In 2015, Call of Duty esports was forever changed with the beginning of the Call of Duty World League. During what would be known as the 2016 CWL season, the esports’ top competitors competed in region-based leagues for the opportunity to compete at the first ever CWL Championship.
The 2017 season expanded upon this concept, introducing the offline Pro League so the best Call of Duty players from around the world could compete in consistent high-level matches. It also marked the full return of open events, which gave amateur players a shot at playing against the greatest esports players in the game.
Last year, the 2018 season saw the beginning of new traditions, such as the hanging of team banners to recognize the history, accomplishment, and prestige of winning a CWL event.
Now, a new era begins for the CWL.
Esports Format Changes
Call of Duty World League will transition to a five-versus-five format.
CWL prize pool increases to $6 million, the largest in Call of Duty esports history.
Region restrictions have been removed from all LAN events, allowing players from around the world to come together to compete at CWL events.
The full ruleset for the upcoming season, including weapons and equipment, will be revealed prior to the start of online competition.
The First Event: CWL Las Vegas
The first major event of the 2019 CWL season will be CWL Las Vegas, which will take place from December 7-9. Much like last year’s city-based events, CWL Las Vegas will be a multi-stage competition featuring an Open Bracket, Pool Play, and a Championship Bracket.
Any team who purchases a team pass will be able to compete in the Open Bracket. As for Pool Play teams, initial qualification will be based on the following:
The first 12 Pool Play spots will be grandfathered in based on the top-12 teams from CWL Pro League Stage 2:
- Roster restrictions apply: Stage 2 teams must retain three of four players from their roster to qualify
- Any top-12 team that does not retain the majority of its roster will be replaced by teams with the highest amount of combined CWL Pro Points from the 2018 season.
The final four Pool Play teams will be determined via a relegation style play-in, broadcast-only tournament in Las Vegas on December 6:
- The top-eight teams with the highest amount of combined CWL Pro Points from the 2018 season will qualify into this tournament
- The top-four teams in this tournament will join the 12 teams in Pool Play, while the four losing teams will be seeded in the Open Bracket
- Pool Play and Open Bracket seeded by CWL Pro Points from the 2018 season
Those familiar with last year’s tournaments know the rest. The top-four teams out of Open Bracket join the 16 Pool Play teams. Pool Play teams compete for seeding in the Championship Bracket, and the four Open Losers Bracket survivors will be placed in the Championship Bracket Losers Round 1.
CWL Pro League Returns in February 2019
The CWL Pro League is back with bigger teams, inter-divisional play, and no region restrictions.
Qualification will also be different. Not only will the CWL Las Vegas event offer a prize pool, every team will set their sights on a top 32 finish to have their chance to qualify for the CWL Pro League. The top four teams from CWL Las Vegas will automatically qualify for the CWL Pro League. Teams placing 5th - 32nd will fight for the remaining 12 CWL Pro League spots, at a qualification event that will take place in January at the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The 16 Pro League teams will be split up into two divisions, but there will no longer be a relegation period nor two separate stages. This year, there will only be one stage with 12-weeks of play, including inter-divisional play. Furthermore, teams will be rewarded a prize bonus, in addition to base prizing for being in the CWL Pro League, for each match win throughout the season, meaning that every series, every game, and every play will have even more on the line than just a place in the CWL Pro League Playoffs.
There will be roster change periods throughout the season.
All CWL Pro League matches will be broadcast on Monday through Thursday live from the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
A more detailed calendar of events including match days and roster transfer windows will be available closer to the start of the CWL Pro League season.
Path to Pro: Amateur Circuit and the Pro League Substitute Rule
This year, the CWL is focused on growing the amateur scene, one that has shown an unfathomable amount of drive and passion since the dawn of Call of Duty esports.
To accomplish this, we’re introducing a dedicated circuit for amateur players.
Beginning with the second “Open” LAN event of the year and continuing through each “Open” LAN event thereafter, amateur teams will compete in a double-elimination open bracket tournament for their own prize pool. Amateur circuit tournaments will be held at the same time and venue as the CWL Pro League Cup, and its final will take place on the main stage of that event.
Similar to Pro League teams, we’ve eliminated region restriction rules for amateur teams at LAN events. All LAN event rosters now have flexibility to select their best possible squad, regardless of region.
This dedicated amateur circuit is not only a great way for up-and-coming players and organizations to get support throughout the season, but also for Pro League organizations to see and scout the biggest rising stars in the esport today. And that’s pretty important, because Pro League rosters will now require a sixth player as a substitute from outside of the CWL Pro League.
Each of the 16 CWL Pro League teams must designate one player as a substitute.
Path to Pro: CWL National Qualifiers
In 2018, the CWL introduced National Circuits in order to help the best non-Pro League competitors around the world attend major LAN events.
This year, we’re revamping the National Circuit into the CWL National Qualifiers.
In each CWL National Qualifier, 16 teams will compete in an online tournament to win travel and accommodation to compete at a future CWL LAN event.
CWL National Qualifiers will take place in the original National Circuit locations: Australia and New Zealand, Canada, France and Belgium, Italy, Germany and Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, United Kingdom and Ireland, United States. Each Qualifier will be country and region-locked, requiring players being from respective countries and regions to compete.
Path to Pro: Online
Online competition returns this year as a way for players to begin their CWL career or earn those all-important CWL Pro Points.
CWL Ladders and Weekly CWL Pro Points tournaments will begin after the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and will help determine seeding for CWL LAN events. The emphasis for the CWL Pro League, however, is based on LAN results.
More details will be released in the future for online competition.
The CWL Finals and the Call of Duty World League Championship
Introducing the CWL Finals. We’re elevating the CWL Pro League Playoffs to its own dedicated event, featuring the best teams in the world competing for a prize pool and trophy. At the same event, top amateur circuit teams will compete in their own playoff event which also serves as the Last Chance Qualifier for the end-of-year Call of Duty World League Championship.
The CWL Championship will feature the sixteen Pro League teams and the top sixteen teams from amateur circuit.
More details about the year, including exact prizing, dates, and locations for events, are coming soon. But for now, we are excited to welcome new and returning CWL fans to the start of a new era for Call of Duty esports.
We wish the best of luck to all of our competitors as they prepare for another action-packed season, and we hope to see you create your own legacy during the 2019 Call of Duty World League season.
All rules subject to change.