Call of Duty Tournaments and Leagues

Call of Duty has a long history. It’s one of the most iconic game series ever created. Through the years CoD also transformed into a household name in esports. It’s arguably the biggest console-based esport title in the world today. When Call of Duty was first released back in 2003, it was a single-player game. As a multiplayer game, Call of Duty got even more popular, and hardcore gamers soon got together to compete in organized tournaments.

History of competitive Call of Duty

The history of competitive Call of Duty is closely linked to the rise of console esports. As we mentioned, Major League Gaming, in particular, helped shape the early days of Call of Duty. MLGs focus when they started out in 2002 was console-based first-person shooters, notably Halo. As the success of MLG grew so did the popularity of Call of Duty. Come 2004, and the first proper multiplayer version of CoD was released. MLG included CoD in their coverage, and so competitive Call of Duty came into existence. It would take a couple of years goes Call of Duty esports to take its current shape. The game gradually developed into a game that is more suitable for competitive play with high ceilings for the development of skills and strategy.

A small breakthrough for Call of Duty tournaments came with the fourth installment of the game series; Modern Warfare. The level of gameplay had developed to award skilled players. Attributes and map terrain had evolved to allow for team strategies. The game was set in a modern game environment which was more appealing to younger generations. Popularity among gamers was growing, but the real breakthrough for esports had to wait another two years.

In 2009, the timing for Call of Duty esports was perfect. MLG received a $10 million investment. With the investment, MLG changed their competitive format to an ongoing pro circuit which would allow semi-professional CoD players to go full-time pro. It was now we saw the first real esports Call of Duty tournament in history, the MLG National Championship 2009. The top eight CoD teams in North America got together to compete for a prize pool of $15,000 in an offline LAN event.

The 2010 edition of MLG National Championship had a prize pool of $23,000. For the first time, competitive Call of Duty was played on Modern Warfare 2.

For the 2011 edition of the MLG National Championship, the prize pool had exploded to $140,000. Esports as an industry had started to take shape with the likes of Starcraft 2 and League of Legends. Thirty-two teams participated, and for the first time, the hugely successful Black Ops edition was played.

In 2012, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was released. It’s likely the CoD version that had the biggest impact on CoD as an esport. During 2012 many core lineups were created, such as compLexity Esports. One factor that has been mentioned as a pivotal point in CoD esports is the introduction of Killstreaks in competitive play. It rewarded optimal gameplay according to what game mode was played, and successful team communication became even more critical. The following year saw close to thirty larger Call of Duty tournaments with prize pools ranging from $5,000 to $1,000,000.

Call of Duty World Championship

In 2013, the first Call of Duty World Championship was held. Activision, themselves organized the event which was played on North American soil. The first edition of the Cod World Championship was played on Black Ops 2. The prize pool was absolutely massive, with $1,000,000 up for grabs and 32 teams participating. Fariko Impact ended up as World Champions while bagging $400,000. Team EnVy ended up seconded and received $200,000, and Optic Gaming finished in the third position for $120,000.

The second season of the World Championship; Ghosts. Again, 32 teams competed for a $1,000,000 prize pool. Three teams that came to dominate the scene at the time ended up on top; compLexity 1st position, Team EnVy second position and OpTic Gaming in the third position.

The third season; Advanced Warfare. $1,000,000 prize pool where Denial Esports ended up winning. Denial Esports had more or less the same lineup of compLexity in 2014.

Black Ops 3 was played in the fourth season of CoD World Championship. The prize pool got bumped up with another million dollars. Where we saw 32 teams compete for the $2,000,000 prize pool. Team EnVy ended up winning the first prize of $800,000.

In 2017 and 2018 the prize pool decreased to $1,500,000. In 2019, it was bumped up to $2,000,000 again. Moving forward, from 2020 and beyond the Call of Duty World Championship prize pool is going to be a staggering $4,600,000. The World Championship will be part of the official Call of Duty League series.

Official Call of Duty League 2020 and beyond

Activision has given us many reasons to believe that Call of Duty tournaments will be taken to a new level from 2020 and beyond. Activision has had concerns about the well-being of the competitive Call of Duty scene. In an effort to improve it, Activision is streamlining the next competitive season. Tournaments will be held regularly, and one of the goals is to develop Call of Duty esports on all levels of play. This means that more up-and-coming semi-pros will have a chance to improve and prove themselves to the world in a fair system.

The “Path To Pro” system will help stimulate and foster new Call of Duty pros. With more and higher levels of competition in the competitive scene, the standards of CoD esports will improve. Something that likely will generate more viewers, larger prize pools and more CoD betting options for us to bet on.

From the professional CDL circuit, twelve teams will compete:

  • Atlanta FaZe
  • Chicago Huntsmen
  • Dallas Empire
  • Florida Mutineers
  • London Royal Ravens
  • Los Angeles Guerrillas
  • Los Angeles Thieves
  • Minnesota Rokkr
  • New York Subliners
  • Paris Legion
  • Seattle Surge
  • Toronto Ultra (Canada)

Each team will host two home series during the regular season. These home series will have competitive matches running for two days.

The game modes that will be played is Search & Destroy, Domination and Hardpoint.

The total prize pool for Call of Duty League is $6,000,000

Call of Duty Challengers

The Call of Duty Challengers consists of two different series; Scouting Series and Challengers Elite.

Challengers; Scouting Series

Scouting Series makes it possible for unsigned talent to compete alongside unsigned CoD professionals. Coaches will be allotted a team, receive scouting reports and then draft players for their team. The player pool consists of 128 players, 64 from North America and 64 from Europe. Forty-eight players from each region are then drafted into different teams and compete for four days in an online tournament.

Challengers; Elite

In the Challengers Elite program, the best unsigned talent and professionals will compete in a new tier of Call of Duty tournament with a dedicated prize pool. The Challengers Elite series runs for multiple weeks with a round-robin knockout system. Many of these matches will be broadcasted on the official Call of Duty YouTube channel. This will help the up-and-coming talent to showcase their skills.

In addition to the series, there’s also the Challengers Cup. These are standalone Call of Duty tournaments.

The players that don’t make it for one season can try to compete again the next season.

WorldGaming Network Championship

The WGN Championship series is a Canadian Call of Duty tournament organized by WorldGaming. Some of the best teams in the North American region compete for the prize pool of CAN$ 50,000.

Call of Duty Mobile World Championship

2020 will see the first edition of the Call of Duty Mobile World Championship (CODM). The best teams for different regions from around the world compete in regional qualifiers to secure a spot in the CODM.

Eight teams compete in each region; North America, Latin America, EU West, EU East/Asia, Garena, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. The prize pools in different regions regular season play range between $8,000 (Vietnam) to $50,000 (EU West, EU East, NA, LATAM). Besides the first prize, the top team in each region qualify for the CODM.

The main event is played offline during a LAN event. The prize pool is for the Call of Duty Mobile World Championship is $750,000.

Call of Duty tournaments FAQ


It looks like we are headed into the golden era of Call of Duty tournaments. Activision is creating a well-balanced esports ecosystem for CoD. The professional circuit is streamlined and gets a better structure, concurrently they boost the Call of Duty prize pools massively. Simultaneously they are making a state-of-the-art farming system for up-and-coming talent to compete and show off their skills, and potentially compete at the highest level in the near-term future. One thing’s for certain; we are sure to see more betting markets for Call of Duty in the years to come.