CoD Esports GM talks potential CDL, Warzone, and OWL crossover events
On the back of the World Series of Warzone now putting the battle royale in contention for a more competitive nature and future, Activision could be considering bringing together their titles into a festival of esports, having a Dreamhack-like event to show off everything that they have to offer.
The WSOW proved to be quite a resounding success this year as it began to be taken seriously, notching up an impressive viewership total, which will likely encourage Activision to continue building on this esports scene.
So with four branches of Activision's titles (Call of Duty multiplayer, CoD: Mobile, Warzone, and Overwatch) now all proving to have value, Call of Duty Esports General Manager Daniel Tsay has said that there is "potential" to bring together all four leagues at one event.
- You can read our full interview with Daniel Tsay on Warzone esports' future, European CoD, and a possible Activision 'Dreamhack' here
Call of Duty Esports General Manager claims there's 'potential' in an Activision-bowl
Speaking exclusively to GGRecon, Daniel Tsay said that there is "a lot of potential" for having an Activision-centric festival of esports and that an early instance of bringing together Call of Duty's separate entities had been his favourite event to date.
"We did an event right at the beginning of CDL last year, where we started to combine different Activision properties," Tsay told GGRecon in an interview during the World Series of Warzone.
"We had C.O.D.E Bowl playing Warzone, we had the Call of Duty Mobile World Championships, and we had the CDL Major 1. We were even debuting Warzone Mobile for the first time. That was awesome.
"That was probably my favourite event, with that festival-like atmosphere. So, I think there's a lot of potential there."
The prospect of combining these again, and possibly including the Overwatch League is also on the mind of Activision according to Tsay.
"There's a lot of synergies as well. Just thinking about putting on that event, with shared production teams and costs, I think that there's a lot of potential there," he continued.
"I can't speak to any concrete future plans, but all I know is we've obviously done it before and really enjoyed that."
Whether this comes in the form of having a one-off event or bringing all of the possible branches of their esports leagues into a more requisite format to host all leagues together at the same time, is yet to be seen, but it does seem apparent that Tsay and his colleagues have thought about more collaboration in the future.
Activision appears eager to streamline esports entities in the future
This all comes in the wake of Activision reportedly toying with many ideas about the future of their esports divisions.
Recent reports from Dexerto claimed that the company was hoping to liaise with their respective competitive teams and organisations to streamline the brands between both Call of Duty and Overwatch, given that we have some organisations competing in both games, such as Luminosity hosting Seattle Surge in the CDL and Vancouver Titans in the OWL.
OverActive Media (parents of Toronto Ultra and Defiant) Interim CEO Adam Adamou also claimed that there was discussions of moving away from the city-based franchising structure to bring the brand names such as MAD Lions, Version 1 (Minnesota ROKKR), and Cloud9 (London Spitfire), as he told The Rotation about said talks.
Adamou did confess that he thought the city-based structure was integral to creating LANs though, which given Activision's reliance on the likes of OAM to host the Toronto Ultra Majors and the OWL Grand Finals off their own backs, would indicate that this sentiment would be echoed by the publishers.
Unifying brands would be an impressive feat that would also build into that Activision festival of esports, as teams would then be better placed to make the most of merchandise sales and sponsorship influence by hosting booths throughout a venue.
Interestingly though, Tsay also told GGRecon that he wasn't concerned about making teams and brands pick up players for Warzone in an Apex-like fashion, and rather claimed that we should focus on the individuals for the battle royale and continue having captain-based teams such as "Team Biffle" and "Team Aydan".
"I think World Series of Warzone has been really built upon individual streamers and players. It hasn't been teams like Subliners versus FaZe. It's really built on these team captains and the two players that they recruit," Tsay said.
"I wouldn't say that we expect more out of these teams. We're thankful that they're playing, but maybe we should focus on the individuals."
With an apparent conscious effort to begin streamlining the collection of Call of Duty and Overwatch teams, it wouldn't be unfeasible to see Activision begin to look towards more event unification too, and spur more of Tsay's favourite Activision esports festivals.
Author's view: A logistical web that could reap its rewards
What's worth bearing in mind here are the logistics. While it would be quite a fan spectacle and a joyous occasion for brands to have such a big festival in a Dreamhack-like manner, the job could be too big, now Warzone is in the mix too.
Activision's staff layoffs have resulted in the publishers often relying on production companies such as Esports Engine (WSOW) ESL (CoD Mobile), and even competing organisations (OWL and CDL) to produce in-person LANs.
Esports Engine is now owned by ESL, who also merged with DreamHack and all operate under separate entities of the Savvy Gaming Group as of early 2023, which could then be indicative of how such as festival could come to fruition for Activision, with their relationship appearing strong between themselves and the production partners.
Then there's the issue of scheduling, bringing together the OWL teams, CDL rosters, 150 Warzone players, and the CoD Mobile group, all of whom play at different times throughout the year. Unless Activision decides to streamline all four league formats in a massive overhaul to suit this kind of event, it's likely this opportunity could be a one-off festival.
One of the more feasible options could be something in December (not necessarily this year, but maybe future seasons), where there have already been reports from Dexerto of a CDL Major being held at a DreamHack in this timeline.
It would then also coincide again with the CoD Mobile World Championships, where it would then be a case of re-jigging the Overwatch League - or another Overwatch esports structure - by pushing back its usual October/November World Championships to December. The same would also have to be considered for Warzone, although with new maps launching every November, more issues could arise there.
It's also worth considering the future of both the Overwatch and Call of Duty League. The former is facing a vote for dissolution after teams were given the option to have buy-in fees waivered, and the fate of the league hangs on a knifepoint.
The latter also faces a troubled future, despite an increase in viewership this year. While it's not yet at the stage of the OWL, there are a lot of crossovers between the two leagues and should the Overwatch League dissolve, it could be the domino that knocks over the CDL too.
The CDL also has a possible YouTube viewership deal on the cards though, which could solidify the state of the league for at least the next handful of seasons.
Whether any arm of the Savvy group, or even all three combined, could sort out a LAN of this magnitude and coincide that with Activision's own esports schedules, might be a stretch too far though.
One further point of call to consider would be the Activision x Microsoft merger, which could throw Halo into this mix too.
If Activision and a production partner could pull this off though, elevating the World Series of Warzone, combining the CDL and OWL event pinnacles and household brands, and slipping in the promotion of CoD: Mobile all under one roof, it could axe down on costs, and propel all of the titles competently. A logistical web to meander, yes, but the rewards would be sweet.