Franchising the Call of Duty World League

The Call of Duty World League is a Call of Duty esports league that began in January 2016. (Photo via Astro Gaming)

The SportsBusiness Journal reported early this morning that Activision Blizzard has confirmed seven owners for its Overwatch League. Locations such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami-Orlando, Boston, Seoul and Shanghai are involved, with Robert Kraft, New England Patriots owner, as the highest-profile owner.

Earlier this week we heard rumblings that Activision Blizzard reportedly has plans to franchise Call of Duty esports, similar to Overwatch, according to Richard Lewis.

“Activision Blizzard have openly communicated to these brands their intention to run a similar league for their Call of Duty series,” Lewis said. “While still in the very early stages of planning the launch date could be as soon as six months after the Overwatch League becomes active.”

Why franchising is good for Call of Duty.

The Call of Duty World League (CWL) currently follows the relegation model, comparable to something like the British Premier League.

The threat of losing a CWL spot has made it difficult for many teams’ to secure long-term sponsorships. Without long-term sponsorships, teams tend to prioritize short-term gains when building rosters. Permanent partnerships will help teams develop long-term talent and sustain financial growth, not to mention the possibility of generational fandom.

Things like the Challenger Series, League of Legends form of Minor League Baseball, would help smaller organizations compete for a spot in the CWL. Franchised teams will be able to develop prospects in a Challenger Series like league, creating an opportunity for teams to let go of veteran players that seem like a safe bet. Many teams seem to hold on to players that aren’t progressing in order to keep their CWL spot, but not necessarily compete for a World Championship.

Teams like OpTic, EnVyUs and FaZe would have the best shot of becoming one of these franchised teams because of their rabid fan bases and longevity in Call of Duty.