UI ‘Call of Duty’ team aims for successful season

By John Chambers, Staff Writer

College sports are often played in large stadiums, holding tens of thousands of screaming fans. Loud cheers ring in the athletes ears, creating an intense competitive environment. But the University of Illinois “Call of Duty” team plays from their bedrooms, and their screaming fans watch over Twitch livestreams.

“Call of Duty” is a fast-paced, first-person-shooter game featuring realistic weaponry and a war-like audiovisual environment. For the past 19 years, a new “Call of Duty” game has released every November, topping charts for the most bought game in that month and sometimes the whole year.

Notable “Call of Duty” games like “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” or the Modern Warfare series have created many cherished memories of playing Xbox with one’s friends until the late hours of the night.

With the popularity of “Call of Duty,” there’s no shock that a “Call of Duty”-centered RSO sprang up.

The “Call of Duty” team at the University has competed for the past four years. Senior members of the team played in the team’s inaugural season. They play in an organization called College COD, which operates outside of the NCAA.

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“We competed versus 200 plus colleges last year, which is the biggest it’s ever been,” Eddie Munoz, senior in LAS, said. “We compete versus any school that has a ‘Call of Duty’ team, whether community college or any public or private university”

Munoz captained the team last year, leading them to a successful season. In the College COD 2021 playoffs, the team placed fifth, winning around $400 in prize money.

According to Munoz, college COD can pull a large online viewership.

“We were in the main page of the Twitch so at one point there was like 12,000 people watching the playoffs,” Munoz said.

As viewership and support for college esports increases, more students are eager to attend tryouts and join the “Call of Duty” team.

The team held tryouts on Friday. Over two hundred students competed for a spot on the team. Students could try out in person in the Armory, playing with and meeting the current members of the team.

Nicholas Doolittle, junior in LAS, tried out for the team. Doolittle says he’s been playing the game for about 10 years, but he was new to the competitive scene.

“I was nervous, since I usually just play with my friends,” Doolittle said. “So it’s just like a whole different gaming experience.”

The team looks to continue the success of previous seasons, mixing new talent with hardened competitive experience. Richard Bohlen, senior in AHS, is looking to add his competitive drive to the rest of the team.

“I love competing,” Bohlen said. “Outside of video games. I used to play baseball, football and lacrosse.”

Having played on the team for the past three years, Bohlen said he intends to use his leadership experience to benefit the team.

“I graduated from Mahomet and the baseball coach asked me to come back to coach,” Bohlen said. ”I make decisions on who plays in some situations, which I did with baseball. But overall coaching has helped me to deal with people.”

Bohlen said the team will focus on two different definitions of success throughout their season; one for the team as a whole, and one specifically for the team’s senior members.

Success for the team this year is to ensure that me and Eddie lead a young and experienced group to carry on Illini COD in seasons to come,” Bohlen said. ”Success for the veterans of Illini COD is making it to the Top 16 LAN Final at the end of the year.

LAN tournaments are competitions in which all competitors play in the same physical location, instead of playing from the comfort of their homes. Usually, LAN tournaments are designated for the highest levels of competition and have substantial prize support.

With his final season soon beginning, Bohlen made his intentions clear.

“Personally, I want to win,” Bohlen said.


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