OpTic Gaming, Splyce remain undefeated in first week of HCS Pro League

The HCS Pro League kicked off the Summer Season this week. The Summer league hosts eight weekly matchups between the top eight professional Halo teams. Week one featured several highly-anticipated matches, and yielded some surprising results. Only two teams remain undefeated after the first week: OpTic Gaming, and Splyce. This article will examine both teams’ matchups, and discuss some of the more unexpected results.

 

OpTic Bounces Back

Following a second place finish at HCS Daytona, OpTic seems to have regained some of the momentum that was lost at the event. OpTic finished the week 2-0, claiming victories over both Ronin Esports and Team EnVyUs.

OG bounced back after their loss at HCS Daytona. Image by Astro Gaming.

The first victory came as the headlining match of day one, against Carlos “Cratos” Ayala and the rest of Ronin Esports. OpTic started the series strong, taking a convincing game one on Plaza Strongholds 100-32. The two teams next battled on Eden Slayer, where OpTic prevailed yet again, by a score of 50-41. With their backs against the wall, Ronin attempted to hold off the Green Wall in Truth CTF, but couldn’t bring more than one flag back to their base. Despite holding OpTic to dual flag captures, Ronin were defeated 2-1, as OpTic completed the sweep.

The second match for OpTic pitted them against the HCS Atlanta Champions, Team EnVyUs. OpTic, seeking redemption for their performance at the event, started the series off poorly. The Green Wall fell into a two-game deficit after losses on Truth CTF and Plaza slayer. Facing a sweep, OpTic regained composure, and roared back with victories on Eden Strongholds and Fathom CTF. In game five Coliseum Slayer, OpTic’s momentum proved too strong for EnVy, as TJ “Lethul” Campbell and crew cruised to a dominant 50-38 victory. The reverse-sweep sends a clear message to OpTic doubters, and serves as a testament to the team’s resilience.

 

Splyce Proves They’re Here to Stay

After winning the Daytona Placement Cup, and a surprising top four finish at HCS Daytona, many began to wonder if Splyce would slow down as the Summer Season progressed. If the first week of the Pro League is any indication for the future, Splyce will be a force to be reckoned with. The young team, helmed by Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, finished the first week of Pro League at an impressive 2-0.

The first matchup placed Splyce up against a retooled Evil Geniuses roster. Following the retirement of Brett “Naded” Leonard, the community wondered how the team would stack up in the Pro League. The back and forth series began in Evil Geniuses’ favor, after a jarring win on Plaza Strongholds. Splyce bounced back with two wins, which included an incredibly dominant 50-18 victory on Eden Slayer.

Splyce looked dominant in Week 1 of the Pro League. Image by Halo eSportswikis

Evil Geniuses responded with a commanding win of their own, taking Rig Strongholds 100-22, and tying the series at two games apiece. Both teams battled their hearts out in game 5 Coliseum Slayer, but Splyce emerged victorious, as EG seemed to run out of steam.

The second matchup, much like OpTic, granted Splyce a chance at redemption against Team Liquid. Splyce were defeated in a seven-game series by Liquid in the Losers Bracket Semifinals at HCS Atlanta.

The matchup did not go the distance, however, as Splyce convincingly swept Liquid in their first meeting of the Summer League. The victory paints a new picture of Splyce as a possible top three contender, as they made short work of the usually-consistent Team Liquid roster.

 

Conclusion

With the first week of the Summer Pro League reaching its conclusion, several revelations can be made from the results. First, OpTic Gaming has the ability to shrug off a loss, and bounce back with force. Second, Splyce is only getting better with time. The acquisition of rising star Jonathan “Renegade” Willette will likely continue to benefit them, as they develop into a deadlier team over the course of the season.

Two teams surprisingly under-performed in the Pro League this week: Luminosity Gaming, and Str8 Rippin. Luminosity experienced two blowout losses at the hands of EnVyUs and Evil Geniuses, while Str8 lost a close series to Ronin Esports, and were edged out by Team Liquid. Both teams will need to come out swinging next week if they want to salvage their Pro League record, and avoid the risk of falling into an even deeper hole.

