Mindfreak: Paving the way for APAC

In Australia, Mindfreak has been the team to beat for years. They are one of two APAC teams to ever place top eight at the Call of Duty Championship, and now they are the lone APAC team in the Call of Duty Global Pro League, a spot they earned over closest rival, Tainted Minds.  

With the Call of Duty World League restructuring this year to focus on international competition, Mindfreak restructured themselves as well when Denholm “Denz” Taylor left to join Tainted Minds, and Cody “Excite” Rugolo took his place. The move helped create two premier teams in the APAC region, with both Mindfreak and Tainted Minds traveling to North America for CWL Atlanta and CWL Dallas. At both events, Mindfreak placed better than Tainted Minds, and even won CWL Sydney over them, ultimately earning themselves the spot in the Global Pro League. Now, after placing third in Group Red, Mindfreak has paved the way for more of their countrymen, and others in the APAC region, to qualify for the Call of Duty Championship.

APAC Spots

APAC could have had as few as two teams qualify for the 2017 Call of Duty Championship, but now they could have as many as four.

With their recent placement, Mindfreak has already secured their trip to the year-end tournament. They also qualified for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, and a pool play spot at CWL Anaheim, encouraging other APAC teams to push for the same level of success.

At the end of Stage One, the lowest placing team in each group will fight for their spot in Stage Two via a Relegation tournament. Two new North American teams, one European team, and one APAC team have a shot at qualifying for Stage Two through this process, and Tainted Minds look to be the most likely APAC team to do so. If Tainted Minds do manage to make it into Stage Two, they automatically qualify for the Call of Duty Championship. Two other APAC teams will later qualify through the APAC Last Chance Qualifier, potentially bringing the total to four teams at Champs.

At the 2016 Call of Duty Championship, APAC was represented by four teams as well. Unfortunately, none of them made it out of pool play, a testament to stacked North American and European rosters at the tournament. Mindfreak beating out a North American team in the Global Pro League, however, proves that they deserve to be mentioned among the world’s top teams.

Team flags in MLG Arena.

What does Mindfreak do now?

There is a lot of time between now and Stage Two of the Global Pro League, which starts in late June. While Mindfreak would gain a lot of useful experience in North America scrimming against the likes of OpTic Gaming and FaZe, they are needed back on home turf.  

According to Mindfreak owner Albert “Naked” Nassif, the team will be heading back to Australia to prepare for the next CWL Sydney event, taking place May 12-14.

“The plan is to get them back [to North America] for S2 and Champs,” Naked said on Twitter.

Mindfreak will also be attending CWL Anaheim in June, as they are already qualified for pool play.

Naked was happy with his team’s performance in the Global Pro League, telling Game Haus, “Disappointing result, [but] performance was good. Map count of 10-15 isn’t bad [against] Splyce and nV twice.”

Mindfreak does not plan to settle for anything less than first. The rest of APAC, however, was content with Mindfreak’s placing because of the opportunities it created for other teams in the region.

Australian Call of Duty personality BioAcid told Mindfreak, “You guys did your org, your fans and your region proud this weekend. Keen to see you in S2.”

Other players also offered their congratulations to Mindfreak after their performance.

Mindfreak now looks forward as they have a busy few months ahead of them. They will prepare for CWL Sydney, CWL Anaheim, and another shot at making the playoffs in Stage Two of the Global Pro League.

Image: CallofDuty.com

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Call of Duty Global Pro League Week One Preview

Week One of the Call of Duty Global Pro League Stage One kicks off this weekend at the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Week One will feature North American teams EnVyUs and Cloud9, European team Splyce, and the sole team from the Asia-Pacific region Mindfreak.

Each team will face one another in a double round-robin format. The top two placing teams will advance to Playoffs as well as qualify for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, Pool Play at CWL Anaheim, and Call of Duty World Championship later this year. The 3rd place team will also qualify for Stage Two of the Global Pro League, Pool Play at CWL Anaheim, and Call of Duty World Championship. The team that places last will face Relegation in order to qualify for Stage Two.

Team EnVyUs

Team EnVyUs comes into Week One as the reigning Call of Duty World Champions. Currently sitting in 4th place in the NA Pro Point standings, EnUyUs is a favorite to take this group.

Led by veteran CoD pro Jordan “JKap” Kaplan, the Team EnVyUs roster is filled out by Austin “SlasheR” Liddicoat, Johnathon “John” Peres, and Bryan “Apathy” Zhelyazkov. After winning CoD Champs in Black Ops 3, EnVy suffered a slow start to the Infinite Warfare season. Their recent placing’s included 9th-12th at CWL Vegas, 3rd at CWL Atlanta, 9th-12th at CWL Paris, and 5th-6th at CWL Dallas. Although they have proven to be inconsistent this season, there is no doubting the raw skill each of these players possesses along with their in-game chemistry. With that in mind, EnVy looks poised to place 2nd in Week One at the lowest.

From left to right: John, SlaheR, Apathy, JKap


If there was one word to sum up Cloud9 in Infinite Warfare, it would be inconsistent. After knocking out OpTic Gaming at the 2016 CoD Champs, Cloud9 were riding high as they made their IW debut.

At the helm of Cloud9 is veteran CoD villain Patrick “ACHES” Price. Alongside is fellow veteran Richard “Ricky” Stacey, Adam “Assault” Garcia, and Andres “Lacefield” Lacefield.

Having a great start with a 2nd place finish at CWL Vegas, Cloud9 bombed out of the next two events placing 17th-20th at both CWL Atlanta and Paris. Many speculated a roster change would follow after these abysmal placings, but Cloud9 stuck together and managed a more respectable 9th-12th placing at CWL Dallas. Known as a team with weak mental fortitude, perhaps unjustly considering their willingness to stick together, Cloud9 will need to remain levelheaded if they wish for a top two placing this weekend.

