2023 Call of Duty League Format Proposal

The CDL has seen three different formats over their first three seasons. Each season has had less and less Call of Duty being played over the year, while still starting in late January. While we have currently found a format that has some promise for the future, there are certainly places to improve and adapt. Here is my proposed Call of Duty League format for the Modern Warfare 2 season.

Proposed CDL Points Breakdown

The CDL has found a good balance in how they award points during the Vanguard season, but it can still be adjusted. Currently, you can get a maximum of 200 points if you win all your League Matches and 260 points if you win every single Major. This should be adjusted a bit more in favor of LAN tournament matches and less in the favor of online league matches. It is much, much harder to win every single Major compared to winning every single league match and the scoring so show that.

This format would continue with the Major point system due to the increase from 4 to 5 tournaments, while the league match number increases by just 2. This would put the maximum number of points for league matches at 220 points and maximum 295 for winning every single Major. The addition would include a 25 CDL point bonus for winning either of the Pro AM Classics, making the maximum points earned at tournaments going to 345. This would be a 61%/39% split for tournament and league match point potential.

Here is the Major Points breakdown:

1st: 65 points
2nd: 50 points
3rd: 40 points
4th: 30 points
5th/6th: 20 points
7th/8th: 10 points
9th/12th: 0 points

Here is the Pro AM Classics Points breakdown:

1st: 25 points
2nd/16th: 0 points

Month-by-Month view of the schedule

Full breakdown of entire schedule

Tier-1 Tournaments

Majors

  • Number of Tournaments : 5 across the entire season
  • Prize Pool per Tournament: $500,000 per tournament for a total of $2,500,000 a year
  • Number of Teams : 12 Pro Teams
  • Number of Matches : 42 matches across 5 days
    • 12 matches on Wednesday
    • 12 matches on Thursday
    • 10 matches on Friday
    • 5 matches on Saturday
    • 3 matches on Sunday
  • Streams: This is where we take the Pro AM Classic format from 2022 but make it even better. We would have 4 streams for the pool play matches and then transition to 2 on Friday and 1 on Saturday/Sunday.
    • Wednesday: 4 streams with 3 game slots
    • Thursday: 4 streams with 3 game slots
    • Friday: 2 streams with 5 game slots
    • Saturday: 1 stream with 5 game slots
    • Sunday: 1 stream with 3 game slots
  • CDL Points Awarded : Same as 2022 Major points format for Majors
    • 1st: 65 points
    • 2nd: 50 points
    • 3rd: 40 points
    • 4th: 30 points
    • 5th/6th: 20 points
    • 7th/8th: 10 points
    • 9th/12th: 0 points
  • Majors scheduled for proposed 2023 season
    • Major I Texas Open – January 11th – 15th
    • Major II LA Open – March 8th – 12th
    • Major III LA Open – April 12th – 16th
    • Major IV Boston Open – May 10th – 14th
    • Major V Florida Open – July 19th – 23rd

This format solves the 12 team problem that currently plagues the League, but also gives the League a solid foundation for when they translate to 16-teams in the future. With 12 teams it is very difficult to do pool play on a tournament weekend, but this might be the best solution. With 4 3-team groups, each team would play each other twice for a total of 4 matches per team over the course of 2 days (Wednesday & Thursday). The top two finishers in each group head to the Upper Bracket, while the 3rd place team goes to the Lower Bracket. This makes it so each team will play a minimum of 5 matches per Major and play on at least 3 of the 5 match days. It is more Call of Duty, so this is a winning situation from everyone from the players, fans, and League.

Fitting the 18 bracket matches over 3 days is tough, but the best solution is doing two streams on Friday so 10 matches can be played. This allows the League to transition to only one stream on Saturday & Sunday for the prime matchups.

Majors NEED to give that grueling, long-week vibe so it feels like teams earn the championship. Part of the reason why the LA Guerrillas run during Major 2 felt so special is that they played 6 matches over the final 3 days to win the Championship. They were tested and came out victorious. This is a feeling that the fans share and needs to be replicated with use of tournament formats we’ve had in the past.

