Black Ops Cold War’s League Play has not lived up to fans’ high expectations, and the professional community is lamenting the missed opportunities that a robust ranked playlist would bring to Call of Duty and the CDL.
Many CoD fans point to Black Ops II’s League Play as the shining example of what a ranked Call of Duty playlist should look like. However, the game’s system was far from perfect, and the franchise has struggled to implement ranked playlists in modern titles — if ranked play is included at all.
With Treyarch’s return to the franchise’s driver seat in 2020, fans had high expectations for a robust, enjoyable League Play system, but have been largely disappointed since the mode was introduced. League Play quickly sputtered out and has been largely forgotten by the community.
After almost half a year with Cold War’s League Play system, the professional community — pros, casters, and fans — are all pointing to the playlist as yet another missed opportunity to use ranked play as a force to grow competitive Call of Duty.
On June 5, Raymond ‘Rambo’ Lussier — former CoD pro and current coach of the CDL’s Dallas Empire — took to Twitter and shared his qualms about the implementation of League Play in Black Ops Cold War, calling it “extremely disappointing.”
In addition to pointing out flaws with League Play by itself, he also noted that those flaws make it harder for casuals to become interested in the CDL: “how the hell are people supposed to get into it if the entry level competitive side of the game isn’t appealing?”
There's no debate that the competitive side of the game is a small part of the cod ecosystem given how big the casual base is… but how the hell are people supposed to want to get into it if the entry level competitive side of the game (league play) isn't appealing to any1??
— Ray (@ramboray) June 5, 2021
Rambo’s tweets quickly took off as other pros and casters chimed in with their own criticisms. 100 Thieves’ Jack ‘CouRage’ Dunlop — one of the franchise’s most recognizable and influential casting personalities — voiced his own disappointment with the lack of support for League Play.
“It is genuinely astonishing that there isn’t a small dedicated team that just moves from developer to developer during the CoD release cycle that just ensures a robust and exciting ranked experience to help promote the CDL,” he replied.
It is genuinely astonishing that there isn’t a small dedicated team that just moves from developer to developer during the CoD release cycle that just ensures a robust and exciting ranked experience to help promote the CDL.
16 years of Call of Duty and its always sucked.
— Jack “CouRage” Dunlop (@CouRageJD) June 5, 2021
While Treyarch typically includes a ranked playlist in their titles, the system often changes from one game to the next — which are released three years apart due to the triple-studio development cycle maintained across all CoD developers.
Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games will sometimes include a ranked playlist in their titles, and other times will not. The system implemented by Sledgehammer in Call of Duty: World War 2 was largely praised by the community, but there’s no telling if it will make a return in next year’s installment.
Joe ‘MerK’ DeLuca, another massive casting personality in professional CoD, pointed out that Activision could lean on its subsidiary, Blizzard Entertainment, for inspiration and advice when it comes to formulating ranked systems for Call of Duty titles.
I was just hoping they could use a blizzard built out system and bring it in. I’ll take sc2s, Overwatch, hearthstone, just give me one. So much room to make content for pros and creators, I NEED IT
— MerK (@JoeDeLuca) June 5, 2021
“I was hoping [Activision] could use a Blizzard system and bring it in [to Call of Duty]. I’ll take [a system like] StarCraft 2, Overwatch, Hearthstone, just give me one. So much room to make content for pros and creators,” he confirmed in response to Dunlop’s tweet.
While this is far from the first time the professional Call of Duty community has criticized Cold War’s League Play, the frustration from the large Call of Duty community is clear.
It remains to be seen what Activision and their studios might do to improve ranked play in future titles, but with so many prominent members of the pro community up in arms about the state of ranked play, it will likely put the issue firmly in the publisher’s sights heading into the launch of next year’s Call of Duty title.