PCP member “@Fast” brings us the second installment of a series of CoD Competitive League posts.
Call of Duty League 101: Part 2 – Core Gameplay Concepts
Welcome back to Competitive CoD 101. In the last post, we covered what Competitive Call of Duty is and discussed the Call of Duty League. Today, we’re going to talk about the core gameplay concepts you need to be aware of when playing or viewing Call of Duty in competitive modes. While future posts will cover tips, tricks and “need-to-know” stuff for the specific game modes (Search and Destroy, Hardpoint, and Control), this post provides basic gameplay tips that can be incorporated into all the game modes and will even help you out in public lobbies. Some of these concepts are very basic and relatively easy to master, others are more complex and will take time and dedication, and some are downright hard and will take a tons of reps to get under control. This post is broken down into Basic, Moderate, and Hard to master skills which we’ll discuss in varying degrees of detail. We’ve got a ton to cover today, so let’s get to it!
1. Basic Skills to Master
The following skills and concepts are pretty much the bare minimum you’ll need to know to jump into competitive play. Thankfully, they’re also the easiest to master. As an added bonus, some of these tips will even help your performance in public matches!
Use Your Mic
Not really a skill (and it probably goes without saying), but information wins wars. The team with solid communication skills has a better chance of winning than a team that doesn’t. When playing competitive modes (or even public matches), I highly recommend not only having, but actually USING a decent gaming headset AND a mic. Call things out with your mic and crank that headset to eleven for all those juicy audio queues and footsteps. After all, why are you wearing that crazy looking contraption on your dome if you aren’t even going to use it? Maybe go for a nice fedora instead, Mr. Fancypants.
Know Your Role
Competitive modes are played 4 vs 4. There are tons of things that need to be done, so it’s important that each player knows their specific job. There are three main roles you’ll hear about when discussing competitive play. Those roles are “Sub”, “AR” and “Flex”. Let’s talk about each of these roles.
- SUB – Sub players (as the name implies) equip a submachine gun as their primary weapon. Their primary goal is to move around the map quickly to capture objectives, provide initial clearance of lanes, or intercept enemy players attempting to do the same. With those goals in mind, Sub players generally build their loadouts to prioritize movement speed and survivability. When building classes, Sub players will emphasize weapon attachments that improve (or at least, don’t hinder) movement speed, improve sprint to fire and ADS speed along with perks like Double Time (for increased tactical sprint duration) and Battle Hardened (to reduce the impact of stuns and flashes). Field Upgrade selection will generally depend on the mode but a Sub player will usually select Dead Silence for SND and a Trophy System for all other modes. Most teams will have at least 2 sub players at any given time.
- AR – These players are basically human turrets. AR players use assault rifles to focus on denying enemies access to lanes or other areas by posting up on head-glitches or other power positions. As opposed to the Sub players, AR players are all about accuracy and survival, not rushing around the map. As such, an AR loadout will generally focus on attachments that improve recoil control, range, and accuracy along with perks that emphasize survival (Battle Hardened, Bomb Squad). Field Upgrade selection is generally similar to the Sub players, but they may choose a Trophy over Dead Silence (aka “Deady”) in SND since they’re unlikely to be rushing around too much. There are generally two AR players per team, one being the “Main AR” and the other being the “Flex” (see below).
- Flex – These players are the Jack of All Trades. Depending on the game mode, map, or team strategies, they’ll swap between an AR, a Sub, or possibly even a Sniper role (only in SND). In some cases, the Flex might swap to Sub on SND to allow one of the dedicated Sub players to run a sniper rifle. Their class setups will depend on the role they’re “flexed” to and will follow the guidelines above.
Know Your Maps
This one seems rather obvious, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Map knowledge is extremely critical to successful play. Map knowledge can be learned playing online multiplayer or in private matches. When working on your map knowledge, be on the lookout for:
- Power Positions – places where you or an enemy can camp out that’s tough to attack and allows them to deny access to objectives or common routes. When you find a power position, try to find a counter to it. Most power positions have at least one counter so it’s important to know where those are.
- Objectives – You can’t play the objective if you don’t know where it is, so know where those objectives are and try to figure out the fastest or safest routes to get from one to another. If you’re playing Hardpoint, take this a step further and learn the rotation of points. Hardpoints always spawn in a specific order so knowing where the next hardpoint will spawn is paramount if you want to get there and capture it (or prepare to defend) first.
- Call-outs – To play as a team, you’ve got to all be on the same page. That means calling out where enemies are located. A lot of places can be called out relatively simply but having a set of pre-determined call outs for various locations around the map is incredibly useful for relaying information.
- Mini-map Awareness – In competitive modes (like Core modes) the mini-map is always on. While MW2 doesn’t show enemy players unless there’s a UAV up (and UAVs aren’t allowing in competitive play) you can still gather a lot of information from knowing where you and your teammates are and where the aren’t. Chances are, enemies are going to spawning (or lurking) in places you and your team aren’t at.
Practice Your Gun Skill
Believe it or not, gun skill can be learned and improved upon. While you can obviously work on gun skill in game, it’s a lot easier (and less stressful) to work on it in a private match, shooting at bots. There are loads of videos online that can provide you with private match “drills” to work on your gun skill. I highly recommend checking out this video from The Xclusive Ace. The drill is actually from MW 2019, but can be easily modified and adapted to MW2 or any other CoD.
