The sport of the future has come a long way since its creation back in 2007. When Burnie Burns organized the Original 8 Tournament, it’s unlikely that he, or anyone else, could’ve foreseen Grifball becoming as big and popular as it has – what began as a joke in Red vs Blue has since seen developer support in four major Halo titles, with a permanent playlist in three of those games, and has grown to have a major presence at the Rooster Teeth Expo (RTX), with GrifballHub exhibiting at the convention for four years now and with LAN Grifball events being held at the convention even earlier than that. Perhaps most importantly, it has sparked the rise of a number of Grifball leagues and communities over the years, each catering to different groups of players and showcasing the many different reasons why Grifball has seen such widespread interest and love.
Here at GrifballHub, we’re proud to be the home of many of those leagues and communities, with the recreational GGL offering a great environment for those players more interested in having fun than playing to win and the AGLA’s bid system offering a method of creating parity among teams to create a level, competitive environment. As most longtime veterans will know, however, the AGLA was not always structured this way – before merging with GrifballHub in 2013, the AGLA featured a “classic” setup not unlike that used by the GGL, but with a greater emphasis on competition. Although the bid system has shown to have its own strengths and appeal to its own niche of Grifball players, it has since left a void in the “competitive, build-your-own-team” niche that had once been filled by the AGLA’s classic format.
Over the past several years, several in the community, both within leadership and among the general community, have proposed various ideas to not only fill that niche, but to take it to another level – to create a wholly new level of Grifball competition, showcasing the world’s “top-tier” talent – the best-of-the-best, fighting for ultimate Grifball supremacy. Our RTX presence has shown signs of that, with partners such as GAEMS, 343 Industries, Rooster Teeth, and Stream.Me helping take the RTX Grifball Championship to new heights, but that is only a single event.
For the past several years, one of my biggest goals for Grifball was to create a long-term vessel for this type of competition, a circuit that would constantly offer our that “top-tier” talent an opportunity to challenge themselves and reach new heights, as well as being a goal for new players and for up-and-coming talent to work towards. With the help of several fellow leaders and community members, we are finally ready to take the next step towards that goal: the Grifball Pro Tour.
What is the Grifball Pro Tour?
The Grifball Pro Tour, or GPT, is designed to be a highly-exclusive competitive circuit that both offers a playing field for the highest level of Grifball competition and helps inspire new and up-and-coming talent to improve and develop their skills. The heart of the circuit is the Professional League, an 8-team league featuring the best teams Grifball has to offer. Two seasons of the Professional League happen each year – one in the fall and one in the spring – with a 15-week regular season. Each team plays every other team in the Professional League twice during that span, with each team playing one game a week plus one bye week. At the conclusion of the regular season, there will be a one-week All-Star Break, followed by that season’s Major Championship. Following the Spring Major, the Pro Tour year culminates with the RTX Grifball Championship.
Entry into the Professional League is done through a series of Qualifiers. The top teams in each Qualifier receive invitations to join the Professional League. Teams that fail to make the Professional League still have opportunities to make waves throughout the season through a number of Opens as part of the GPT Tournament Circuit, allowing dark-horse teams to play their way into future Professional League contention and potentially a Major Championship wildcard seed. A total of four opens are held over the course of each season as well as one invitational tournament, which each of those events earning top-placing teams ladder points on the Tournament Circuit. Professional League teams can also earn ladder points by winning their league games. The top teams on the ladder at the end of the season have the chance to earn invitations to the season’s Major Championship, along with the top teams from the Professional League.
All teams are restricted to a roster size of 4 players. Players can be added or dropped from a team’s roster at any point throughout the season, with the exception of a couple roster lock periods held during tournaments and other major events. A player who is dropped cannot be added back to the same team’s roster for 14 days after the release to prevent abuse.
Due to the small roster size, additional measures have been taken to offer Professional teams a level of flexibility with their matches. Professional League games may be rescheduled to any day/time during their original scheduled week at any point during the season up to the beginning of that week; once the week begins, that week’s games are then locked. Teams also have the option of using up to 1 player not in the Professional League as a stand-in for a game, with some restrictions.
At the end of the season, four teams will receive invites to the Major Championships: two teams based on Professional League win percentage, and two teams based on their ladder score in the Tournament Circuit. A “Last Chance” Qualifier also offers two teams a chance to play their way into the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination Major Championship.
The RTX Championship will consist of 8 teams, six of which are invited based on GPT performance and two filled though Qualifiers. The winner and runner-up of each Major Championship is guaranteed an invite to that year’s RTX Grifball Championship, with remaining RTX Championship invites going to teams based on their performance throughout the GPT year. An Attendee Qualifier held live at RTX will determine the final two teams. Any team in attendance at RTX that has not been invited to the Championship is eligible to participate.
The Grifball Pro Tour is also designed with a number of events and institutions to help recognize the top players in the league and offer teams and players another goal to work towards. Among these are a series of All-Star Events held at the end of each regular season as well as the GPT Hall of Fame.
When does the GPT start?
As the Pro Tour is built around the RTX Grifball Championship, each GPT year will begin following that event, around the August-September mark depending on that year’s RTX dates. Due to this timing, the first year of the GPT will only consist of a single season, with Professional League Qualifiers beginning January 2, 2017 and the “year” ending with the RTX 2017 Championship.
Anything else I should know about this new format?
As you can imagine, there’s plenty more about this format that hasn’t been covered here, although the above gives an overview of the key parts of the format and its setup. To help answer any questions our community and other potential players may have, we will be holding a “town hall” next Wednesday, November 2, at 8pm Eastern. The town hall will be held at our Twitch channel at http://twitch.tv/grifballhub. I will be present to answer any questions about the format, as will be DJBlue PDX and Ouglaf11, who are moderating the discussion. If you’re able to watch live, feel free to ask any and all questions regarding the format you may have in chat. If you are unable to attend, you can use this form to submit your questions for us to answer. We will be posting a recording of the broadcast after the event for those unable to watch.
I, like many others, am incredibly excited to be able to finally officially announce this format as we enter the next chapter of Grifball history, and look forward to being able to provide further information about the format as we get closer to the start of the Grifball Pro Tour. If you have any questions regarding the GPT that aren’t answered during the town hall, feel free to contact me either via Hub PM (Sonic) or via Xbox Live (SonicNachos) and I’ll be happy to answer.
See you on the court!