Last weekend, the Minnesota Røkkr hosted the first-ever home market event for the Call of Duty League in Minneapolis. From day one, the CDL will look to engage local fan bases for each of its 12 franchises as each plays host to league competition throughout the year.
The tournament, which is part of the launch of a new Call of Duty league, has brought thousands of people to the Armory in Minneapolis to spectate as the best gamers in the country battle it out. Among the fans watching the players compete is Gary Vaynerchuk, better known as Gary Vee.
The Overwatch League kicked off the city-based esports era in 2018, and that model has already provided at least on regional sponsorship (the Houston Outlaws and grocery store chain HEB) that would not have been viable otherwise. However, for Røkkr owner and VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, the localization model gives the CDL an advantage for more than just local sponsors.
The Minnesota Røkkr are one of the exceptions. And part of what attracted co-owner Gary Vaynerchuk to Call of Duty in particular is its prominence in pop culture. “It’s stuck in the culture,” he explains. “The difference between Call of Duty and, let’s say Doom, is that cool people play Call of Duty. The coolest artists, rappers, athletes, celebrities didn’t talk about Doom. It was still nerd culture. We’re at a point now where video games are part of pop culture, and Call of Duty sits very high in that lexicon.”