set amount of days. These are called “events” and last four days each. Players are put into a division against 49 other players and grind out League Play to fight for the top of their division to take a set amount of gems to advance their rank.

If players place first place in six separate events, they’ll be permanently placed in the top “Diamond” rank for the season. Sound confusing? That’s because it is. The whole system is centered around grinding for more wins than your fellow competitors rather than judging your individual skill. As players progress, the true competition at the top level lies in time played, and not player skill.

Even worse, the placement games seem to be either bugged or just random in nature, with some professional-level players getting placed in Competitor League – the bottom 50% of players.

This system prioritizes quantity over quality and seemingly does not take any player metrics into account besides wins and losses. For a video game with a $25 million esports franchise buy-in, this system crumbles when compared to ELO based systems in games like Blizzard’s Overwatch and Valve’s Counter-Strike.

Simply put: You shouldn’t need a PhD in Call of Duty to understand your League Play rank, and as an individual player you should feel like you’re being judged by your individual skill in-game vs your time played. It should not take several weeks (events) for you to reach a proper rank.

Worst of all, the Black Ops Cold War League Play ranking system is a complete copy/paste of the unpopular Black Ops 4 system, which is even more of a slap in the face to the competitive community.

Black Ops Cold War League Play menu

The Future Of League Play

With all the negative player reception, Treyarch acted fast in order to restore some competitive integrity to the playlist. While overhauling the ranks in just a few days, or even a few weeks is an unrealistic expectation – they did what they could, changing the ruleset.

Just one day after the launch of the mode, Treyarch banned many GA’d items from League Play – including some scorestreaks, weapon attachments, perks, and equipment.

This update is far from making things perfect, but at least it worked as a quick band aid fix for the mode. While debates regarding the ranks were up in the air, games were playable yet again and were not nearly as messy compared to its first day.

Unfortunately, the scorestreaks persisting on death was not removed (and has yet to be removed), so expect games to be filled with RC-XD’s and mid-tier streaks like Napalm Strikes.

This update is most certainly a gesture from Treyarch that they are determined to fix this mode and is supported by Treyarch Studio Design Director David Vonderhaar, who took to Twitter to collect feedback and comment on League Play.

In a response to a tweet regarding the overall ranking system, Vonderhaar replies “Keywords: Scope. Accessibility. Deadlines. Franchise.” perhaps hinting that time was partially to blame for the porting over of the Black Ops 4 League Play system. In addition he states “We got some work to do IMO to evangelize how it works after we clean up some of the obnoxious bugs”.

Vonderhaar also reached out CDL player for Dallas Empire, Crimsix for feedback on the ranking system for League Play as well. It’s unknown if this means he is set on overhauling the League Play system, but this could possibly be good news for the future. If anything – it shows dedication to the hardcore community from a high-up developer at Treyarch.

With Black Ops Cold War still being in the early stages of its year-long Call of Duty cycle, there is still time for the League Play to receive some well-deserved love. Unfortunately, with all the responsibilities piled on Treyarch’s plate, we could be waiting several months for any meaningful change to the core ranking system.

For now, if you’re looking for a “competitive-like” experience, League Play at least accomplishes just that. There still are a few more ruleset tweaks it needs, but after those changes are in place, the ranking system will be the bigger issue in the future for Treyarch.

Image Credits: Treyarch/Activision

Call of Duty League

How to earn Call of Duty League Championship viewership rewards: Blueprints, Champs Pack, more

Here’s how to start earning exclusive viewership rewards including a CDL XM4 Blueprint for watching the Call of Duty League Championships.



Call of Duty League championship weekend

The Call of Duty League 2021 Championship Weekend is here, and players can earn various viewership rewards for watching the final stage of competitive action. Here’s how to link your account and earn an XM4 Blueprint, Calling Cards, and the chance to get the Champs Pack for free.

After months of Call of Duty’s best playing for the championship crown, it all comes down to the Championship Weekend, kicking off on August 19 and concluding on Sunday, August 22. While the pros compete for the $1.2 million prize pool, you can also earn various viewership rewards to use in Black Ops Cold War and Warzone, just for watching.

Alongside an exclusive CDL-themed XM4 Blueprint, you can earn Double XP tokens, player signature stickers, and the chance to receive a CDL 2021 Champs Pack code.

