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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War League Play kicks off today

Rank and file.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War gets its long-awaited League Play mode today.

In a blog post, Treyarch signalled League Play goes live at some point on 8th February 2021.

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The developer said Black Ops Cold War's League Play is "built on the foundations" of Black Ops 4's ladder system. However, it will offer more ranks for competitive fans to climb during League Play events.

Black Ops 4 had a World League Hub from which you could compete in a Pro Series playlist using the same game modes, rules, maps and restrictions the pros play with.

In Black Ops 4, League Play Events were run in tight, competitive time frames of three to four days using the Pro Series rules, with no gaps between events to let you play for rank all week long.

When a League Play Event started, you were placed in a Division of up to 50 players around your same skill level to compete for top position in the Division Ladder. You were competing for Ladder Points (win matches to earn more Ladder Points, lost and you lose Ladder Points).

The goal was to finish as high as possible in the Division Ladder by the end of the event by earning more points than the other competitors in your Division.

Of note: in Black Ops 4, your Division had no bearing on who you were matched with, because you were always matched with players from the entire global population in League Play who were closest to your skill level.

This meant matchmaking times took a little longer than standard multiplayer matches, as the system searched for the best skill match, and matches only started once full teams with the same number of players on each team had joined. League Play was the only mode in Black Ops 4 multiplayer that used skill-based matchmaking, Treyarch said back in 2019 ahead of its launch.

Black Ops 4's League Play had a permanent, progressive rank system focused on a combination of both lifetime and recent performance, called your World League Rank. You'd earn gems based on your final position in the Division Ladder, and with enough gems you'd advance your rank. There were 20 ranks to achieve in the Black Ops 4 World League Hub.

Black Ops Cold War's League Play arrives in time for the start of the Call of Duty League's 2021 season on 11th February with the Atlanta FaZe Home Series.

But it is also of particular interest right now because of the ongoing furore over Call of Duty skill-based matchmaking (SBMM), which some say forces them to "reverse boost". The idea here is by deliberately gaining a negative kill / death ratio in matches, Black Ops Cold War's SBMM will essentially demote you down its skill ranking, and thus matchmake you with players more your level (or you'll do better against).

League Play will, theoretically, give people an appropriate place "to sweat in", as it's known, leaving standard matches a more casual affair.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

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Wesley Yin-Poole avatar

Wesley Yin-Poole


Wesley worked at Eurogamer from 2010 to 2023. He liked news, interviews, and more news. He also liked Street Fighter more than anyone could get him to shut up about it.