Are the European Halo Teams Up to Par?

The Halo World Championships are just that – the World championships, with teams from across the globe competing. That said, North America dominates competitive Halo. This has now started to change with Epsilon eSports’ performance last year, showing that European Halo is no joke.

Epsilon at the time consisted of James “Jimbossity” Bradbrook (also known as Jimbo), Alex “BUK20” Buck, Will “BUK57” Buck, and Mike “Snipedrone” Juchau. They performed above and beyond what was expected of any non-NA team during last year’s Halo World Championships. This squad was first able to take down fan-favorite Renegades at the 2016 Winter X-Games in only four games. During the HWC 2016 Finals, Epsilon was the only non-NA team to progress outside of the group stage. While the team went home with a 5th-8th finish, they managed to take a game from the near invincible Counter Logic Gaming. They were the only team to do so aside from the Denial roster. But that was last year. What is European Halo looking like now?

 

Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

Currently, European Halo is far and away being led by FAB eSports, with a roster of Jimbo, Brandon “Respectful” Stones,

FAB winning the Summer Finals. Courtesy of Millenium.org

Perry “TuFoxy” Kenyon, and Luciano “Mose” Calvanico. This team has led both EU Pro Leagues, as well as winning the Finals, and is looking to continue their dominance. They have only lost four total scrims in 2017, and recent scrims have shown FAB returning to dominance. These include a 13-0 victory, as well as several others that were won by five or more games. FAB are performing similarly to how OpTic Gaming (Then-CLG) were performing during the Fall Season, as they did not drop a single game at the Fall Finals.

However, other teams have begun nipping at FAB’s heels. Supremacy, London Conspiracy, as well as Team Infused have been able to defeat FAB in scrims on occasion. All three will have a chance to dethrone FAB this weekend at the HWC 2017 EU Qualifiers while also trying to snag one of three EU spots for the 2017 Finals.

Despite FAB’s impressive record so far, it is very well known that the competition level of North American Halo is well above that of European competition, and this trend does not look to be slowing down anytime soon.

 

HCS Las Vegas

During the Fall Season, FAB did cross the pond to attend HCS Las Vegas. During this event, FAB dominated most of the

Jimbo, one of the most popular EU players. Courtesy of James Bradbrook.

amateur NA teams. They were able to sweep Pnda Gaming, as well as 6S, a team that later went on to challenge Enigma6 and Team Allegiance at Relegations. Unfortunately, Team Liquid sent FAB to the losers bracket and later went on to not only knock Team EnvyUs into the losers bracket, but also took them through 14 games in the grand finals before losing.

In the losers bracket, Str8 Rippin sent FAB packing with a 3-1 victory.

While FAB is far better than the old Epsilon roster ever was, the competition in North America has skyrocketed throughout the Fall Season. Any of the top five teams in NA can contend with OpTic Gaming, making the desired placings for FAB that much harder.

 

Looking Forward

FAB may be the only team that has a chance at contending with the top North American teams going into the 2017 Halo World Championship. They are the only European team to play against North Americans since HWC 2016, and will have the best tools of any European Halo team to counteract the hyper-aggressive North American play-style. This squad has the talent and firepower to defeat the bottom three NA teams, but only time will tell if they can contend with the likes of OpTic. However, they have to fight through Infused, Supremacy, and several other very hungry Europeans to get there.

Be sure to tune in to the GFINITY HWC 2017 London Qualifiers, live February 17th-19th here!

Do you think the Europeans have a chance at taking home the title of “Halo World Champions?” Sound off on Twitter or the official Halo stream this weekend!

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 Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

Team EnvyUs: A Rough Patch or Falling Apart?

Team EnvyUs formed going into the Fall season with what many thought was the only roster that had a chance to contend with OpTic Gaming on LAN. Seasoned veterans Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, and Justin “Pistola” Deese joined rookie Cuyler “Huke” Garland. Throughout the Fall season, nV and OpTic went back and forth online. However, at Fall Finals, nV did what some thought was impossible: They took down OpTic Gaming on LAN. Since then, they have not been able to replicate this success, not even making the grand finals at UGC St. Louis in January. Were they a one hit wonder?

