Community writer Bryn Griffiths delights in the growth in popularity of competitive Call of Duty...
You only need to look at the Main Stage for Call of Duty on the Saturday morning of G3 to understand how far the franchise has developed as an eSport. Not a seat in the house is left by the time Epsilon and Exertus take to the floor in a battle of two of the EU's most competitive rosters. Lights dim and casting duo Bricey and Puckett introduce the two teams to rapturous applause from the crowd (with Epsilon clear fan favourites)!
A True SportSat two rows in from the front of the stage, this is something I've never personally experienced at an eSports event - the atmosphere of a true sports match, that of football or rugby. A mix between competitive gaming newcomers and hardened Call of Duty veterans, every single person can appreciate the quality of play here. I myself back Epsilon to win the first series after coming in off a very strong event at the recent EGL, and they come out doing just that, claiming a 3-0 map count despite a slow start. Players stop for autographs and photos with younger fans after their game, just like any other sports team you'll see across the country. A wonderful gesture!
Getting BiggerI find myself sat next to Jurd from Epsilon, talking to him about the matches so far and how far his team can progress here (they're going to win it all apparently)! Fans come up one by one and talk to him, starstruck at times - and it strikes me just how far this community has come. From much smaller function rooms and halls to an Olympic sports arena, professional players who can now make a living off their tournament earnings, dedicated live streaming platforms - Call of Duty can definitely be considered a major eSport.
Rapid GrowthGames progress throughout the day as the more prolific teams from the EU and US take to the stage, Faze, Evil Geniuses, Team Kaliber and EnVy all arrive for their matches with great support from a capacity crowd. Leaving your seat proves to be a bad choice, as it will be instantly be swallowed up someone else. Comparing this to the previous Gfinity events is near impossible - as an attendee of Gfinity 2, the scale of growth that the scene is at right now is even more noticeable. It’s worth remembering that this game remains largely unpopular with fans and players alike, although you wouldn’t tell from this showing!
Pure ExcitementThe Call of Duty stage has been absolutely fantastic in terms of progression for Gfinity and the franchise as a whole, setting records for UK CoD event attendance. Atmospherically speaking, the crowd have been absolutely fantastic to hear. Generations young and old can be seen across the arena, united in their enjoyment of the matches. Personally, I have found it incredible to see competitive Call of Duty enjoyed on such a large scale in the United Kingdom, and you can’t help but get excited about its future.
Author: Bryn Griffiths (@allthingsbryn)