Ricky and Lacefield after beating OpTic at CoD Champs 2016


Coming off an embarrassing defeat at CWL Birmingham, in which they lost two best-of-five series 3-0 to Epsilon, Splyce is looking forward to proving they are still the best team in Europe.

Splyce, made up of Benjamin “Bance” Bance, Dylan “Madcat” Daly, Jordan “Jurd” Crowley, and Trei “Zer0” Morris, still come into Week One in 1st place in the EU Pro Point standings even after Birmingham.

Before last weekend at CWL Birmingham, Splyce looked to be a clear favorite to take Week One alongside EnVy, however, some have their doubts. After losing the first Hardpoint in the Grand Finals Splyce seemed to roll-over in defeat as Epsilon walked all over them. However, this one event does not sum up Splyce in Infinite Warfare. After a 9th-12th placing at CWL Vegas, Splyce has finished within the top 8 at every international event, and 2nd at both EU-only events, showing they’re more than capable of defeating the other teams in Week One.

Madcat and Jurd courtesy of MLG


The only team from the APAC region in the Global Pro League, Mindfreak carries Australia’s sole hope of success in Stage One. At the beginning of the Infinite Warfare season, Mindfreak made a stunning roster change as Denholm “Denz” Taylor left his teammates of over two years to form a new team under Tainted Minds. Mindfreak now consists of Mitchell “BuZZO” Mader, Conrad “Shockz” Rymarek, Lincoln “Fighta” Ferguson and Denz’s replacement Cody “Excite” Rugolo.

This year, Mindfreak has only competed in two international events, placing 17th-20th at CWL Atlanta and 9th-12th at CWL Dallas. On their home turf, Mindfreak is the clear cut best in their region, winning the APAC-only CWL Sydney with a demoralizing reverse sweep out of the Loser’s Bracket over Denz and Tainted Minds. Coming into Week One as the underdog in the group, Mindfreak can cause an upset, but more than likely will face relegation before Stage Two.

Mindfreak’s 2017 CoD roster


Jack Waters is an avid Call of Duty Esports fan and wants to hear from YOU! Find him on Twitter.

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The Downfall of Lurking

The art of lurking is perhaps the most distinct role within Counter-Strike. Personally, I would describe the lurker as being the thorn in the enemy’s side. It is their job to apply pressure to the opposing team by being a constant distraction. These types of players commonly play based off of enemy grenade usage, sound cues, and information gathered by their team in order to catch the enemy off guard.

The most famous lurkers have truly ingenious instincts to play at such an incredibly high level. So let’s take a look at some of Global Offensive’s storied lurkers.

Cream of the Crop


Not only one of Counter-Strikes most famous lurkers, but one of its most famous players of all time is Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund. The Swede defined the role late in the 1.6 era and carried it through to Global Offensive. He joined the resurrected Ninjas in Pyjamas line up in 2012 and has stuck with them ever since.

GeT_RiGhT demonstrated the effect being a backstabber could have. Often, he waits for his team to secure the opposing bomb site, then, after he hears the enemies rotating, he comes in from behind and cleans up the remaining kills.

GeT_RiGhT made famous the position in apartments on Inferno where he is known to wait while his teammates attack B. This lurk, in particular, is extremely effective because it means the Counter-Terrorists have no knowledge of whether there are five terrorists ready to execute the A-bomb site or just one lurking. Once the terrorists have control of the apartments, it is usually too risky for the CT’s to take back.

Due to the dominance of Ninjas in Pyjamas from 2012 through 2014, opposing teams not only fear the physical lurk but also the mental presence. Just the idea that GeT_RiGhT  ‘could’ be in apartments can sometimes be enough to crack teams.


A player who built on the legacy started by GeT_RiGhT is Vincent “Happy” Schopenhauer. Happy was a part of the LDLC/Team EnVyUs lineup that won two major tournaments amongst other premier LAN events. Much like GeT_RiGhT, Happy plays away from the team to create situations where he could kill enemies from behind. On the T side, he plays much farther removed from his team than GeT_RiGhT does, making it harder for the enemy to track him. However, it’s his daring flanks on the CT side where he times his push to perfection, executing the terrorists with deadly effect. On dust2, Happy waits for the exact right moment to push short or long, leading to a plethora of multi kills.


The final player is a North American: none other than Spencer “Hiko” Martin. This is a player who, similarly to our favourite Swede, helped define North America early on. He was on the Complexity roster that achieved legend status at two major tournaments.

One of Hiko’s trademarks is playing at the squeaky door on Cache. He not only hides out listening to enemy sound cues but creates his own. He repeatedly opens and closes the door as well as spraying through it. This prolongs enemy rotations if his team heads to the B bombsite due to the fear that Hiko can flank. Furthermore, if his team is coming A, he causes panic in the CT’s minds because he will continue playing with the door during the full execute. You just never know when he’s going to jump out.

Double major champion Happy pictured at Dreamhack London (Source: pcgamer.com)

Decline of Lurkers

In recent years, lurkers stats have dropped dramatically, leaving the likes of Happy and Hiko to miss out. Many people are skeptical of whether these players are past their time or not. Part of the problem is that the majority of players have become aware of lurkers and how to counter them. On the older maps, it has become increasingly difficult for GeT_RiGhT and Hiko to innovate new ways to lurk, meaning that lurking on maps such as Cache, Inferno, and Mirage has stagnated.

However, I think the larger problem is that the modern faster meta doesn’t favour them. Since the introduction of the Tec-9 and more recently the UMP, teams have been able to win rounds more easily with limited equipment. A style introduced by none other than Happy himself, players abuse the power of the pistols and UMP by holding close quarter angles to pick up a kill. This subsequently reduces the round to a series of one versus ones making it much easier for the limited team to win. This fast-paced style has created a movement in which teams are now choosing five fantastically skilled players over playing with more defined roles. It’s not to say that lurkers aren’t amazing riflers, it’s that they peak when they get the chance and use their brain to win the round.

