Activision and Call of Duty have broadcast their 2020 CWL esports season intentions to Reddit. Among other things, Activision states it will “incentivize team investment in the Call of Duty Path to Pro amateur program and player pipeline development generally; and to provide team owners with fair compensation for their investment in player development.”
Activision perhaps introduced the Amateur Open Bracket to do a test run for next year’s franchising structure. It is a major difference with the lack of possibility to qualify into playoffs and the CWL Pro League, but hopefully there will be larger prize pools for AM tournaments. Furthermore, the statement also describes it as “team investment in the Call of Duty Path to Pro” amateur scene. This would most likely mean both Academy teams owned by the franchised organizations along with third-party organizations competing in the amateur leagues.
The Reddit announcement goes on to mention that Activision “recognize(s) the importance of a thriving Path to Pro competitive scene in Call of Duty esports,” which will provide fresh players into the franchised league. With the success of the Amateur Open Bracket this past season, Activision will “support and administer extensive amateur competitions.” The amateur competitions will take place online and through open bracket LAN tournaments in cities around the world. It will be similar to the main Call of Duty League with dedicated prize pools.
More details will arrive in the coming months. However, professional teams will be able to sign players in a two-way contract similar to the NBA and G League where players can be swapped around. Two of the professional players will also be able to be sent down to the amateur league to play in Path to Pro events.
Activision’s Call of Duty is going into franchising next year. In order to participate, esports organizations must buy a franchise slot for USD $25 million. With such a high price tag, many were unsure whether the “amateur scene” would still be possible till now. The integration of the Amateur Open Bracket into franchising is an idea most are trying to wrap their heads around. This is because of no promotion possibility for amateur organizations into the franchised league, like how the CWL Pro League worked.
Beforehand, if a team managed to compete into the CWL Pro League, the organization would have made a profitable investment. Instances were shown in the past season where Excelerate Gaming tried to sell their Pro League spot after qualifying for USD $100-150K. There is also additional compensation for teams that won matches and from competition prize pools. Unfortunately, the “amateur scene” doesn’t get anywhere as much viewership as the professional side so there was even more of a concern for its future. Perhaps Activision’s recent announcements will alleviate concerns now.
Follower of tech startups and finance. I write about esports in my free time.