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The CDL Player Poll Part 1: League Format

May 14, 2024 2:05 AM

Heading toward the end of the 5th season of the CDL, it has become clear that the League is sticking around for a minimum of two more seasons.

Each year the League changes the format slightly, whether it's including the Pro-AM tournament, more online matches, or a change in the number of LANs.

As the next title of Call of Duty has been rumored as of late and the current season marches towards Champs, it is time to start thinking about next year's format. To start, we have reached out to 50 of the professional players this season, getting responses from over 75%. Over the next three days, we'll be releasing the results of the twenty-seven questions that we asked players to answer.

Part I: The League Format & Past Experiences

This is the first of a three-part release of the results of the Player's Poll. This article will focus on the player's thoughts on not only this year's format but also the formats of past years.

Question #1

On a scale from 1-10, how would you grade this season’s format?

This year the format changed slightly from last year's. The Major prize pools decreased from a prize pool of $500,000 to $375,000. The amount of LANs decreased by one and a Pro-AM event was not hosted. For online play, the number of qualifier matches per stage increased from 5 per stage to 7. While the CDL points system gave slightly more weight to LAN matches, there are now more qualifier matches in between LANs.

The players view this format harshly, giving it an average vote of 4.5 of 10. The highest grade given was a 7, while the lowest was a 1. Many prefer more LANs compared to what is currently on the schedule and have grown tired of the online qualifiers being the pool play system for LAN matches.

Question #2

What season that you competed in or watched had the best format?

Competitive Call of Duty has a rich history, dating back to the beginning but taking off in Black Ops 2. There have been countless formats over the years, so we asked the players which they preferred playing or watching the competitive scene.

The overwhelming favorite format, oddly enough, is the Black Ops 4 competitive season with over 63% of the player's votes. The 2019 year was treated as a test run for franchising, having a 16-team League that competed in multiple LANs, League Matches that led to a playoff, and an old-school styled CoD Champs. It had almost every aspect that players requested while having a full schedule for fans to enjoy.

The second most-voted format was World War 2, which had a World League, at 18% of the votes. This year had multiple Open LANs, season-structured league matches & playoffs, old-school styled CoD Champs, and plenty of online tournaments.

Here are the full results:

Question #3

Which tournament format is the best for Call of Duty?

Each Major in the Call of Duty League mostly follows the same format. It starts with online League matches that seed the LAN Majors, with 8 teams starting in the Upper Bracket and 4 being relegated to the Lower Bracket to start. As we mentioned above, every single player agreed that Pool Play should return to LANs in the future. If that comes to fruition, which format do the players prefer for LANs?

Over 67% of players said that the best tournament format for Call of Duty is a Round Robin pool play leading to a Double Elimination Bracket. The next closest format was GSL pool play leading to a Double Elimination Bracket. This was the format for Major 1 of Modern Warfare 2 and received over 21% of the votes. Here are the full results:

Question #4

Which League match format would you prefer?

League Matches have been a part of the competitive scene for over 10 years, really starting in Ghosts with the MLG Pro League. There have been multiple formats over the years, with many of the current professional players either playing or watching these formats.

To start, we had the MLG League matches in titles like Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, World War II, and more that were their own competitive tournaments. The League matches would take place, either online or on LAN, and lead into a Playoffs that were separate from any other LANs. This format received the highest total of votes, netting over 48% of the votes.

During the Black Ops 4 season, League Matches were only for CDL points and took place on LAN. The CDL points did seed the LANs, but every LAN has its own pool play, which made the League Matches less influential on each individual LAN. The BO4 format received almost 46% of the total votes.

Finally, we reached the CDL era. During the last couple of seasons, the League Matches acted as online pool play for Majors, which has a lot of influence on online matches. This format received just 5.4% of the total vote, the lowest by far.

Question #5

Should pool play return for LANs?

