HWC 2017 Rostermania: Teams and Thoughts

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.

 

Courtesy of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins

Luminosity Gaming

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.

Evil Geniuses

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.

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

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.

Courtesy of ESL

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.

 

Str8 Rippin

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,

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.

 

Pnda gaming

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.

 

Team Allegiance

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, team captain of the new ALG squad. Courtesy of Tyler Ganza

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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OGRE 2’s Return to Halo

The man, the myth, the legend. The greatest of all time. Tom “OGRE 2” Ryan is a legend not only in the Halo community, but the esports community in general. He has won four 1v1 / FFA events, seven 2v2 events, and 40 4v4 events. This all adds up to a jaw-dropping, grand total of 51 tournament victories.

36 of these victories had Ogre 2 alongside his twin brother, Dan “OGRE 1” Ryan. 35 had Ogre 2 play with what came to be known as Halo’s first dynasty, the Final Boss squad, whose logo holds the coveted spot of my phone background. Not to mention being a five-time MLG National Champion across four different Halo titles. All the more impressive when considering there were only eight total MLG National Championships.

Courtesy of Major League Gaming.

Chargers los angeles rams coaches carmelo anthony airball

OGRE 2 competing at his last event before retirement, the HCS Pro League Summer Qualifier. Courtesy of ESL.

Ogre 2 originally played under Counter Logic Gaming at the start of the 2016 World Championship. He was later dropped following the acquisition of Tony “Lethul” Campbell. This event was frequently referred to as “Hurricane Lethul” for the abundance of surprising roster changes that followed.

After being dropped from CLG, Ogre 2 joined Team EnvyUs for a short time. Unfortunately, they did not qualify for the 2016 World Championship at NA Regionals.

Later, following his loss at the HCS Pro League Summer Qualifiers, Ogre 2 chose not to participate in the last chance qualifier. He later announced his retirement from competing. However, this may not be Ogre 2’s final tale.

Ogre 2 announced earlier this week that he would be attending the qualifiers for the 2017 Halo World Championship with amateur players, most notably HCS Fall Relegations player Tom “Saiyan” Wilson. This team scrimmaged a new roster of all HCS Pro League players, including Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller, and Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi.

The scrimmage ended with an 8-5 score in favor of Ogre 2’s new squad. While this “Bubu-Shooter” squad had lost a scrimmage playing Ogre 2, this result is notable nevertheless.

It is very possible that Ogre 2’s team could break into the much sought-after top eight in the qualifiers and that this team could progress into the HCS Pro League season after the 2017 World Championship.

Ogre 2 has stated that he does not plan to compete past Worlds. However, good results could change his mind. After retiring, Ogre 2 has been streaming Halo 5 consistently. He is now far superior to his former self, and can go toe-to-toe with any pro. Should he make the top eight, and be able to find success after, he may choose to remain. However, with roster swaps abound for amateur and pro teams alike, this could threaten his chances. Ogre 2 carries many fans with him, and his return to Halo has the capacity to bring back many nostalgic fans from the days of Final Boss.

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OpTic or EnvyUs? Who is the Best Team After Fall Season?

Throughout the majority of competitive Halo history, two teams usually stood above the rest, and were the only expected championship contenders; First it was Final Boss and Carbon, then Str8 Rippin and Triggers Down, and later Instinct and Status Quo. In the modern era, it seems that this trend is continued, as eSports giants OpTic Gaming and Team EnvyUs clash yet again. However, are the king-slayers Team EnvyUs truly ready to outright dominate the HCS as OpTic has done since HWC Regionals?

Team EnvyUs:

NV as an org has had a roller coaster of a ride in Halo. The team did not even qualify for HWC 2016, despite having the GOAT of Halo, Tom “OGRE 2” Ryan, and a player affectionately referred to by the community as “The Wizard,” Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese. To put this into context, the previous time Ogre 2 and Pistola teamed, they formed the Instinct god-squad. They won several events, including winning MLG Anaheim 2011 without dropping a single game. Following the conclusion of the HWC 2016, NV finished in the Summer Pro League in third, with a roster of Pistola, Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan and Tim “Rayne” Tinkler.

After the Summer Season, both eL TowN and Rayne left the team. With this, came the formation of what is possible the next Halo “God Squad.” Team NV acquired Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, one of the greatest players since the Halo 3 era, and Cuyler “Huke” Garland, a former Call of Duty player who had first made his name at HWC Regionals, and had gained a reputation through legendary snipes such as this (Warning to headphone users: You probably like your sense of hearing, do yourself a favor and turn the volume down):

Crowd footage courtesy of Mishwad

This is the team that has dethroned OpTic Gaming. Carrying their momentum from HCS Las Vegas, they accomplished what no team has been able to do since the start of 2016.

OpTic Gaming

This team, formerly CLG, has dominated the professional Halo scene since HWC Regionals and needs no introduction. With a roster of Paul “Snakebite” Duarte, Mathew “Royal 2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, and Tony “Lethul” Campbell, this team was unstoppable. Snakebite, Royal 2, and Lethul put up constant slaying power, allowing Frosty to do disgusting things like this.

And this:

This squad became the first Halo World Champions, the HCS Summer Season Champions, and won the HCS Orange County event. Their remarkable streak was only broken at the Fall Finals in December. This loss can either motivate them, or anchor them down coming into the Halo World Championship.

Conclusion

One could say that since the NV squad won the last event, they are now the best team. But with OpTic having dominated for so long, can NV be the best after winning once? Both arguments carry validity. What follows is solely my opinion.

Let’s look at the numbers. OpTic defeated NV twice at HCS Orange County with an ending score of 10-2 in favor of OpTic. The next LAN event that these teams met at was the Fall Finals. OpTic dominated NV in the Winner’s Bracket Finals with a 3-1 finish. Meeting again in the Grand Finals, NV reset the series by winning 4-2. They became the first team to beat OpTic on LAN by defeating them in a second best-of-seven series 4-3. The total record of games is 18-11 in favor of OpTic.

While NV has managed to defeat OpTic on LAN, I do not believe they are the best Halo team as of yet. Not only does OpTic out-perform NV on the basis of games won on LAN, but other factors could have contributed to OpTic’s loss that were outside of the game. It is also completely legitimate to say that OpTic just had a bad series, just as they did at X-Games. However, following the end of the Fall Season, the total game score of online scrims is 13-9 in favor of NV. With that said, these are online results, and are far less important when considering that OpTic is a far superior team on LAN than online.

NV may have won the last event and taken the title of Fall Season Champions; But much like X-Games, they may have awakened a sleeping dragon.

I hope everyone enjoyed the read! To find more top-notch articles about sports and eSports, like and follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter! Check out the Team Beyond forums to participate in the discussion of Halo eSports. Get in touch with me personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following me on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

All clips are courtesy of Microsoft, 343 Industries, ESL and the HCS.