Call of Duty League players are playing what will likely be their last Call of Duty: Vanguard matches this weekend in the Call of Duty League Championship. This is the final competitive event to feature this iteration of the franchise as players dive into Modern Warfare II later this year.
Stars from various teams sat in the press area at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California and looked back on an eventful season with the World War II-themed shooter.
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“I really can’t complain. You have to do what you have to do regardless of whether you like the game,” Seattle Surge player Daunte “Sib” Gray said. “Me personally, it may not be the best game, but I love to compete […] I don’t care what I’m playing. Street Fighter, Mario Bros. I’m there.”
Call of Duty players have been locked in a development cycle for as long as competitive leagues have existed. Every year a new game comes out, which means that most of the strategies and weapons that you used in the previous seasons will be useless once a new game hits the digital shelves on consoles around the world.
The difference between the games can be staggering. Some are set in the distant future where soldiers can run on walls and fly with jetpacks, while others go back in time to relive devastating conflicts in world history, including games based on World War II and warfare. in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The grind of keeping up with this cycle can be exhausting, but many players live for it.
Photo Credit: OpTic Gaming
“I like to play new games every year,” said Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro of OpTic Texas. “Create new strategies as you discover the game each year. That aspect is fun.”
Shotzzy is a mechanical monster with every Call of Duty. He and his teammates like Brandon “Dashy” Otell spend hours on each map looking for the fastest ways to get around each map. They always look for intuitive ways to gain an advantage too. At one point during the Champs tournament, Shotzzy dove from the third floor window of one building to the second floor of another to try and surprise the Toronto Ultra.
Read more: Call of Duty League Champs 2022: Can Atlanta FaZe Repeat?
The trick that few players outside of Shotzzy can pull off didn’t work, but it was a sight to behold.
Vanguard isn’t a favorite for the likes of Shotzzy, Sib, and LA Thieves players Zack “Drazah” Jordan and Dylan “Envoy” Hannon, though all agreed it was fun overall. Even OpTic owner Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez let out a sarcastic “it’s the best” comment from the back of the newsroom when the subject was brought up.
Most gamers believe that the shooter developed by Sledgehammer Games did not include enough maps after it was released with 16 viable competitive maps late last year. Vanguard has also been plagued with issues that could stem from the truncated development timeline that Call of Duty studios must adhere to.
Call of Duty faces the possibility of even more change in the future. Scheduled for release in October 2022, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II could be the game Call of Duty: League players commit to for years. Rumors have been circulating that Activision Blizzard will no longer release an entry in the FPS franchise annually.
Most gamers enjoy the way things work now, but want more content either way.
“Overall, I just hope there’s more content, more things added to the game throughout the cycle,” Envoy said. “None of us know what it’s going to be like because it’s the first time it’s happened. I’m just saying more maps have been added.”
Players like Dashy said it feels bittersweet knowing that it would be the last time they play Vanguard in their careers, though they are excited to see what comes in the future.
“I like this game, but I hope the next game will be even better,” Dashy said, adding that moving away from an annual release makes the quality of the next game more important. “If the next Call of Duty is good then that’s a good thing, but if it’s bad then we have extra years so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
While debates about which Call of Duty title is better spread like wildfire every time a new game is released, professional gamers have little or no say in the development process. However, it doesn’t matter. All they care about is who’s standing on stage with a trophy, and prize money, in hand.
Game mechanics they don’t like and glitches that slow them down are just another part of the adversity they need to escalate.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself going into this season just because I felt, as a player, that I underperformed during the Cold War season,” said Seattle Surge player Makenzie “Mack” Kelley, who won the Major League Call of Duty. III earlier this year. “I definitely felt like my team in the Cold War could have won a championship, but we never put it together. So coming into this team, I wanted to take home a Major and win with a group of guys that I enjoyed being around, and That is what I did.”
Top Photo Credit: Brian Bencomo/Nerd Street