The Playbook: Truth Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag has long been a staple for competitive Halo. While in the past, CTF on Midship / Heretic were up to five flags, Truth CTF sits at only three. Let’s take a look at what works and what doesn’t.

The map layout is the same as Truth Slayer. To catch up on which weapons and power-ups are where, be sure to read the Truth Slayer guide here!

 

Running Flags in Halo: Location, Location, Location!

The Blue Bubble, viewed from Car 2.

Let’s first take a look at how to properly run flags in general. At the start of a game, play it similarly to how you would a Slayer; Push out of your base to get control of the weapons and power-ups available. Next, set up on a map’s power positions to get another round of slaying in. It is usually best to run flags with at least two enemies down. Always call out how many of the enemy team are dead as you see them in the kill feed.

Once you are in a position to pull the flag, take note of what area your teammates are in. If they are in appropriate positions, they’ll block spawns on that side of the map. For example, if your teammates are around the Car tower and in the enemy Bubble, pull the flag to the Car side of the map. This way, no enemies will spawn on top of you. If you are killed, a member of your team can also assist in relaying the flag back to your base.

 

CTF Defense: Overextending

Eventually, you’re going to be in a situation where the game is tied 2-2, most of your team is dead, and one of your enemies is starting to run the flag. You should immediately run as fast as you can to the enemy base to pull their flag. Keep in mind, you can only capture a flag in Halo 5 if your flag is still at home. Pull your enemy’s flag before they get there with yours to buy some time or force a standoff. In the competitive community, this is referred to as “Overextending,” or “OE’ing.” Here’s an example:

The game is tied 2-2. Your team has been killed in a small time frame and your flag is being pulled through Pink 1. Assuming no enemy is there, you will most likely spawn in your Bubble. From there get to the enemy base as fast as you can and try to either run it back through Car 1 or toss it out to Bottom Mid to buy your team more time.

 

CTF Defense: Flag Standoffs

Standoffs occur when both flags are out of their respective bases, meaning that neither can be captured. In most cases, this will result in the flags sitting in opposite bases until one carrier makes a bad move.

To get past these sorts of situations, try splitting your team. Have two players aggressively push into the enemy base, constantly trying to get their flag returned. The flag carrier should find a safe place to hide in their base. On Truth, I would suggest the Basement or the Pink Attic. The fourth player should stay on the friendly side of the map, but be in a position to assist both of these groups. In a last ditch effort, sometimes having the flag carrier leave the flag at the base and using all four players to push for a flag return has worked, but is also extremely risky.

 

Strategy: “The Fastest Man Alive”

The most successful flag run is typically through Pink 1. This allows you to go through the Pink Attic in your base and to ground-pound the flag in, almost guaranteeing your safety.

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A similar run can also be done through the Car side of the map. It is nearly identical, with the exception of no ground pound.

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Usually you want to go for one of these routes. They allow for the most protection and cover from your teammates and will keep you the farthest away from enemy spawns. It is extremely rare for it to be a good idea to take a flag through the top of the Pink or Car towers. While these will protect you from gunfire, they are easy to get grenades into. These routes also slow you down significantly.

Occasionally the flag needs to be ran through Bottom Mid, usually due to having to overextend. In these cases, you can toss the flag from the front of your base up to the window, allowing one of your teammates to finish the capture.

The Sword is also far more important in CTF than it is in Slayer due to the speed-boost it provides to its holder. Have the Sword player run flags when possible to save time.

These strategies are very general and will not apply to every case. Be sure that you as a player are conscious of what is happening around the map at all times and that you prepare according to the context of the game at hand. Good luck with your flag runs!

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!

The Playbook: Truth Slayer

Midship. Heretic. Truth. This map is one of the most legendary in competitive Halo history. Truth, Halo 5’s rendition of this map, carries the torch forward and remains a fan-favorite. In the Halo Championship Series, this map is played on Team Slayer and Capture the Flag. Today, let’s get a rundown of how you can dominate your enemies on Truth Slayer.

 

Weapons and Power Ups

Truth relies more on your Magnum skill than that of several other maps in the HCS. That said, it does have a number of

The Active Camo, located at Pink 1

destructive tools to help you get the job done.

