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100 Thieves founder thinks Call of Duty esports franchising is “a mistake”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare GPU performance

The first season of the Call of Duty League begins in January, with 12 teams ready to compete in Activision’s newest esports franchise. But one former Call of Duty pro says he thinks it’s going to be a flop.

As our sister site The Loadout reports, Matthew ‘Nadeshot’ Haag is a former Call of Duty pro player and the founder of esports outfit 100 Thieves. Speaking on 100 Thieves’ The Mob podcast, Haag said while Activision has certainly sunk a lot of money into the Call of Duty League, he doesn’t have high hopes for the enterprise.

“I think franchising was a mistake,” he said flatly. “I think charging $25 million to be part of a league that hasn’t grown year over year is a mistake. I think flying teams across the world to play one best-of-five series is a mistake.”

The franchising fee may be the biggest sticking point for Haag, who has said before that 100 Thieves had initially considered pursuing a bid to join the CDL, but had balked at the $25 million required to establish a team.

The 12 teams that will compete in the inaugural season are Atlanta FaZe (owned by Atlanta Esports Ventures in partnership with FaZe Clan), the Chicago Huntsmen (NRG Esports), Dallas Empire (Envy Gaming), the Florida Mutineers (Misfits Gaming), the London Royal Ravens (ReKTGlobal), the Los Angeles Guerrillas (Kroenke Sports & Entertainment), Minnesota RøKKR (WISE Ventures Esports and Gary Vaynerchuk), the New York Subliners (Andbox), OpTic Gaming Los Angeles (Immortals), Paris Legion (c0ntact Gaming), Seattle Surge (Enthusiast Gaming and Aquilini Investment Group), and Toronto Ultra (OverActive Media).

Haag says Activision is overestimating the esports interest in Call of Duty, particularly when it comes to Infinity Ward’s latest title, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Haag says esports is out of line with Modern Warfare’s design, which he believes is aimed at more “casual players.”

We’ll get an idea of whether Nadeshot has it right when the Call of Duty League’s first season kicks off January 24.

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