After a year and a half of competing online, the CDL is moving back to LAN. The long-awaited return is set to occur on June 17th to coincide with Major IV.
Connectivity and competition
From a player’s perspective, the news could not have come at a better time. The frustration surrounding the league’s current state was slowly reaching a boiling point. Although the 2019/2020 CDL season was hampered by online play on a greater scale, this season has had its fair share of unfortunate online-specific mishaps.
Players have dropped out of games due to connectivity issues on multiple occasions, often leading to absurd delays as League Ops looks into the server issue. Not only is this frustrating for the viewer who will sit there for at least an hour before the match resumes (and watching the casters attempt to entertain the viewers with improvised content is a painful experience), it is without a doubt infuriating for the players as well who must replay the map in its entirety, if only because long delays can ruin a team’s momentum.
Aside from players lagging out of matches, several individuals have voiced their opinion about the impact online play has had on actual gameplay. Seattle Surge’s Sam “Octane” Larew has frequently noted that lag and input delay make the game unplayable at times. His team is currently last in the league: it will be interesting to note if their form improves following the return to local competition.
In addition to Octane, Los Angeles Thieves superstar Kenneth “Kenny” Williams has also spoken extensively about how online play is ruining the competitive state of Call of Duty. Kenny aired his thoughts after receiving backlash from fans who claim he is using connectivity issues as a scapegoat for his team’s poor performances.
CDL viewership has also been a long-standing issue, one that has not improved with online play. Outside of OpTic Chicago matches, viewership has declined throughout the CDL’s second season. You may have seen headlines regarding two of this year’s most-watched matches involving OpTic, which earned viewership numbers of 131 and 136 thousand respectively. Keep in mind that these are the best numbers the CDL can muster. When compared to other esports, these don’t seem all that impressive. Take Valorant for example: despite being a relatively new title, its first international LAN tournament earned over one million concurrent viewers.
These numbers are made more concerning when you take a look at the viewership of matches in which OpTic Chicago are not involved. Take last week’s match between New York Subliners and Dallas Empire as an example, which averaged 33 thousand viewers. The fact that they are two of the top three teams in the league makes matters worse. Although there are no valid excuses to explain these abysmal numbers, several members of the Call of Duty community have pointed to online play as the culprit.
For several reasons, online Call of Duty doesn’t bring the same level of excitement. CoD esports is synonymous with moments of high intensity between competitors. Even though the Stage IV major likely won’t allow fans in the building, having professional players across the stage from each other will increase entertainment. Stakeholders will no doubt hope for an increase in views along the way.