The most important of these is the Active Camouflage, which rests at Pink 1. Re-spawning every two minutes after being picked up, the Camo allows players to sneak into enemy controlled areas and get easy kills in order to regain control of key points of the map. Be sure to time this, as clutch plays with the Camo can bring a team back from the brink of defeat.

The Battle Rifle spawns at Pink 2, and the Carbine at Car 2. Both of these weapons are incredibly important, as they allow players to win long distance fights against others who are only carrying Magnums and Assault Rifles.

Top Mid, featuring the Sword at its old stomping grounds.

 

The Storm Rifle spawns at Bottom Mid, allowing players to melt others when in close range. The Energy Sword spawns at Top Mid, allowing players to kill others in a single hit when close. Both of these weapons are at their best when combined with the Camo.

 

 

 

Strategy: Flip-flop

Off the initial spawn, immediately make a push to gain control of the tower areas. A popular strategy is to overload the

The Car 2 area, viewed from Top Mid.

Pink side, as the Camo spawns there. Ideally, have two people rush to Pink 1 to battle for the Camo while another sits in their base’s window to land shots on enemies who have the same idea. The fourth player could either go top mid to also assist in securing the Camo or to Car 2 to contest that power position.

The key to winning Truth Slayer is having constant control of the Pink and Car towers. With rifles being located in these areas, teams can use them to rain fire down on enemies who are either in base or looking to push into one of the towers. The advantage of range will allow BR and Carbine users to frequently win gunfights against their Magnum-wielding opponents. However, those who set up in these towers need to be mindful of players who are able to close the gap, as the Sword, Storm Rifle, or even Assault Rifle can quickly turn the tables in a close engagement.

Once a team has control of the towers, it becomes a game of collapsing on fresh spawns. If the Blue team pushes out of their base and secures both towers without pushing too far into the Red side of the map, the Red team will once again spawn in the Red Base.  From there, the Blue team can collapse on the enemy players as they re-spawn on the Red side. After clearing out the Red base, the Blue team should then return to controlling the towers. This will allow them to collapse on the Blue base. Do note that in Slayer, spawns are not locked to a specific point and can change, meaning that if the Blue Team pushes into the Red base, the Red team will begin to spawn on the Blue side, and vice-versa.

The Red Base, as viewed from it’s window.

Always know when Camo is coming up. If your team is in control, use it for sneakier kills when collapsing onto bases. When you’re on the back foot, use it to sneak into one of the towers, preferably with a Sword or Storm Rifle. If you can gain control of one of the towers, you’re in prime position to fight for the other, as well as fight for the game.

These strategies are very general and will not apply to every case. Be sure that you as a player are conscious of what is happening around the map at all times and that you prepare according to the context of the game at hand. Slayer is also tactically a bit less complicated then other modes, but is nevertheless important. Good luck and make sure your opponents only see the re-spawn screen!

This is Truth CTF, but I HAD to include something to make me look good 🙂

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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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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!

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.

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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.

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Liquid, Str8, Inconceivable: New Contenders

UGC St. Louis has been the best event yet in terms of gameplay. However, one key thing was noticed by many fans: Team EnvyUs nor OpTic Gaming were able to easily defeat every team they came across. They consistently struggled against Team Liquid, Str8 Rippin, and Inconceivable. These teams showed that their skill ceiling was just as high as that of OpTic and EnvyUs, but will they be able to keep pace going forward?

 

Narrowing the Gap

During the Fall Season, nV saw far more success than any other team against OpTic Gaming. However, though they were able to take series from them both online and on LAN, most viewers noticed one important factor: nV may have OpTic figured out, but they were more vulnerable when facing lower teams in comparison to OpTic. These opinions began to recede after nV won the Fall Finals, without dropping a game to any team other than OpTic.

Str8 celebrates their narrow win over Inconceivable. Courtesy of Halotracker.

Be that as it may, it seems that other teams are no longer settling for third.

Liquid and Str8 both managed to take nV to five games. Liquid also took OpTic to game five, and later game seven in the grand finals. Meanwhile, Str8 only narrowly defeated Inconceivable in a legendary game five Slayer that went to Overtime. Str8 later fell to Liquid 3-1, but the series score does not give credit to how close the games were.