CoD Champs (CDL Playoffs)

  • Number of Tournaments : 1 at the end of the season
  • Prize Pool per Tournament: $2,500,000
  • Number of Teams : 8 Pro Teams
  • Number of Matches : 14 matches across 4 days
    • 4 matches on Thursday
    • 4 matches on Friday
    • 5 matches on Saturday
    • 1 matches on Sunday
  • Streams: 1 stream everyday

This would be the best and most fair format for the Playoffs. Having a straight up, double-elimination bracket would provide the best experience for the League, Players, and, most importantly, the fans. It’s simple, but also provides benefits of finishing higher in the standings. With the #1 seed facing off against the #8 seed while also having veto advantage for the entirety of the tournament, teams will always be fighting for that.

The stream setup would be simple, just one stream a day to cover the matches. The Grand Finals would be on its own on Sunday, showcasing the crown jewel that teams have been fighting for all season long.

League Play [Online]

  • Number of Tournaments : 6 weeks over the season, 3 weeks in March & 3 in June
  • Prize Pool per Tournament: None
  • Number of Teams : 12 Pro Teams
  • Number of Matches : 132 matches across 34 days
    • 4 matches on Monday
    • 4 matches on Tuesday
    • 4 matches on Wednesday
    • 4 matches on Thursday
    • 4 matches on Friday
  • There are four Saturdays where 3 matches are played
  • Streams: 1 stream everyday
  • CDL Points Awarded : 10 points per win
  • Each team plays the other 11 teams twice for a total of 22 matches per team

The League needs to have live hours to help with advertisement and filling the gaps in the schedule. Teams need live reps against the best teams to help develop their map pool and adjust strategy. The best CoD is played when teams understand the game and can best their best strategies. This is what League matches offer.

But how do we limit the viewership fatigue that league matches induce? I believe CWL had the best solution to this problem by having two sets of League matches over the season. We’ve seen it this year as well. The first two stages had great viewership, but fans are starting to be fatigued with the league matches week after week that are increasingly getting less and less important for some teams.

This format offers just two 3-week sets of League matches where every team plays the other 11 teams twice. It can be marketed in different ways as well to help keep viewers engaged. For example, certain weeks can be designed as:

  • Rivalry Week (LDN vs TOR, ATL vs TX, LAT vs LAG, etc)
  • Color Rush (Same color teams – ATL vs LAT, ATL vs LDN, MIN vs TOR, SEA vs FL)
  • Bounty Week (Fans pick who they think will win, if you pick the right team you have a chance to win $1,000)

Another important change here is playing Monday through Friday. Call of Duty league matches can not compete for viewership against tournaments or even league matches in Counter Strike, Valorant, LoL, Dota, and all the other esport every single weekend. That doesn’t include live sports that always have their best matches on the weekends. Weekdays could be a calculated risk to take because there aren’t many other esports that are playing at the time so the CDL won’t have to compete as hard for viewers.

Tier-2 Tournaments [Minors]

This section will include 3 different tournament formats that will include amateur teams playing against the 12 franchise teams. As we saw recently at the Pro AM Classic, fans and players enjoy seeing the best AM teams compete against the professional teams. We need to continue this but also continue to improve next season.

Pro AM Classic

  • Number of Tournaments : 2 across the entire season
  • Prize Pool per Tournament: $100,000 per tournament for a total of $200,000 a year
  • Number of Teams : 12 Pro Teams + 4 AM Teams
  • Number of Matches : 42 matches across 5 days
    • 12 matches on Wednesday
    • 12 matches on Thursday
    • 10 matches on Friday
    • 5 matches on Saturday
    • 3 matches on Sunday
  • Streams: This is where we take the Pro AM Classic format from 2022 but make it even better. We would have 4 streams for the pool play matches and then transition to 2 on Friday and 1 on Saturday/Sunday.
    • Wednesday: 4 streams with 3 game slots
    • Thursday: 4 streams with 3 game slots
    • Friday: 2 streams with 5 game slots
    • Saturday: 1 stream with 5 game slots
    • Sunday: 1 stream with 3 game slots
  • CDL Points Awarded : This is where it is tricky. How could we award CDL points, but not to 25% of the teams competing. An easy way would be to award points to only the winner of the tournament, as that would put added motivation to win the tournament.
    • 1st – 25 points
    • 2nd/-16th – 0 points
  • Pro AM Classics scheduled for proposed 2023 season
    • Spring Pro AM Classic : March 16th – 20th
    • Summer Pro AM Classic : July 5th – July 9th

This format is very similar to the format of Majors, as it has the same schedule across the 4 days. The key improvement from the 2022 version is the addition of double elimination on the bracket. This will add 10 matches on the weekend (6 on Friday, 3 on Saturday, 1 on Sunday). The pool play goes back to classic Call of Duty where the Top 2 teams from each pool move on to the Upper Bracket, while the 3rd place teams go to the Lower Bracket and the 4th place teams are eliminated.

