Call of Duty

Call of Duty League Team Owner Sues Activision Blizzard for $680 Million

The world of esports continues to heat up. Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez, CEO of OpTic Gaming and owner of the Call of Duty League’s OpTic Texas team, is suing video game giant Activision Blizzard. He alleges the company illegally monopolized the Call of Duty esports scene.

Joining H3CZ is retired OpTic player Seth “Scump” Abner. Together they seek a whopping $680 million in damages. That’s some serious coin!

Activision’s “Unlawful Monopoly”

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, H3CZ and Scump claim Activision’s “100 percent monopoly” over the Call of Duty League forced them into rough partnerships. They say these agreements were financially devastating, yet necessary to compete.

Previously, Call of Duty esports tournaments were run by independent organizers. Any team could join with open qualification. But when Activision introduced the professional CDL in 2019, they took total control.

The entire Call of Duty tournament scene was reduced to just one league. Activision hand-picked 12 core franchise teams, requiring buy-in fees up to $25 million. That’s insane!

Strict Rules and Restrictions

According to the lawsuit, League teams faced intense restrictions:

  • 50% revenue sharing on merchandise and event tickets
  • Lost rights to the most lucrative sponsors
  • Couldn’t participate in external tournaments
  • Players couldn’t get individual sponsors
  • Little ability to negotiate League agreements

In one shocking example, players had to sign 2020 participation agreements on short notice. They couldn’t have lawyers review or risk getting dropped right before the League launched!

Pattern of Shady Behavior

Unfortunately, this seems like business as usual for Activision Blizzard. Last year they settled with the US Department of Justice over Call of Duty and Overwatch League rules.

Both leagues forced teams to pay “Competitive Balance Tax” fines. What for? Paying their own players too well! This shady rule let Activision pocket player salary money.

The Justice Department investigation alleged this wage suppression broke antitrust laws. The rules were scrapped, and Activision paid a settlement.

This new lawsuit builds on that pattern of misconduct. As H3CZ and Scump declare:

“Activision secured an unlawful monopoly to eliminate competition. They forced team owners and players to accept unfair terms only favorable to Activision.”

In response, Activision spokesperson Delaney Simmons shared this statement:

“Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Abner demanded tens of millions to avoid litigation. When we refused, they filed this meritless suit. We strongly defend these claims which have no legal basis. We are disappointed they would disrupt the League and community who have invested heavily in Call of Duty esports.”

No mincing words on either side! This battle is brewing into a bitter war.

As controversies continue mounting, Activision Blizzard faces boycotts, lawsuits, talent loss, and serious profit drops. Perhaps their unchecked greed has finally caught up.