We got to speak with the Daniel Tsay GM of the CDL, and Chris Overholt CEO of OverActive Media. Here’s what they had to say.
At the most recent Toronto Ultra Major 3 for the Call of Duty League, we got the chance to speak with Daniel Tsay, the Call of Duty League General Manager, and Chris Overholt, CEO and President of OverActive Media. In the short time, we had with the two, we discussed the Major, the growth of the CDL, Call of Duty League Challengers and much more.
From the first draft to opening the doors
Chris – “From the very earliest days of OverActive Media, we made it clear to all of our investors and our partners that we were going to be in the live event business. And a big part of that was obviously based on our great relationship with Activision Blizzard and the team there. The business model was built around the idea of being able to gather fans for a lot of event experiences around both Overwatch and Call of Duty. And we embraced that from the beginning, so we've been waiting for this moment for four years.
It's been amazing to watch it come together in the last couple of days. We have a lot of experience inside our group, as you might know, I led the Olympic committee here in Canada for almost nine years. I think there are seven of us on staff right now that are former members of the Olympic Committee, and planning for Olympic Games is a four to five-year process.
We set a high standard for ourselves. When we took on the project, I said to the team, we should think of this as our NBA All-Star week or our NFL Super Bowl. And we understood that this was a coming-out moment for OverActive Media in terms of the promises and commitments we've made to our marketing partners and investors. We've been telling them for years that this is going to be fantastic, and we were right, it's amazing.
We're really excited, really pleased and excited for our future and our fans' futures in the city.”
The importance of amateur Call of Duty
Chris – “I think it's really important. I'm sure Danny would agree, that the development of any league on a global basis has to have a Path to Pro. I think if you're committed to the big league if you're committed to the idea that you know you're going to run a professional organization. And be supportive of your league partners and your franchise partners in it, then I think you have a responsibility to also think broadly about the community and how you nurture and develop the player base. It's early days and too early to say whether we have a strategy there that's working or not. But just the notion of developing a path to pro and developing players on the rise I think will serve us well as we watch it.”
Daniel – “I think our challengers are clearly powering the talent that rises up to the pro level. You know, when you talk about coming into our 2022 season, we had seven rookies that participated and came from challengers. So clearly the amount of talent that's coming into the scene, both at the beginning of this season and then within the season, you see all these players getting picked up from elite. It really is this great Path to Pro that we rely on and Toronto, they have two teams and they're doing a great job, so I think that's going to pay off dividends for them.”
Chris – “When the League started three years ago, there were established superstars in Call of Duty and most of them are still playing today. But watching Skyz play yesterday, watching Standy kick our ass last year the way that he did. I'm a fan of that aggressive play and the youth kind of energy that we're seeing in the League today. What we're starting to see as a result is there's a bit of any given Sunday going on right now. It's not totally there yet, but you're starting to see teams that otherwise weren't really dominating like FaZe we watched dominate the last couple of years or OpTic a bit up and down but on balance, generally, good performers. Now you start to see teams kind of show up on Sundays, and surprise, and that's great for any league, that's great for any fan base. So the more we can do together to nurture a Path to Pro and nurture that idea that a rookie can come out of nowhere and have an impact like Insight did in that first game, that's amazing. It's great for the leagues, great for all the teams. It's certainly great for the fans.”
More opportunity for Challengers integration?
Daniel – “I think we took a really good step this year. For the first time in the past three years, we've had that direct opportunity for the AMs to play alongside the Pros. And we had a lot of great learnings from it. We had a great feedback session with our teams and how we can improve upon it if we did choose to do it next year. I think one of the biggest things that I would say as part of our challenger's scene as a whole, but particularly for the program, we want to highlight the AM's more. Give them more airtime and even when it comes to something like the main broadcast, giving them more opportunities there. So I think overall, absolutely. We have tweaks in mind, but it really is how can we highlight the talent bigger.”
Possible Open Events?
Daniel – “I know that was certainly a model that has been used in the past. Certainly, I would say it's under evaluation. I can't really say that we're going one way or the other. But obviously, that's been done in the past.”
Call of Duty League Expansion?
Daniel – “We're really proud of what London Royal Ravens have been doing. Obviously, Toronto Ultra has a lot of players from the EU as well. So I think we have a strong presence there. I'm actually just really excited to be in Vegas. It's this awesome city. That's one of the fastest-growing sports markets. So for us to have a footprint there. I'm just super excited about that.”
“I would say we're always fielding interest from teams that may want to join. It's important to get the right fit. But I don't have anything concrete to share. We're really just focused on the 12 teams in our league and the teams that are competing this weekend, for sure.”