 

UGC St Louis

At UGC, most everyone predicted that the Grand Finals would be between OpTic and nV. However, nV never made it past the losers bracket finals. EnvyUs took OpTic to a Game 5 but were later sent home by Team Liquid. Liquid was playing very well, even taking OpTic to a Game 7 in the Grand Finals. It was obvious that the nV seen at UGC was a different team then at Fall Finals. Bad play calls were made, along with questionable pushes and engaging in one-on-one battles instead of assisting each other. During listen-ins, there was clear frustration in nV’s communication, and the team fell to almost complete silence between games. Despite not playing at their potential, nV took OpTic, Str8, and Liquid to full series.

nV at UGC. Courtesy of Monster.

 

 

Online Performance

Since losing at UGC, nV has picked up their scrim performance. The team had 13-0 and 12-1 victories over Evil Geniuses as well as another 13-0 over Team Allegiance. However, they have traded scrims with OpTic and Liquid, solidifying these teams as the top three.

The online qualifiers have showed similar issues. EnvyUs won the first qualifier with a 4-1 victory over Liquid. Unfortunately, nV couldn’t repeat, as they lost to Inconceivable in a Game 5, ending with a 5th-8th finish.

While online results should not carry a lot of weight, they effect seeds going into HWC Las Vegas. Due to their lower placing in the second qualifier, it will be a long climb for them to overtake Liquid in pro points and take the second seed going into Vegas.

 

Looking Forward

When listening to nV’s communications in scrims and the online cups, bickering was common, often between Snip3down and Mikwen. This increases the frustration of the team and interrupts the flow of teamwork and communication. This leads to inconsistent solo-plays, which can provide opposing teams with easy kills. This lack of coordination is holding nV back and must be resolved. Mikwen has been very mature with the situation, understanding and acknowledging his part in nV’s lack of recent success.

Mikwen’s frustration (outside of any events that may be occuring in his personal life) is understandable considering much of the community calls him the worst player on the team. This is entirely incorrect, as many just assume stats imply skill and do not see what Mikwen actually contributes to his team. This can be attributed to nV’s unusual setup, being comprised of four Slayers, but all players have stepped up to be excellent in whatever role they are needed.

Austin “Mikwen” McCleary. Courtesy of Beyond Entertainment.

 

While Mikwen’s frustration and bickering may have stopped the team from competing as well as they should have at UGC, they have continually began to improve, showing that only Liquid and OpTic can consistently contend with them in scrims. This team will be back in full force at UGC and will be hungrier than ever to regain victory and succeed at the 2017 Halo World Championship Finals.

So will nV fall apart? The short answer is no; nV seems to have fixed their issues and they are once again looking like a championship team.

 

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“Not in a million years”; How Pavel Wins

Being a card game, it’s easy to blame singular victories or defeats on “bad RNG”. Even looking at the highest level, it’s tempting to point to this outcome or that topdeck as the cause of a win. Blizzcon champion Pavel Beltukov has been a victim of this outlook; with many assigning his Blizzcon success vs William “Amnesiac” Barton last year on the infamous “Paveling book”.

But rather than fall to the inevitable mediocrity of random noise, Pavel defies gravity. Despite what Amnesiac might have you believe, Pavel Beltukov is an exceptional player. Achieving an impressive 112-46 record in competitive play, he was recently crowned the “Europe Winter Champion” in the Hearthstone Championship Tour Winter playoffs. With his characteristic subdued personality matching his measured, conventional playstyle and decklists, he nonetheless dominated all opposition. With few flashy plays or devastating tech cards, it’s hard to point to exactly what makes Pavel so good.

Micro-Decisions, Macro Success

The answer might lie in a seemingly sub-par series of plays from the HCT winter championships. Pavel’s Renolock is facing off against Eugene “Neirea” Shumilin’s Pirate Warrior; (I recommend watching the whole VOD here). A slow start from Neirea; it’s turn three and the Renolock maintains tenous board control. Pavel, after playing a coined Imp Gang Boss last turn, plays his Dark Peddler as follow up. The situation looks as follows;

Image from Hearthstone Championship Tour Europe Winter Playoffs, courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Would you pick the same as the World Champion? (For reference, the weapon is a 4/1)

You may have seen the clip already. The Casters are disputing the relative merits of Power Overwhelming (PO) and Mortal Coil, and dismissing the Kvaldir as obviously wrong (one caster saying how it wouldn’t be picked “in a million years”). Then Pavel quietly picks and plays the 2/1. But why?