Tim “Rayne” Tinkler and Zane “Penguin” Hearon were featured together on the HCS Listen-In prior to the Fall Season. Both said that OpTic (at that time Counter Logic Gaming) were a whole season, if not a year, ahead of the competition and that no team would be able to touch them for the duration of the season. Despite this, nV toppled the giants at the Fall Finals. Ignoring their own opinions, Rayne and Penguin showed that nV weren’t the only contenders for 2017 World Champions.

 

Long Term Analysis

The key for these teams to compete with OpTic and nV seems to lie with the young talent. Why not? It worked for OpTic and nV; they picked up Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom and Cuyler “Huke” Garland, respectively. Liquid is a team comprised of all players who have been relevant for just over a year or so. Inconceivable is a team that is all young talent, headlined by Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro. Str8 Rippin formerly acquired a player they had played with before, in Jonathan “Renegade” Willette (#RENEGOD):

These teams have shown that they can not only go back-and-forth with each other, but also with the absolute best of the best. As these players build up more chemistry with their respective teams (and in Shotzzy’s case, more LAN experience), they will only continue to improve. Now, I would also say that OpTic nor nV were playing at their full potential (especially Justin “Pistola” Deese and Austin “Mikwen” McCleary) and that I doubt that this will continue for long. Both teams are set to be significantly better going into HWC Las Vegas, but so will their competition. I fully expect that Liquid, Str8, and Inconceivable will truly challenge OpTic and nV and push them to their absolute limits, all the way to the HWC 2017 Finals.

 

Do you agree that any of these five teams are now currently capable of becoming World Champions? Or do you think it’s still only between Team EnvyUs and OpTic Gaming? Be sure to let me know!

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!

Dota PIt

The Good and The Bad: Dota Pit Season 5

With Dota Pit in the books, it’s time to take a look back at the event. From great games to time delays, Dota Pit definitely had some good moments, some bad moments, and some moments in between.

The Good – Dota Pit

The Grandest of Finals

Dota Pit Grand Finals

Image courtesy of youtube.com

Having matched up in the Winners Finals, EG swept OG aside in emphatic fashion, finishing the series 2 – 0. Fans may have been worried that the Grand Finals would follow the same suit, but this was not the case. The Grand Finals went the full best of five, with OG being up 2-1 going into game four. EG managed to turn it around, mainly due to Arteezy’s excellent Lone Druid play. The series showed that OG and EG are still the teams to beat, even on a new patch. Demonstrating some amazing plays throughout, teams will need to be wary of these teams moving forward.

Le Balanced Fire Spirit

Image courtesy of youtube.com

After seeing mixed success at ESL One Genting, Ember made a resurgent return at Dota Pit. He was the most picked hero in the tournament, being picked 16 times and boasting a massive 81% win rate. Some teams have tried to counter the rise of Ember by picking up Invoker. This was very unsuccessful however. Invoker was picked up six times in matches against Ember, only winning one of those games. The Veil build-up allows Ember to be active early, a problem he suffered with in previous patches. In a meta that seems to be leaning more towards magical damage, the current Ember Veil combo seems to be here to stay. Teams will need to start finding ways to defeat this build.

Team Faceless show their true faces

Image taken at The Summit 6. Courtesy of esportsedition.com

Many people did not expect much from Faceless at this event, myself included as I had predicted them to finish 7th / 8th. Faceless managed to mount an impressive losers bracket run through the perilous best of one matches. Facing off against EG in the first game they played will have left Faceless fans fearing the worst. In fact, Faceless put up a valiant fight against EG, winning game one, but eventually losing the series 2-1.

In their losers bracket run, Faceless defeated DC, VP, and IG before eventually falling to OG in the losers bracket final. It can be argued that the best of one lower bracket games did work in Faceless’ favor, but the conditions were the same for every team.

Faceless proved that they can be contenders on the world stage with a strong third place finish. They will be hoping to build on this into the SEA StarLadder qualifiers.

Who needs Sniper when you have Lone Druid

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

The addition of Talent Trees has opened up new ways to play heroes that for the longest time have had the same item build-ups. Lone Druid is one of the heroes most changed by the new Talent Tree options, which has brought forward the possibility of focusing more on building up items on LD rather than his bear. At ESL One Genting, LD was only picked once, and that was in a game that Wings Gaming went on to lose.