Are you surprised by the Week One Pro League results? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image by ESL 

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Halo Caster Mark “Onset” Hatcher makes a compelling case for LAN in Halo 6

In a video posted to YouTube Friday, European Halo caster Mark “Onset” Hatcher explains his thoughts about LAN and its importance to the Halo franchise. Simply put, LAN, or Local Area Network, is the process of connecting multiple devices together within a limited area. For competitive Halo, LAN has been the preferred method of tournament organizers for years. The low latency provided smoother gameplay and legitimized competitive results.

This all changed with the release of the Xbox One, which seemingly ditched LAN support for more of an “always-online” approach. As a result, competitions for Halo 2: Anniversary and Halo 5 must utilize online gameplay, even for live events. Problems with online services have provided a host of problems at these tournaments, most noticeably being the frequent game resets and long down times between matches.

With Halo 6 approaching, Onset presents a convincing argument for LAN support and its benefits. This article will break down his biggest points.

 

LAN as a Community Builder

In the video, Onset fondly recounts his experiences with friends at college. For example, he hilariously details how his friends would run ethernet cables through dorm room windows to play Halo together. This would result in other friends joining in on the fun, eventually purchasing their own consoles and copies of Halo. Onset describes how these types of sessions facilitate interest in the game, which can eventually grow into a local community.

Image by Kotaku

Onset notes that from there, the community becomes a tight-knit group with a shared interest in Halo. Some players may display an interest in competition, choosing to attend tournaments or compete online. Such interactions help both the casual and competitive side of the Halo community. Several old-school Halo players can affectionately point to similar experiences as a catalyst in growing their passion for the game.

These happenings are lost with Halo 5. The game offers no split-screen play, and the Xbox One lacks LAN support. Because online is the only avenue for interaction, the community has become a breeding ground for toxicity.

LAN Benefits Live Tournaments

In addition to the communal effect of LAN availability, Onset also discusses the burden of Halo 5 on tournament organizers. For Halo titles on the previous Xbox consoles, hosting a tournament was as simple as connecting consoles together. The ease of access resulted in booming local Halo scenes and increased capacity at national events. LAN also provided the best gameplay experience, where players could decidedly prove their skill.

Local events are made much easier with LAN Support. Image by The LAN Network

The Halo Championship Series events don’t offer this kind of environment, though. To help the online gameplay be smooth as possible, servers are flown out to each event. Different play stations have different servers, which can each provide different gameplay experiences.

Although he doesn’t explicitly say it, Onset alludes to a problem with competitive legitimacy because of the online nature of the tournaments. He suggests that a LAN-equipped Halo 6 can quell many of these difficulties, and provide a more sustainable tournament atmosphere at both the local and national level. Such a format can help players who cannot attend every national event and may also develop the more potent storylines that competitive Halo desperately needs.

Conclusion

Onset makes several strong points in his video and provides some nostalgia about what set Halo apart from other titles. The emotional connection to both the game and the community are what built the Halo scene. A core facet of building the community is LAN availability. Whether it be for late nights split-screening at a friend’s house or a lag-free national tournament, LAN is crucial for the longevity of Halo.

Featured image by twitch.tv/OnsetHalo

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Team EnVyUs claims victory at HCS Daytona after a thrilling Grand Finals

A Rivalry for the Ages

It’s been explicitly stated time and time again: EnVyUs is made to take down OpTic Gaming. But after failing to replicate the success they had at the HCS Fall 2016 Finals, many wondered if OpTic had become unbeatable. Following an embarrassing performance in the Grand Finals at the Halo World Championship, Team EnVyUs sought to regroup for HCS Daytona. The focus for this event: Beat OpTic Gaming, and demolish anyone else who dared to step in their way.

Of the three times the two teams met last weekend, Envy conquered OpTic twice, both times when it mattered most.

Image by HaloWaypoint

The first clash between OpTic and Envy occurred in the Winner’s Bracket Finals. Despite a close series against Team Liquid, the Green Wall appeared dominant. EnVyUs had just closed out a reverse-sweep against Ryan “RyaNoob” Gettes’ white-hot Oxygen Supremacy squad.