Happy was a loser in the most recent French shuffle, missing out on the chance to play with Richard “shox” Papillon and Kenny “kennyS” Schrub. Hiko is currently teamless after a brief stint with OpTic Gaming where they publically stated that he didn’t fit their style. If some of the game’s best lurkers can’t stay atop, is there any hope for the up-and-comers?

Hiko didn’t don the OpTic jersey for very long. (Source: dexerto.com)

What can they do?

Despite Hiko and Happy being unwilling to adapt to the changes, GeT_RiGhT has made efforts to try and recraft his artwork. In the current iteration of NiP, you can find him becoming the entry fragger on full executes. Since he is so fabled for playing away from the team, he has taken on this role to occasionally cause CT’s to wonder whether he is just lurking or whether there is a delayed execute of Ninjas behind him.

Another way lurkers could change their game is to essentially become support players similar to how Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth plays on Astralis. By doing this, the players would still be able to play from the clutch using their intuition to win. Consequently, it would mean that they wouldn’t take one of the star player spots and the resources of the team. In turn, they could recruit a younger superstar that’s more in line with the modern meta. That way they can funnel all their resources into the new star and bet all their money on them.

There is still hope for lurkers yet.

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via FGCnow

Pacman rejoins Rise Nation as CoD team coach

Veteran Call of Duty pro Jonathan “Pacman” Tucker has returned to Rise Nation, not as a player, but as a coach and manager for their CoD team.

Having played competitively since Call of Duty 2, Pacman is one of the longest serving members of the competitive CoD scene. Pacman’s first tournament win dates all the way back to November 2008 at the MLG National Championship. Competing with Joey “Moho” Morehouse, Robert “ASSASS1N” Walsh, and “Choppy” under Team FeaR, Pacman and crew took home the $8,000 grand prize. Unfortunately, Pacman’s first tournament win would also be his last.

Team FeaR circa 2008. From left to right: Moho, ASSASS1N, Choppy, Pacman.

Ghosts and Advanced Warfare

During his time on Rise Nation during Ghosts and Advanced Warfare, Pacman, along with longtime teammate Jamal “Whea7s” Lee, experienced mixed success. They competed with notable players such as Damod “FEARS” Abney, future CoD World Champion Dillon “Attach” Price, and current Rise Nation captain Daniel “Loony” Loza.

Rise placed 7th at the 2014 CoD Championship, 2nd at the 2014 MLG CoD League Season Three Playoffs, and 7th -8th at the 2015 MLG Pro League Season One Playoffs with Pacman on the roster.

Black Ops 3 and beyond

Pacman was at the helm of Team SoloMid’s short-lived Call of Duty experiment during Black Ops 3. Again teaming with Whea7s, Pacman and TSM qualified for the 2016 NA CWL Stage One Regular Season with Andrew “Ivy” Ivers and Cole “ColeChan” Chancey.

This combination of new talent and veteran leadership looked promising on paper. Though the team was able to qualify, they weren’t able to break into the upper echelon of their fellow North American competitors and struggled throughout much of Stage One. Pacman ultimately finished Black Ops 3 with a 17th-24th placing at CoD Champs with eUnited, at the time featuring Whea7s, Ivy, and Lamar “Accuracy” Abedi.

After a shaky start to Infinite Warfare with eUnited and failing to qualify for Stage One of the CWL Global Pro League without a sponsored team, Pacman now leaves his playing career behind to take on a coaching role for Rise Nation’s squad.


TSM’s CoD endeavor only lasted one Season.

A Rise Nation team with a lot to prove

Pacman will now join former teammate Loony, Tyler “FeLony” Johnson, Brice “Faccento” Faccento, and Ulysses “Aqua” Silva in a team that many believe may be in trouble heading into Stage One.

The team, consisting of most of the old Elevate roster from Black Ops 3, won MLG Las Vegas, the first major tournament in Infinite Warfare. However, Rise Nation has yet to claim another victory and has become one of the most inconsistent teams to qualify for Stage One.

Rise went on to place 9th – 12th at CWL Atlanta, 3rd at ESWC Paris, and an abysmal 17th -20th at CWL Dallas, after starting in Pool Play. Rise Nation now enters Stage One as the 6th seeded team in North America, having started the year in 1st. Pacman’s veteran experience and leadership should help this team become consistent as they look to regain form in the following weeks.

Rise Nation will soon face-off against FaZe Clan, Fnatic, and Evil Geniuses in Group Blue in the Global Pro League taking place April 28th – 30th.

This could possibly signal the end of Pacman’s career as a competitor, but at the same time could signal the beginning of a blossoming career as a team manager and coach. However, with rumors circulating that Call of Duty will be returning to “boots on the ground” this year, the future for many veteran pros is uncertain.

Jack Waters is an avid Call of Duty Esports fan and wants to hear from YOU! Find him on Twitter.

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Possible Roster Moves For EnVyUs and Team Liquid

Relegations are over, and EnVyUs and Team Liquid have earned their way back into the LCS. It wasn’t a domination by any means though. Both of these teams will need to make some changes for next split if they don’t want to finish bottom two again. Here are some possible roster moves I could see for both teams going into next split:


Courtesy: Riot Esports

EnVyUs began to pick up its play towards the end of the split. Their jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo developed into one of the best junglers in NALCS. Team EnVyUs will need to build around their star jungler going forward. Where they can look to improve is in their solo laners. Top laner Shin “Seraph” Wu-Yeong and mid laner Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo looked close to mediocre in their roles last split. It’s questionable how Ninja is still worth an import slot at this point.

Envy’s bot lane was heavily underrated last split. Apollo “Apollo” Price and Nikolas “Hakuho” Surgent held their own against some of the best, and have shown they can compete at an LCS level. They also serve as valuable assets as they don’t take import slots.