Each team would play a minimum of 3 matches over the weekend and gives AM teams a greater chance to make it into the bracket. If we had this format for the 2022 version, Toronto Ultra Academy & Strike X would have made it into the Lower bracket.

Kickoff Classic

  • Number of Tournaments : 1 at the beginning of the season
  • Prize Pool per Tournament: $100,000
  • Number of Teams : 12 Pro Teams + 4 AM Teams
  • Number of Matches : 42 matches across 5 days
    • 12 matches on Wednesday
    • 12 matches on Thursday
    • 10 matches on Friday
    • 5 matches on Saturday
    • 3 matches on Sunday
  • Streams: This is where we take the Pro AM Classic format from 2022 but make it even better. We would have 4 streams for the pool play matches and then transition to 2 on Friday and 1 on Saturday/Sunday. 
    • Wednesday: 4 streams with 3 game slots
    • Thursday: 4 streams with 3 game slots
    • Friday: 2 streams with 5 game slots
    • Saturday: 1 stream with 5 game slots
    • Sunday: 1 stream with 3 game slots
  • CDL Points Awarded : 0 points are awarded as this is the preseason tournament
  • Kickoff Classic scheduled for proposed 2023 season
    • November 16th – 20th

No need to reinvent the wheel, this would be the exact same format as the Pro AM Classics.

Championship Open [LAN]

  • Number of Tournaments : 1 at the end of the season
  • Prize Pool per Tournament: $250,000
  • Number of Teams : 12 Pro Teams + 18 AM Teams
  • Number of Matches : 82 matches across 6 days
    • 20 matches on Tuesday
    • 20 matches on Wednesday
    • 20 matches on Thursday
    • 12 matches on Friday
    • 6 matches on Saturday
    • 4 matches on Sunday
  • Streams: This would be complex, but we’d still be able to simplify it by the weekend 
    • Wednesday: 4 streams with 4 game slots, 2 streams have 2 extra matches to end the night
    • Wednesday: 4 streams with 4 game slots, 2 streams have 2 extra matches to end the night
    • Thursday: 4 streams with 4 game slots, 2 streams have 2 extra matches to end the night
    • Friday: 2 streams with 6 game slots
    • Saturday: 1 stream with 6 game slots
    • Sunday: 1 stream with 4 game slots
  • CDL Points Awarded : 0 points are awarded as this is a legendary tournament on its own.
  • Scheduled for proposed 2023 season
    • August 5th – 9th

CoD Champs used to be the biggest tournament of the year for fans, players, and the League. Our legacy was defined by this tournament and how you performed. Understandably, this has drastically changed when we went to a Franchise model in Modern Warfare.

With the CDL Playoffs now going under the name CoD Champs, this tournament would have to be changed to the Championship Open. It would consist of the 12 franchise teams with 18 AM teams to create the 30-team tournament. We saw the potential of combining this style of tournament with a Playoffs in Black Ops 4, when the circuit had both in the final weeks of the season. A change that would have to be made is having this tournament before CDL Playoffs and with a much lesser prize pool in order to keep the CDL Playoffs as the crown jewel. This would still be considered a legendary tournament, but would not overshadow the Playoffs.

Pool Play would have 6 groups of 5 teams, so that every single pool has 2 franchise teams. The top 2 finishers in each group would move onto the Upper Bracket, while the 3rd/4th finishers would slot into the Lower Bracket, and 5th place would be eliminated. There would be 60 matches over 3 days and be reminiscent of the old school CoD Champs.