Here’s how to link your account to start earning rewards and everything on offer.

How to earn CDL Championship viewership rewards for Cold War & Warzone

Earning the Call of Duty League Championship viewership rewards is simple; the longer you watch, the more rewards you’ll earn. But you’ll need to make sure that your Call of Duty account is linked to YouTube, where the CDL will be broadcasted.

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

To link your account on PC and mobile:

  1. Open 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,, or the COD companion app to earn the rewards.

Call of Duty League Championship stream

Above, you can find the stream for the CDL Championship weekends. As long as your Activision account is connected to YouTube, you’ll begin earning incremental viewership rewards.

All CDL Championship viewership rewards

Call of Duty League 2021 Viewership rewards

CDL Thursday viewership rewards

  • 1 Hour: 60 Minute Double XP Token
  • 1 Hour 30 Minutes: Shane and Zaptius Weapon Stickers
  • 2 Hours: 60 Minute Battle Pass Double XP Token

CDL Friday viewership rewards

  • 1 Hour: 60 Minute Double XP Token
  • 1 Hour 30 Minutes: Zed and PaulEhx Weapon Stickers
  • 2 Hours: 60 Minute Battle Pass Double XP Token

CDL Saturday viewership rewards

  • 30 Minutes: COD Timing Calling Card
  • 1 Hour: 60 Minute Double XP Token
  • 1 Hour 30 Minutes: Venom, Classic, and Vivid Weapon Stickers
  • 2 Hours: 60 Minute Battle Pass Double XP Token
  • Chance to earn CDL 2021 Champs Pack code

CDL Championship Sunday viewership rewards

  • 15 Minutes: Sweep Emblem
  • 30 Minutes: Thunderclap Calling Card
  • 45 Minutes: CDL Champs 2021 XM4
  • 1 Hour: 60 Minute Double XP Token
  • 1 Hour 30 Minutes: Standy, Temp, and Huke Weapon Stickers
  • 2 Hours: 60 Minute Battle Pass Double XP Token

What’s in the Cold War & Warzone CDL 2021 Champs Pack?

Call of Duty League 2021 Champs Pack

For watching the Championships on Saturday, Call of Duty will give out codes for the CDL 2021 Champs Pack to random viewers. These include Blueprints for the AK-47 and LW3 – Tundra with Gold Tracers, as well as CDL-themed Emblems, Charm, Calling Card, and Sticker.

This bundle usually costs around $18, so it’s well worth trying to get it for free by watching the CDL.

  • AK-47 Champs ’21 Blueprint
  • LW3 Champs ’21 Blueprint
  • CDL Championship Trophy Charm
  • Better On LAN Emblem
  • Online Warrior Emblem
  • Championship Weekend ’21 Calling Card
  • CDL Championship Ring Sticker

The CDL Championships marks the end of Black Ops Cold War’s competitive season, with 2022’s being played on the upcoming Call of Duty: Vanguard game, which returns to the series’ WW2 roots.

Image Credit: Activision

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ASTRO Gaming & US Army ends sponsorship of Call of Duty League amid lawsuit controversy

The Call of Duty League has lost one of its long time sponsors just before the biggest CDL event of the year.



Activision Blizzard Esports division appears to be taking the biggest impact from external partners over the harassment lawsuit with sponsors opting out of partnerships with the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League.

The latest sponsor to end its relations with the Call of Duty League is ASTRO Gaming (and now U.S Army).

ASTRO Gaming’s logo has vanished from the Call of Duty League site, alongside the U.S Army logo. These two logos used to appear to the left of ZENNI Gaming’s logos.

Here’s a look at the new sponsorship strip section on the CDL site, with ZENNI Gaming, SCUF, Game Fuel, and USAA still partners.

Update August 13 – 1PM ET: After we posted this article, the logo sponsorship section on the Call of Duty League site was updated again to remove the U.S Army logo. The CDL now has only four sponsors left as CDL Champs approaches.

ASTRO Gaming was a long time sponsor of Call of Duty esports, dating back to its early days. The company was the official headset sponsor of the Call of Duty League and Call of Duty Challengers.

Per Activision’s initial announcement of the CDL back in 2020, ASTRO Gaming “extends its sponsorship of Call of Duty esports through the 2022 season.”