As fate would have it, the World Champions and HWC Runners-up crossed paths once more. This time, with a spot in the Grand Finals on the line.

The series did not go as expected for EnVyUs, as OpTic rallied to a 4-2 series victory. Although guaranteed a top 3 finish, EnVy was not satisfied. While OpTic waited comfortably in the Grand Finals, Envy met Team Liquid in the Loser’s Bracket Finals. EnVy’s resiliency prevailed, as they dominated Liquid with a 4-0 sweep. The win catapulted Envy into the Grand Finals, granting a second chance at taking down OpTic Gaming.

 

A Grueling Grand Finals

The first series of the Grand Finals started off strongly in EnvVy’s favor, putting up dominant performances on Empire Strongholds and Truth CTF to take a 3-0 lead. The threat of a bracket reset must have created a sense of urgency with OpTic gaming, as they retaliated with three straight wins to tie the series.

In Game 7, Regret Slayer, the teams exchanged blows for most of the game. Through superior map control, EnVy was able to create some distance late in the game. After trapping OpTic in their base, Envy edged out a win 50-47, and forced a bracket reset.

Image by TeamBeyond.net

The second series of the Grand Finals began much like the first, with Team EnVyUs jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Facing their first tournament loss since the Fall 2016 Pro League finals, OpTic stormed back with consecutive wins on Plaza Slayer and Rig Strongholds. With the series tied 3-3, a deciding game 7 would determine which team takes home a majority of the $75,000 prize, and the title of best Halo team.

The early stage of Game 7 Truth Slayer favored OpTic, as they established map control to lead by a few kills. With the help of Justin “Pistola” Deese and Cuyler “Huke” Garland, EnVyUs reclaimed control of the game through the midway point.

OpTic gaming was not finished, however, and took the lead through 35 kills with the help of some sneaky support plays by Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom. As a response, EnVy slowed down the pace of the game, closing the kill gap into the final moments of play. Following an epic triple kill by Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, EnVyUs again took the lead. Mikwen’s triple allowed Eric “Snip3down” Wrona to grab the Active Camo, who then closed the game with a triple of his own, winning the tournament.

Conclusion

Both teams put on a thrilling show throughout the grueling 14-game Grand Finals. In the end, the will of Team EnVyUs to win proved strongest, as they defeated OpTic Gaming. While the victory may not be total redemption for the Halo World Championship, it serves as a reminder that OpTic Gaming is human after all. Although incredibly dominant, the Green Wall is not free from some cracks in their foundation. At HCS Daytona, Team EnVyUs exposed these faults and had the skill to capitalize.

Will EnVyUs hold on to the crown? Let us know in the comments!


Featured image by HaloWaypoint

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HCS Daytona Pro Group Predictions and Analysis

The first event of the Halo Championship Series Summer Season takes place this weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida. With several major roster shake-ups occurring since the Halo World Championship, pro teams are eager to display their new forms, and take their shots at the $75,000 prize pool.

Coming into the event, OpTic Gaming looks as strong as ever, not slowing down in performance since their dominant HWC performance. Rounding out the top 3 are EnVyUs and Team Liquid, maintaining their HWC Rosters. EnVy looks to build from their burgeoning late-season success last year, and finally topple OpTic. In their way stands Team Liquid, a squad of young-gun contenders, who have maintained consistency since forming.

The rest of the top 8 has undergone major changes since the Halo World Championship. HCS Daytona will serve as an opportunity for each team to establish their place in the rankings. In this article, I’ll analyze the Pro Groups, and make predictions for the Championship Bracket.

Top 8 Pro Rosters

Here are the teams and rosters making up the top 8. You can view the round-by-round gametypes here.

