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PROGRAM UPDATE – 4v4, Escalation Beta & Gridiron

First, thank you everyone who participated in the recent 4v4 Escalation Beta playtests and took the time to fill out a survey.

After reviewing survey results, conducting feedback sessions, and taking into consideration the general shift to 4v4 across Gears 5, we are excited to announce the Gears Esports program will be officially transitioning to 4v4 and Escalation Beta for Split 2 and the remainder of the season.


Before we go into the details concerning this transition, we understand many of you who filled out the surveys were curious as to why Gridiron questions were included. We wanted to assess the community’s appetite for the mode, and gauge whether or not it should be included in the program. The survey results clearly indicate players and fans are interested in Gridiron, so we will be conducting 4v4 Gridiron-specific testing tournaments over the coming week to gauge if it should be added to the program alongside Escalation. These playtests will take place December 15th through to December 19th, after which surveys will be provided to participants.

If you don’t play in any of these playtests you will not receive a survey, and if you don’t submit a survey your feedback may be missed, so make sure you play in the tournaments and fill out the survey if you want to have your say in the future of the program.

Click here to jump to more information regarding these tournaments.


The biggest concern raised throughout the 4v4/Escalation Beta review process was the map rotation, as many felt some of the current maps being used are too large for 4v4. As the number of maps required for the program is dependent upon the inclusion of Gridiron, we must first assess Gridiron’s viability before we address the Escalation map pool. Once a decision has been made regarding Gridiron’s inclusion, map-specific playtests for one or both modes will take place to gather feedback to help inform and finalize the map rotation, if necessary. We may also use these playtests as an opportunity to potentially tweak Escalation Beta lobby settings. As we’re going into the holidays, any additional playtests needed to solidify the map rotation and/or lobby settings for the upcoming Split will take place starting the week of January 4th.


We understand these program changes are substantial. Therefore we have made a number adjustments to the program and season schedule to accommodate them.

First, as we’re moving from 5v5 to 4v4, four teams will now be relegated from the Pro League, rather than two. The relegated teams, based on Split 1 Pro League Standings, are: Hive, Morning Star Gaming, Elevate, and The People’s Champs.This adjustment is to help provide any newly formed teams with the opportunity to earn a Pro League spot.

Second, we will have another Pro League Qualification period similar to the one at the start of the season, rather than the Pro League Playoff outlined in the original 2020-2021 Season handbook. These Pro League Qualifier Tournaments will run for three consecutive weeks starting January 24th and award Challenger Points. The top two teams based on Challenger Points at the end of the three weeks automatically qualify for a Pro League spot. The final two teams will come from an 8-team double elimination playoff tournament on February 14th, with the final Winners Bracket and Losers Bracket teams qualifying for Pro League spots. The 8 teams invited to this playoff will be the 3rd-8th place teams based on Challenger Points at the end of the Pro League Qualification Period, along with the final two teams from the single elimination Pro League Playoff Open LCQ the day before (February 13th). The rosters for all teams that qualify for the Pro League during the Qualification Period are locked upon qualifying.

Third, once the Pro League teams are set, the 8 pre-qualified teams from Split 1 (vanQuish, Pittsburgh Knights, Carnage Gaming, Fire N Ice Esports, Rise, Rebel, Noble, and UYU) will have until February 18th to finalize their rosters. Prequalified teams must keep 3 of the players from their Split 1 roster in order to maintain their Pro League spot.

Finally, the first Challenger OLT for Split 2 will take place the following Sunday (February, 21st), with Pro League kicking off the following Tuesday (February 23rd).

Important Dates

  • December 15th-19th – Gridiron Playtesting
  • December 21st (11:59 PM PT) – Survey Responses Due
  • January 4th-8th – Map Playtesting (if necessary)
  • January 24th, 31st, February 7th – Pro League Qualifier OLTs
  • February 13th – Pro League Playoff LCQ
  • February 14th – Pro League Playoff
  • February 18th – Pro League Roster Lock (Pre-qualified teams).
  • February 21st – First Split 2 Weekly Challenger OLT
  • February 23rd – Split 2 Pro League begins



  1. The lobby settings below may change during the playtesting period. These changes will be posted on Twitter and reflected in this post prior to the start of that day’s tournament.
  2. Each day will use a different map rotation, with a different map being used for each round. Once each map has been played, teams are to return to the top of the rotation for the following round. For instance, if the order is: Asylum, District, Icebound; Round 1 would be Asylum, Round 2 would be District, Round 3 would be Icebound, Round 4 would be Asylum, Round 5 would be District, and so on.
  3. Most maps have weapon swaps, which are noted below.
  4. Weekday tournaments will be best of 1, while the final tournament on Saturday will be best of 3.
  5. Surveys will be sent out following the Saturday tournament to all players who participated in the tournaments. These surveys must be filled out by end of day Monday for the feedback to be considered. If you do not fill out a survey we will assume that you are ok with whatever decisions are made.

Gridiron Settings

  • Fill with bots: OFF
  • Bot Difficulty: Beginner
  • Round Time Limit: 2 Minutes
  • DBNO Time: 20
  • Friendly Fire: On
  • Gameplay Tuning: Beta: Tuning Preview
  • Flag Capture Time: 10
  • Flag Spawn Delay: 120
  • Endzone Contesting: ON

Map Rotations

  • December 15th – Asylum, Canals, River
  • December 16th – District, Blood Drive, Checkout
  • December 17th – Forge, Clocktower, Gridlock
  • December 18th – To be announced December 16th
  • December 19th – To be announced December 17th

Weapon Swaps


  • Boltok > Frag Grenade
  • Frag Grenade > Torque Bow
  • Incendiary > EMBAR
  • Retro Lancer > Frag Grenade

Blood Drive

  • Boltok > Shock Grenade
  • Frag Grenade > Shock Grenade
  • Torque Bow > Dropshot


  • Incendiary Grenade > Frag Grenade


  • Retro Lancer > Disabled
  • Boltok > Disabled


  • Boomshot > Torque Bow
  • Dropshot > Torque Bow
  • Incendiary Grenade > Frag Grenade


  • Talon > Shock Grenade
  • Markza > Disabled
  • Frag Grenade > Markza
  • Incendiary Grenade > Frag Grenade


  • Embar > Longshot
  • Dropshot > Boomshot
  • Shock Grenade > Frag Grenade
  • Hammerburst > None
  • Boltok > None


  • Boomshot > Frag Grenade
  • Frag Grenade > Torque
  • Longshot > Flash Grenade
  • Scorcher > Boomshot

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