‘A landmark event in UK Call of Duty history’ – what it was like attending London Royal Ravens’ first CoD League home matches

Joe Griffin attended London Royal Ravens‘ first CoD League home matches at the Copperbox Arena last weekend – here’s what he thought about the experience

From admirable achievements to spiteful scandals, Call of Duty esports in the UK has most certainly had its ups and downs.

The inaugural Call of Duty League home series event in London brought with it a strong wave of optimism in what was a weekend full of beer, football-like chants and most importantly, some cracking Call of Duty.

Chicago Huntsmen beat Dallas Empire 3-0 to win the London Home Series overall, but honestly, the real winner was the UK competitive scene.

London crowds are unmatched

The London Royal Ravens represent the whole of the UK in the Call of Duty League. Unsurprisingly, the home fans came out in full force on a weekend reminiscent of CWL London 2019.

Imagine standing in the away end of a London derby at the Emirates Stadium. This is how the opposition must have felt on the mainstage of an electric Copper Box Arena, as fans hurled chants at the players left, right and centre.

Beer and hotdogs were consumed in great quantities as fans enjoyed some of the best Call of Duty the scene has to offer.

With thunderous roars and spontaneous chants being made all weekend long, it’s no shock that UK-based events are widely considered to be the best, with great fans and atmosphere.

Moving in the right direction

Call of Duty lovers, including myself, were a tad sceptical when the new franchised Call of Duty League was announced last year.

In terms of what the future holds for Call of Duty esports in this franchised League model, CDL London showed encouraging signs.

Despite a surprising move from Twitch to YouTube, viewership numbers remained at a fairly consistent level with higher average views than the Pro League Playoffs in 2019.

Peak viewers reached 111,129, while the number of average viewers was 43,688, according to Esports Charts.

Production levels have undoubtedly improved in recent years and give a slick and professional feel to the league. From Hype Battles to the new player walkouts, Activision seems to have upped its game massively in 2020. And credit to the organisers and teams at Rektglobal and the Ravens for putting on a great event in London.

Team rivalries and drama are engraved in the culture of competitive Call of Duty. Despite the huge changes made this year, these key ingredients still remain in the competitive sphere and were prominent across the weekend.

Whether it’s the battle for Europe between London and Paris or the personal feuds between Scump, Formal and Crimsix, the drama has not died out. If anything it’s been intensified.

UK amateur teams impress

After beating Toronto Ultra 3-1 and pulling off an impressive reverse sweep against the New York Subliners, the London Royal Ravens fell short in the semi-finals of the pro Home Series to Dallas Empire.

However, it was not all doom and gloom for UK Call of Duty.

The Challengers tournament took place alongside the main event with 33 amateur teams competing in the passion pit.

All-British squad Team Singularity emerged as victors, making it back-to-back wins following the launch weekend. The lads failed to drop a map all tournament. It begged the question: how would they fare against professional teams?

The London Royal Ravens Academy also placed a respectable 3rd, with another British side, Team WaR, placing 4th.

Activision most definitely made a mistake by not streaming the Challengers matches. Even the grand final wasn’t shown. The teams also played in the main arena, with tunes pumping out and rowdy fans playing with beach balls.

Despite a little more care and attention needed for the Challengers event, it did at least see some outstanding Call of Duty and drew in waves of spectators around the venue.

Overall, CDL London was a landmark event in CoD history. It was an all-round encouraging weekend that highlighted the true potential of competitive Call of Duty. With a few tweaks here and there, the future of CoD could look very bright indeed.

Esports News UK’s ticket to the event was kindly provided by Zippo

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