OpTic Gaming- Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, T.J. “Lethul” Campbell, Matt “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom

Team EnVyUs- Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Cuyler “Huke” Garland

Team Liquid- Tim “Rayne” Tinkler, Zane “Penguin” Hearon, Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Kevin “Eco” Smith

Str8 Rippin- Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz, Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi

Luminosity Gaming- Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson, Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor

Splyce- Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro, Jon “Renegade” Willette

Ronin Esports- Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Cory “Str8 SicK” Sloss, Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Ayden “Suspector” Hill

Evil Geniuses- Justin “Roy” Brown, Jason “Lunchbox” Brown, Brett “Naded” Leonard, Michael “Falcated” Garcia

Group A

Teams: OpTic Gaming, Evil Geniuses, Str8 Rippin, Luminosity Gaming

The first two matchups of Group A are between OpTic Gaming/EG, and Str8/Luminosity. Evil Geniuses has largely changed in the offseason, replacing Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski and Tom “Ogre2” Ryan with Naded and Falcated. The RoyBox twins adding a veteran in Naded will surely benefit the team, but they are too new to stand a chance against the behemoth that is OpTic Gaming. OpTic wins this series 3-0.

Danoxide has big shoes to fill on Str8 Rippin. Image by Halo EsportsWikis

Str8 Rippin lost Renegade to Splyce after worlds, and have added Danoxide in his place. They will face Luminosity Gaming, who has looked solid in scrimmages since the HWC. Although Danoxide is a powerful player, he can’t replace the pure firepower that Renegade brought to Str8. Luminosity Gaming takes the series 3-2.

The final Winners Bracket matchup of Group A will be between OpTic and Luminosity. While I think OG far outclass Luminosity in objective play, LG may scratch out a win in Game 2 Regret Slayer. OpTic Gaming wins this series 3-1, and secures first place in Group A.

Losers Bracket: Str8 Rippin 3-1 Evil Geniuses, Luminosity Gaming 3-1 Str8 Rippin

Final Group A Standings:

  1. OpTic Gaming
  2. Luminosity
  3. Str8 Rippin
  4. Evil Geniuses

 

Group B

Renegade and Splyce must perform at their best if they want to take Group B. Image by Splyce.gg

Teams: EnVyUs, Ronin Esports, Liquid, Splyce

Following their wins at HCS Las Vegas and the HCS Pro League Finals, EnVyUs struggled to reach the top. They came closest to reclaiming victory at HWC 2017, but were shut down by OpTic Gaming in the grand finals. Envy will want to come out of the gates hot at HCS Daytona, and their first victim will be Ronin Esports. Formerly known as Crowd Pleasers, Cratos and friends will have a very hard time handling the long-lasting expertise of a team like EnVyUs. This series will be a quick one, as EnVy takes it 3-0.

The second matchup in round one of Group B will be interesting, as Team Liquid faces Splyce. Following the acquisition of Renegade from Str8 Rippin, Splyce has performed incredibly online, winning the second online placement cup. This one may be too close to call, but I see Splyce catching Liquid off-guard, and taking the series 3-2.

In the final Winners Bracket matchup of Group B, Team EnVyUs will pit themselves against Splyce. Although Splyce has boosted their slaying ability with Renegade, Envy has the advantage of roster continuity and chemistry. As a result, they will operate like a well-oiled machine against the aggressive young-guns. Splyce may be able to pull out a win on Eden Strongholds in Game 3, but this matchup plays to Envy’s favor. Envy takes the series 3-1.

Losers Bracket: Team Liquid 3-2 Ronin Esports, Splyce 3-1 Team Liquid

Final Group B Standings:

  1. Team EnVyUs
  2. Splyce
  3. Team Liquid
  4. Ronin Esports

Conclusion

Featuring several new rosters, and brand new competitive settings, HCS Daytona will not be an event to skip over. Check out all the action this weekend live on twitch.tv/Halo.

Do you agree with the predictions? Do you think OpTic Gaming is poised for another win? Let me know in the comments!

Featured image by Twitter.com/HCS 

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The New Halo 5 Matchmaking Update Won’t Punish You for Bad Teammates

In a community update yesterday, 343 Industries’ Josh Menke shared details of new matchmaking updates coming to Halo 5. These recent updates make life a little easier for players in ranked playlists when teammates decide to quit. Additionally, ranked playlists will see some balance tweaks to competitive skill rating (CSR) and matching times. This article breaks down the latest changes, and explains their importance to ranked Halo 5.

