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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How Does OpTic Keep Winning?

OpTic Gaming have already proved to be one of the greatest rosters in the history of competitive Halo. Comprised of Tony “Lethul” Campbell, Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, no squad has shown dominance in Halo 5 like they have. Being the first ever Halo World Champions, to winning the Summer Pro League, to qualifying for 2017 World Championships with ease, this roster has only lost twice on LAN. Aside from those two occasions, one being only days after forming, nobody has consistently come close.

So just what is it that allows these guys to win consistently?

 

Play-Styles and Team Chemistry

OpTic likely has four out of the top five players as it sounds. The best part of it is that all of these players can do everything.

Frosty, OpTic’s in-game leader. Courtesy of Bradley Bergstrom.

When OpTic needs to slay, every player can be a strong slayer. If a player needs to overextend to prevent a flag capture, any player is able to do it. This ability of having extreme flexibility allows OpTic to play extremely fast, and any team that is used to playing a slower, more rigid play-style will struggle. They are completely adaptable and no team is really able to match that.

Royal 2’s slaying power is second to none when he is able to set up with a sniper rifle. OpTic can play around him and be able to run two back-to-back flags because of his prowess with it. That said, Frosty is the cream of the crop when it comes to aggressive sniping. This man has consistently hit shots that are about as close to impossible as you can get. Combine that with Lethul and Snakebite’s consistent slaying power, and with that alone, this team is a top contender.

OpTic is also likely the most calm team competing right now. While listening to their communication during scrims, they never panic and rarely even raise their voices, even after making jaw-dropping plays. This allows very concise call-outs, allowing Chris “Royal 1” Fiorante, OpTic’s coach, to give the best instruction to allow the team to gain map and power control. Alongside the in-game leadership of Frosty and Snakebite, OpTic again dominates this category, being far and away better communicators than any other team.

 

Intangibles: “Glue” and the “Clutch Factor”

Some things that set teams apart can’t be seen on the stat sheet. They are involved with the personality of the players

Snakebite of OpTic Gaming. Courtesy of Halo EsportsWikis.

and the decisions made by players in certain situations. One of these is that players can act as a “glue” for a team. Their personality holds them together and drives them forward. For OpTic, this is Lethul. Since joining, he has often been able to keep the team relaxed and focused. Other examples of “glue” players would be Richie “Heinz” Heinz and Carlos “Cratos” Ayala.

The other intangible is the “clutch factor.” The ability to make a play at a crucial moment that turns the tide of a game or even a series. Snakebite has consistently been called the most clutch player in the game, and it is for good reason. He never makes a bad play, but always does whatever is absolutely necessary to bring home a win. This is what allows OpTic to consistently win, time and time again. They are able to just barely eek out the opposing team in the last moments to win. No team has matched OpTic’s ability to do this, and it may be awhile before any roster can truly match them.

 

 

As it stands now, while the gap between every other team is closing, the gap between OpTic and everyone else is growing. They are in prime position to become back-to-back Halo World Champions.

What are your thoughts on OpTic Gaming? Do you thing any team can match them in these categories? Sound off!

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!

Frostbite’s HWC Las Vegas Top 6 Predictions

Six North American teams will have their tickets punched to the HWC Finals this weekend at HWC Las Vegas. While one more can still qualify through the online LCQ, every team would prefer to do it on LAN. At this time, an official bracket has not yet been released. The following are my predictions based on solely my estimation of a team’s ability to win.

 

5-6th Place: Evil Geniuses

Roster: Jason “Lunchbox” Brown, Justin “Roy” Brown, Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski, Tom “OGRE 2” Ryan

OGRE 2 at his last event before retirement. Courtesy of ESL.

I’ll be honest, my heart is making this decision instead of my brain. I desperately want EG to qualify, but their online results haven’t quite reflected what they should. However, circumstances have rapidly begun to improve for this team after dropping Devon “PreDevoNatoR” Layton for the greatest of all time, Ogre 2.

Ogre 2 in scrims and the final Online Qualifier showed that he was still capable of hanging with the best in the league as a support player and in-game leader. Ogre 2 can rein in the Brown Twins, allowing Roy and ContrA to slay while Lunchbox makes his calculated plays. This team even has the ability to place better than 6th in my opinion if they meet Team Allegiance. It would be a close series, but I would place EG on top. In my mind, dropping PreDevoNatoR for Ogre 2 was a great decision, as shown by EG’s superior performances since their roster change.

