We were able to speak with Daniel Tsay, General Manager of CDL, and Chris Overholt, CEO of OverActive Media. This is what they had to say.
At the most recent Call of Duty League Toronto Ultra Major 3, we had the opportunity to speak with Daniel Tsay, General Manager of the Call of Duty League, and Chris Overholt, CEO and President of OverActive Media. In the short time we had with the two of them, we discussed Major, CDL growth, Call of Duty League Challengers, and much more.
From the first draft to the opening of doors
Chris – “From the early days of OverActive Media, we made it clear to all our investors and partners that we were going to be in the live events business. And a big part of that was obviously based on our great relationship with Activision Blizzard and the team there. The business model was built around the idea of being able to bring fans together for many event experiences around Overwatch and Call of Duty. And we accepted that from the beginning, so we’ve been waiting for this moment for four years.
It’s been amazing to see him come together in the last few days. We have a lot of experience within our group, as you may know, I ran the Olympic committee here in Canada for almost nine years. I think there are seven of us on staff right now who are former members of the Olympic Committee, and planning for the Olympics is a four to five year process.
We set a high standard for ourselves. When we took on the project, I told the team that we should think of this as our NBA All-Star week or our NFL Super Bowl. And we understood that this was an eye-opening moment for OverActive Media in terms of the promises and commitments we’ve made to our marketing partners and investors. We’ve been telling you guys for years that this is going to be fantastic, and we were right, it’s amazing.
We are very excited, very happy and excited for our future and the future of our fans in the city.”
The importance of amateur Call of Duty
Chris – “I think it’s very important. I’m sure Danny would agree that the development of any league globally must have a path to professionalism. I think if you’re committed to the big leagues, if you’re committed to the idea that you know you’re going to run a professional organization. And he supports his league partners and his franchise partners, so I think he has a responsibility to also think broadly about the community and how it nurtures and develops the player base. It is early and too early to say whether we have a strategy that works or not. But just the notion of developing a path to professionals and developing rising players I think will serve us well as we watch it.”
Daniel – “I think our challengers are clearly empowering the talent that rises to the professional level. You know, when you talk about going into our 2022 season, we had seven rookies that participated and they came from Challengers. Clearly, the amount of talent that’s coming into the picture, both at the beginning of this season and later in the season, you see all these players selected from the elite. It really is this great Path to Pro that we trust and Toronto, they have two teams and they are doing a great job, so I think it will pay dividends for them.”
Chris – “When the League started three years ago, there were established superstars in Call of Duty and most of them still play today. But seeing Skyz play yesterday, seeing Standy kick our butt last year the way he did. I’m a fan of that aggressive game and the kind of youthful energy that we’re seeing in the League today. What we’re starting to see as a result is that there’s a bit of any given Sunday at the moment. It’s not quite there yet but you’re starting to see teams that otherwise wouldn’t really dominate like FaZe that we saw dominate the last few years or OpTic a little up and down but overall good players. Now you start to see teams that show up on Sundays and wow, and that’s great for any league, that’s great for any fan base. So the more we can do together to nurture a Path to Pro and nurture that idea that a rookie can come out of nowhere and have an impact like Insight had in that first game, that’s amazing. It’s great for leagues, great for all teams. It’s definitely great for the fans.”
More opportunities for the integration of Challengers?
Daniel – “I think we took a very good step this year. For the first time in the last three years, we’ve had that direct opportunity for AMs to play alongside the pros. And we had a lot of great learnings from her. We had a great feedback session with our teams and how we can improve if we choose to do it next year. I think one of the biggest things I would say as part of our challenger scene as a whole, but particularly for the show, we want to highlight the AMs more. Give them more air time and even when it comes to something like the main broadcast, give them more opportunities there. So I think overall, absolutely. We have adjustments in mind, but it’s really how we can bring out the biggest talent.”
Possible open events?
Daniel – “I know that it was certainly a model that has been used in the past. Certainly, I would say that it is under evaluation. I can’t really say we’re going one way or the other. But obviously, that has been done in the past.”
Call of Duty league expansion?
Daniel – “We are very proud of what the London Royal Ravens have been doing. Obviously the Toronto Ultra also has a lot of players from the EU. So I think we have a strong presence there. In fact, I’m really excited to be in Vegas. It is this amazing city. That is one of the fastest growing sports markets. So, so that we have a footprint there. I’m super excited about that.”
“I would say that we are always capturing the interest of teams that may want to join. It is important to get the correct fit. But I have nothing concrete to share. We’re really focused on the 12 teams in our league and the teams that will be competing this weekend for sure.”