Possible Roster Moves:

Looking at possible imports and challenger players available, they may look to the team that they had to defeat to get back into LCS. Gold Coin United’s solo laners may be adequate replacements. Mid laner Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun has has also proven to be a mechanically skilled mid laner that’s able to compete with some of the best in North America.

If Seraph doesn’t play next split, they could look to either Colin “Solo” Earnest or Eric “Licorice” Ritchie. Solo has been bouncing around the challenger scene for awhile now, but looked to hold his own during the promotion tournament. Licorice also had some impressive games during the promotion tournament that could see him being looked at for an LCS team soon.

Another notable import could be EU Giants’ Na “NighT” Gun-woo. NighT made quite the impact during his rookie split last season. He was a lone star on a struggling Giants roster this split. He has shown the ability to be able to play against some of the best mids in Europe.

Team Liquid

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Team Liquid has quite the dilemma going forward. With Yiliang “Doubelift” going back to TSM, they’ll need to decide whether they keep Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin at Mid or move him back to his former role. Piglet has quite a while to prepare to become a better mid laner for Summer, but whether he’ll want to come back is the question. Piglet may have reached his breaking point, having failed to bring Team Liquid to Worlds in multiple consecutive splits now.

Support Matt “Matt” Elento has struggled since his phenomenal rookie split. Matt said in interviews that the pressure was beginning to affect his play. With the announcement of Adrian “Adrian” Ma’s departure from the team, Matt will be the support going forward.

The only sure roster locks that I see Team Liquid keeping are top laner Samson “Lourlo” Jackson and jungler Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin. Lourlo was still inconsistent last split, but I don’t think he did bad enough to be benched, and still showed glimpses of a star top laner. Reignover certainly struggled last split, but he returned to star form near the end of the split.

The mid and ADC positions have the biggest question marks heading into Summer.

Possible Roster Moves:

Like team Envy, NighT is a definite option for them. Piglet wasn’t the worst mid laner, but you could tell he didn’t know his lane matchups quite well enough yet. NighT is an adequate option as he has experience communicating in English. Team Liquid has experience integrating Korean Imports into their lineup as well. NighT has shown that he can be a force in the mid lane. Bringing Piglet back to the ADC role would also not be the worst thing with recent patches making them much more powerful than before.

Looking at the ADC role, Eunited’s ADC Matthew “Deftly” Chen showed some good games in the promotion tournament. He had a tremendous score line in game one against TL. He’s an up and coming NA talent to watch after having a feature on his Scouting Grounds experience.


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Status’ Top 5 Moments from the 2017 Halo World Championship Finals

The 2017 Halo World Championship Finals has come and gone, but it brought some of the best moments to date in competitive Halo history. For the competitors, the event was the conclusion to several months of practice and competition. For spectators, it was wondering if anyone could topple OpTic’s Halo 5 reign. Sporting a one-million-dollar prize pool, an all-star casting crew, and some insane matches, the 2017 HWC Finals had no shortage of great moments. These are my top five.

5. Two Halo Legends Talk Competitions Past

Tom “TSquared” Taylor and Dave “Walshy” Walsh. Both legends of their respective craft, and monsters of Halo 2. Amidst the trash talk and in-game shenanigans at the HWC Finals, they took a break to reminisce of some vintage trash talk of the Halo 2 era. Referencing this clip, TSquared spoke of an embarrassing time when Walshy went after him with dual-needlers at an MLG tournament. At the time, Walshy was competing with legendary team Final Boss. In a time before fines and player discipline, trash talk was on another level. It was great to see these two talk about times past, and their passion for Halo competition.


4. Mikwen’s Epic Overkill vs. Str8 Rippin

When you are Str8 Rippin, and your backs are against the wall, the last thing you want is a red-hot Austin “Mikwen” McCleary on the opposing team. After going down 0-3 against Team EnVyUs, Str8 Rippin looked to bounce back in Fathom CTF. Their chances were bleak, but Str8’s resiliency had been on display all weekend.

The game started strongly in Str8’s favor, and the overkills flew as Envy eventually tied the game up. Going for the win, Envy’s Justin “IGotUrPistola” Deese grabbed the final flag, and headed for his base. Mikwen provided a perfect escort, and killed the entire Str8 Rippin team, clearing the way for the winning flag capture. The play perfectly underscored the lethality of Team EnVyUs, and ended a flawless series to progress them further in the bracket.


3. The Entire Str8 Rippin vs. TMMT Crowd Pleasers Series

When Str8 Rippin and Crowd Pleasers met in Round 1 of bracket play, everyone knew sparks would fly. Crowd Pleasers contained notorious trash-talkers Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Brett “Naded” Leonard, and pterodactyl impersonator Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi. These players were eager to knock Halo veteran Aaron “ACE” Elam and the rest of Str8 into the losers bracket early.

The series started heavily in favor of Str8, as they quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead. Crowd Pleasers were not content with a sweep, however. Cratos and crew answered with 3 straight wins, and forced a Game 7 against a stunned Str8 Rippin. As the crowd cheered in disbelief, the entire team gave Str8 the look of doom right before the deciding match.

In game 7 Regret Slayer, each team traded blows until Str8 capitalized on an overshield spawn, and pulled away. Upon victory, ACE was so excited that he hopped his way across the stage to shake the hands of Crowd Pleasers. This entire series was a back-and-forth battle, with a very satisfying end. The passion and personality clash between the teams is unmatched.


2. Frosty’s Disrespect

In Game 4 of OpTic Gaming’s Grand Finals sweep over EnVyUs, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom decided to have a little fun. His team was well on their way to defending their world title, and he wanted to show OpTic’s dominance to the world.

Love it or hate it, disrespect and competitive Halo have been inseparable since the beginning. At the end of the day, the players are friends, and what happens in-game, stays in-game. The showmanship exhibited by Frosty adds a layer of personality and excitement to the narrative, and is welcome in my opinion.


