Was Moving To 4v4 The Right Move For The Call Of Duty League?

Was Moving To 4v4 The Right Move For The Call Of Duty League?

Written by 

Joey Carr


5th Sep 2020 18:00

The Call of Duty League recently announced that it would be making the move to 4v4 play starting in 2021. The traditional style of play until 2018, this is a decision that has some major pros and cons. While the community was asking for a return to the more preferred 4v4 style, there are major consequences that come with it. In recent days, we've started to see those consequences, as reigning world champion James "Clayster" Eubanks was dropped for the Dallas Empire as a part of roster cuts. As such, the community is split on Activision's decision to move the CDL to a 4v4 format. Was it the right move, or will this come back to haunt the league later down the line?

Call of Duty League moves to 4v4 

When Treyarch first designed Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 to be 5v5, there wasn't a whole lot of complaining. Sure, professionals and viewers alike were sceptical about the new format but were also excited to see how it would play out. However, two years later, many are wishing the developers never implemented the system and just stuck with the traditional 4v4. 

Because Treyarch designed their game for 5v5, Infinity Ward followed suit for Modern Warfare. While it wasn't designed from the ground up with 5v5 in mind, esports still chose to use the 5v5 format. This was a little surprising, as the Call of Duty League was just getting started, and guidelines such as this one are rarely reverted in a franchised league. 

Of course, we all know how this worked out. The community and professional player base hated the 5v5 format all year long, among other things. With Black Ops 4's self-healing, the extra two players on the map were managed a bit easier. However, in Modern Warfare, ten players on the map at most times was utter chaos. No strategies were truly implemented, and the game became more about running around the map hoping for kills instead of planned attacks. 

Activision likely saw its mistake and discussed reverting back to 4v4 during the middle of the 2020 season. The decision had to be relayed to Treyarch as well, as they're designing Black Ops Cold War. However, the decision to move back to 4v4 was too late in many players' minds. Now, a year after the franchised league started, at least 12 starters will need to be dropped from their current roster thanks to the new format. 

CDL 4v4
Click to enlarge

The general consensus is Activision should have made this decision a year ago, or waited for expansion teams to become a reality. In 2021, the league will stay at 12 rosters, and this means current CDL professionals could be without a job very shortly. If there were expansion teams in place though, these players could find a new home and even some amateurs could make the leap to the professional scene. 

However, none of that can happen for at least another year. Still, though, 4v4 is the preferred way to play Call of Duty, and it's clear Activision wants the franchise to get back to its roots. It's clear that the decision to move back to 4v4 was a conscious effort to accomplish this, and sustain the CDL for a longer period of time. 4v4 is infinitely better from a viewing and playing perspective in most people's eyes. 

So while it's tough right now, Activision is playing the long game as compared to the short game. The company is betting that the CDL will increase in viewership if 4v4 is brought back and this could be the correct line of thinking. However, there also needs to be some thought put into the current professional players making up the league. Some players are now being released through no fault of their own after only one year on their respective teams. Activision needed to plan this out more carefully before officially going back to a 4v4 style of play. 

The decision to revert from 5v5 is likely better in the long run for Call of Duty esports as a whole. It's easier to watch, play, and understand in most situations. In that regard, it was the right move by Activision. However, there absolutely needed to be a plan in place for the players who will be dropped ahead of the 2021 season. Sure, there's the CDL Challengers circuit, but that's a far cry from being a starter or substitute on a professional CDL team. Hopefully, the released players can tread water until 2022 when expansion teams are brought into the mix. 


Images via Call of Duty League

Joey Carr was a freelance contributor to GGRecon.

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