In person Call of Duty sports come back after over a year of virtual events, although this is not quite a return to the pre-pandemic state of affairs. Organizers have revealed that Call of Duty League will host a head-to-head competition between June 17 and June 20, when the Major IV tournament kicks off in Arlington, Texas. Don’t expect a crowd of fans, however. Only teams and “limited League staff” will be present, and they will follow rigid protocols to keep everyone safe.
Fans will have to watch at home on YouTube. A Major III virtual tournament will begin on May 13.
This isn’t the first big game franchise to announce a return to physical competition. ValuingMasters VCT Stage 2 takes place in Reykjavik starting May 24, and the Overwatch League is relating live events in China starting June 4. Call of Duty League appears to be the first major esports team to reignite real-world competition in the United States.
There is bound to be a certain risk. While many Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, this is not true for all – and international visitors are another matter. It’s no surprise, however, that esports leagues are keen to resuscitate competition in person. Personal connections and lag reduction can help teams coordinate, and physical tournaments are partly appealing for watching the emotional roller coaster ride on players’ faces. Call of Duty League operators are clearly willing to take a chance on this return to normal and the potential increase in audience that goes with it.
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