1. Snip3down Finds a Glitch

This was hands-down the best moment of the tournament for me. When tied 2-2 in a series between championship contenders, a glitch is the last thing on the mind. For Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, however, a rendering glitch allowed him to see through a wall, and set up a critical snipe on Tim “Rayne” Tinkler.

The greatest aspect is the reactions from both Snip3down himself, and the casters. Snip3down is so confused that he throws his hands up in disbelief mid-game. The casters are caught off-guard and lose their train of thought. Meanwhile the crowd is going crazy. The irony of a glitch making its debut during a million-dollar tournament is lost on nobody, and is incredibly hilarious as a result.

clips courtesy of twitch.tv/halo

These are my top-five moments from the 2017 HWC Finals! Did I miss anything amazing? Let me know in the comments!

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NALCS: Reflecting on Pre-season Rankings

The regular Spring Split of the NALCS has come to a close and the standings are a lock.  In the off season, we saw some big names enter the scene with huge investments made by NBA teams.  Some teams came in with some high expectations, while others may not have looked as promising.  I’ll be reviewing how well I did in my preseason power rankings compared to how things played out. There were definitely some surprises on both sides of the standings so let’s take a look at some of the surprises this split:

Team SoloMid

Projected Ranking: 2nd

Final Ranking: 1st

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Team SoloMid came into this split projected as low as fourth on some preseason power rankings.  Many, including myself, saw ADC Jason “Wildturtle” Tran as a definite downgrade to Doublelift.  It was evident in the first few weeks, and many doubted how well they’d adapt.

Top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell began to take over heavier shot calling duties.  It was rough at first, but TSM finally figured things out mid way through the split.  Hauntzer has looked like an MVP candidate, while support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang has proved to be a star support without Doublelift. Star mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg had a few rough first games but has steadily returned to MVP form.

The only worrying trend I could see is how inconsistent jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen can be.  Svenskeren did appear to be the weak link of the team throughout the split.  He’ll need to become more of a consistent threat for this team to reclaim their NALCS title.

Cloud 9

Projected Ranking: 1st

Final Ranking: 2nd

Unlike most teams, Cloud 9 stormed out of the gate to a phenomenal 8-0 start.  Teams around them struggled to find synergy in the early parts of the split, but lingering issues have since plagued Cloud9. They’ve struggled to make early game plays and often get wins off their mid game team fighting. Against worse teams, this may work, but to be a top team in the world, this is something they’ll need to improve.

Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has had an MVP-like season.  His Orianna plays in the last week were carrying many of their games during the final week. Rookie Juan ”

Rookie Juan “Contactz” Garcia has seen his share fair of criticism throughout the split.  It’s easy to forget that this is only his first season.  He’ll need to find a better way to make early game plays for this team to succeed.


Projected Ranking: 6th

Final Ranking: 3rd

Power Rankings: Phoenix1, #9 western team

Courtesy: Riot Esports

I actually pegged Phoenix1 as one of my dark horse favorites heading into the split.  They didn’t disappoint, as they sky rocketed from relegations to a 3rd place finish this split.  Even with the hiatus of star jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh, Phoenix1 was still able to show that they can be top contenders in this league.

They imported a hidden gem in ADC No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon.  Arrow has looked superb aside from the last week of the split.  Despite changing supports around the mid way point Arrow has looked like the best import this split.  He currently leads the league in KDA and is 4th in CSDiff@10.

Phoenix1 honestly looked like strong contenders heading into the final week before being blown out by the top two teams in the league.  Phoenix1 will need to bounce back heading into their series against a surging  Dignitas.

Counter Logic Gaming

Projected Ranking: 4th

Final Ranking: 4th

CLG had a season similar to last Summer Split.  They struggled to adapt to the meta and lost a lot due to this.  Another issue is playing to the level of their competition.  Against the best teams, CLG looked like they could contend with the top teams.  When facing bottom tier teams, they’d sometimes get upset or may it a closer series than expected.

Around the mid-season, we saw the usual CLG return to their expected form of title contenders.  With the meta shifted back to ADC’s being more than just ult bots, we may see CLG look to play around their bot lane more.  Mid laner Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun has looked much improved this split after being heavily criticized last year.

CLG have Flyquest as their first opponents heading into playoffs.  They should be favorites considering how much Flyquest struggled during the second half of the split.  CLG look to be improving week by week, so barring another emergency medical emergency, they should face rival TSM in the next round.


Projected Ranking: 8th

Final Ranking: 5th

Power Rankings: #3 western team

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Most had Flyquest pegged as a bottom tier team during pre-season.  Flyquest stormed onto the scene as a top three team for the first half of the split.  Under the shotcalling of Hai “Hai” Lam, they were able to easily out maneuver many of the newer rosters.  Hai’s shotcalling and leadership poised Flyquest to be top contenders heading into the split.

As we entered the second half of the split, Flyquest’s magic fizzled out.  As teams around them improved, Flyquest attempted to “cheese” opponents bringing out unique picks such as Shaco, Mordekaiser, and Blitzcrank.  Teams seem to have figured out their strategies and Flyquest have struggled to adapt.

Despite their late season fall from the top three, they still played well enough to earn the fifth seed in the playoffs.  It’ll be interesting to see how much they decide to rely on cheese picks going into playoffs.  Their drafts have been some of the most interesting, to say the least. CLG is a tough first opponent, but they definitely have the experience to take the series.


Projected Ranking: 3rd

Final Ranking: 6th

Dignitas, on paper, looked like a top three team.  Bringing in two of the best in their roles from Korean in Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun and Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, many thought they’d contend for top two.  That wasn’t the case, as the language barrier and synergy issues were quite evident in the first half of the split.