 

5-6th: Team Allegiance

Roster:  Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali, Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylorand, Ayden “Suspector” Hill

This squad has also seen improvement recently. Scrim results show that Allegiance have convincingly beaten Luminosity Gaming, Str8 Rippin, and Evil Geniuses. Moreover, this squad topped Team Liquid 6-1, and later went on to even defeat OpTic 7-6. With the addition of TriPPPeY, this squad may have lost some overall slaying power, but has gained something arguably more important: slaying consistency. TriPPPeY has proved that he is a pro-level player and this squad can challenge to win the tournament if they come out of the gates hot. The only issue is that this squad does not hold a seed in the champ bracket. They will have to fight through the open bracket today to contend with the pro teams, and this could drain them.

 

4th: Splyce

Roster: Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, Michael “Falcated” Garcia and Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-

Inconceivable was acquired by Splyce shortly after St. Louis. Courtesy of Splyce.

Castro

Anyone who believes that this squad is not a threat should take a second look at what this team has been able to do. Forming with little time before St. Louis, this squad still managed to finish 5th-6th. This squad has also done well in scrims, including close 6-7 losses to both OpTic and EnvyUs. What has stopped them consistently though, is Team Liquid, as shown by a 10-3 loss most recently.

However, bubu dubu is not to be doubted on LAN. During HWC 2016, his team had the 11th seed going into NA Regionals, but left that event with a 2nd place finish, losing only to what at the time was a dominant CLG. Bubu, as well as the rest of the team, is capable of catching fire during the event and just demolishing any team that stands between them and the Grand Finals. This team, like any of the top 4, is completely capable of winning this event with the right clutch plays.

 

3rd: Team Liquid

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

Despite a bit of a slump two weeks ago, Liquid seem to have bounced back. They have been doing quite well over the last week, especially with a close 7-6 win over OpTic Gaming in scrims. This team has also utterly destroyed teams, such as Allegiance, Str8 Rippin, and Luminosity. This squad is a powerhouse and is looking to improve upon their 2nd place finish at UGC St. Louis earlier this year. Unfortunately for them, two giants are standing in their way, and one of them is most definitely not going to fall to Liquid this time around without a much tougher fight.

 

2nd: Team EnvyUs

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

Envy disappointed at UGC by falling to Liquid. The squad, the only to ever defeat OpTic Gaming at a LAN event, ended 3rd, missing their rematch with OpTic. Since then, whatever issues they had seem to have been resolved. They defeated EG 12-1, Splyce 9-2, Str8 9-3, and Liquid 8-5 in scrims. Against Liquid, they had another 9-4 win a few weeks earlier. At the end of January, EnvyUs was able to defeat Liquid 12-1 in a demoralizing fashion. This squad is angry about their finish at UGC, and their online results have reflected this. With their consistent scrim victories over Liquid online, I doubt that NV is going to allow themselves to fall to them a second time.

Envy’s sights are set on OpTic Gaming, and they want the world to know that they are the best team going into the World Finals.

 

1st: Optic Gaming

Roster: Tony “LethuL” Campbell, Jr, Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom

OpTic claims victory at UGC St. Louis. Courtesy of HCS.

The defending Halo World Champions. The Summer League Champions. The UGC St. Louis Champions. The Greenwall is hungry for another event win, and Vegas looks to be it. This squad, despite losing the Fall Season Finals, won St. Louis, and have only gotten better since then. OpTic has had two scrims where they have dominated Liquid, 10-2 and 12-1. Despite a few close losses, I don’t see Liquid being able to contest OpTic this weekend, especially when considering that OpTic plays far better on LAN.

Team EnvyUs can be as hungry for a win as they want. If they can’t beat OpTic, it doesn’t matter. With five total scrims between these two teams since St. Louis, OpTic have won three of them. It gets much closer than that. OpTic has won 24 games across these five scrims, compared to NV’s 23. This is as close as it gets, comparable to the rivalry of Final Boss and Carbon in the old days. I’m placing OpTic first because they narrowly won online and the gap between OpTic’s online vs. LAN performance is greater than that of NV’s.

 

Conclusion

Any of the top 4 teams listed are capable of winning this event in my opinion. These games will be close. This event will be great. As for a few other teams, namely Str8, Luminosity, and Pnda:

Str8 has not played well over the past two weeks. Both in scrims and the Online Qualifiers, this team has played sub-par. While their recent scrims have shown an improvement, I’m not sure it’s enough to get this team into the top 6 and a Worlds ticket. However, if they can turn up at this LAN, they will beat both EG and Allegiance without much difficulty.

