The Gentlemen’s Agreement: Once A Pain, Now A Necessity
The Gentlemen’s Agreement (GA) in Call of Duty esports has been present in some form or another for the past four seasons of competition. The unofficial ruleset decided amongst players in place to create the most balanced and competitive iteration of the game, ensuring that no overpowered weapons or mechanics that give players an unfair advantage are being used. Despite the good intentions of the GA, its presence often causes debate within the passionate, and often vocal, community.
For the Black Ops Cold War season, the GA is back in full force, with the likes of the AK-47 and XM4 assault rifles being added to the ever-expanding list due to their overpowered nature. The agreement that some players and fans once viewed as a hindrance to the competitive scene has quickly become a necessary inclusion into the top tiers of competition in a bid to provide some form of balance.
Why is it necessary for unofficial rules that undermine the rules and restrictions put in place by the Call of Duty League?
Lack Of Developer Support
After the complete abandonment of any form of developer support from Infinity Ward during the Modern Warfare season, hopes were high as the Call of Duty franchise returned to a title developed by Treyarch in the form of Black Ops Cold War. Widely regarded as the developer that provides the most amount of support for the competitive scene, optimism for a balanced competitive title was at an all-time high.
Just four months into the Black Ops Cold War cycle, there have been minimal changes to the weapon balancing, causing weapons such as the AK-47, XM4, and several weapon attachments to be added as part of the unofficial restrictions. While players tackle the issue of a heavily imbalanced weapon arsenal, one of the only modifications Treyarch has made to “improve” competitive Black Ops Cold War is moving the fourth Hardpoint hill on Crossroads Strike from the boxes close to the rock, to the crates on the frozen lake. This change has led to players testing out alternatives such as Season Two map Apocalypse as potential replacements for Crossroads Strike because of how bad it is.
With players seemingly in full control of the ruleset, how can Treyarch reaffirm its commitment to supporting Call of Duty esports?
The ongoing pandemic has certainly played its part in altering development practices, but when Treyarch continues to deliver major content drops and updates for the casual player base, it’s the competitive community that is being left in the dark once again.
The implementation of a ‘CDL Pro’ setting across all platforms enabled players to use a set of pre-determined loadouts equipped with exactly the same attachments. While this is a great idea to ensure no rules are being broken, the overpowered nature of the weapons used in competition is the real problem that has yet to be officially addressed with some form of weapon balancing.
The CDL Pro setting is perfect for Treyarch to implement changes to the AK-47, AK-74u, and the XM4 without upsetting the casual fan base. By tweaking the weapon statistics for the weapons in this ruleset, the GA list could easily be reduced, improving the variety of weapons that are viable for competitive play.
Will The GA Disappear?
Considering that Treyarch has done almost nothing to optimise Black Ops Cold War for competitive play, and with the season in full swing, it’s unlikely that any changes that could diversify the metagame will be taking place anytime soon meaning that the GA is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
The days of players bringing out an unorthodox weapon to execute a particular strategy are long gone, as both professional and amateur players begin the search for a balanced Call of Duty title featuring a functioning spawn system, minimal game mechanics to abuse to earn an advantage, and a wide variety of weaponry that is viable in a number of in-game scenarios.
There’s always going to be weapons that stand out from the crowd, thanks to their superior rate of fire or low levels of recoil, and until Treyarch intervenes with some form of balancing for the various weapons that have succumbed to the GA, it’s more than likely that the agreement will never disappear entirely.
Images courtesy of Activision | Call of Duty League