The team wasn’t very proactive.  After a coaching change in bringing back former Apex coach David “Cop” Roberson, the team finally look to be reaching their potential.  During the second half of the split, Dignitas looked like the team many had hoped for in preseason.

They have a tall task in facing Phoenix1 in the first round of playoffs, but if they prepare well enough I could see them getting the upset.  Chaser has been playing extremely well lately and will play a huge role in deciding whether this team goes far in playoffs.


Projected Ranking: 7th

Final Ranking: 7th

Courtesy: Gamepedia.

Immortals came in, like many, struggling with synergy issues.  Uncharacteristically Eugene “Pobelter” Park looked like the worst mid laner during the first few weeks of the spring, but during the mid-season, Immortals looked to be improved and maybe deserved a playoff spot with how they were playing near the end.

The team still heavily relies on jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett to either carry them or lose them games.  Their bot lane looked much improved from the start of the split though.  I could see Immortals sticking it out with this roster and improving a bunch for Summer split.

Barely just missing playoffs hurts, but they’re headed in the right direction.

Echo Fox

Projected Ranking: 9th

Final Ranking: 8th

Echo Fox didn’t have too many expectations heading into the split.  Specifically, nobody knew how good jungler Matt “Akaadian” Higginbotham was going to be.  Akaadian has come out as the next upcoming NA jungle talent in the scene.  His early game aggression netted Echo Fox some enormous early game leads.

Echo Fox struggled in transitioning their early game leads to victories.  ADC Yuri “Keith” Jew received much of the criticism in Echo Fox’s losses for his performances this split.  Top laner Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok was supposed to be an upgrade in his role, but looked to lack synergy with his team.  He was often teleporting late or engaging teamfights without his team behind him.

Look for Echo Fox to make some roster changes if they want to be real contenders for next split.

Team Liquid

Projected Ranking: 5th

Final Ranking: 9th

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Team Liquid was actually another one of my dark horse favorites heading into this split.  Jungler Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin was thought to be a top tier jungler in North America.  Mid laner Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer was finally getting his shot to prove himself.

I don’t think anybody expected Team Liquid to have such a bad season.  Nobody would’ve predicted the role swap for Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin from ADC to mid either.  In an more even shocking turn of events, Team Liquid brought in Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng to take over at ADC.  Team Liquid has done everything to try to climb out of relegations, but still struggled to finish out the games needed towards the end of the split.

Team Liquid will need to play their way through relegations now to find their way back into LCS, but with the roster they’re sporting now, I don’t see this team losing their LCS spot.

This was still one of the most disappointing seasons in Team Liquid’s history.  It’ll be interesting what off season changes they’ll make to claim their rightful spot in fourth place.

Team EnVyus

Projected Ranking: 10th

Final Ranking: 10th

Not much to say here.  EnVyUs’ big need is in the mid lane where they’re wasting an import slot on Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo at the moment. Their bot lane is underrated, and jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo has looked like the best jungler in NA at times.  I don’t see them losing their spot in relegations, but we’ll need to see if Lira sticks with them.

If Lira doesn’t get any offers from other teams, and EnVy replaces Ninja, I could see them improve to at least a playoff team in Summer.

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Halo World Championship Finals Regional Preview: Australia and Latin America

The Halo World Championship Finals begin in just two short days. So far, this regional preview series has covered the best North American and best European teams. Because both Australia and Latin America are sending one team each, this final installment will merge both regions. At the 2016 Halo World Championship, both regions failed to crack the top 8. Both teams have spent the better part of a year practicing for their chance to win big. Is 2017 the year an Australian or Latin American team will raise the HWC trophy, or will these regions fall short yet again?


Australia: Team Immunity

Roster: Aaron “Benno” Bennett, Teddy “Junior” Joe Jr., Daniel “Seduce” Franken, Matthew “Voltage” Barker

Led by Australian Halo veteran Benno, Team Immunity will attend the HWC Finals with a roster identical to their 2016 showing. The team faced a crisis last year, with an injury sidelining former player Matt “Heff” Hefren. Just days before the biggest Halo tournament in history, Team Immunity was scrambling for a fourth player. The Australian squad hoped for the best, quickly acquiring rookie player Junior, but it unfortunately wasn’t enough.

Benno and Team Immunity. Courtesy of RespawnNinja

In the group stage, Immunity were swept by two red-hot North American teams, eLevate and Denial eSports. They failed to make bracket play, with their only win being a sweep over European team FAB Games eSports. Although disheartening given the circumstance, this shock lit a fire under Immunity for the 2017 HWC Finals. They were better than their placing, and they knew it.

Team Immunity’s road to the 2017 HWC Finals began in early 2017, with a series of online tournaments, concluding with an Online Regional Qualifier in Februrary. The eight-team qualifier featured the best Australian Halo teams, all fighting for one trip to the 2017 HWC Finals. With last years’ shortcomings on their minds, Immunity demolished all obstacles in their path.

The team swept their way into the Grand Final for a face-off with Gryffindor, but were not slowing down any time soon. A flawless 4-0 victory in the Grand Finals awarded Team Immunity with a ticket to the 2017 HWC Finals, and a massive weight off the shoulders of Benno and crew.

This weekend, Immunity seeks to build on their successes at home, and face the strongest competition in the world. Placed in Group C with North American titans Team EnVyUs, and LCQ Champs Splyce, it seems that they’ve got their work cut out for them. Look for Benno and the rest of Immunity to try catching these teams off-guard, as they battle for a spot in the Championship Bracket.


Latin America: SoaR Gaming

Roster: Irving “Drift” Ramírez, Atzin “Atzo” Pulido, Carlos “Bullet” Marlasca, Gilbert “MuNoZ” Muñoz

Munoz hopes to lead SoaR to victory. Courtesy of Twitter @elevateMunoz

SoaR Gaming, formerly Shock the World, has had an interesting week. First, the team acquired Halo veteran MuNoZ after losing Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez to visa issues. Then, the Shock the World roster was acquired by esports organization SoaR Gaming for the HWC Finals. Although MuNoZ brings leadership and experience to the team, can they adjust in enough time to perform well this weekend?