With the current league structure and amount of teams, pool play has been moved from LANs to online play. Currently, the League Matches are treated as qualifiers to the LANs and create the seeding. After the League matches are completed, eight teams make the upper bracket, and four teams are relegated to the Lower Bracket. Overall, every single player agreed that pool play should be played at LAN with the tournaments.

While pool play could be difficult with just twelve teams, there are still ways around that. Whether it is bringing up at least four amateur teams to create pools, playing out three pools of four teams, or a modified Swiss format, there are ways to have pool play on LAN. It would most likely require the League to do more than one stream at once and require teams to play multiple matches a day, but that is what occurred for years in competitive play.

Question #6

How many teams should make Champs (playoffs) in a 12-team league?

With the 12-team League, the cutoff for how many teams make it into the playoffs has always been a lively discussion. During the Modern Warfare season in 2019, all 12 teams made it to Champs due to COVID-19. But since that year, only 8 teams have made it per season based on CDL points.

We asked the players about the number of teams that should make it to Champs, and the results were surprising. Almost 45% of players agreed that only 8 teams should make it to Champs at the end of the season, but almost 40% of players said that all 12 teams should be there. Here are the full results:

Question #7

How many teams should make Champs (playoffs) in a 16-team league?

With the news that the CDL franchising model is changing for the future, it opens the door to having a larger league. Ideally, 16 teams create the best opportunity for future formats and a more balanced League.

If the League does expand, one of the biggest questions is how many teams should make it to Champs at the end of the year. We had seven different answers, some with a unique take. Exactly 50% of players said only 12 teams should make Champs in a 16-team League, while almost 32% agreed that all 16 teams should make Champs.

Other suggestions were that 12 should make it with seeds 1 through 4 getting a first-round bye, all 16 teams make it with 12 in Upper Bracket and 4 in Lower Bracket to start, and one player suggested all 16 teams with Challengers included. Here is the final result:

Question #8

Would you join a Players Association?

While the Players tried to make a Players' Union in the past, it didn't end up materializing in the end. We asked if the current professional players would be open to a Players' Association, which is slightly different compared to a Union.

A Players' Union would require every player to pay dues for lawyers and personnel. It'd deal with much larger issues, in which most players will have different priorities and views, which disrupted the previous attempt to create a Union.

The purpose of the Association would be advocating for changes, whether it's with the ruleset, mapset, League Format, or anything else that impacts the players. It would give an avenue to have a coordinated discussion and voting system for GAs, instead of having those talks in a Twitter group chat. Overall, it'd give the players a unified voice and the ability to push for more assets for the players to use. It's a small step towards Union but doesn't require players to put as much in right away.

Overall, 53% of players said they would join a Players Association. Another 39% of players said that they were interested but maybe, while only 8% said they were not interested.

Question #9

Would you volunteer time in the offseason to help developers?

With a new title released each year, the competitive scene is always forced to adapt on the fly. The earlier the Call of Duty League can start, the better it is for viewership and interest. To do this, the competitive aspects of the new game have to be polished enough for tournaments.

With the offseason now four to five months each year, this gives the developers the perfect opportunity to work with the professional players heading into the new title to begin polishing the ruleset, hardpoint rotations, SND bombsites, the spawn system, weapon tuning, and much more before the game even releases.

When we asked the players if they'd volunteer their time in the offseason to help the incoming developers, 89% of them said that they would volunteer their time to help better the incoming title.

Question #10

Do you have faith in the League to create the best format to grow next season?

Next season will be the 6th CDL season and heading into the first Call of Duty title with a 4-yeah development cycle. It will be one of the most anticipated seasons for the League in many years, so the pressure is on to produce a great format.

Will the League make the necessary changes or stick to the format they've been slightly modifying over the past four years? The players are split on whether the League will create the best format. Exactly 50% of the players voted that they have faith in the CDL to make the best format to grow the League next year, while 45% did not have faith that they will make the changes needed.

Part 2 will be released tomorrow and Part will release on Wednesday