It’s easy to see why this would be considered incorrect. Both PO and Coil are solid cards, cards that are in Pavel’s deck to start with. They’re flexible, potent, and synergistic. PO goes perfectly with the 1/1s spawned by Pavel’s Imp Gang Boss, Shadowflame, and to combo with Leeroy Jenkins. Coil is added removal, against a deck that often demands removal, and cycle towards Reno. Kvaldir, on the other hand, is just a 2/1.

But what Pavel recognises that the casters do not, is the condition of the game. Neirea has given up board control immediately, going face with his weapon twice rather than attempting to clear and win back the board. This signals two things; that Pavel’s minions will stick, and that value is largely irrelevant. Efficient removal is no longer necessary for survival; merely surviving by clearing the board every turn and throwing up sufficient defenses.

When bad cards are better

This means that mortal coil is now inferior to Injured Kvaldir; the added card draw is less likely to be relevant than the fact it requires an additional mana crystal to play. Meanwhile, the PO is unlikely to be worthwhile. With everything going on face damage rather than board, playing big minions (well, big by Pirate Warrior standards) like Frothing Bezerker or Naga Corsair would likely mean Neirea would lose regardless.

What Kvaldir does that neither of the others do is provide damage for free. And against a Pirate Warrior that’s gone all-in on face from turn two, there’s almost no way the 2/1 can get punished. What the pick does is guarantee that Neirea has to double down on his strategy, and likely never get a hit on face with a non-charge minion.

Pavel’s strategy and skill is made even clearer, when he makes another play that seems horrible at first.

 

Bad Trade, Good Play

Suppose you have an Imp Gang Boss and a Dark Peddler. Your opponent has a 4/1 you want to kill. Which do you sacrifice? The answer seems obvious, almost a trick question; surely one should always trade in the 2/2. The 2/4 with greater future opportunities for spawning imps is surely superior?

Image from Hearthstone Championship Tour Europe Winter Playoffs, courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

This trade is awful; it’s also game-winning

 

One of the intuitive, instinctive ways people learn Hearthstone is how to trade. You attack your low-value minions into their high value minions to gain tempo and value. Pavel has had such teachings drilled into him as any of us, which perhaps is why he hesitates before sacrificing the higher mana minion, losing potential value off its effect in the process.

What Pavel recognises is that having a 1/1 next turn is vital, and that the additional health and imp-spawning capabilities of the Gang Boss are largely irrelevant. He continues to exploit his opponents inability to remove minions, and as such is able to go with absurdly anti-value trades that all but guarantee success by shaving off percentages for potential outs and shortening his opponent’s clock. In short, Pavel displays a consistent ability to take the lines that intuitively “feel” bad, but result in the highest chance of victory.

Winning is boring

Now, you may point to these plays as obvious or outliers; but they are unintuitive, tiny decisions that cemented an otherwise shaky position. Such small beginnings are the stuff that considerable edges in percentage winrates are made of. I guarantee that if you look through any Pavel game, you’ll see similar things happening; small, seemingly sub-optimal plays that nonetheless are correct. And I doubt that anyone other than Pavel could properly explain them all.

It’s likely that Pavel’s reputation for “luck” will only continue. What sets him apart from the competition is his canniness at identifying the best play, while playing the best play. Unfortunately, this rarely results in impressive plays that people can instantly recognize as being good. By virtue of his very skill, Pavel is doomed to make plays that few will be able to tell exactly why it is superior; instead, most likely will point to topdecks, matchups and other “RNG” for his largely straightforward, by-the-books victories.

Too long there has been a debate over whether Pavel is “skilled” or just “lucky”. Perhaps, instead of trying to determine whether or not Pavel is good at Hearthstone by analyzing his plays, we should take his winrate as sufficient evidence of his ability, and use that to inform us of the virtue of his decisions.

 

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Dreamhack Committing to Super Smash Bros In 2017

Dreamhack has committed to the Super Smash Bros scene by running six Smash tournaments in 2017 with an $100k prize pool. The long standing LAN centered event is making Smash, especially Melee, a permanent part of their events moving forward.

Photo via https://twitter.com/DreamHack?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

The six events will offer different games. All six events will feature Melee, but half of the events will also have Smash 4. Four of the events will be on North American soil (Austin, Montreal, Atlanta, and Denver) and the final two will be at the marquee event’s in Sweden (Winter, Summer). Dreamhack has expanded its reach across North America and is bringing Smash with it.

