Major changes are coming to Call of Duty Esports, with the game moving to a franchised league model for the 2020 season. Who are the teams and players competing in the inaugural CDL season, and who owns them? Here’s everything we know about the franchises.
For years, Call of Duty has been an open circuit, with any team eligible to compete in the major tournaments which are held across the world. In 2020, that will change, as CoD moves to a franchised league format, with only teams who have purchased a city-based spot able to compete in Modern Warfare.
So far, nine teams have signed on to take part in the competition, which will see organizations establish themselves in a city, and play home and away games across the season.
With Activision selling spots priced at $25 million, it’s no surprise that any team who wants to compete has some serious backing behind them, and you can take a look at who is splashing the cash on the franchise spots for the 2020 CDL season.
CoD NYC - Sterling VC / NYXL
Following their success in the Overwatch League with sister team NYXL, Sterling Equities, which includes the owners of the New York Mets baseball franchise, have signed on to bring Call of Duty to New York City in 2020.
The organization has moved quickly to fill out their coaching positions, bringing in former Evil Geniuses coach John ‘Revan’ Boble, while statistician JP Krez has signed on as an analyst.
CoD Atlanta - Atlanta Esports Ventures
American media company Cox Enterprises, which operate the Cox Communications media network which includes television and radio stations, newspapers and advertising sales rep firms are the driving force in bringing Call of Duty to Atlanta, Georgia.
This isn’t Atlanta Esports Ventures’ first foray into the world of competitive gaming, as they already operate the Atlanta Reign Overwatch League franchise.
CoD Toronto - OverActive Media
Toronto is a Call of Duty franchise with strong links to the esport, with OverActive Media acting as the parent company for one of the game’s most popular teams, Splyce.
Mark ‘MarkyB’ Bryceland will act as the team’s coach, while the lineup looks set to change from that of Splyce, with Donovan ‘Temp’ Laroda and Ulysses ‘AquA’ Silva announcing they are restricted free agents heading into the new season.
CWL Paris - c0ntact Gaming
As things stand, Paris is the only European city have a CDL franchise confirmed, but as to where they will play their home games, considering every other team so far is based in North America, remains to be seen.
The franchise has been purchased by c0ntact Gaming LLC, but little else is known about the team.
CWL Dallas - Team Envy
Perhaps the most historically-linked CDL franchise so far, the Dallas entry into the competition will be owned and operated by one of the game’s most legendary organizations, Team Envy.
Envy are former Call of Duty World Champions, winning the 2016 edition of the tournament during the Black Ops 3 season, and have experience in owning a franchise in an Activision-owned competition, with the Dallas Fuel competing in the Overwatch League.
CoD Florida - Misfits Gaming
Misfits Gaming, who own the Florida Mayhem OWL franchise, are another new entry to the realm of Call of Duty, but are certainly no strangers to esports.
The team also owns a franchise in League of Legends’ LEC competition, and have signed Halo legend Tom ‘OGRE2’ Ryan as manager of the CoD team.
CoD Los Angeles - Immortals Gaming Club / OpTic Gaming
The first of two L.A. franchises, Immortals Gaming Club bought the spot back in July 2019, following their purchase of legendary CoD organization OpTic Gaming.
The Greenwall have been intertwined with the esport for over a decade, but with former owner Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez unable to acquire the team following Infinite Esports’ decision to sell, it appears that a new-look OpTic will take to the stage in 2020. Whether the organization’s players or fans will follow to Los Angeles remains to be seen.
CoD Minnesota - WISE Ventures
Already being referred to as CoD North, WISE Ventures were announced on July 1 as the latest owners of a CDL franchise, and come with an extensive pedigree in sports to back up their ambitions.
WISE Ventures is led by the Wilf family, who also own and operate the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, alongside entrepreneur and YouTube personality Gary Vaynerchuk.
CoD Los Angeles - Kroenke Sports & Entertainment
Los Angeles' second spot has been purchased by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, who already operate the LA Gladiators in the Overwatch League.
The company also owns a huge number of sports teams, including the Premier League’s Arsenal, the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, NBA’s Denver Nuggets and both Colorado's NHL and MLS teams.
Who won’t be in the Call of Duty franchised league?
While some of esports' biggest names have thrown their hat in the ring for the 2020 season, there are a number of big Call of Duty teams who won’t be participating in the competition.
The most surprising though was 100 Thieves, considering CEO Matt ‘Nadeshot’ Haag’s legendary career as a CoD professional. In a video released on August 29, he cited the incredible cost of owning and running one of the teams, alongside the fact that they would have to alter their brand, as reasons for the team’s decision to pass on the league at least temporarily, with Nadeshot expressing his sadness that they won’t be involved from the start.