The “Soft Forfeit”

In his update, Menke introduces the concept of a Soft Forfeit for ranked matchmaking games. The premise of the Soft Forfeit is to not punish players for leaving matches if someone has already quit out of the game. Previously, quitting a ranked match under any circumstance automatically decreased CSR, and put the player at risk for a matchmaking ban. These bans ranged in time due to the frequency at which players left ranked games.

Players will no longer be banned for quitting after teammates. Image by Youtube.com

The new system will still net players a standard CSR loss for losing the game, but will not ban players who leave ranked games after someone has already quit. Menke explains that while leavers will always lose CSR, players will not be unnecessarily punished for unsporting teammates. The first player to leave a ranked game, however, will be subject to extra CSR loss, and a potential ban.

This update will surely have ranked playlist-goers rejoicing, as many felt punished for having teammates that don’t stick around. Halo 5 as a team-oriented arena shooter needs balance to operate correctly. An advantage in numbers almost always throws games askew, and now players won’t be forced to finish those games.

 

CSR Economy and Wait Times

In addition to the soft forfeit feature, Menke details some troubles with high-skilled players in matchmaking. Previously in ranked playlists, high-CSR players sometimes received matchmaking ratios (MMR) that are a little too high for their actual skill. These inflated MMRs created a wider gap between players, resulting in greatly increased wait times when searching ranked matchmaking. Menke explains that while these adjustments improve search times, players won’t be placed in extremely uneven matches.

Image by Halowaypoint.com

To combat ranked playlist inflation, the update will tighten up CSR boundaries. The pool of Onyx-ranked players will now be more exclusive, and the elusive “Champion” rank even harder to achieve. These changes will place competitors into ranks that better represent their skill level, while also lowering incentives for smurf accounts.

To represent just how drastic the CSR adjustments are, a comparison between seasons for Champion-ranked players is necessary. Prior seasons required players to earn CSR scores of 3,000 or higher to reach Champion. Currently, the top-ranked champion player only has 1,874 CSR. This score, If applied to prior seasons, would place players in the low-middle tier of Onyx.

 

Conclusion

Although the wait for fair matchmaking treatment has been lengthy, players can now relax a little more when trying to rank up. The changes are another step in 343 Industries’ process to prove to players that feedback is certainly being heard. Rather than being punished for jerk teammates, players can now leave an uneven game without fear of excessive penalties. As a result, players can hop back into more even ranked games, and have a healthier, less rage-inducing matchmaking session.

Featured image by Halowaypoint.com

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Heavy Aim: What it is and why it’s a problem

Since release, players in Halo 5 have experienced several problems with the game’s mechanics. None are more frustrating, however, than the phenomenon of heavy aim. This article will attempt to explain what heavy aim is and why the negative implications extend to competitive Halo 5.

Heavy aim is the tendency for Halo 5’s aiming mechanics to suddenly experience inconsistency, causing slow or unresponsive movement.  These inconsistencies appear as variable input lag and aim acceleration. When combined, these issues cause the reticle to feel sluggish and heavy, compromising player accuracy.

 

“Like Aiming Underwater”

There seems to be a debate on whether this problem exists because of server connections, overexerted Xbox One hardware, or both. Some claim that the aiming mechanics of Halo 5 are tied to connection quality. Disparities with a player’s connection to different online servers can amplify the problem, especially when connected to a server hosting players from diverse locations. These claims have however largely been unsubstantiated, leaving some to wonder if overloaded Xbox One hardware is the culprit.

More recently, in a post to the TeamBeyond forums, user Mib2347 demonstrated that hardware may indeed produce heavy aim. To test for aiming inconsistencies, Mib2347 created a modded Xbox controller that moves the reticle at the exact moment a weapon is fired. He then fired from the same position in a Halo 5 custom game to determine if reticle movement varied.