On top of a guaranteed spot at Dreamhack events in 2017, the winners will get a piece of the $100k prize pool at each event. The prize pool per event will average out at around $10k per tournament, which is well above the usual tournament average. Doll that out over six events and Dreamhack becomes essential to any top Smash player.

 

Dreamhack Committing to Smash’s Future Success

It’s clear that Dreamhack is listening to the wants and needs of the Smash community. Armada (Adam Lindgren) has been outspoken about his desire to grow Smash through Dreamhack. The local Swede has been great at building a relationship between the two. That also goes for community leader, D1 (D’Ron Maingrette), who pushed to bring Smash 4 to Dreamhack events.

The inclusion of Smash 4 into future tournaments is great news. It will give the scene even more exposure and provide Smash 4 players with a chunk out of the prize pool. It’s a sign that Smash isn’t just a trend within Esports. It’s a community that’s here to stay and Dreamhack seems to recognize that.

In the end, it’s another legitimate tournament option for professional players and the average Smash competitor. In a world of frequent tournaments, Dreamhack will be a staple because of the cash payouts and overall quality of their events. Smash has been looking for a circuit to latch onto and Dreamhack might be the one.

Can EG Bounce Back?

Through the majority of 2015, Evil Geniuses dominated the HCS, with a roster of Justin “Roy” Brown, Jason “Lunchbox” Brown, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Tony “Lethul” Campbell, and coach Ryan “Towey” Towey. However,  since X-Games last January and the departure of both Lethul and Snip3down, EG has struggled to find a similar level of success. The Brown twins and Towey now have their best shot yet to turn that around.

 

UGC St. louis Performance

After a sixth place finish in the Fall Season, EG picked up Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski and Devon “PreDevoNatoR” Layton.

PreDevoNator at the XFINITY Training House. Courtesy of Devon Layton.

This team had very little time to practice prior to the first HWC 2017 event, but still managed to take home a 5th-6th place finish. EG met Inconceivable in the first round of the Champ Bracket and fell 3-1 despite some close games. Inconceivable was able to later challenge Team Liquid and Str8 Rippin, both of which were in the top four. Should EG be able to achieve this same placing at HWC Las Vegas, they will qualify for the HWC Finals.

In the loser’s bracket, EG was able to send Luminosity Gaming home with a 3-0 victory, but later lost 3-1 to Team Liquid, despite more close games. Liquid proceeded to also knock Team EnvyUs out of the tournament and finished second, falling only to OpTic Gaming.

The reason that the placements of these other teams are important is that they reflect EG’s level of play. Liquid was the first team to form coming out of the Fall Season, while EG had less than a week. Many of the teams that EG played had formed sooner than them and therefore had built up more chemistry. Nevertheless, the fact that EG kept all games close is impressive.

 

Online Performance

Looking at EG’s performance online, it would be hard to place this squad higher than top eight. In the second HWC Online Qualifier, EG lost 3-1 to a similar Luminosity squad that they had beaten earlier at UGC. It should be noted that Luminosity has had a team change, and their gameplay as well as communication have appeared to be much better than that of the LG we saw at UGC. Also relevant is the fact that these Online Tournaments are single-elimination, denying EG the chance to further their placings.

Scrim results also show that EG is struggling. A recent scrim with Team Liquid resulted in an 11-2 loss for EG, with few close games. The next night saw EG lose to OpTic Gaming 11-2 again, but with more close games. Similar results show in a 10-3 loss against Str8 Rippin. Most concerning, EG has lost two scrims 6-7 against Pnda Gaming, a notably weaker team. While the majority of these games were close, the fact that EG is trading blows with a team that is considered by many to be outside of the top six and only narrowly top eight is worrying. However, not all results have been necessarily bad. EG did have another scrim with OpTic Gaming in which they lost 8-5, with at least six of their losses being very close.

 

Looking Forward

While EG’s online results to some reflect their inconsistency or even weakness, they also are a reflection of the inconsistencies of online Halo. Roy and Lunchbox have consistently performed far better at live events than online. The new additions, ContrA and PreDevoNator, are similar and both frequently detest the many faults of Halo 5: Guardians online. This duo, as stated in Towey’s “Up To Speed” series, had to play on WiFi hotspots off of their phones prior to joining EG. This squad, even more than squads like OpTic, will perform leaps and bounds better at events then they will online.

