The Call of Duty League will not expand beyond its original 12-team format in its second season, insider reports are suggesting, despite commissioner Johanna Faries confirming there is “great demand” for potential CDL expansion ahead of the competition’s 2021 edition.
The behind-the-scenes decision to keep the competition contained at 12 teams — for now, at least — is due to the fact the Call of Duty League was forced into an online format mid-way through its inaugural campaign.
According to multiple insider reports, including from ESPN, both the league and team owners were unified in the ‘null’ expansion decision. The plan, sources are suggesting, is to give the CDL an opportunity to “showcase [its] original business plan” before recruiting further teams.
Dexerto expects the Call of Duty League to run one more year of city-based tournaments for 2021, before returning to its original expansion plan for 2022. Reports suggest Activision will seek higher franchising sums this time around.
Inaugural teams joining in the Call of Duty league’s very first season paid a $25 million buy-in, paid over an unspecified amount of time. It has not yet been confirmed how high the planned slot price-hike may go, internally or otherwise.
The non-expansion news comes at the same time as confirmation the CDL’s second season will be played on Black Ops Cold War. This is especially important because the new Treyarch title is returning to 4v4 modes with its 2020 release.
That means each of the 12 franchised teams will now have their starting roster sliced from five to four. This will effectively leave a full dozen starters from the 2020 season either riding the bench or cut from CDL rosters entirely.
According to CDL commissioner Faries, the move was made “in close collaboration with teams and players”. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that the 4v4 plans combined with no expansion cut the starting player pool by a hefty 20%.
One potential avenue for CDL expansion when the plan does eventually return to the table in the 2022 preseason is Europe. There’s hope from the London Royal Ravens front office that Activision and the league “look to Europe next.”
“If the league can expand in Europe, whenever that happens, it will be great,” Royal Ravens managing director Michael O’Dell said during the Champs media press conferences last week.
“To get [the players] over here, do a lot more activations. The UK fans are fantastic. The event we did get to do at the Cooper Box was amazing. It’s just a shame that [we lost] our other event as well. Expansion is what I would like to see.”