The city-based Call of Duty League is shifting to a new format amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, the league said that upcoming matches will be played online as opposed to large events hosted by cities across North America and Europe. “Call of Duty League has seen firsthand the power of our live events in our inaugural season, and will return to city-based competition in front of live audiences as soon as it is safe and logistically possible,” reads the statement.
The league says that upcoming games will still be broadcast on YouTube for fans to watch, although it’s not clear when they will take place. The CDL says that “dates will be announced shortly.” The CDL is a relatively new league, which is attempting to merge the city-based structure of traditional sports with high-level Call of Duty play. So far, matches have been hosted in Minnesota, London, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. The Atlanta Faze and Chicago Huntsmen currently sit tied atop the league standings after the first four events.
Additionally, the Overwatch League will be shifting its March and April matches online as well. (OWL and the CDL are sister leagues; they’re both owned by Activision Blizzard, operate under a similar city-based structure, and were part of a joint broadcast deal with YouTube.) OWL previously announced an end to live events in March and April, and the league says its new match schedule will be announced next week. As part of the new structure teams will be placed in three different groups based on geography, and matches are expected to begin on March 21st. “We plan to return to team-hosted homestand competitions in front of live audiences as soon as it is safe and logistically possible,” the league said in a statement.
Other esports have been similarly effected. Just today, the top professional League of Legends competitions in Europe and North America announced that they would be playing games without fans present. Late last month, the Chinese LPL also announced that it would be playing games online instead of in-studio.
While several traditional sports leagues have been forced to shut down entirely, the digital nature of esports like Call of Duty means that many leagues can still go forward with some adjustments. “In the interim, Call of Duty League is confident it will continue to deliver fans what they want: amazing competition between the best players, competing at the highest level, for the right to be considered the greatest team on earth,” the CDL said in a statement.
Update March 13th, 1:20PM ET: Added details about the Overwatch League.