With the conclusion of the Fall Season Pro League, many Halo teams have made some huge roster changes, and as usual, some drama has followed. With OpTic Gaming and Team EnvyUs retaining their previous rosters, let’s take a look at how the other teams are shaping up going into the 2017 World Championship season.
Luminosity Gaming ended their first stint in professional Halo in 5th place, just barely being knocked out of the Fall Season Finals by Str8 Rippin’s miracle run through the last half of the season. In preparation for HWC, LG has released fan-favorite player, Brett “Naded” Leonard as well as Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi. In their place, they have scooped up another fan favorite, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, as well as Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor, a player who made it to the Fall Season Relegations. The full LG squad heading into the HWC 2017 Season is now Ninja, TriPPPeY, Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, and Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan.
The success of this team lies with the consistency of Ninja. When he catches fire, he can consistently match teams such as OpTic and NV, possibly even beat them. The only issue here, is that Ninja can’t pull off these kinds of performances on a consistent basis. He’s always been an aggressive, high-risk, high-reward sort of power slayer. The issue with this is that it’s been more risk than reward as of late, leading to some low-damage and high death games. With Victory X and eL TowN bringing a proper objective focus to this squad, as well as TriPPPey’s consistent slaying power, this should allow room for Ninja to do what he needs to do. If he shows up, then this squad can definitely break into the top 4.
Being an EG fan has hurt, ever since NA Regionals last February. The twins, Jason “Lunchbox,” and Justin “Roy” Brown have just not been able to catch a break. Not because Roy and Lunchbox (collectively known as “Roybox”) are no longer able to compete, but instead because they have not been able to find players that can match their play styles. Even with this, the twins along with their teammates always managed to place well on LAN. This might just be what brings EG back into the winner’s circle.
— Evil Geniuses (@EvilGeniuses) January 12, 2017
Enter Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski and Devon “PreDevoNatoR” Layton. These two are now joining Roybox and coach Ryan “Towey” after the release of Ninja and Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher. ContrA brings excellent slaying power, with arguably one of the best magnum shots in the league. PreDevoNatoR rounds out the squad with a solid flex role, being able to slay and do objective work. The reason this is important, is because this is a similar combination of play styles that EG had when they were dominating Halo 2: Anniversary. While all players have a spotty record when it comes to online play, both RoyBox as well as ContrA and PreDevoNatoR have done far better when it comes to LAN play. They are likely to also break into the top 4. Make no mistake. This team is a threat and has the potential to be as much of a contender as NV or OpTic.
Team Liquid ended the Fall Season with a 3rd place finish. Looking to improve, Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali have been released. In an attempt to push to the same level as OpTic and NV, they have scooped up Stellur and Kevin “Eco” Smith to join Zane “Penguin” Hearon and Tim “Rayne” Tinkler.
This new Team Liquid is the most likely to catch up to NV and OpTic. Penguin and Rayne have already proven themselves to be a top duo with a top 4 finish at HWC 2016 and at both Pro League seasons. Combined with Stellur and Eco, this team has a scary amount of slaying power. These two have teamed along with Team Liquid previously in the Summer Season, and despite their poor overall placing, they looked like a team that could have made Finals in the final weeks of the season.
*Note: Team Liquid has not yet officially stated that this is their roster, but it is very likely. Regardless, this team will hold the Liquid seed.
This is a roster switch that many didn’t see coming. Most, (including me) had hoped that Str8 would stick with their roster of Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz and Eco, especially after the roller coaster they had been on, which concluded with their miracle run to the Fall Finals. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as Eco left the team for Team Liquid. In his place, Str8 has acquired a previous amateur player,
— Str8 Rippin (@Str8Rippin) January 14, 2017
This is not the first time that Jonathan “Renegade” Willette has played with Ace and crew. After Nick “Maniac” Kershner’s retirement, the team picked up their first victory in the Fall season with Renegade. He fills a similar role to Eco, being a great power slayer. Whether this will make Str8 stronger or weaker, remains to be seen.
Made up of Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Cory “Str8 Sick” Sloss, Brett “Naded” Leonard, and Kyle “Nemassist” Kubina, this roster’s legitimacy of holding a pro seed is questionable at best. Through unfair bending of the rules and usage of loopholes, Cratos and his squad have managed to hold the former Enigma 6 seed instead of the squad made by Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller and Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, much to the anger of the HCS community. While the ESL rules state that a team must have two members of it’s previous team to retain a seed (Which Bubu’s squad does and Cratos’ does not), Cratos still managed to snag the seed.
Nevertheless, they hold the seed. However, this squad has weakened from what it once was. Already being forced to Fall Relegations, the loss of Bubu Dubu and Shooter, two players who arguably carried the team through relegations, will hurt the team. With several other team’s looking to snatch one of the seven NA spots at Worlds, it is very possible that this team will not even make it to Worlds, at least as they are now.
Despite not holding a pro seed, this team will likely breeze into the top 6. Allegiance dissolved their seed from the Fall season to acquire a new roster of Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali, Ayden “Suspector” Hill, and Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi. This roster is going to be scary. Spartan, Suspector, and Danoxide are all excellent slayers and can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. All this slaying power leaves Commonly free to run objectives however he sees fit and to be a general annoyance for the opposing team.
Spartan will be either the catalyst or the anchor for this team’s success. He has consistently been an emotional player who can either carry his squad with jaw-dropping plays, or just be completely shut down and become a detriment. Throughout the Summer Season, he was unfortunately the latter. However, during the Fall Season, this was not so. Spartan was consistently leading his team in slays, and at the Fall Finals, rocketed his team through a game seven Rig Slayer to reverse-sweep Str8 Rippin. Despite not having a pro seed going into UGC St. Louis, this team is likely a top three contender.
Many story lines are taking shape on the road to the 2017 Halo World Championship. The personal battle between Bubu Dubu’s now amateur team and Cratos as well as the ever present OpTic vs. NV rivalry, many questions will be answered this weekend. Come back later this week for a preview and predictions for UGC St. Louis!
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