Even as Call of Duty League officials outlined steps they’d taken to make its transition to online-only play amid the coronavirus pandemic seamless, competitors remained concerned that strained servers would fail to deliver gameplay without lag or interruption.
After all, teams would be situated remotely around the U.S. rather than a single in-person venue, putting connections at risk.
It didn’t take long for complaints from players to roll in once battles began, particularly from those who struggled to find success.
In the time since the Florida Mutineers finished off their unexpected triumph in the eight-team Dallas Empire Home Series last Sunday, rival organizations and fans have slighted the accomplishment. Online success, they’ve argued, does not hold the same weight as winning in-person events, even if it counts the same in the standings.
That in turn has frustrated the Mutineers, who hold their weekend performance in high esteem while acknowledging the first online-only experience to be rocky.
“If they were to win, they would count it as a win,” said Florida’s Maurice “Fero” Henriquez on a conference call with reporters. “This is the best we’ve got, and we just worked with what we were given. You can’t really hate on that. They were put in the same shoes.”
Dallas Empire star James “Clayster” Eubanks has been complimentary of Florida and remained largely even-keeled in his public comments to this point relative to other players. He told Sporting News “it was only a matter of time” before the Mutineers claimed a tournament win.
But he still feels the online experience as it stood this past weekend detracted from the spirit of competitive gaming.
“I have my own personal opinions on the matter, which may not sit well with the community at large, but any online tournament in the modern era of Call of Duty shouldn’t mean as much as a LAN event,” Clayster said in an email to Sporting News. “LAN events are important because everyone is on the same playing field, peripherals, connection, bright lights/atmosphere of the crowd, etc. With online, you can’t get that consistent playing field so I honestly think that while these tournaments are important, they don’t mean as much as LAN.”
Others tore into the action in stronger terms.
Members of the Seattle Surge, who lost both of their matches, were perhaps the most vocal critics of the server connection. They took to Twitter to air their complaints while the competition was still in progress.
“Just lagging everywhere lmaooooo,” wrote the Surge’s Josiah “Slacked” Berry in a since-deleted tweet.
“Just skipping across the mappppppppppppppppppppppp,” wrote the Surge’s Sam “Octane” Larew, also in a since-deleted tweet.
Added Octane after the event: “Easily the most frustrated I’ve been in a while man.”
Call of Duty League officials were adamant throughout the weekend that connection issues and occasional streaming bugs were the result of complicated planning condensed into a short timing window. They expect to minimize issues in the next event, which starts April 24.
It still seems likely some level of outspoken frustration will continue, at least in the short term, from the teams that fall short in online-only tournaments. The Mutineers probably won’t be the only squad defending themselves from detractors of the format.
Some players have managed to find dark humor in the connectivity glitches, though, and lag-related jokes might just be getting started.
Clayster found it hilarious when Justin “SiLLY” Fargo of the Minnesota Rokkr closed an in-game door to try to block an opponent, tweeting at his rival about it. The move, unusual in these direct run-and-gun competitions, was meant to protect SiLLY from the lagging game and underlined the absurdity that permeated the weekend.
“i’m on 130 ping i am simply here to bait and finesse,” SiLLY wrote on Twitter.
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