“We are thrilled to debut the Call of Duty League in Minnesota in partnership with the Wilf family and everyone at WISE Ventures,” Johanna Faries, Commissioner of the Call of Duty League, said in a press release. “Bringing together all 12 pro teams and the amateur community together for this special moment will usher in a new era for Call of Duty esports.”
The event will be held at the 8,400-person capacity Minneapolis Armory, home of the former Minneapolis Lakers and currently a concert venue. The organizers anticipate approximately 10,000 fans to attend across all three days.
“It is an honor to host the inaugural weekend of the Call of Duty League and welcome our ownership partners, players, and most importantly, our fans,” Jonathan Wilf, president and ownership partner of WISE Ventures Esports, said in a statement. “We have been craving an esports event of this caliber in Minneapolis-St. Paul. With the success this community has in hosting world class events, we are excited to put on an incredible fan experience to launch the Call of Duty League.”
For the Minnesota team, hosting the league’s inaugural weekend was an integral part of the conversation with Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard from the start.
“The conversations around this date back to before there was even an agreement to have a team in Minnesota,” Brett Diamond, chief operating officer of WISE Ventures, told The Washington Post. “We’re truly the new kid in the class when it comes to this league. Ten of the 12 teams in the Call of Duty League are part of the Overwatch League, and the 11th in London, their ownership group has a long history in esports. As we try to build up a new esports organization from scratch, being able to host the premier event on the league’s calendar right out of the gates is a really great opportunity.”
Outlining Minneapolis’s strengths as a host city, Diamond pointed to its track record hosting the Super Bowl, the Final Four, and the X-Games in recent years. As for the timing of the event — January is Minnesota’s coldest month — Diamond explained that arrangements would be made to keep players and events primarily indoors.
However, “part of the fun of being in Minnesota is embracing the weather,” Diamond said.
In addition to the league matches, the weekend will include an amateur open bracket tournament called the Call of Duty Challengers Open. Starting in November, amateurs will be able to compete in the Call of Duty Challengers circuit that will be held over the course of the 2020 season via online ladders for a prize pool of $1 million.