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Twelve teams reportedly paid $25 million each to join a new esports league around one of the biggest games in the world — here’s everything you need to know about Call of Duty League (ATVI)

Activision Blizzard is establishing a professional league around one of the biggest games in the world, and it's an important step forward for the rapidly developing esports industry.

The company is launching Call of Duty League in January 2020 with 12 franchise representing international cities. “Call of Duty” is a perennial best-seller with yearly releases that draw in millions of players. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” is already the best-selling game of 2019 less than a month after its release, and more than 100 million people downloaded the free-to-play “Call of Duty Mobile” in its first month online.

Despite the game's popularity, however, “Call of Duty” esports events haven't seen the same longterm success as popular esports titles like “League of Legends,” or even other military games like “CounterStrike.” Activision Blizzard has supported “Call of Duty” competitions for years, but the Call of Duty League introduces multi-million-dollar franchises and a structure that parallels the major American sports leagues.

The Call of Duty League is Activision Blizzard's second franchise-based esports organization. Blizzard's Overwatch League completed its second season in September 2019 after expanding the total number of teams from 12 to 20. Several of the franchise owners in the Call of Duty League also own squads in the Overwatch League.

Here's a closer look at how Call of Duty League will work.