This weekend was big in the world of esports. In Minneapolis, Minnesota the downtown area where the Minneapolis Armory which is normlly used for concerts a different type of venue this time around. Beginning in the Twin Cities 12 teams from around the world joined together for the inaugural 2020 Call of Duty League launch.
The league’s parent company Activision Blizzard is trying to mimic the success they had in 2018 with their Overwatch League. Every other week teams will be hosting tournament events in their home city where the top eight will be in the playoffs at the end of the season. Minnesota Røkkr who are owned by the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings hosted the first event.
Minority owner Gary Vaynerchuk of the Minnesota Røkkr says he looks forward to working with the team and the impact they’re making. “I’m more into what it actually means to somebody who could be casual, or not aware at all, and the tribalization of local sports.”
The gaming industry has made these esports teams as popular as any basketball or football team and so they’re trying to make these leagues just as official similar to that of the MLB or the NBA. Which shouldn’t have a problem with according to data from the NPD Group, several bestseller games in the US over the past decade were Call of Duty titles and has generated $15 billion dollars in sales since it first launched in 2003. Game developer Riot Games has done something similar when they introduced The League of Legends Championship Series which was also going on this weekend.
Johanna Faries is the commissioner for Call of Duty esports. She says video games and esports are reaching people like never before.
“Call of Duty is a pop culture phenomenon, and it allows us to think how cultural relevance comes in,” Faries said. “It’s very popular with celebrities and influencers around the world and its special to bring those things together. I used to be with the NFL and I was aware of how popular the game was with athletes.”
The tournament was streamed on YouTube instead of Twitch following the multi-year deal signed with Google recently and the very first match was between the Chicago Huntsmen and the Dallas Empire.