Call Of Duty esports desperately needs the return of search & destroy snipers.
Whether you’re enjoying this year’s title or not, the absence of snipers severely hampers the entertainment value of the Search and Destroy game mode. Three months into the second Call of Duty League season and viewers have yet to catch a glimpse of a single sniper. Given that some of the most iconic moments in Call of Duty esports history occurred with a sniper in hand, their absence is disappointing.
The gentlemen’s agreement
Interestingly enough, snipers have been “outlawed” by Call of Duty pros instead of the devs. The competitive ruleset includes the use of snipers. For those new to the CDL, there are instances where the pro player community will agree on implementing bans related to anything they deem unbalanced. These bans are called Gentlemen’s Agreements or GAs. The goal of a Gentlemen’s Agreement is for players to have an active voice in balancing the metagame. Thus, it didn’t take long for snipers to receive the GA treatment.
The mutual agreement to prevent the use of snipers in Search and Destroy wasn’t as straightforward as some may think. The main issue was their lack of a counter. Traditionally, players would equip smoke grenades to limit a sniper’s field of view. Despite how powerful snipers can be, a smoke grenade effectively blocks a specific line of sight thus restoring the balance — if they work as intended, that is.
It didn’t take long for players to realize that the smoke grenades in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War were unusual: the smoke interacts differently with players depending on camera angles. In essence, one player could think that the smoke is masking his presence while the other could see straight through the fog and earn a free kill. Ultimately, the smoke grenade GA left the pros no choice but to consequently ban snipers. Snipers without a counter would be counterintuitive to the balance that pro players aim to maintain.
Even if you believe that Search and Destroy has been entertaining this year, there’s no doubt that snipers would add to that entertainment. For years, fans have been blown away by some of the sniping ability on display. Not seeing the likes of Brandon “Dashy” Otell and Chris “Simp” Lehr with a sniper in hand has been a massive blow to the CDL’s wow factor.
The inclusion of snipers can directly impact viewership. Given the CDL has seen an increase in viewers this season, they would do well to capitalize on this momentum. Oftentimes incredible Search and Destroy sniping clips are the most shared on social media. They could be utilized to generate buzz, attract attention to the Call of Duty scene and generate more interest from potential fans.
What to expect
Former pros have been quick to point to the missed opportunity.
Although TeePee does not fault the reasoning behind the GA, he says what most fans are thinking at the moment.
Activision has since released an update that supposedly addressed the smoke grenade issue. The update degraded vision when inside a smoke grenade cloud. Even though this update was integrated over a month ago, snipers and smokes remain unused in competitive play.
Whether players are hoping for further adjustments to the smoke mechanic or whether they don’t intend to use snipers for the remainder of the season remains to be seen. CDL fans will be hoping to see the Pelington and the Tundra in action as soon as possible.