CDL 2021: What The Call of Duty League MUST Do To Improve Online Play
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CDL 2021: What The Call of Duty League MUST Do To Improve Online Play

Jonno Nicholson
8 August 2020

How can the CDL make the best of a less than ideal situation?

Ever since the Call of Duty League transitioned to an online format due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there have been several teething issues as the league gets to grips with a brand-new setting for Call of Duty esports.

The Los Angeles Home Series was the last offline event of the Modern Warfare season and since then, there have been a variety of issues for both players and league operations ranging from lengthy technical delays, poor online servers, and more recently controversial rulings due to circumstances that players were unable to prevent.

While we approach the first-ever online COD Champs, much discussion has started regarding the future of the CDL in an online capacity.

In this article, we take a look at what the CDL must do in order to improve the online experience for its competitors.

Better Servers

Modern Warfare CDL Servers

It’s no secret that Modern Warfare servers are not fit for competitive play. Despite an upgrade from 12Hz to 60Hz, connectivity issues and server performance have been a hot topic of conversation throughout the community.

Other competitive games such as Counter-Strike and VALORANT offer 120Hz servers to ensure a smooth server performance throughout the duration of a match. If the CDL continues to be played online once the new game has been released, servers that perform better are a must.

London Home Series winner James “Clayster” Eubanks of the Dallas Empire expressed his annoyance regarding the lack of dedicated servers that can be used for competitive matches.

The finals between the Empire and the Paris Legion saw both teams left in an unfortunate situation in the server vetos.

Given the location of both teams, the California and Illinois servers were dismissed, leaving a Texas server to be used for the final. Perfect for the Empire who is based out of Dallas but was a huge disadvantage to the Legion, where four of its five players were based in California.

Clayster CDL Servers

The lack of servers spread across the US almost always gives one team a significant advantage over the other and when matches are played online, this often means that one team is playing an entirely different game than the other thanks to the superior connection to the servers.

In order to make the playing environment as fair as possible, the CDL needs to co-operate with Activision in order to offer teams a more neutral host to minimise the advantage of superior internet connection.

A Pause Feature

CDL pause feature

In the opening events of the season, fans were quick to spot and praise a newly-added pause feature which had been added to Modern Warfare. Admins now had the ability to temporarily pause the game to avoid the need of a full map restart.

Since the switch to online competition, this feature hasn't been able to be used, leading to several map restarts which have been seen throughout the online portion of the regular season.

With the release of Call of Duty 2020 on the horizon, the CDL has the perfect opportunity to work with Treyarch in order to ensure a pause feature that works in an online setting is present in the new game.

This combined with an increased server tick rate, more clarity on decisions made by the referee, and an improved format could well be what the league needs if it is to continue online for the foreseeable future.

A Revised Format

CDL 2021 format

The current Home Series format for the first season of the CDL has received a mixed reception from both fans and players. Some saw the GSL group format as too much of a change from the group stage into a knockout bracket format and for the second season of the league, a revised format could be on the cards.

If rumours are to be believed, the majority of the 2021 CDL season will be played online, enabling all 12 franchise teams to be able to compete at every event throughout the season.

Playoffs and Champs is the only time that all teams will be battling it out in the same tournament this season as only eight of the 12 teams competed at any one Home Series events.

Theoretically, if the league managed to expand to 16 teams, a more familiar tournament could return to Call of Duty esports. Four groups of four could be randomly drawn with the top two teams advancing into a double-elimination bracket where the champion will be crowned.

Clarity On Decisions And Referees

CDL Referee

Since the CDL has moved online, there have been several instances of players disconnecting from a lobby or referees failing to check if all players are present before starting a game.

The decisions made have seen several questions raised regarding the competitive integrity within the league.

The Seattle Surge has borne the brunt of these controversial decisions, with the latest decision occurring at the London Home Series.

Surge player Josiah “Slacked” Berry disconnected during the fourth map of the series against the London Royal Ravens when Seattle was approximately 30 points in the lead. Everyone expected a reset of the map to allow Slaked to reconnect to the game but the game continued and London eventually secured the win.

Seattle Surge Online Issues

According to Slacked, his internet provider began maintenance on his line, dropping him out of the game while the CDL allegedly ruled the decision as “player-related” when in fact Slacked had no control on the issue.

There was no official communication from the CDL providing clarity on what occurred, leading superstar AR Sam “Octane” Larew to go on an expletive-ridden rampage on Twitter, citing that there is no competitive integrity in the league.

The CDL has implemented new rules in order to prove players are adhering to the rules but the fact the referees aren’t present when issues arise is shocking.

The ruling and infrastructure regarding in-game issues in previous seasons were far better so considering how it has gone backwards in its first year of franchising is strange. Let’s hope that more a more consistent ruling system is in place for next season if online play is to remain.

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