Know the Meta
Let’s face it, the Pros are better than us and they spend a hell of a lot more time playing than we do, so when they use a particular gun, there’s a reason. I strongly recommend that you look up which weapons/attachments pro players in a particular role are using and try them out for yourself. Chances are, you may find yourself winning a lot more and see your KD go up. With that said, don’t feel “locked in” to the meta as well. Just because it works for a pro player doesn’t mean you have the skill to use it yourself, but knowing what’s out there will definitely give you a leg up on the competition.
2. Intermediate Skills
The skills in this section are going to take longer to learn, but you’ll see your KD and your W/L ratio both improve as your skill improves.
Know the Spawn System
Spawns are tricky for sure but knowing where your enemy starts out (and where you and your team will start out) is invaluable knowledge to have. Remember, information wins wars. I won’t delve too deep into details here but I will say that MW2 uses a Squad Spawn system. That means that the game is going to try to place you in a reasonably safe place that is close to your teammates. Spawns are also influenced by objectives, so be sure to keep that in mind as well. Again, there are videos online that can help you with general spawn knowledge but be sure to pay attention in game as well. Learning spawns will definitely help you win more games.
Understand Map Control
The concept of Map Control is straightforward. To control where your enemy can and can’t go (and where you and your team CAN go) you need to control the map. To do this, you’ll need to combine your Map Knowledge, your Mini-map Awareness, and your Spawn Knowledge. Here’s a simple example. If you want to hold a hardpoint, use your Map Knowledge to hold lanes and power positions to cut off the other team’s access to that objective. Use your Mini-map Awareness to know which lanes/routes your team is watching so you know everything is covered. Using your Spawn knowledge try to position yourself as a team so that you spawn close to the hill and your enemy spawns farther away. Now you have “Map Control”. This is a basic example of map control. We’ll take this concept a bit further in the Advanced section.
In addition to working on your general gun skill, you’ll want to know about “Centering”. Centering is a critical gun skill in any FPS. The idea is to always keep your point of aim where you expect enemies to be. For example, if you’re approaching a doorway where you suspect an enemy might be, aim in the CENTER of the doorway, not at the door jamb or the wall next to the door. Likewise, if you know you’re coming up on a power position, be ready to center your aim on that power position to improve your chances. Incorporate centering practice into every match you play and you might just see your KD start to rise! (Pro Tip: Centering is KING if you want to learn to quickscope with a sniper rifle.)
3. Advanced Skills
I’m not going to lie; these skills are going to take some serious time to learn. I won’t say that I’ve mastered everything in the previous two sections myself, but I’ve learned enough that I’ve moved on to begin working on these skills. These skills are flat out tough as they are primarily “intangible” skills and are almost impossible to work on outside of live matches. If there was one section of this post that truly separates the Elite players from the rest of us mere mortals, these are the ones.
Know How to Influence Spawns the RIGHT Way
We talked about Spawn Knowledge in the previous section and that’s super important, but just as important (but WAY tougher to pull off) is how to INFLUENCE those spawns. Obviously, rushing into the enemy’s spawn and killing everyone is one way to do it, but is that the right way? Maybe not. Just knowing HOW to influence a spawn isn’t enough though. You also need to be aware of the consequences of doing so. What if I push too far and spawn my team away from a hill before I should? Should I respawn right away or should I hold off on hitting X on my kill cam to wait for new spawns to open up? When is it worth it to give up map control on one hardpoint to ensure I’ve got spawns and control for the next? These things all take practice and teamwork. The answers to these questions aren’t constants but vary by several factors that require experience to master (believe it or not, but Pros mess this up a lot too).
Use the Kill Feed
I know, I know. I’ve said it a million times already. Information wins wars. The kill feed (that little scrolling list of who killed who) is VITAL information to the elite player. At the basic level, knowing how many enemies are dead (and in respawn modes, about to respawn) can give you an indication of when you need to push an objective. Likewise, knowing that three off your teammates are down can let you know that you should probably wait to push the enemy-held objective (or hunker down on your own) to wait for reinforcements. You can also take that information to the next level. Once you’re REALLY good at it, you’ll start to watch not just how many enemies, but WHICH enemies have died. From that, you can start to figure out when an enemy player may have streaks available, which you can communicate to your team so you can either equip appropriate perks or hunt him down before he gets those streaks to begin with. Likewise, in SND, if you know that Player A is using a sniper rifle, it would be useful to call out to your team when he is killed so everyone knows that threat is off the table and it might be okay to venture out into the open a bit more.
4. Wrapping Up
Well, there you have it. Do you feel like you just drank from the fire hose? Does anyone else’s brain feel like a fried egg? If so, you read all of this properly, but don’t get discouraged. You can do this! I’ve been working on all of this for years now and it has legitimately improved my gameplay. Start out small, maybe do some gun skill drills or run around a less-familiar map in a private match for a while. The trick is, always been working on something. ANY time I go into a match, I pick one thing to focus on during that match. Maybe it’s centering or watching the kill feed, just work on SOMETHING and you’ll improve. Hopefully, you found this post helpful and learned something new along the way.
Come back next time when we discuss the ins and outs of Hardpoint in detail. Until then (and as always), keep your powder dry and your bacon crispy!