The CDL salary cap is no more. What will the CDL’s future look like?

Kevin Hitt of Esports Observer recently reported that the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League will be eliminating their salary caps effective immediately. We take a look at the implications of such a move for the Call of Duty League.

CDL Salary Cap no more after U.S. D.O.J Investigation

Activision-Blizzard will be abolishing the salary cap for both OWL and the CDL.

“This is likely due to a recent U.S. Department of Justice antitrust division investigation into whether OWL’s soft cap on salaries violated the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act because league players aren’t under the protection or bargaining power of a players union”

Kevin Hitt of Esports Observer

It was mainly the OWL salary cap and luxury tax under question. However, Activision Blizzard feels it is necessary that the Call of Duty League follow suit. This news was unexpected in what has been an already chaotic off-season in the CDL. Player salaries may begin to fluctuate as bright young stars take over the league.

A breakdown of what a salary cap-less CDL could look like

It seems like this hasn’t been talked about enough. The implications could be drastic, and maybe even detrimental to the league. 

One possibility could be the assembling of “super teams”. It is a common phrase used by fans of the NBA. While the NBA does have a salary cap and luxury tax, teams in the league still find ways to bend it as far as they can. Teams with higher budgets have the ability to pay a premium for better players without breaking the bank. 

The best example would be in baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees operate with the highest payroll in the MLB, with numbers north of $200m. Bottom feeding teams like the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians are around the $50m-$60m range. Ownership plays the biggest part in why these teams are able to stay consistently good, or consistently bad. 

Dodgers Pitcher Max Scherzer, currently on a $34m contract
Dodgers Pitcher Max Scherzer, currently on a $34m contract

The total cash flow and where it goes come from the top. Therefore, an owner who is willing to spend however much money is needed to get the best players, will almost always have the best teams. This is the issue with soft salary caps in professional sports leagues. Teams that do not generate enough revenue, or have owners willing to spend the money, will struggle long-term and fail to attract top players.

How this could affect CDL teams

Even though CDL team budgets are exactly unknown, it is obvious as to who has the dough, and who doesn’t. The first major controversy was with the Seattle Surge and three-time World Champion, Karma. It was speculated that after struggles during the season, Seattle had pushed the veteran player into retirement. It was rumored that it was because the Surge couldn’t afford to pay the premium salary they had offered him before the season.

On the contrary, teams like Atlanta FaZe, Chicago OpTic and Dallas Empire have all been able to bring in big players thanks to reliable financial backing. Although, with no CDL salary cap, top teams like such will now have the ability to give their star players raises, and bring in even better players to stack rosters. This should be cause for concern after a year in which fans saw a fairly balanced league of teams during Cold War.

Toronto Ultra's Insight
Toronto Ultra's Insight

This concept would put teams with lower budgets at a massive, unfair disadvantage. Paris Legion, Florida Mutineers and the Seattle Surge would all most likely suffer the most. However, the middle-of-the-pack teams may begin to offer their current players more money, which could attract free agents in the off-season. Young sensations like HyDra, Standy and Insight could all be due for raises very soon.

It remains to be seen how no CDL salary cap will affect the league. Perhaps it is something we won’t see until a year or two down the road. Nonetheless, it is a change that could be great for the CDL, or have dire consequences.

Check out what pro player Crimsix had to say about teams underpaying their players here.

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