Tier-3 Tournaments [Online]

SnD Showdown

  • Number of Tournaments : Minimum 2 in November, could have a 3rd in late October on Kickoff Week
  • Prize Pool per Tournament: $10,000 per tournament for a total of $20,000 a year
  • Number of Teams : 12 Pro Teams plus 4 invite teams, have 4 captains who select their squads
  • Format : Double Elimination 16-team bracket
  • Number of Matches : 31 Matches that can be over Friday-Sunday or just Saturday-Sunday
  • Streams: No need for an official stream as the players would be all over streaming this individually. If the League is interested they could do a redzone-style stream where the desk jumps from pro players’ streams to get a live look in for matches. This would be a hit with fans.
  • CDL Points Awarded : 0 points
  • SnD Showdowns scheduled for proposed 2023 season
  1. November 5th – 6th
  2. November 12th – 13th

Each offseason we’ve seen different iterations of how the League handles kickoff tournaments. For the Cold War offseason, Franchises each threw different style tournaments during the opening few weeks. This past offseason saw more third party tournaments from eFuse, Code Red, and others. Having the League throw individual tournaments will give them a chance to get their foot in the door and also taking advantage of the early season hype.

Pro AM Showdown

  • Number of Tournaments : 6 across the entire season
  • Prize Pool per Tournament: $10,000 per tournament for a total of $60,000 a year
  • Number of Teams : 12 Pro Teams plus the top 4 NA amateur teams
  • Number of Matches : 31 Matches that can be over Friday-Sunday or just Saturday-Sunday
  • Streams: No need for an official stream as the players would be all over streaming this individually. If the League is interested they could do a redzone-style stream where the desk jumps from pro players’ streams to get a live look in for matches. This would be a hit with fans.
  • CDL Points Awarded : 0 points
  • Pro AM Showdowns scheduled for proposed 2023 season
  1. December 2nd – 4th
  2. December 9th – 11th
  3. January 6th – 8th
  4. January 27th – 29th
  5. April 28th – 30th
  6. May 26th – 28th

The biggest grip with the current format is the amount of downtime between CDL matches. An easy fix is to adapt an old school style tournament to give fans and players something to fill that said down time. This tournament used to go by the name of ProDowns during the World War II and Black Ops 4 season, and are badly missed within the scene.

These tournaments are very much needed at the beginning of the season to ride off the early hype for the new game, while also getting teams respawns reps at a high level. Fans miss watching the old 2ks/5ks but players didn’t love playing those until the later rounds. This is the perfect gap to give the CDL content and a lifeline until the official season begins.

The purpose of the April and May tournaments are to fill the downtime in between tournaments. As we’ve seen this season, a 3-4 week break is severely detrimental to the momentum that the CDL built in the early season. This is the stopgap to hold fans over, as Warzone tournaments are not the perfect solution for this problem.

This tournament would use the same bracket as the SnD Showdown, as shown above.

Overall

This format takes the culmination of past and present to create the past format for the League, Teams, players, and the fans. It will consist of:

  • 1 Kickoff Classic
  • 2 Pro AM Classic
  • 2 SnD Showdowns [Online]
  • 6 Pro AM Showdowns [Online]
  • 5 Majors
  • 6 weeks of League Matches [Online]
  • 1 Championship Open
  • 1 Call of Duty Championship (CDL Playoffs)

This gives the League a possible 10 LAN events over the year and 4 LAN events with AM teams competing. This would give the League a possible 564 matches over the year and 940 live hours of broadcast to advertise. That doesn’t include the possible streams for online tournaments and other Warzone tournaments that could be added (Do Warzone events with just CDL players/Teams!!). The League would run over 10 months with 18 weeks off during the season. The CDL put $5,000,000 in the prize pool across all events during the 2022 season. This format would call for a maximum $5,630,000, which could be cut down if the Major Prize pool is decreased due to having 5 over the season. This cost would still be $370,000 less than the Modern Warfare season, while having more Call of Duty and a better viewing experience.

EasyMac
Author: EasyMac

Comments (3)

  1. Love the topic and the proposed solution Austin. I think it’s super important to have season long matches that aren’t interrupted by long breaks.

  2. Big Noob :)

    Good job Easymac. This proposal is kinda overwhelming content wise but would be amazing if implemented.

  3. This format is great. The problem is the CDL doesn’t have the staff,funding, or competency to pull it off :(

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