In this event, however, he was picked six times, all on the last day, and boasted an impressive 83% win rate. LD was completely ignored on days one and two of the event, and was only picked up by both EG and OG. With the dominance that EG primarily were able to show with the hero, expect to see LD appearing in more and more pro games coming up.

The Bad – Dota Pit

Schedule, what schedule?

Image courtesy of ambassador-baptist.org

Whilst the games at Dota Pit were great, managing to actually play them seemed like a bit of an issue. All three days suffered from delays, with the largest delay being a whopping four hours during the Grand Finals. The amount of delays for an event of this caliber is simply unacceptable. As a fan watching, it was unbearable at times, listening to the same playlist over and over on the Dota Pit stream. It definitely deterred people from watching the stream. The effect on the players was easy to see at the trophy ceremony, with the members of EG looking visibly exhausted when accepting the trophy.

What a difference two weeks makes

Image courtesy of twitter.com

Two weeks prior to Dota Pit, Digital Chaos took home the first place finish at ESL One Genting. Many people predicted DC to finish in the top three at Dota Pit. This did not happen, however. Following a disappointing day one, DC was eliminated from the tournament, finishing 7th / 8th. Being knocked out on the first day definitely hurt DC. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back from the event. Fans may argue that the format definitely played against DC, as they never really had a chance to get going. However, in the games they did play, DC looked out of sorts and a completely different side to the team that finished first at ESL One Genting.

That little something missing

Image courtesy of dotablast.com

Over the last couple of months, Dota fans have been treated to the best of the best in terms of desk hosts, with both ReDeYe and Machine proving that they are among the world’s elite hosts. Dota Pit however had neither of these names, and instead had KotL Guy and Sheever sharing the hosting duties. Now whilst I like both Sheever and KotL Guy as analysts / commentators, I felt that they did not make the best fit as hosts. This goes back to the recent discussion I had with ReDeYe, where he explained that sometimes it is detrimental if a host has extensive game knowledge, as they may dominate discussion. This was something that did happen on a few occasions during the event.

As a fan, I hope to see both ReDeYe and Machine attending more Dota events in the future. I also hope to see both KotL Guy and Sheever return as analysts / casters.

Best of ones are probably not for the best

Image courtesy of twitter.com

After waiting until two days before the event to announce the format, there was a lot of speculation among fans. However, Dota Pit shocked a few people by announcing best of one games for all the lower bracket games, including the lower bracket finals. Many people are fans of the best of one games as they can provide some of the most interesting matches in the tournament. From a viewers perspective, the best of one lower bracket games missed the mark, as fan favorites DC were eliminated straight away after falling into the lower bracket.

The scheduling of the days also seemed to be a bit bottom heavy, in that the majority of games were played on the last day. Normally the games per day reduce as you move through the tournament. Dota Pit opted for the opposite strategy. For the players that made it to the final day, the scheduling must have been extremely tiring. Combine this with the heavy delays, and Dota Pit was probably not the best tournament to compete in.

HONORABLE Mention – Dota Pit

Bringing the hype like no other

Image courtesy of youtube.com

It was announced that the stage host of Counter Pit, aka E-sports Hype Guy, would be hosting Dota Pit. He did not disappoint, from the first event to the last, he put a ton of effort in. Even after a massive four hour delay, he still attempted to hype up an exhausted crowd to cheer until the end.

Dota Pit Final Placings

Place $ USD Percent Team
1st $62,937  45% Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses
2nd $34,965  25% OG OG
3rd $25,174  18% Team Faceless Team Faceless
4th $16,783  12% Invictus Gaming/Invictus Gaming Invictus Gaming
place 5 to 8
5th-6th  0% Team Secret Team Secret
Virtus.pro/Virtus.pro Virtus.pro
7th-8th  0% Elements Pro Gaming/Elements Pro Elements Pro
Digital Chaos Digital Chaos

“Table courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Dota_Pit_League/Season_5”

Final Thoughts

Although there were some great games at Dota Pit, the heavy delays made this an event to forget. Overall, due to the heavy delays and awful stream playlist, Dota Pit Season 5 Finals is getting a Report and some time in Low Priority.