When compared with a similar test on Halo: CE, Mib2347 discovered that even when offline, the Halo 5 aiming displayed inconsistent reticle movement. This led him to conclude that the input lag is the product of a bogged-down Xbox One CPU. The problem only increases when taken online, however, as a players profile contains armor and REQ items, which further consume CPU and RAM.

 

Why This Matters

Several pro players have spoken up about heavy aim, even claiming that it is present at live events. This is a huge problem for the integrity of competitive Halo 5, as players may experience heavy aim at different degrees during play. The phenomenon may impact a player’s performance during crucial moments, resulting in situations where players cannot play at their full potential.

In competitive Halo, quick reaction time is important, heavy aim can be the difference between victory and defeat when every millisecond matters. 343 Industries has recognized the problem but has yet to release a definitive fix, to the chagrin of many in the competitive community. Although Halo 5 pushes the technical boundaries of the FPS genre, many just want the core mechanics to feel as they did with older titles.

Have you experienced heavy aim? Do you have a fix for this phenomenon? Let us know in the comments!


 

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Renegade’s Meteoric Rise: From Amateur Play to Str8 Rippin

Very few competitive Halo players make a splash shortly after entering the scene. Most players have to work long and hard to ascend the ranks and join the big leagues. Others, like Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, and Cuyler “Huke” Garland, have experienced a more prolific rise. Jonathan “Renegade” Willette is one of those players.

Upon entering the competitive Halo scene, Renegade proved he could compete with the best. His short professional career has landed him spots with reputable orgs like Elevate, Str8 Rippin, and most recently, Splyce. As the 2017 HCS Summer League commences, look for Renegade to continue establishing his place as a top Halo player.

2016 Season

Renegade surfaced in the Halo scene competing in the HCS Open Circuit. His team, Catastrophe, emerged as a top amateur team early. As a result, Renegade was courted by Team Elevate, where he would play briefly before being released. In an attempt to qualify for the relegation tournament and a shot at the Pro League, Renegade then formed a team with Halo veteran Faisal “Goofy” Khan.

The team failed to qualify, but Renegade had the eyes of top players on him. After the dismissal of OpTic Gaming’s faltering Halo roster, Renegade began subbing for Nick “MaNiaC” Kershner in the 2016 Pro League. Alongside Halo veterans Aaron “ACE” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, and Richie “Heinz” Heinz, Renegade helped lead the team to surprising victories over Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid.

Courtesy of 3sUP.gg

After a successful showing in the Pro League, Renegade found himself again teaming with ACE, representing The MoneyMatches Team at HCS Orange County. TMMT pulled off a surprising upset against Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Team Liquid in round two of the Championship Bracket and earned an impressive top 6 placing.

Renegade continued his success after joining 3sUP, making a solid push for relegation qualification at the HCS 2016 Open Circuit finals. 3sUP finished the Open Circuit Finals in first place, and thus qualified for the relegation tournament. However, the team ultimately missed the chance to qualify for the Pro League, as Enigma6 and Team Allegiance successfully defended their spots.

 

2017 Season

After being on the cusp of Pro League play in 2016, Renegade was invited to join Str8 Rippin for UGC St. Louis, 2017. The move reunited him with pro players APG, Heinz, and ACE, who would eventually finish 4th place at the event. Renegade’s talent was on display, however, showing off incredible snipes, and leading the squad to a near-upset of Team EnvyUs.

Courtesy of Halotracker.com

At ME Las Vegas 2017, Str8 Rippin qualified for HWC 2017. The qualification followed a back and forth series against Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ team Luminosity. Carrying the momentum into the Halo World Championship, Renegade and Str8 Rippin secured first place in Group D of pool play. In bracket play, Str8 emerged victorious in a close match against TMMT Crowd Pleasers, but would consequently be swept by an on-fire Team Liquid.

In the losers bracket, Str8 first overcame Splyce in an incredibly close best of 7. They would subsequently be swept by HWC 2017 runner-up Team EnvyUs. Renegade and Str8 ended their tournament run in 4th place, earning $50,000.

Placing top 4 at the biggest tournament of the year is no small feat. Renegade himself displayed consistency throughout the entire tournament. And like that, in a span of ten months, Renegade found himself going from shuffling between amateur teams to competing on Halo 5’s largest stage.

