Picking out big names to watch in the Call of Duty League is like trying to decide which is your favourite episode of The Simpsons, there are just too many to pick out one.
Every team is stacked to the rafters with the sort of players that make marketers moist and some of the lineups that have been assembled look barely-believable when you consider their talent and legacy. With that in mind, let’s have a little look at who you should be watching in season one of the CDL.
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1. Dallas Empire
There are a lot of teams you could get excited about, but if you’ve followed Call of Duty down the years then the Dallas Empire team is the sort of thing that will get your juices flowing for sure. Crimsix is a monster, and apparently comes into the inaugural season of this tournament with an axe to grind following his removal from OpTic Gaming, while his team-mate Clayster is a pure winner.
Add in young talents like Huke and Shottzy and you’ve got the sort of team that looks on paper like it could win any tournament, and to be fair the pre-season results back that idea up. They’ve done well in the online cups, and should be a real threat when the actions gets going for real with the blend of talent and experience on board.
Related: CLD schedule and standings
2. Chicago Huntsmen
There are other scary looking teams out there, and some of them might have flown under the radar due to the way Call of Duty tends to give the most attention to the loudest people.
A good example would be the interestingly branded Chicago Huntsmen, led by former OpTic leader H3CZ, who have signed up two of the biggest names in competitive CoD in the form of Scump and Formal. There is talent on paper, but the org seems a little less laser-focussed on winning than the Dallas team, and more concerned with the content H3CZ is famous for.
Related: How to bet on Call of Duty
3. OpTic Gaming LA
Of course, due to the way the last couple of years have gone, the father of the OpTic brand will not be part of the group, but facing off against his baby after H3CZ’s sale of the org ended in disaster, and the Immortals Gaming Group picking up the pieces.
The ‘new’ OpTic will struggle to hold on to the fans the old org gained unless they can hit the ground running, but that might be possible when you consider they have the two best players from the OG side that used to exist in the form of Dashy and TJHaley.
4. London Royal Ravens
One unique aspect of the league is the fact there is an outside chance we might see an actual UK-based team do well, which would really be something if you know the history of Britain in esports.
London Royal Ravens might sound more like an after-school club at Hogwarts, but the likes of scrapz, wuskin and Dylan are all serious talents, and the former pair are of course brothers, which could give the team an advantage if they can bring their sibling simpatico to the server.
The moment of truth
Those are the names you can expect to see thrive, and with launch in Minneapolis looming, it’s getting close to the moment of truth for the players and coaches that will try and guide them to success.
As is tradition, there has been a lot of noise online about problems with the current title, CoD: Modern Warfare, and how ready it is for esports, but as is also Activision tradition the players will be required to get on with it with nothing more than a smile and maybe a gentleman's agreement here or there.
One aspect that will be outside the control of the teams is the way the league performs, and in the wake of the headlines around the Overwatch League in recent weeks Activision will be hoping this franchise system launches more smoothly.
With CoD’s history of esports and established fanbase, there is every chance they will hit fewer bumps in the road than OWL did, so fans should be excited at the prospect of a more professional, organised and global Call of Duty than we’ve ever seen before.
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Pictures: OpTic Gaming / London Royal Ravens / Twitter / Activision