Activision will operate its own Call of Duty pro league

It’s an exciting time for esports.

Image via Call of Duty

It’s an exciting time for esports. ESPN is looking to expand its coverage. Yesterday, a major television network revealed plans to host its own league. And now, one of the largest game publishers in the world will do the same for its flagship console title.

Activision will run its own professional Call of Duty league, the Call of Duty World League, starting in Jan. 2016.

The new World League will feature “bigger prize pools” and regular competition in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The top 12 teams in America, 10 in Europe, and 8 in Australia and New Zealand will make up The Pro Division, which will feature two seasons of play each year, complete with a playoff after each stage. In addition to the pro league, an amateur competition called The Challenge Division will provide a way to move up the ranks with a series of live tournaments. Teams from outside the three pro regions will be able to compete in The Challenge Division.

The World League will culminate in a new and improved Call of Duty Championship, the yearly final Activision has hosted since 2012. The 2016 version, though, will feature a $3 million prize pool instead of the $1 million offered at every prior championship.

Teams will qualify for the Championship based off points earned by their World League placements. The Challenge Division events will also earn points towards qualification.

In many ways, the World League structure mimics that of Call of Duty’s current regular competition in North America, the Major League Gaming (MLG) Call of Duty Pro League. But its hard to imagine the two coexisting.

Whether the World League will run alongside MLG’s or replaces it remains to be seen. Activision made no mention of third party organizers and their potential involvement, though it seems plausible they would partner with organizations like MLG and Gfinity to produce their new league.

MLG says they’re “excited” about the scene’s growth, but told the Daily Dot they can’t comment on their future plans at the moment.

The organization’s CEO and founder Sundance DiGiovanni also offered fans this cryptic tweet:

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One difference between the World League and MLG’s current offering might be the age restrictions. Activision states their new league will follow age guidelines set by ratings boards on a per country basis, and that’s kept many of the most promising Call of Duty players from competing at their Championship every year.

That means some teams featuring young guns heading into the MLG World Final in October may need to make roster changes before World League qualification, set to begin in December, just one month after the release of the next installment in the Call of Duty series.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, developed by Treyarch, is set to release on Nov. 6. One of the first of three developers under Activision who produce installments in the yearly release cycle of the series, Treyarch’s new title promises to return the series to a more tactical style of play. Treyarch is one of the first development houses to support Call of Duty esports, but Activison promise their World League is a “franchise-wide initiative” that will include future titles from their other Call of Duty studios, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games.

All in all, it’s an exciting time for fans of console gaming’s biggest esport.

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