Minnesota RØKKR Make The Call of Duty League Launch Weekend a Weekend to Remember


I’ve spent majority of this weekend in a world that I probably have no business being in. Video games were never my thing. Beyond Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, and Super Monkey Ball, I am probably one of the most clueless people my age when it comes to video games but when given a chance to cover the Call Of Duty League Launch event this weekend I just couldn’t say no. Sure, I had an image in my mind of what it would be like and had come to terms with the fact that my weekend was probably going to be energy drink fueled surrounded by a bunch of geeks that reminded me of my little brother but I honestly don’t think I was ready for the sheer magnitude of the event and how into it I would actually get.

For those of you like me that know very little about video games, the gaming world, or anything like that, let me lay out a wee bit about Call of Duty. The first-person shooter game came out in 2003 and took the world by storm.  The setting of this game is all over the played from World War II to the Cold War to even futuristic settings. Honestly, if you ask me, all I’ll say is that this is a shoot-em-up game with graphics that are enough to make me and any parent out there cringe but, if you ask the gamers, nay, the athletes, they will tell you something completely different and make the case for Call of Duty being so much more and, I have to be honest, after spending my weekend watching the athletes play and listening to them talk in press conferences, I am now on their side of the argument. 

This weekend’s event hosted at The Armory in Minneapolis was the launch for the inaugural season of the Call of Duty league so to say it was/is a big deal would be an understatement. Add to the fact that Minnesota had a team in the competition and you are left with a seriously exciting weekend for everyone. Although it was a little strange to walk into The Armory to see folding chair everywhere and nothing on stage other than giant screen and two long tables covered in computers, headsets, and cords, I had the same feeling watching the competitions as I do when watching a concert at The Armory. 

I could tell you about who won what competition and what upsets happened throughout the weekend but I feel like that’s not my place. Sure, I instantly had my favorite team of the Minnesota RØKKR and, for some reason, fell in love with the Florida Mutineers but I really had no reason for either other than home team pride and a love for The Mutineers’ logo. Going into the weekend full of competitions without having a bias for one team or another or even really a passion for the game worked in my benefit for about the first twenty minutes but it wasn’t long before I found myself getting lost in the screens and trying to understand what the heck was going on.

If the theme, colors and logo of RØKKR feel familiar you can thank the MN Vikings whose ownership is shared with the RØKKR.

There were many stand out moments throughout the weekend for one and one of the main ones was on Friday night when local rapper group Shredders took the stage. Majority of the weekend was being streamed online and I only hope and pray that they broadcast some of, if not all of, Shredders’ set because they absolutely nailed it. Shredders is a local super group featuring Sims, POS, Paper Tiger, and Lazerbeak of Doomtree fame. Their upbeat and exciting quick set was a great example of the Minneapolis music scene and I truly hope the whole world got to see it. Although the audience was clearly there more for the games than the music, Shredders was able to get a group of overly excited people up near the stage to jump along to the beat which led to a moment that had a giant smile on my face. Sure, they weren’t the spotlight of the weekend for majority of the people at this thing but they were for me and I was so grateful to have yet another chance to catch them live. 

Another standout moment was on Friday night. It was the last match of the night and the first time we all got a glimpse of The Minnesota RØKKR. The members came out one by one with two flumes of smoke coming up from either side of each player while the lights swirled around the venue. I don’t go to many sports games but I have watched a few on TV and the moment was not unlike the moment when professional sports teams take the field or court. It seemed a bit dramatic to me but was also nothing short of thrilling to watch and be a part of. With the entire audience on their feet, the five team members took the stage and led the Minnesota RØKKR to their first victory of the weekend. I would by lying if I said I didn’t get wrapped up in the win and even found myself shouting and yelling when it looked like the Los Angeles Guerrilas had gotten the best of them.

Throughout the weekend I had the honor to sit in on some conferences with the various winning teams. Although some of the things they said about their strategy and game play did nothing for me (and I honestly didn’t understand half of it), I felt the passion that they each had for the game and it was impossible to not fall in love with each of the players. Passion is the reason that I fell in love with concerts and the live music world. Sure, I don’t have a passion for video games but to hear the athletes talk about their passion for the game made me love the game more than I ever thought I would. 

The weekend closed out with another epic win from the Minnesota RØKKR team over the Toronto Ultra which seemed to just be the exclamation point to an already thrilling and exciting weekend. I walked in with some less than flattering opinions on esports, Call of Duty, and gamers in general but left with a whole new appreciation for the sport, the game, and, more imporantly, the athletes. A huge congratulations to Justin Fargo-Palmer (SiLLY), Adam Garcia (Assault), Adam Brown (GodRx), Alex Carpenter (Alexx), Obaid Asim (Asim), and everyone else who has a hand in the Minnesota RØKKR team. You are making this state very, very, very proud in the world of esports and I can’t wait to see you continue to win game after game.