One issue that some have noted is that the personalities of this team may clash. Roy and Lunchbox, despite being on multiple championship teams, have become notorious for their bickering after games won or lost. Meanwhile, it has been noted that players such as ContrA and PreDevoNator can perform far worse in negative environments. This is where Towey must step in. Towey has proved to be one of the best coaches in Halo history and is typically more active in-game than other top coaches. He will have to be sure that Roy and Lunchbox stay above their arguments and keep the entire team positive. If not, the team risks falling apart, which when qualifying for the Halo World Championships, is unacceptable. Towey is more than capable of doing so, as he also coached during EG’s period of dominance.

Towey, coach of the Evil Geniuses. Courtesy of Ryan Towey.

All of these players are easily talented enough to challenge the likes of OpTic Gaming and Team EnVyUs. However, EG cannot misstep. If they can’t make top six at Las Vegas, they won’t qualify for Worlds there. This would force them to play in the Last Chance Online Qualifier to snag the seventh NA spot, where their chances are significantly lower.

 

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 Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

Mastering the Assault Maps – Hanamura – Defending Point 1

Increasing your familiarity with Overwatch’s maps is essential to better personal game play, as well as better team play. There are many factors to take into account when it comes to learning the ins and outs of each map. This first guide will focus on Defending the Assault Map Hanamura. This guide focuses primarily on Health Packs, Noteworthy Areas to Defend or Attack, as well as Noteworthy Defense Heroes. 

 

  • Health Pack Locations 

Knowing where the health packs are on a map will help you for a few reasons.

  • Advantages in combat.
    First, knowing the locations of health packs gives you an advantage in combat. Knowing where a health pack is in relation to where you are will allow you to somewhat consistently heal. Next, knowing where health packs are located on each map helps you to deprive the enemy team of healing. In addition, this knowledge has the potential to land you some critical kills if you know an enemy hero is heading there to heal.

  • Noteworthy Points When Defending.Defending Point 1
    Point 1 is somewhat easy to defend, with the right team comp. The attacking team can try to punch through the main gate, or get heroes through the upper right hand window to cause as many problems as possible from the flank. Especially relevant is the importance of  choosing the right team comp over what hero you want to play. One of the most detrimental things for a team is players picking heroes they want to play, over picking heroes who will benefit the team. Finally, choosing heroes that synergize well for the map you’re on over choosing who you want to play can be the difference between an awesome win, and a crushing loss.

  • Defending Point 1-Upper Right Window
    The window/ledge in the upper right hand section of the large gate is easy to sneak through when attacking. Heroes such as Genji and D.Va can easily sneak through and cause mayhem from the flank, forcing your team to scramble back to protect the capture point. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on this area.

  

 

  • Defending Point 1 – Right Flank Side.
    If for some reason the enemy team is able to get heroes through the upper right window, you have problems. Usually leaving a hero to defend the capture point from flankers or ninja-cappers is a smart choice, especially if it is someone who can support or attack from afar.

 

  • Noteworthy Defense Heroes For Point 1
    Here are some of the heroes who I believe can be quite strong for this portion of the battle. These are merely a few that in my experience have done quite well.

    • Symmetra – Symmetra is an excellent pick for defense on this map for a few reasons. First, her Sentry Turrets act as little alarms near the upper right hand window. Furthermore, enemy heroes sneaking past to try and flank will alert Symmetra and her team. Also, Symmetra is able to drop her Teleporter which is helpful because it is a much farther run to Point 1 for the defending team than for the attacking team.
    • Reinhardt – The German Juggernaut excels at holding the first point for his team. Able to stand in the doorway and block the entire gate with his shield for the team is a monumental responsibility. In addition, if anyone gets within reach of him, his auto attacks cleave the majority of the gates width, maximizing his melee damage output. Next, with the support of a healer, he is able to withdraw to recharge his shield and get topped off. Also, one thing to worry about with Reinhardt is overextending. On the inner side of the gate, he is incredibly safe and hard to kill, especially with a healer supporting him. Therefore, if he strays outside of the gate, things can get bad very quickly for him.
    • Bastion – Able to sit in sentry mode, Bastion can be very problematic for the attacking team. First of all, positioning is key for Bastion. As he does most of his damage in Sentry Mode, it is imperative to find a safe yet effective spot to corner camp. Also, if they don’t have long range heroes such as Widowmaker, problems arise. Finally, Bastion excels at providing solid zone coverage, from the safety of the capture point or even behind it.