SoaR Gaming began their journey to the HWC Finals by competing at the Mexico City HWC 2017 Qualifier. After barely edging out MuNoZ former team, Aztek Gaming, in Winners Bracket Round 3, SoaR cruised into the Grand Final. A charged-up Synergy Gaming roster proved no match for SoaR, as they defeated the fellow Latin American squad 4-2.

The victory in Mexico City punched SoaR Gaming’s tickets to California, but has left more questions than answers. Will MuNoZ HWC experience be enough to keep team composure? Can SoaR overcome European powerhouse FAB Games, or NA veterans Str8 Rippin in Group D? Can the squad adjust without teammate, Tapping Buttons?

Chosen Squad, the 2016 HWC Latin American team, won only a single game in pool play. On the other hand, the 2017 Latin American team is an entirely new roster. SoaR gaming is well-aware that they are the underdogs heading into the 2017 HWC Finals. Look for the team to unite under MuNoZ as they try to make a miracle run this weekend.



This concludes the regional preview series for the 2017 Halo World Championship Finals!  As we approach the beginning of the action, the teams are making their final preparations. Which teams will fall short of expectations, and which will rise to the occasion? Be sure to watch the action unfold this weekend at twitch.tv/halo.

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!

NALCS: Grading the Newest Imports

This season, in particular, we got the chance to see some big names imported into the NALCS scene. With the split coming to a close soon, I thought I’d review some of the bigger pickups by teams. It will always be an ongoing debate of whether having an all English speaking team is better than having to integrate international players.

This was evident this split, as teams with big name imports, such as Dignitas, Echo Fox, and Immortals stumbled out of the gate. Their team synergy seemed off with top lane imports, especially when using teleport and team fighting.

Phoenix 1’s Arrow and RYu

Courtesy: Riot Esports

ADC No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon has stormed onto the NALCS scene. After playing the last few seasons on KT, Arrow made the move to North America with Phoenix1. Many questioned how much Arrow was being carried by a talented KT roster. Nobody really knew how well Arrow was going to perform, as he’d have to learn English for the first time.

Arrow has heavily exceeded expectations as he’s developed into one of the best ADC’s in North America. His skill shot accuracy on utility carries such as Varus and Jhin has made him one of P1’s most valuable players. He currently leads all ADC’s in KDA, DMG%, and DPM. All key stats for an ADC. He has undoubtedly taken the role of best ADC in North America.

Mid laner Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook, on the other hand, had the advantage of playing in Europe. With his experience on H2K, he’d become accustomed to communicating in English. Ryu hasn’t skipped a beat since coming to NA. He is a solid mid laner for his team and is definitely able to keep up with the talent in the region. He currently has the fourth highest KDA and CSD@10.

Phoenix1 has been able to surge from being a relegation team last split, to title contenders. Ryu and Arrow have been key pickups, and Phoenx1 deserve praise for being able to integrate these two talented imports.

Grade: A+

Echo Fox’s Looper


Courtesy: Riot Esports

Former World champion Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok was brought into Echo Fox after a last place finish in Summer. Looper was brought in as someone who knew what it took to win a championship. Some say he benefited from having a world class shot caller in support Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong.

Looper’s tank play has been disjointed from his team at times. His teleport plays may seem a bit off, but it may also be Echo Fox as a team being a bit indecisive. He still has pretty strong laning as he’s fourth in CSD@10, but is near the bottom in KDA.

Looper hasn’t necessarily been a weakness on this team, but he’s certainly not one of the main carries either. Echo Fox as a whole has struggled with mid game shot calling. Their early game is pretty decent, but they usually have no idea how to translate it into a victory.

Grade: B-

Dignitas’ Ssumday and Chaser

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho was arguably one of the biggest names to enter the NALCS in recent history. From his time with KT, he had become heralded as one of the best top laners in the world. Dignitas as a team struggled out of the gate making plays as a team. Bringing in former Apex coach David “Cop” Roberson has seemed to help immensely.

Ssumday individually has played quite well. He has had a few games where he just straight up carried Dignitas on a high skill champion, such as Fiora. With the meta shifting somewhat off of tanks, we may see Ssumday start to do more work. He currently leads the league in CSD@10 and is tied for first in DMG%.

Dignitas’ jungler Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun maybe wasn’t as hyped up as Ssumday, but was still expected to do well. Chaser struggled in his first few weeks of LCS. In a carry jungle meta, he wasn’t making the sort of impact his team needed. Dignitas seemed to struggle with pulling the trigger on engages, but have gotten much better.

Chaser has stepped up most recently. He currently holds the second highest kill participation and had a dominant series in a crucial win over Team Liquid this week.

With Dignitas beginning to look like the possible fourth best team, Ssumday and Chaser have been key contributors. Individually, Chaser may have struggled to start out the split, but he has been getting better each week.

Grade: A

Immortals’ Flame and Olleh

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Top laner Lee “Flame” Ho-jong came onto Immortals with high expectations. After spending time as a sub in China, he came to North America looking to takeover the North American scene. Many questioned if he’d be able to work with jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett. Both players were infamous for having attitude issues on previous teams.

As with most of the teams that had imports, Flame struggled out of the gate. His teleport plays always seemed way out of sync with the rest of his team. He would often times get caught out split pushing or engaging without the help of his team. In recent weeks, Immortals have fixed some of the issues plaguing them, and look to be contenders for a playoff spot. Flame is second in CSD@10, but still holds one of the worst KDA’s among top laners.

