How would the rumoured delay of Call of Duty: WWII Vanguard affect the start of the 2022 Call of Duty League season?
Despite its relatively short history, the Call of Duty League (CDL) has faced its fair share of adversity since it began in January 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic saw the geo-located franchise league, and the rest of the esports industry, switch from in-person live events to online competition after a hefty delay during the 2020 season. To add fuel to the already troublesome fire, there were a number of controversial decisions where both fans and players called the integrity of the league into question.
Just as it looks like the CDL has managed to conquer the hurdles that stood in its way and with a return to offline competition on the horizon towards the latter stages of the 2021 season, the 2022 season could be thrown into limbo due to reports of COD: WWII Vanguard potentially facing a delay. If a delay does come to fruition, it would be the first time in the franchise's history that an annual release has been pushed back.
With the 2022 season expected to begin in January, a delay in the release of one of Activision’s biggest earners could put a premature halt to the season before it has had the chance to get underway. If the scenario of a delay does come around, how would the postponed release of Vanguard impact the Call of Duty League?
More Black Ops Cold War
Although there are a number of flaws thanks to an unbalanced weapon arsenal and a lack of original maps that are nowhere near viable for competitive play, a delay to Vanguard could mean another season of competitive action using Black Ops Cold War as the competitive title. Treyarch has been a long-time supporter of COD esports, having pioneered the franchise’s first attempt at a ranked playlist along with map design that was so good, they are still being used nearly a decade on from the release of Black Ops 2.
By no means would another season of Black Ops Cold War be a bad thing. Thanks to the regular updates implementing new weapons into the arsenal alongside reworks of classic competitive maps and new designs that may squeeze into the map pool would certainly keep things fresh if a delay to Vanguard was to occur.
If there is a delay, Treyarch will have to keep creating new content for the game as there won’t be any other title to play on a competitive level. With fresh content continuing to arrive and the game being one of the most competitive titles there has been in the history of the esport, could the 2022 CDL season really be another one of Black Ops Cold War? If Vanguard is delayed, this could well be the case.
The Rumoured Remaster
Alongside reports of Vanguard potentially facing a delay, missing the coveted Q4 release slot, there have also been rumours of another remastered title being used instead of Vanguard. Ever since the release of the remastered campaign for Modern Warfare 2, players have been anticipating the launch of a fully remastered multiplayer for a real hit of nostalgia. If these reports do come to fruition, their wishes could well be coming true.
The release of Modern Warfare 2’s remastered multiplayer has often been described as Activision’s “ace in the hole”, meaning the publisher can fall back on it if a new release struggles to gain popularity amongst the fan base or in the event of a delay. If a remastered Modern Warfare 2 does release later in 2021, it leaves Activision in a fascinating predicament. Does the publisher, alongside league operations, switch Call of Duty esports over to a game that is over a decade old with a new coat of paint or does it stick to Black Ops Cold War that will continue to receive new content beyond its intended game cycle?
The thought of jumping straight back into a Team Deathmatch on Favela with a silenced UMP-45 sounds incredibly tempting, but when we take the rose-tinted glasses off, we realise that the last thing we want is a remaster of one of the best Call of Duty titles to release. Infinity Ward already managed to ruin the remastered version of the first Modern Warfare title, and if a developer went and did the same, the community would be in uproar.
From a competitive perspective, the top tier of COD esports has often been used as a marketing tool for Activision to promote its latest offering and with no new game available to it, where does it go?
If Modern Warfare 2 Remastered is nowhere near the quality of Black Ops Cold War, then surely the right move is sticking with Treyarch’s offering, but if the demand for competitive Modern Warfare 2 is there, then would it make sense for Activision to take a stroll down memory lane?
The Actual Impact
Leaks and rumours should always be taken with a pinch of salt until any official information is revealed, and considering Call of Duty fans won’t be getting any intel on the 2021 instalment, whether it’s Vanguard or something else until August at the earliest, it is tricky to determine what the actual impact of a delay will have on one of the largest esports titles in the space.
In reality, a delay will have some kind of impact initially as Activision decides what to do with the CDL and the Challengers scene, but once that has been sorted, the action will more than likely continue on Black Ops Cold War, complete with new maps and weapons to provide a breath of fresh air that will likely be needed.
Images via Treyarch | Sledgehammer Games | Activision