       

       

       

Hopefully you find some helpful information here in this first installment of Mastering the Assault Maps – Hanamura.  As I progress with Map Guides, I will try to hopefully combine the defense maps into one guide, and also combine the assault maps into one as well. Stay tuned for the next Hanamura Guide: Attacking Point 1. From all of us at The Game Haus I’m David, and as always, Good Luck, Have Fun!

 

Overwatch Apex Season 2 Week 3 Recap

Week 3 hit right after the latest 1.7 patch, so teams weren’t hesitant to try out new team compositions. We saw a two sniper composition out of Meta Athena. The standard three tank, one DPS, and two support made its return, but in limited showing. The 2-2-2 balance also made a return, as Genji is prominently back in the center of the meta-game.

This week also displayed the newest control point map in Oasis. Teams had interesting strategies, mostly trying to push teams into the smaller choke points. It should be featured in more Overwatch tournaments and events in the future. Now let’s talk about this week’s matchups.

photo via twitch.tv/ognglobal

Meta Athena vs. MVP Infinity

Meta Athena moves to 2-0 (+4) in the group of death (Group A), taking out MVP Infinity 3-2. MVP moves to 0-2 (-2) and is now in need of a miracle to make it out of the group one stages. The win for Meta sets up a group A finals between them and the current number one ranked team in the world, EnvyUs, in a couple weeks.

The match from last night provided plenty of highlight reel plays from both sides, but especially out of the main DPS players from Meta Athena in Sayaplayer (Ha Jeong Woo), Libero (Kim Hye Sung), and the aggressive Zarya play out of Hoon (Choi Jae Hoon). The aggressive style on maps like Illios and Hanamura gave Meta the edge, allowing for strong team pushes while Sayaplayer flanked primarily with his Tracer.

MVP prepared more set plays and specific setups and that ultimately backfired as they weren’t able to adjust to Meta’s constant character swapping. For example, the Torbjorn pick from Undine (Son Yeong Woo) on Hanamura was sound on first point, but once Meta was able to power through first and move on to second with better ultimate economy, the Torbjorn became useless.

The set plays on Numbani and the tough defense on Route 66 kept MVP in it until game five. The turning point was the double sniper composition from Meta. Libero on the Hanzo and Sayaplayer on Widowmaker. The unexpected picks and skill from both players showed through as they were able to get 11 combined final blows on first point Kings Row to eventually take the map and the game. The overall decision making on team compositions, ultimate strategies, and positioning favored Meta Athena.

Runaway vs FlashLux

In a week of back-and-forth sets, Runaway did exactly what their name sake implies: runaway with the victory. The amateur, pink jacket wearing Korean squad showed they are to be taken seriously regardless of the attire they wear. Runaway took out FlashLux 3-0 and is now tied with KongDoo Panthera at the top of group D.

photo via twitch.tv/ognglobal

The synergy and team skill clearly showed. The heavy use of Genji out of Haksal (Kim Hyo Jong) played a huge factor in the team’s win. He carried the team in damage and had plenty of instances where he’d pull out a four-kill team fight. The clever use of dragon blade and his unique ability to get great angles by Genji’s wall-climbing seemed to be the difference in this one. FlashLux had no answer.

On top of Haksal, Kaiser’s (Ryu Sang Hoon) damage output and shield pressure on Reinhardt was impressive. He kept the front line secure and safe. This allowed for players like Haksal and BUMPER (Park Sang Beom) to be more aggressive against the FlashLux supports players.

The positioning was key in RunAway’s win, as they kept pinning Flash Lux in small corridors and finishing them with either graviton surges or earth shatters; this allowed Stitch (Lee Choong Hui) and Haksal to do plenty of damage on Tracer and Genji. With a strong focus on the DPS players, RunAway has a chance to take group D.

KongDoo Uncia vs. Afreeca Freecs Blue

KD Uncia showed up in their win over Afreeca Freecs Blue and moved themselves closer to taking group C. The steady play from one of the top Korean teams on some of the more underplayed maps was impressive. Winning on Oasis, Kings Row, and Watchpoint: Gibralter while sticking primarily with the current meta in terms of team composition.

Lunatic Hai vs. LW Blue

Lunatic Hai essentially sealed up their group B victory with a 3-1 win over LW Blue. The excellent play of their top DPS player Whoru (Lee Seung Joon), who’s arguably been the APEX MVP through the first three weeks, and Miro (Gong Jin-Hyuk) on the Reinhardt has been a major part of this teams’ 2-0 record. Top that with some of the most consistent support plays from Tobi (Yang Jin-mo) and Ryujehong (Ryu Je-Hong) and it’s one of the strongest teams in the entire league.