Conclusion

A few weeks ago, Renegade announced he would be joining team Splyce alongside young-gun Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller. The move came as a surprise to fans of Str8 Rippin, who anticipated the team to build on the top 4 Worlds placement.

As the HCS Summer Season approaches, Renegade will continue his professional career, and chase his first tournament victory. His achievements, however, will not go unnoticed by fans of competitive Halo. Furthermore, as a young star at the top of his game, Renegade will continue to be a dominant presence in Halo 5.

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Full Timeline for HCS Open Circuit Revealed, Online Cups Make a Return

In an announcement Monday, the HCS revealed a full timeline for the North American HCS Open Circuit. The timeline features six online placement tournaments and two conclusive live events. With HCS Daytona quickly approaching, amateur players must soon face off online for seeding points. This article presents the timeline for the HCS Open Circuit and breaks down the format.

HCS/UMG Daytona

To seed for HCS Daytona, Millennial Esports will host two online Placement Cups. Each cup will operate a double elimination format, with best-of-5

Image by Twitter.com/UMGEvents

series played throughout. The first cup will use the newly-crafted “V2” settings. This will be the first official tournament in which these settings are used. For the second Placement Cup, Halo mentions potential use of “V3” settings.

 

These Placement Cups will be open to any team outside of the top 7, and will likely draw most of the top amateur talent. To raise the stakes, Halo states that the winner of Placement Cup #2 will ultimately bear the 8th seed overall at HCS Daytona.

 

Important Open Circuit Dates

The Open Circuit format is as follows:

  • Placement Cup #1 – April 29-30
  • Placement Cup #2 – May 6-7
  • UMG/HCS Daytona – May 12-14
  • Cup #1 – May 27-28
  • Cup #2 – June 3-4
  • Cup #3 – June 24-25
  • Cup #4 – July 8-9
  • Dreamhack Atlanta – July 21-23

Details are still scarce surrounding the four online cups preceding Dreamhack Atlanta. It can be assumed that the cups will be used for seeding the amateur bracket. Four online cups will allow amateur teams to further solidify their status without placing too much weight on one single tournament

Image by ESLgaming.com

With the announcement, Halo reiterates their dedication to amateur players who want to fight for pro status. Although there will be several opportunities for amateurs to ascend the ranks, the heavy reliance on online play may leave a bitter taste in the mouths of players. Online tournaments drew criticism last season from pro and amateur players alike, due to their sometimes-unreliable nature. Hopefully, these tournaments will not be plagued with connectivity issues.

Despite players hoping for a more event-oriented Open Circuit, the improved structure will be a refreshing characteristic for most. Nevertheless, this summer will deliver more spectacular Halo matches, and prove who has best mastered the new competitive settings.

Are you competing in the upcoming Halo 5 Open circuit? Let us know in the comments!

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Player Feedback Noted as HCS Releases Version 2 Competitive Settings

Quickly following up on their promise to listen to the players, the HCS has adjusted the new competitive settings. The new settings, dubbed “Version 1” were released last week, receiving praise from many competitive players. The update, aptly named “Version 2” continues to tweak in-game properties and better balance the game. Due to the speed in which these settings are updated, it is possible that the settings used at HCS Daytona will have progressed to Version 3 or Version 4.

This piece will break down each change, and briefly discuss their impact on the game.

Battle Rifle Added to Carbine Two on Truth

Pink Tower has always been a power position, no matter which iteration of Midship is being played. In Halo 5, however, the presence of a Battle Rifle on Pink 2 created a very skewed balance of map positioning. To place better emphasis on the Carbine side of the map, a Battle Rifle has replaced the Carbine Rifle on Carbine 2.

Car 2 will now be a more contestable position. Courtesy of Youtube.com

 

The addition of a Battle Rifle will help players fighting on that side of the map, and make it a more viable position to defend. It will also eliminate much of the cross-mapping imbalance from Pink Tower, as players will have an equal precision rifle to fight back with.