Instead, the sponsorship has ended just before the CDL’s biggest event of the year, Call of Duty League Championship. The Championship event will take place August 19 – 22 at the Galen Center in LA.

The U.S Army started its sponsorship of the CDL with the inaugural season in 2020. The U.S Army was the presenting sponsor of all schedule related assets on the CDL site.

Their logo has now been completely removed from the site.

Activision Blizzard has declined to comment.

ASTRO had in broadcast segments for the Call of Duty League including the main ASTRO Gaming Listen In, allowing fans to hear team comms during intense moments of matches.

ASTRO also was the presenting sponsor of the Call of Duty League MVP Award, which was awarded at the end of the Champs event. Since the partnership has ended, as early as this week, the CDL’s site MVP page no longer shows the ASTRO Gaming logo.

The site before August 10th:

The site as it appears now, available to view here:

ASTRO & US Army are the latest two sponsors of the Call of Duty League to drop, after T-Mobile distanced themselves a few weeks back.

ASTRO Gaming partnered with the CDL to sell custom-designed CDL team headsets on their website. That collection has been deleted from the site.

The Call of Duty League is not the only Activision Blizzard league facing backlash. The company’s Overwatch League has lost 5 sponsors over the last two weeks, including Coca Cola, State Farm, IBM, Kellogs, and more.

The sponsorship drops comes as Activision Blizzard is being sued by the state of California for sexual harassment and diversity in-equality across the company, with many instances coming out of Blizzard’s side.

Activision Blizzard responded to the suit with Blizzard President J. Allen Brack resigning and putting Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra as co-leaders of Blizzard.

The company still faces immense pressure from employees to change some of the practices, like removal of attribution clauses and changes to the law firm that is investigating the allegations at the company. So far, Activision Blizzard executives have not met their demands.

We’ll continue to keep everyone updated as more information on the lawsuit and sponsorships happen.

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T-Mobile reportedly no longer a sponsor of Call of Duty League & Overwatch League

T-Mobile appears to have ended their sponsorship of both the CDL and OWL after Activision Blizzard harassment lawsuits surfaced.



T-Mobile appears to have abruptly ended their sponsorship of the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League this past week. The company’s logo has been removed from the sponsorship section of both of the websites.

T-Mobile was one of the largest non-endemic partners of the Call of Duty League. The US wireless carrier was the Official 5G Sponsor of the League and featured weekly 5G T-Mobile Drops for fans to enter to win real life prizes.

The Call of Duty League features sponsors including the U.S. Army, Astro Gaming, SCUF Gaming, Zenni Gaming, Game Fuel, USAA Insurance, and Google Cloud.

T-Mobile’s logo was seen on the Call of Duty League site as recently as July 21 alongside the other sponsors, per the Wayback Machine, as seen in the screenshot below:

Call of Duty League website – July 21, 2021

Now, visiting the Call of Duty League website and looking at the same sponsor area, T-Mobile’s logo has been removed. The other sponsor’s logos are still featured.

Call of Duty League website – July 31, 2021

Another part of T-Mobile’s activation with the Call of Duty League was their 5G Weekly Drop activation, where viewers could text a code to a number to enter for a chance to win bonus items – like free controllers, phones, headsets, and even a trip to CDL Champs.

However, for the Stage 5 Major event (taking place July 29 through August 1), the official rules website says the Weekly Drop was cancelled with no explanation provided.

T-Mobile was also a sponsor of Activision Blizzard’s other major league, the Overwatch League. But on the OWL’s website sponsor section strip, T-Mobile’s logo is gone. It was there as soon as Monday, July 26. T-Mobile’s branding still appears on their site for Viewership Drops as those assets appears to have not been updated yet.

It’s not officially confirmed as to why T-Mobile has decided to end its sponsorship of both of the leagues so suddenly or if the sponsorship is truly over, but the timing seems suspicious with the recent harassment lawsuit against Activision Blizzard from the state of California.

Activision Blizzard employees staged a walk out on July 28 in protest of the company’s responses to the harassment lawsuit over a toxic, sexist workplace culture.

Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick responded in an email published on July 27 that the company’s responses were “tone deaf” and they would work to build a better, safer culture.

Activision Blizzard and T-Mobile both have not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

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