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The Importance of Play-Styles in Halo: Objective Players

Earlier this week, we covered the role of Main and Power Slayers in Halo. However, while Slayers can rack up plenty of kills, they can’t carry a series. The majority of games, whether it’s a best-of-five, or best-of-seven, are objective based. It won’t matter how many kills you have if you can’t capture a flag or protect a stronghold. So let’s take a look at the players who may not show up in the highlight reels, but are absolutely vital to any championship team.

 

Objective Players

Good objective players are absolutely the key to beating teams out at the highest level. The difference maker in many games is the amount of seconds that a player can shave off of a flag run. These players meld the knowledge of how to handle objectives, as well as being mindful of when to handle them.

Commonly

Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali, one of the leagues best objective players. Courtesy of ESL.

Here’s an example:

Say the game mode is Capture the Flag. The vast majority of flag runs are only successful when multiple members of the enemy team are staring at the re-spawn screen. A good objective player knows this and will wait for a teammate to call out the deaths of other players (Usually the minimum to run a flag is two dead). From there, the objective player pulls the flag out of the base. This player must be aware of which part of the maps are under his team’s control and where the dead enemies will be spawning. With this knowledge, the runner moves the flag close to his team, ensuring that even if he is killed, one of his teammates is already in position to continue the run. Combined with the speed of objective runners, this often leads to a flag cap.

Now let’s consider Strongholds. A Slayer’s job is to keep the Stronghold clear of enemies and reset its capture progress if he’s in a position to do so. However, this tends to change when taking offensive actions:

Say it’s Plaza Strongholds and your team is only holding the “Yard” Stronghold. You’re not scoring and the enemy team is quickly gaining a wide lead. Your Objective player should be (under general circumstances) moving through the “Cafe” area to get to the “Nest” Stronghold. Doing so will also secure the spawns around that area, allowing the rest of your team to re-spawn at the map’s power position. This forces the other team to spawn in the “Yard” area, giving your team the upper hand.

Obviously, these roles don’t necessarily apply in every case. For example, when the current Team EnvyUs formed, we saw Eric “Snip3down” Wrona having to run flags, as every member of that team is recognized as a Slayer. This led to many lost flag runs, with nV winning the games only due to their overwhelming slaying power.

Objective players also play a very large role in Team Slayer, despite the “objective” of the mode being to get kills. One of the most important aspects of Slayer is map control, as this leads to power positions, power weapons, and power ups. All of this snowballs into gaining more kills. This is clear on a map like Rig Slayer: The interior of the map, often called “Bunker” is the superior side of the map; it offers plenty of cover, easy access to the camouflage, and gives control of the “Tower” which can look over the entirety of the map’s interior. Objective players will anchor their team’s spawns in these areas while the other post up looking for kills. This ensures positioning remains in their advantage for the long term.

 

Examples of Objective Players

Visal “eL ToWn” Mohanan (Luminosity Gaming):

eL ToWn, during his time with Team EnvyUs. Courtesy of ESL.

eL ToWn, since his time on Team Allegiance, has developed into one of the most underappreciated players in the HCS. Despite accepted shortcomings in movement and slaying power, he is one of the most apt objective players around. Mohanan pushes objectives at their first availability, enabling his team to often take initial leads.

Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali (Team Allegiance):

Commonly is arguable the best objective player in the league, with his CTF games being a stand-out example. He is always seen in the opposing base, waiting for the perfect opportunities to pull the flag. Once the flag’s out of the base, few can move a flag as fast as this man does.

Jason “Lunchbox” Brown (Evil Geniuses):

Lunchbox has undoubtedly become one of the most legendary players in Halo history over the course of his decade-long career. Once a map is cleared of opposition, Lunchbox is one of the first to push a flag or Stronghold.

 

Objective players are crucial for winning a series. The absence of a solid objective player can be remedied, but only rarely so. Even Team EnvyUs, the most successful example of substituting for a true objective player, has seen only limited success. These players, despite not receiving much praise, are instrumental to winning a series.

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 Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

 

 

Bastion Rework – Upgrade Complete!

Photo Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Principal Designer Geoff Goodman confirmed that Overwatch’s Bastion will be getting a few noteworthy tweaks. Let’s take a look.