 

Increased Magnum Ammo

The removal of the Assault Rifle as a starting weapon left the magnum as the lone tool for post-respawn play. Although this change was beneficial, the absence of a second weapon caused players to run out of ammo quickly. Players who were caught without magnum ammo were an easy target, and the default amount just wasn’t enough. To combat this occurrence, magnum ammo has increased to 60.

This change has effectively doubled the carrying capacity of the magnum, and will certainly reduce, if not eliminate situations in which players find themselves without a round to shoot.

 

Tactical Magnums in Fathom Treehouses

The TacMag creates stealthy precision. Courtesy of Reddit.com

343i cites pro player feedback as the primary influence behind this implementation. Previously, silenced Assault Rifles appeared in each treehouse. With automatics now phased out of Halo 5 competitive play, the stealthy tactical magnum will appear in its place. The tactical magnum is equipped with a silencer, thus allowing for stealthier plays.

The silenced magnum will help players put precision shots on opponents without appearing on the new radar. For this reason, it will be primarily useful when flanking. A player effectively utilizing the tactical magnum will sneakily stop a flag run, and buy time for teammates to counter-capture.

 

Plasma Pistol in Security on Eden Slayer

In the Version 1 settings, an Overshield was placed outside on Eden Slayer. The lack of an Overshield counter created a significant advantage for the team to reach the Overshield first. Resulting was a mad-dash to the Overshield at the beginning of games. To better balance the equation, a Plasma Pistol has been added to Security Tower.

The addition will allow players to feel more comfortable when utilizing a more balanced push at the start of each game. With a charged shot, the plasma pistol can remove an entire Overshield upon contact. Accordingly, players with the Overshield must now play more cautious to keep their precious powerup.

What are your thoughts on these changes? Are there any more you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments!

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Garrett! Get in touch with Garrett personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @gbSTATUS!

HCS Announces Summer Pro League 2017 Details

The Halo Championship Series has announced the official roadmap for the Summer 2017 Pro League. The announcement comes hot on the heels of brand new competitive settings, which are currently being tested. The new settings will make their official debut at HCS Daytona next month. This piece will recap the Pro League announcement and touch on competitive Halo plans for the rest of 2017.

North American Pro League

Following HCS Daytona in mid-May, the North American Pro League will make its official return on May 24. Pro teams will battle weekly in online matches to earn championship seeding points.

The HCS Summer Season will conclude with an open championship event at Dreamhack Atlanta from July 21 to July 23. Dreamhack Atlanta will feature an open bracket, and amateur teams will have the chance to battle their way to the title. As a result, Halo fans may see exciting upsets, as equal opportunity will be available for any team to succeed.

Additionally, the HCS announced seven pro teams that will comprise the Pro League top eight. Here are the teams:

  • OpTic Gaming
  • Team EnVyUs
  • Team Liquid
  • Str8 Rippin
  • Luminosity Gaming
  • TMMT Crowd Pleasers
  • Evil Geniuses

The eighth and final spot will be awarded to the winner of the Pro League Last Chance Qualifier, which will be announced soon. With rostermania in full-force, it will be interesting to see how these teams stand up as the Pro League action unfolds.

Courtesy of Halowaypoint.com

Dreamhack Atlanta

Also announced was the Summer 2017 Finals at Dreamhack Atlanta. The top six professional teams will auto-qualify for the event and will play in the championship bracket. The event will feature a crowdfunded prize pool of well over $100,000.

Although the top six teams will auto-qualify for championship bracket play, the seventh and eighth-seeded teams will have to play through the open bracket. These teams will be challenged by top amateur talent as they fight to keep their top eight Pro League hopes alive. As July approaches, the HCS plans to announce more specific details regarding the Dreamhack Championship.

Following Dreamhack Atlanta, the HCS will begin the Fall 2017 Season in late August, which concludes with another open championship at Dreamhack Denver in October. As the competitive settings continue to develop, the HCS will continue to announce more details.

Are you excited for more competitive Halo action? Will you be attending an open event, or competing online? Let us know in the comments!


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Garrett! Get in touch with Garrett personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @gbSTATUS!

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