Biggest takeaways from 2022 Call of Duty League Kickoff Classic

Toronto Ultra carry on where they left off, despite bad practice.

Photo via Call of Duty League

Over two months after Vanguard’s launch date, the first official Call of Duty League tournament of the year was finally played over the weekend.

Overall viewership was down for the 2022 preseason Kickoff Classic, but the storylines and entertainment were at a high. We saw two rookies take out FaZe, the L.A. Thieves sent OpTic packing, snipers returned for the first time since Modern Warfare, and Toronto took home $30,000 in cash.

Here are some of the major takeaways from the 2022 CDL Kickoff Classic.

Kickoff Classic viewership down 24.4 percent

The average number of viewers was down 24.4 percent compared to last year’s Kickoff Classic, which held an average of 59,451 viewers throughout the entire tournament, according to Esports Charts. This weekend’s event had an average of 47,757 viewers.

Peak viewership was also down 34 percent, from 107,186 in 2021 to 79,753 this weekend.

There’s a wide range of reasons as to why viewership was likely down from Cold War’s preseason tournament. Vanguard is heavily hated within the competitive community, matches finished at 4am in Europe, and some fans have even lost interest in watching due to the way the league has been running the last three seasons, as well as the lack of developer support from Sledgehammer.

Despite these reasons, a bulk of the fans still turned up. And surprisingly enough, the matches over the weekend were all highly entertaining and well worth the watch.

Pred and Sib are the real deal

There was a lot of hype surrounding Pred and Sib heading into this season. This weekend, Seattle’s rookies not only lived up to the hype but exceeded all expectations and won over a ton of new fans.

In Hardpoint, out of players who played more than three maps, Pred ranked first in kills per 10 minutes, averaging 28 over seven maps, while Sib came in at fifth averaging 26.5, according to Breaking Point. Sib also finished first for damage per 10 minutes in Hardpoint, with Pred coming in second.

The pair started the weekend as the two best rookies heading into the tournament and they finished the weekend looking like two of the best players in Vanguard. They’ll look to keep this momentum going into the season.

Protect snipers at all costs

Some of the best highlights and crowd-roaring moments from this weekend came off the end of a sniper shot.

From Clayster’s sniper one-vs-two on Tuscan to Cammy’s no scope and quick scope in the finals, these moments are needed in competitive Call of Duty. And if sniper rifles are taken from us again, we’re in for another boring year of Search and Destroy.

Smoke grenades need to be looked at

Smoke grenades desperately need a fix or a rework from Sledgehammer as soon as possible. Players can use a “one-way” visual glitch that causes one player to see through the smoke when the other person can’t see a thing.

If this isn’t fixed and players continue to abuse it, I suspect smokes will eventually be taken out of the game, which could also lead to a full sniper rifle ban.

During Los Angeles Thieves’ match against Toronto Ultra, Drazah used this exact bug to secure a round in map five. But the Thieves went on to lose the map and the series.

Toronto Ultra’s teamwork is still second-to-none

Toronto Ultra’s players went home to Europe over the holiday season and didn’t return until three weeks ago.

Head coach MarkyB said the team had been practicing against European Challengers teams while at home and he later revealed they were losing most maps. And when they arrived in North America, they didn’t win a scrim until last week.

Regardless of the lack of practice, the team’s raw talent and teamwork still came out on top this weekend and they started the season where they left off: back in the finals.

On-air talent were phenomanal

The CDL’s on-air talent received a huge amount of unwarranted flack when it was revealed that Maven and MerK wouldn’t be making an appearance during the Kickoff Classic, something that had been circulating for a few weeks. But it’s fair to say the new on-air talent we saw over the weekend proved most people wrong.

Former professional player Slacked made his debut on the analyst desk this weekend and was a perfect fit. We also saw AllyCxt, Velly, and Blaze return to our screens for the first time since the CWL. All three were great additions to the desk.

Some familiar faces returned as well. Miles and Chance were back in action and were a class act as expected, while LandO and StuDy returned to prove some people wrong.

Regardless of how great the on-air talent was, it could be better. Re-signing Maven and MerK should have been the league’s first priority during the offseason, but the two have been left in the dark and things aren’t looking great for the pair.

Chris Tunn and AllyCxt are set to be the new casting duo going into this season, sources tell Dot Esports. AllyCxt spent time on the desk during the Kickoff Classic and was great. But once Tunn makes his way onto American soil, he and AllyCxt will be moved to casting matches, according to sources.

Competition could be at an all-time high

Going into this weekend, Atlanta FaZe and OpTic Texas were the favorites to win the entire tournament. But to the surprise of most competitive Call of Duty fans, both teams didn’t even make it past their first match.

The Los Angeles Thieves weren’t expected to do much in this tournament but ended up sending Paris Legion and OpTic Texas home. They then took eventual winners Toronto to map five and finished the weekend with a top-four placing.

Seattle Surge also came in hot. They swept the London Royal Ravens on day one, went on to beat Atlanta FaZe on day two, took out the New York Subliners on day three, and found themselves in their first final in franchise history.

The New York Subliners earned a top-four finish, defeating both Boston Breach and Minnesota RØKKR along the way while losing to Seattle in the semifinals. There were concerns about Crimsix’s ability to play a flex role in Vanguard, but the three-time world champion wound back the clock and looked amazing over the weekend.

Lastly, Toronto reminded fans across the globe that they’re still a top team. The franchise made no changes to its starting roster over the offseason and it looks like that was the right decision. The Ultra made it straight back to the finals in this preseason event.

If the top-four teams from the Kickoff Classic can keep the momentum going heading into the regular season and both FaZe and OpTic can play to their potential, we’re in for a highly competitive season. The 2022 CDL season officially begins on Feb. 4.