Recon Mode – 

Recon mode will now have lowered spread, allowing for increased accuracy.  Bastion will also receive an increased magazine size to increase his viability in this mode. The general reasoning for this is to hopefully steer players away from corner hugging and sitting in Sentry Mode for the majority of uptime with Bastion.

Sentry Mode – 

As if it already isn’t, the focus for tweaking this mode is to make it more of a tank/shield killer. Additionally, Bastion takes less damage in this mode, will have increased spread, and headshots are removed.

Self-Repair – 

As of now, Blizzard is feeling good with the tweaks they’ve made for this ability. Bastion is able to use Self-Repair while moving, and it is not interrupted when Bastion takes damage. However, this ability will function much like D.Va’s Defense Matrix ability, in that it will be on a resource system. Both developers and players feel like Bastions heal isn’t currently where it needs to be. This change will transform Self-Repair from a rarely used ability, into a frequently used core ability.

 

There’s a lot of talk as to whether Bastion will be replacing Soldier: 76 on offensive team builds. Weighing in on this, I don’t feel like 76 has too much to worry about. As it stands, I believe that this rework will give Bastions defensive capabilities a well-deserved boost, without threatening to put 76 on the bench when it comes to offense. On top of this, I believe that 76 still has better offensive capability simply for the insta-kill potential he has with his Pulse Fire Rifle and Helix Rocket combination. Looking forward to playing a lot more Bastion as well as making a guide in the future when these changes hit the live servers. That’s all for now, I’m David from The Game Haus and as always, Good Luck, Have Fun!

The Importance of Play-Styles in Halo: Slayers

Many factors are required to make a team click. Main slayers, power slayers, objective players, and the often misunderstood “glue” players. Some players fit into multiple categories, but all of these must work together in perfect harmony to pull out a win against an equally-skilled team. No one play style is necessarily more important than another. While the design and pace of Halo 5 had slightly eroded the lines that clearly defined different play styles, they’re still important.

The most recognized play style are the slayers. What do these players do and how do they affect the team? Let’s find out!

 

Main Slayers

Main Slayers are the bread-and-butter of any team. If you can’t get any kills, it doesn’t matter how good of an objective player you are. If you’re getting spawn-killed in your base, it won’t make much difference how fast you can run a flag. These players will typically be the kind to get a perfect kill on you in every gunfight. Their magnum shots usually stand out and can tend to be very frustrating for other teams as it seems like they never miss. Main slayers will pick up every one-shot player that is called out, making sure players who try to dipsy-doodle (Thanks for that, Strongside) away don’t get very far. Very few of these players stand-out as solely Main Slayers, as they cross over heavily with Power Slayers.

Roy of Evil Geniuses. Courtesy of ESL.

 

Examples of Main Slayers:

Aaron “Ace” Elam (Str8 Rippin)

Justin “Roy” Brown (Evil Geniuses)

Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi (Free Agent)

Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi (Inconceivable)

Paul “Snakebite” Duarte (OpTic Gaming)

Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher (Team Liquid)

 

 

Power Slayers

The other (and often more recognized) subclass are the Power Slayers.

Is the Sniper Rifle gone? Or the Rocket Launcher? How about the Shotgun? Chances are, a Power Slayer has them. These are the guys who you usually see highlight reels from. These players have two jobs: get the power weapons on the map and use them to kill the enemy team as much as possible. A Power Slayer with a Sniper and good positioning can accumulate all of the simultaneous kills needed to capture a flag or get total control in Strongholds. Since their job is often to get control of power weapons and being able to kill other players who want them, they typically are also Main Slayers.

Snip3down. Courtesy of Eric Wrona.

 

Examples of Power Slayers:

Kevin “Eco” Smith (Team Liquid)

Zane “Penguin” Hearon (Team Liquid)

Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante (OpTic Gaming)

Eric Snip3down Wrona (Team EnvyUs)

Tyler “Spartan” Ganza (Team Allegiance)

Cuyler “Huke” Garland (Team EnvyUs)

 

Slayers, while being simple in concept, are the backbone of any Halo team. They are also the players who most frequently leave the jaws of the audience hanging open, and that’s something any fan can appreciate. However, they’re not the only thing enabling championship teams to win. When a flag or stronghold needs capturing, Objective players are the ones to do it, and we’ll be taking a look at them next time.

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 Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

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