What will Washington DC’s CDL team be called?

Ben Mock
Washington Justice with CDL logo
Tonya McCahon For Activision Blizzard / Activision

With Chicago’s CDL spot reportedly moving to Washington DC and the OpTic brand headed for Dallas, the team will need a new name. 

Team names are crucial in sports. They establish an identity and give fans a brand to support. However, picking the right name is one of the most important steps in creating a new team. Choose the wrong one and your team gets memed relentlessly or perhaps worse, fails to make an impact at all.

With Washington Esports Ventures rumored to be purchasing OpTic Chicago’s CDL spot, the team will likely be due for its third name in three years. Beginning as OpTic Los Angeles in 2020, the team rebranded as OpTic Chicago for 2021.

DC has a history of strong team names; the Capitals, the Nationals, the Mystics, the Justice. Even the once-mocked Washington Football Team has endeared itself with fans.

While Washington Esports Ventures have trademarked one possible name, there are several directions in which the team could go.

Chicago CDL relocation
Activision/OpTic Chicago
With Chicago’s CDL slot reportedly going to Washington DC, the team will likely need a new name

Washington Demon Cats

That’s right, in the build up to the announcement of Washington’s franchise, the name Demon Cats has emerged as a front runner. Users clocked that a Washington QNTM Twitter account followed just one other account – @DemonCats.

After it was noticed by fans, they quickly undid the follow, but fans believe the cat is out the bag (literally). QNTM now looks to be an umbrella term used by the Washington Esports Ventures for all their organizations.

Needless to say, the Demon Cats name was quickly mocked by fans, which is why the following names could yet surface.

View of the US Capitol
Wikimedia Commons User Martin Falbisoner/CCASA 3.0
Washington DC is the heart of government in America. Should the city’s CDL team adopt a name that reflects that?

Team QNTM/QNTM United/Washington QNTM

Washington Esports Ventures filed a trademark for ‘Team QNTM’ on September 17. That follows four other QNTM-related trademarks filed in April.

Pros: It’s a striking name that establishes a brand that fans can rally around, with a simplicity that affords itself to easy branding potential. QNTM is also a good name for an esports team. Esports organizations are typically known for more abstract names, though the CDL and OWL have bucked this trend somewhat by adopting the naming formats of leagues like the NFL.

QNTM, especially Team QNTM, fits within the context of esports. This also helps set the team apart from the more traditionally named teams in the CDL.

Cons: The biggest issue is that the name has the potential to fall short. Washington QNTM feels like a hasty attempt to combine a branding idea with a geographical identity. This is exacerbated by the fact that unlike teams such as the Subliners and Royal Ravens, the name has no connection to Washington DC.

Furthermore, the team may struggle to create a distinct identity. With new ownership in a new city and the iconic OpTic branding headed to Dallas, there is minimal motivation for fans of OpTic Chicago to keep supporting the team. While this allows Washington to forge its own identity and develop a new local fanbase, is QNTM the right branding to ensure the project’s success?

Washington Founders/Washington Federals

Washington DC is the home of the US government and is the seat of power for the nation. Previously suggested as a potential naming theme for the Washington Football Team of the NFL, it could be a route that Washington Esports Ventures also goes down.

Pros: It’s a name that firmly establishes the team as Washington’s team. Up to this point, the team has had something to a corporate ring to it with the OpTic branding so prominent in the name. While they aren’t the only team to be named for/after their parent organization, Los Angeles Thieves (owned by 100 Thieves)  just sounds more natural. However, moving away from that naming style might help the team settle into a long-term home.

Cons: The names are awkward and stuffy. While they tie into the city’s culture, it doesn’t sound like an exciting and modern esports team. While the city’s Overwatch League team, also owned by Washington Esports Ventures, is named in reference to the Supreme Court, Washington Justice just packs more of a punch than a direct reference to the city being linked to politics.

Washington Brigade/Washington Revolution

Washington Crossing the Delaware
Could George Washington be the origin of the CDL’s next team name?

The team could adopt a name that invokes the spirit of George Washington, the city’s namesake. Prior to being the first President of the United States, Washington commanded the American revolutionaries fighting against British control.

Pros: The name links itself to the city, and also lends itself to the game being played. Call of Duty is a game about war, why not have a military-themed name?

Cons: Military language is hard to use effectively in a team name. Washington Brigade is a little awkward and is also a little weak in terms of the impact of a military-themed name. However, it is something of a ‘best of the worst’ scenario with names like ‘corps’, ‘platoon’, and ‘army’ fitting much worse.

‘Armada’ and ‘Fleet’ are solid if uninspiring choices but with the Surge and the Mutineers already existing teams, do we really need a third nautically-themed team name?

Revolution is a stronger choice but still comes across as very generic. Additionally, names relating to ‘Revolution’ would be more contextually appropriate for a city such as Boston.

Washington Warriors

Image of warrior
Unsplash: Gioele Fazzeri
While somewhat generic, could Warriors be a fitting name for Washington’s CDL team?

Another rejected proposal for the Washington Football Team, Warriors is vocally pleasing and ties into the Call of Duty-specific aspect of the franchise.

Pros: Alliteration works well in team names and has been adopted by one CDL team, the Seattle Surge. Warriors is also a strong name for a combat-oriented game such as Call of Duty. It also uses militaristic language better than something like the Washington Brigade.

Cons: It doesn’t link to the city especially well, remaining a relatively generic name. There is also the issue that the name has been tainted. Warriors was rejected by the Washington Football Team as it was seen as too much of a lateral move from the team’s former name, which is considered a slur to Native American individuals. Given that association, it may be best avoided.

DC Half-Smokes

Half-Smoke hot dog DC
Wikimedia Commons User ERM1130 / CCASA 4.0
The half-smoke is a DC staple. Could it inspire the Washington CDL team name?

The half-smoke is a staple of DC cuisine. It’s the larger, spicier, half-pork, half-beef cousin of the hot dog.

Pros: This absolutely becomes DC’s team, tying the franchise to the city while also opening up the potential for some extremely creative branding. Additionally, unusual names are becoming more and more commonplace in sports. There are minor league baseball teams called the Trash Pandas and the Vibes. The CDL is already home to unusual names such as the Subliners so there is precedent for an outside-the-box decision. There is also an albeit tenuous link to video games, with ‘smoke’ being slang for killing someone.

Cons: There is no getting around it: the team would named after a hot dog. A very good, unique hot dog but a hot dog nonetheless. It could also be seen as the team trying too hard to forge a link with their new home.

Until the sale is confirmed, the future, and name, of the team currently known as OpTic Chicago will remain a mystery.