Luminosity, while being far and away better than they were at St. Louis, I don’t believe they will be able to contend with these top teams. It’s not a matter of LG being bad, it’s a matter of everyone else being really good. However, should the bracket favor them, they have a shot.

As for Pnda, despite my personal distaste for the players on this team, they have also improved after picking up Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi. However, the fact is that this team plays at the same level online as they do on LAN, at least from what I have seen. The issue here is that nearly every other team is far better on LAN. Again, if the bracket favors Pnda, they can make a run at top 6.

 

HWC Las Vegas is set to show the absolute best of Halo 5 that we have seen so far. The competition is tighter than it’s ever been and we are in for a treat. Be sure to tune in to the stream all weekend at twitch.tv/halo for the best Halo competition you can find.

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: 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!

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.

 

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FrankieFourShot, here’s your chance for fame!

HWC 2017: UGC St. Louis Preview and Predictions

The first event of the 2017 Halo World Championship season is this weekend, January 20th-22nd! UGC St. Louis, while not awarding spots for the HWC Finals, will still be important to teams, as it serves as seeding and LAN practice for HCS Las Vegas, which will award HWC spots. Let’s take a look at my predictions for what the top eight teams will be come Sunday!

#8. Luminosity gaming

Roster: Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan, Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor

Victory X. Courtesy of ESL.

Luminosity’s first dive into Halo ended with a 5th place finish in the Fall Season. Their new squad, while not necessarily worse, has much more fearsome competition to contend with. With eL TowN and Victory X bringing excellent support and objective work to the roster, their main concern will be slaying power. TriPPPey has proven himself to be very competent in this area, but his performance against higher-seeded pro teams remains unproven. This team should be able to dispatch teams outside of the top eight with relative ease. If Ninja can step up and be the jaw-dropping slayer we all know he can be, this squad can easily do even better. But with a 0-8 scrim record against other teams on this list, I’m not sure this LG squad can pull it off.

This tournament will serve as practice more than anything for Luminosity. They need to learn how to work together well and build a camaraderie outside the game. I fully expect their scrim scores to improve following this event, but I’m not sure I see them breaking into the top six before HWC Las Vegas.

 

#7. Str8 Rippin

Roster: Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz, Jonathan “Renegade” Willette

I have a hard time saying that Renegade is an upgrade from Kevin “Eco” Smith. Both are great power slayers, but I feel Eco just slightly ekes out Renegade in most if not all categories. The advantage that Str8 has however, is that this team already has some previously built-up chemistry. Renegade played with Str8 before they were able to pick up Eco over the transfer period. Even with this, the team is not necessarily worse, but the competition has far improved from last season.

When it comes to scrims, Str8 has beaten Luminosity by only one game. However, the reason I put Str8 above LG on this list is because they have consistently done better against other rosters than LG. For example, both teams have scrimmaged the new Team Allegiance: Str8 lost the scrim 8-5, while Luminosity lost it 11-2. This sort of scenario has repeated itself multiple times with several different teams, and in most, Str8 comes out better than LG. UGC to this team will be about continuing to build their chemistry and seeing where they truly stack up against other top contenders.

 

#6. Team Allegiance

Roster: Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi, Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali, Ayden “Suspector” Hill

This is where things start to get especially close. The new Allegiance roster will have to fight through the open bracket, but once in the champ bracket, they’re sure to start making it farther down the rankings. This squad has three top-tier slayers and an excellent objective player.

Commonly

Commonly, also lovingly nicknamed “The Problem.” Courtesy of ESL.

This squad can very quickly switch places with any team in the 3rd-6th spots. In scrims, this team has lost to OpTic Gaming by only one game, and has also split scrims with both Team EnvyUs and Team Liquid. While LAN results may differ, this team could be without a doubt a top four contender, assuming Spartan kicks up his game to a near-insane levels like he did at the Fall Finals. UGC will provide solid practice to see if this new roster can play well together and to see if their online results translate over to LAN.

 

#5. Evil Geniuses

Roster: Justin “Roy” Brown, Jason “Lunchbox” Brown, Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski, Devon “PreDevoNatoR” Layton

ContrA. Courtesy of ESL.