Support Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung was a lesser known import to most spectators. He had spent some time on Brazil’s Pain Gaming and LMS’ Hong Kong Esports. Olleh hasn’t necessarily stuck out as a big play-maker support, but that could be due to playing with a rookie ADC in Cody Sun. He’s currently middle of the pack in KDA, but does lead the league in Wards per minute.

Immortals haven’t necessarily been winning off their imports’ play. It’s mostly been heavily reliant on how well jungler Dardoch plays. If he doesn’t do well, there usually isn’t someone else left to help carry the game.


Grade: C

Team Envyus’ Lira

Courtesy: Riot Esports

Despite not playing the first week due to visa issues, jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo has looked like a good player on a bad team. Often times when Envyus gets upset wins, it is due to the early activity of Lira. He currently has the fourth best first blood percentage and KDA among junglers.

It’s hard to grade Lira due to where Envyus is in the standings. Without him, they might be winless and headed for relegation. With him, though, I don’t see them losing their LCS spot, especially with the junglers currently playing the Challenger Series.

I’d love to see how he does with a better mid laner, perhaps. Lira has definitely been one of the more effective imports. It seems like Envyus could do well if they got a better player at mid. Other teams may look to seek his services in the off season as he seems to be adapting well.

Grade: B+



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Halo World Championship Finals Regional Preview: North America

Next weekend, the top Halo teams from around the world will gather in Burbank, California to battle for the Halo World Championship crown and their share of one million dollars. With the inclusion of last weekend’s Last Chance Qualifier Champs, Splyce, the seventh North American spot has been filled. As the final week of preparation approaches, expect each team to be actively scrimmaging and finalizing strategy for one of the biggest Halo tournaments of all time. This preview will highlight some of the most promising teams from North America.

North American Titans

It’s no secret that North America is objectively the best scene for competitive Halo. North American teams have been at the cutting edge of the Halo franchise’s ever-changing meta since the inception of MLG. Most predictions for the HWC Finals will confidently select an all-American top four, and potentially round out the top six with teams hailing from the region. These two teams have been exchanging blows for the entirety of the season, and are top contenders to hoist the championship trophy when all is said and done.


The Defending Champs: OpTic Gaming

Roster: Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Matt “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, T.J. “LethuL” Campbell.

OpTic Gaming (formerly Counter Logic Gaming) hoist the HWC 2016 trophy. Courtesy of ESPN.

Fresh off two consecutive major tournament victories, and eager for a chance to defend their title of “Halo World Champions,” OpTic Gaming looks unbeatable. Slaying powerhouses SnakeBite and Royal2 lead the charge, and can single-handedly steal a game from the clutches of defeat. These two players are anchored by the always-consistent Frosty, and strategic mind of Lethul.

OpTic Gaming has only suffered one loss on LAN since X Games Aspen 2016 (then Counter Logic Gaming), and has somehow only improved with time. Expect OpTic Gaming to be the favorites at the HWC Finals, and successfully defend their title.

Victory means a satisfying, and well-deserved result for one of the most dominant Halo teams of all-time.


The Young Guns: Team Liquid

Roster: Zane “Penguin” Hearon, Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler, Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Kevin “Eco” Smith.

Following a disappointing finish at the HCS Fall 2016 finals, Team Liquid parted ways with Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Hamy “Commonly” Abbaali. Searching for two, Rayne and Penguin acquired StelluR and Eco to round out this roster of young-guns.

Since the pickup, Team Liquid hasn’t skipped a beat, finishing second at both UGC St. Louis and ME Las Vegas. Despite a promising effort, the team came just short of victory, falling to a red-hot OpTic Gaming at both events. As the HWC Finals approach, Team Liquid is gearing up for one last shot to overcome the Green Wall and solidify their place in Halo legacy.

If there is a team to take down OpTic, Team Liquid appears to be the most likely contender. At UGC St. Louis, Liquid nearly bested OpTic in a thrilling seven-game series, but the composure of OG ultimately prevailed. Expect each member of Team Liquid to come out guns-blazing next weekend, where they will attempt to take what they believe is rightfully theirs.


The Wild Card: Team EnVyUs

Roster: Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Cuyler “Huke” Garland

Snip3down of Team EnVyUs. Courtesy of Halo EsportsWikis

EnVyUs is the first and only team to make OpTic Gaming bleed. A win over OG at the HCS Fall Finals showed that NV is a force to be reckoned with. Since then, they’ve been unable to replicate their success, finishing an underwhelming third place at both UGC St. Louis and ME Las Vegas.

Led by former MLG Champions Snip3down and iGotUrPistola, EnVyUs seek to prove that their win at the HCS Fall Finals was no fluke. Victory for NV depends on two things: the Huke x-factor, and team mentality. If Huke catches fire, there is no team who can stop him. Additionally, if the team gets in their own heads, a game can quickly spiral out of control. NV are surely aware of their shortcomings, and will seek to make a statement after tasting victory last year. Expect Team EnVyUs to be the dark horse in the HWC Finals.



These three teams are the pinnacle of North American Halo competition, making them the teams to beat from the region. OpTic Gaming is a force of nature, and intends to demolish any competition presented at the HWC Finals. Meanwhile, Team Liquid will attempt to reach the mountaintop following consecutive runner-up placings, and Team EnVyUs hopes to recreate the magic that granted them a win at the HCS Fall Finals.

Halo World Championship 2016 Trophy. Courtesy of Xbox Wire

Despite the strong North American competition appearing next weekend, there are some notable exceptions: Evil Geniuses, and Allegiance. Both failed to qualify for worlds in the Last Chance Qualifier, while Splyce cruised to victory, and thus occupy the final North American spot. Look for both EG and Allegiance to rebuild in the offseason, and come back stronger.

Regardless, with both glory and a substantial amount of cash on the line, the Halo World Championship Finals will conclude a dramatic season. The competition is tight, the rosters are locked, and the North American teams are ready to defend their home turf. All of the action will be streamed live at twitch.tv/halo, starting March 24.

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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