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HWC UGC St. Louis 2017 Championship Sunday Recap

The first qualifier for HWC 2017 has passed, and UGC St. Louis has seeded the top teams going into HWC Las Vegas. Championship Sunday was filled with all the to-the-brink series, amazing clutch plays, and absolutely jaw-dropping moments we have come to expect from top-level Halo. Let’s take a look at how it all shook out and who walked away being the St. Louis Champions.

 

Top 16

The Championship Bracket began with the top 8 teams from the open bracket meeting the top 7 pro teams, with the first Winner’s Bracket round having several important match-ups.

Team Allegiance met with Str8 Rippin, in what many thought would be a close series. However, Str8 Rippin proved my predictions wrong and came out hot against Allegiance with a 3-1 victory. Pnda Gaming, a team notable for including Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, fell to an amateur team, SetToDestroyX 3-1, much to the pleasure of the Halo community. Evil Geniuses was matched with a tough first round, having to face Inconceivable, a team brimming with talent. Unfortunately, the veteran leadership of Jason “Lunchbox” and Justin “Roy” Brown was not enough to stop the heated young-guns.

Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller, one of the veterans on Inconceivable.

The second round saw Luminosity Gaming getting swept into the loser’s bracket by Str8 Rippin. However, this squad wasn’t done yet, as they were able to knock Pnda Gaming out of the tournament (again, much to the pleasure of the community) and making top 8. Allegiance also moved into the top 8 after also sweeping SetToDestroyX.

 

Top 8

The top 8 teams continued to race forward. In the second Winner’s Bracket round, Inconceivable matched up with the reformed Team Liquid, and fell in a close 3-2 series. Liquid moved on to play OpTic Gaming, and this is where things started to get crazy. In another incredibly close series, the Greenwall dropped Liquid to the lower bracket. Meanwhile, Str8 Rippin met with Team EnvyUs, and yet again, the series went all the way to game five, with Envy clutching to beat out Str8.

The Evil Geniuses also continued to push through the lower bracket, even sweeping Luminosity Gaming out of the tournament. After that, they had to contend with an angry Team Liquid, and unfortunately fell to them 3-1, in a series that arguably should have been a sweep if not for a game reset. With this, Liquid secured their spot into the final bracket.

What remained in the Loser’s Bracket were Str8 Rippin and Inconceivable. This series was as close as it could possibly get. It went to a game five Plaza Slayer, and then continued into overtime, nearly unheard of in Slayer matches. If Str8 won, they would have reverse-swept Inconceivable and moved into the top 4. What followed… words don’t do it justice. This may have been my favorite game of Halo 5 that I’ve ever seen played.

One more time, for the Str8 chant, courtesy of @DeontaeVidad:

Top 4

This is starting to look a lot like Fall Finals; we have OpTic Gaming, Team EnvyUs, Team Liquid and Str8 Rippin. To start off the Finals Bracket, the rematch we all waited for, OpTic vs. EnvyUs, and it started with a bang (mind the score). At the end of it all, Envy fell to the defending World Champions, and OpTic moved on.

Tim “Rayne” Tinkler has come into his own as a leader for Team Liquid. Also the new T2. Courtesy of Tim Tinkler.

In the Loser’s Bracket, Team Liquid stopped Str8 Rippin short of another miracle run, and sent them home with a 3-1 victory.

Here comes the upsets.

Team Liquid went on to meet Team EnvyUs, both hungry to get another shot at taking down OpTic Gaming and becoming the St. Louis Champions. The series once again went all the way, but Team Liquid managed to shut down the Fall Champions, and moved on to face OpTic gaming after a 3-2 victory.

 

Grand Finals

OpTic was ready for them. Liquid did not come that far just to beat one juggernaut and be stomped by another though. However, it would not be easy, as they would have to reset the bracket and then win a second series against OpTic to bring home a Liquid tournament victory. However, OpTic was not looking to have a repeat of Fall Finals, and although Liquid fought valiantly to take the series to a game seven, OpTic took home another win with a 50-46 victory on Colosseum Slayer. Now, OpTic looks to regain the dominance they had last year going into the World Championship, but the competition is only continuing to snip at their heels. Either way, this tournament has made one thing certain: This is no longer a fight for second or third place. Any of the top five teams are all capable of taking the title of 2017 World Champions.

 

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!

P.S. Thanks for the Team Beyond Forums making everything that much better 😛

FrankieFourShot, here’s your chance for fame!

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