Xbox and Gears of War 4 developer the Coalition announced yesterday on Twitch that they’ve partnered with Major League Gaming and Gfinity to establish the new Gears Esports Pro Circuit. With a focus on “marquee live events,” the Pro Circuit will let players around the globe rack up “Gears Pro Points” in online-only MLG GameBattles, as well as daily and weekly tournaments, in order to qualify. Although online competition will take place at a regional level, the new Pro Circuit will actually be international in scope, with MLG LAN events being held across North America, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania.
Fans can look forward to weekly live broadcasts on Twitch, which will feature both the rising stars of the amateur world and established pros. Xbox is declaring the Pro Circuit a showcase for “mini–world championships” taking place every one to two months throughout the year, and is kicking things off with a prize pool of $1 million.
Gears of War has a rich esports tradition.
A breakdown of the inaugural season’s event schedule and prizes can be found at the official Gears of War website, where Columbus, Las Vegas, London, Mexico City, and Paris have been confirmed as locations for the Pro Circuit’s tentpole events. Qualification will begin this summer in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, with the first open LAN tournaments arriving with the launch of Gears of War 4 in October. Gears 4 is part of Microsoft’s new Xbox Play Anywhere program, which lets owners of the title play on both Xbox One and Windows 10, so it’s likely to we’ll continue to see both Xbox and PC events during the circuit’s first season.
Much like Halo and other comparable shooters, Gears has a rich esports tradition that dates all the way back to the original game’s first MLG event in 2007. Whether Gears can make itself known in a crowded field of esports is an open question, but Coalition’s support fits within a larger trajectory of studios and distributors using a professional scene to advertise their games.