I can’t say that I am overly happy with, what could have been, my last Gears of War 2 event on the MLG Pro Circuit. We finished in 8th place, our second lowest placing of the season. It was a difficult task to go from a warm up mentality to match mentality facing two great teams in Get Bronco and Vision. Gears of War heavily favors teams that are in a groove, with momentum on their side and this event was no different. On Saturday Get Bronco destroyed the competition, including us, but Sunday that fire was gone. Vision was able to steamroll quite a few teams from AM bracket and that momentum carried them to the finals match — on Saturday they struggled with a few teams. We had a minimal number of mistakes, but we were simply outplayed by two teams that prepared more than we did for this event and we never found a groove (largely due to the poor bracket system).
I know everyone wants to know whether or not Gears of War will be on the circuit next year — honestly I do not know. I think it is difficult to assess whether or not MLG should put more focus and effort into Gears of War and the community at large. At the beginning of the year there were a number of Pro Players that wanted MLG to produce more content for players and teams. I felt like a number of players & teams were exposed to premier content (ESPN, Timeout Articles, Team Interviews, etc.) with little support from the competitive Gears community and its fans. That lack of support has been an issue that has plagued the majority of the Gears community for quite some time. Instead of the community migrating to and supporting the MLG community, it continues to feed and thrive on the Gamebattles community. The teams have continued to dwindle in numbers from event-to-event this year starting at more than 110 and finishing with a dismal 44. Even in its infancy, Halo was consistent with the number of teams that turned up at each event. In every facet of the community where Halo “grew up,” Gears has continued to not mature in the same manner.
Obviously, there are things that MLG can do to invigorate more life out of the event-to-event promotion and team pass sales. Prize payout, perhaps the biggest issue the league needs to address this upcoming season, could be a major factor contributing to dwindling numbers. When compared to the progression of Halo which seemed to possess a “LET’S HURRY UP AND GET THIS THING BIG” mentality, Gears of War has not had the same urgency. In 2005, the number of Pro Circuit stops was at an all-time high (12) and the number of teams ranged from 31 to 116. The lowest number of teams appeared at the San Francisco and Seattle stops, echoing the dismal turnout for West Coast events we see today. I was unable to find any legitimate prize payout information for the seasons prior to 2006 (someone can find that for me), but two major changes happened from 2005 to 2006 that propelled Halo to its current form. After these two major changes, the number of changes rose dramatically with over 120 Teams per event:
- The Pro Circuit cut down the number of events almost in half.
- Final Boss and T2 signed $250,000 contracts in June 2006.
Further research points out the regular Pro Circuit stops Prize Payout, which is still significantly higher than Gears of War on its 3rd year in the league.
- 1. Final Boss – $12,000 ($3,000 each)
- 2. Carbon – $8,000 ($2,000 each)
- 3. Str8 Rippin – $5,000 ($1,250 each)
- 4. XiT Woundz – $3,000 ($750 each)
- 5. Triggers Down – $2,000 ($500 each)
- 6. FBI Michigan – $1,500 ($375 each)
- 7. MoB PowertripBev.com – $1,200 ($300 each)
- 8. XGC Zone 6 – $1,000 ($200 each)
Before anyone goes and says payout is the main reason Gears teams are not showing up, let’s not forget we are still recovering from a recession and as I continue to see gamer’s complain about prize money there are a countless number of people still struggling to find a job and still being laid off. In that regard, it never ceases to amaze me that so many people are ungrateful for what they have while continuing to ask for “more.” So kudos to MLG for keeping the league together in 2008 and throughout this year all the while managing to secure more sponsors along the way. With that being said, let’s hope the inclusion of more sponsors bring about more prize money! Besides prize payouts, the new bracket system also made it less appealing for amateur teams to attend events and after the Championships this year there will undoubtedly be more changes to the bracket — largely due in part to Halo. These were two of the factors that contributed to Gears of War’s dramatic decrease in attendance from the first event to the last, but here are a few more:
- Epic is NOT Bungie or Infinity Ward
- No competitive support (MLG Playlist)
- Five, yes FIVE title updates in under a year
- Playing 2 completely different versions of the game online versus LAN
Realistically, if MLG is looking to add another game to the circuit Modern Warfare 2 is going to make the league the most money — regardless of an online or LAN competition. It could have the largest online community in the history of Xbox Live. Activision recently announced the game cracked $1 billion in sales and you can be sure that the league knows it can be a serious money maker. MW2 however, cannot support a large number of teams at a LAN event because of the System Link lobby system. The biggest potential draw for LAN competition is pending on an Infinity Ward update to tweak the LAN lobby system. Unsurprisingly, Gears of War 2 also needs a bit more help from Epic to make the game consistent online and on LAN. I honestly believe, based on the sheer number of people playing Modern Warfare 2, it has the potential to be the biggest competitive game ever. If Infinity Ward manages to fix the LAN system we could witness the first game with real potential to set precedents at competitive events. I do not see that same potential with Gears of War because Epic really made the core of the game too different from the first one.
Again, I do not know the future of Gears of War on the Pro Circuit. It may stay, it may go — I do not know. My advice to anyone looking to continue on the Pro Circuit is to play everything and be prepared for anything! Be ready for a Modern Warfare 2 online circuit with an invite only finals on LAN. Be prepared for Gears of War to transition to the Online Pro Circuit or to stay on the circuit as is without any or very slight changes. Be prepared for the prize money to be lowered for Gears of War and increased for Modern Warfare 2. If you are prepared for anything, you will not be angry with the choice that MLG decides to pursue for the upcoming 2010 season
As far as AmazYn / zYn Gaming — we’ll be participating in the biggest non-Halo title MLG has to offer for the upcoming season. A number of people on our team have an extensive history playing a number of different shooters. If Gears of War is back on the circuit, we will continue our Gears of War team. Should Gears not be on the circuit, we are very capable and ready to make a transition to Modern Warfare 2. Around the beginning of February we plan on making an announcement that will change a few things for our team, but it should be a great experience. I plan on continuing my YouTube videos and as soon as we finish out the layout for eBash Terre Haute I will begin recording and streaming on a consistent basis. I look forward to what will surely be an interesting 2010 season and I hope everyone finds what they are searching for in a competitive title.