Now, to be clear, if this was an online qualifier, EG would most likely be in 7th or 8th place. But this is LAN. It has been proven time and again over the past decade that the the Brown twins are not to be tested at a live event. Throw in ContrA and PreDevoNatoR, another two players who have proven to be far superior on LAN to online. With a similar mix of play-styles to the EG team that dominated Halo 2: Anniversary, the potential of this squad is through the roof.

Despite this, numbers don’t lie. EG has lost all but one scrim out of the nine they’ve played. Despite this, they’ve taken a fair amount of games from both OpTic, EnvyUs, and Liquid. However, LAN EG is a completely different beast. During HCS Las Vegas last season, EG was able to take EnvyUs to a game five, pushing what virtually all view as a top two team to their absolute limits; and I’d say this squad is stronger. All of these players on LAN can far outdo themselves online, and as a fan of EG since they returned to Halo in 2014, I can’t wait to see what this team can do. UGC will serve as excellent practice for this squad, as they have not played on LAN since that Vegas event. However, teams that are absolutely brimming with talent are what is holding this team from joining the top four.

 

#4. Inconceivable

Roster: Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, Michael “Falcated” Garcia, “Shotzzy” (Full name unknown)

Be sure to give Bubu your Dubu this weekend, because he and Shooter are not going to be playing nice at this event. After being (for lack of a better word) screwed out of a Pro Bracket spot by their former teammate, these players are going to be hungry. Most of the attention is going to young-gun “Shotzzy,” a player who is so new and unknown that I can’t, for the life of me, find his actual name. He formed a duo with another young player to win several Team Beyond 2v2 tournaments, which included knocking out some pros. His movement and slaying power is already up there with the best, and he doesn’t even have a driver’s license yet. This team also won the NA placement cup prior to UGC and is in prime position to get into the top four. This squad has insane slaying power, led by Bubu’s clutch plays and top-tier objective work.

Scrims have gone very well for this new squad, including a 12-1 victory over Luminosity. They have also split games with both Liquid and Envy. However, the one thing holding them back from top three, is ironically Shotzzy. As far as I know, he has not played at any LAN events. This lack of experience can be detrimental to the squad, as his performance under pressure has not yet been tested. If Shotzzy holds up, this team is right up there with OpTic and Envy. Shotzzy’s performance will no doubt be a focal point for all teams this weekend at UGC. With this is the ongoing situation with this squad and the Pnda Gaming squad. If these two meet, I can only hope for the following scenario to be true:

t5evHFs.jpg

Bubu Dubu knocking out Carlos “Cratos” Ayala. Courtesy of “Craneteam,” from the Team Beyond Forums.

 

#3. Team Liquid

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

If you asked me to throw together the most talented pro players who were not on Envy or OpTic, this is probably the squad I would come up with. A squad of all relative newcomers. Rayne and Penguin have been an amazing duo since first seen on LAN at NA Regionals last year. Rayne provides excellent support play, StelluR is one of the best main-slayers in the league, and both Penguin and Eco have proven themselves as excellent power-slayers.

This team has split games with Envy in scrims and even won a scrim against OpTic by one game. This team has also traded scrims with Inconceivable, but as I said, I believe Shotzzy’s lack of LAN experience will separate these two. I am sure this team will be top four, but UGC will decide if they can join Envy and OpTic in being a step above other teams in the league.

 

#2. Team EnvyUs

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

Pistola, the resident Wizard of Halo. Courtesy of ESL.

The Fall Champions. The King-slayers. The only team to ever beat OpTic on LAN. With a star-studded arrangement of amazing slayers, this squad has done what many thought would have been impossible. With Ola and Mikwen not even making Worlds last year, this battle will be especially personal for them. In scrims, they have won all except for one tie with Inconceivable. They defeated the Pnda squad 12-1. To say the least, this team is dominating.

And yet, I have them at #2.

OpTic may have fallen, but I don’t think they are defeated yet. In fact, as I have said earlier, I think Envy have awakened a sleeping dragon. However, their previous win at Fall Finals may also further motivate Envy to continue their win-streak all the way to being the 2017 World Champions. But to do this, one squad stands in their way.

 

#1. OpTic Gaming

Roster: Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, Tony “LethuL” Campbell

This squad needs no introduction. There’s a reason that I have OpTic winning UGC this weekend despite performing worse in scrims than Envy. LAN OpTic, in a similar fashion to EG, is a whole different beast. Losing at X-Games one year ago motivated the squad to become the first ever Halo World Champions. I’m betting that losing at Fall Finals will do the same. However, I don’t think OpTic will dominate as they have previously. At Fall Finals, OpTic was able to 4-1 Envy in the Winner’s Finals. Envy will surely take games. But I don’t think the #Greenwall is ready to go quietly quite yet. These two teams will be battling back and forth for the foreseeable future, but I think OpTic is going to be the defending world champs for yet another year.

OpTic wins HCS Orange County. Courtesy of ESL.

 

Do you agree with my placings? Be sure to let me know! Be sure to tune in to UGC St. Louis this weekend at: https://www.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 Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

 

HWC 2017 Rostermania: Teams and Thoughts

With the conclusion of the Fall Season Pro League, many Halo teams have made some huge roster changes, and as usual, some drama has followed. With OpTic Gaming and Team EnvyUs retaining their previous rosters, let’s take a look at how the other teams are shaping up going into the 2017 World Championship season.

 

Courtesy of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins

Luminosity Gaming

Luminosity Gaming ended their first stint in professional Halo in 5th place, just barely being knocked out of the Fall Season Finals by Str8 Rippin’s miracle run through the last half of the season. In preparation for HWC, LG has released fan-favorite player, Brett “Naded” Leonard as well as Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi. In their place, they have scooped up another fan favorite, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, as well as Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor, a player who made it to the Fall Season Relegations. The full LG squad heading into the HWC 2017 Season is now Ninja, TriPPPeY, Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, and Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan.

The success of this team lies with the consistency of Ninja. When he catches fire, he can consistently match teams such as OpTic and NV, possibly even beat them. The only issue here, is that Ninja can’t pull off these kinds of performances on a consistent basis. He’s always been an aggressive, high-risk, high-reward sort of power slayer. The issue with this is that it’s been more risk than reward as of late, leading to some low-damage and high death games. With Victory X and eL TowN bringing a proper objective focus to this squad, as well as TriPPPey’s consistent slaying power, this should allow room for Ninja to do what he needs to do. If he shows up, then this squad can definitely break into the top 4.

Evil Geniuses

Being an EG fan has hurt, ever since NA Regionals last February. The twins, Jason “Lunchbox,” and Justin “Roy” Brown have just not been able to catch a break. Not because Roy and Lunchbox (collectively known as “Roybox”) are no longer able to compete, but instead because they have not been able to find players that can match their play styles. Even with this, the twins along with their teammates always managed to place well on LAN. This might just be what brings EG back into the winner’s circle.

Enter Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski and Devon “PreDevoNatoR” Layton. These two are now joining Roybox and coach Ryan “Towey” after the release of Ninja and Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher. ContrA brings excellent slaying power, with arguably one of the best magnum shots in the league. PreDevoNatoR rounds out the squad with a solid flex role, being able to slay and do objective work. The reason this is important, is because this is a similar combination of play styles that EG had when they were dominating Halo 2: Anniversary. While all players have a spotty record when it comes to online play, both RoyBox as well as ContrA and PreDevoNatoR have done far better when it comes to LAN play. They are likely to also break into the top 4. Make no mistake. This team is a threat and has the potential to be as much of a contender as NV or OpTic.

 

Team Liquid

Team Liquid ended the Fall Season with a 3rd place finish. Looking to improve, Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali have been released. In an attempt to push to the same level as OpTic and NV, they have scooped up Stellur and Kevin “Eco” Smith to join Zane “Penguin” Hearon and Tim “Rayne” Tinkler.

Courtesy of ESL

This new Team Liquid is the most likely to catch up to NV and OpTic. Penguin and Rayne have already proven themselves to be a top duo with a top 4 finish at HWC 2016 and at both Pro League seasons. Combined with Stellur and Eco, this team has a scary amount of slaying power. These two have teamed along with Team Liquid previously in the Summer Season, and despite their poor overall placing, they looked like a team that could have made Finals in the final weeks of the season.

*Note: Team Liquid has not yet officially stated that this is their roster, but it is very likely. Regardless, this team will hold the Liquid seed.

 

Str8 Rippin

This is a roster switch that many didn’t see coming. Most, (including me) had hoped that Str8 would stick with their roster of Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz and Eco, especially after the roller coaster they had been on, which concluded with their miracle run to the Fall Finals. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as Eco left the team for Team Liquid. In his place, Str8 has acquired a previous amateur player,

This is not the first time that Jonathan “Renegade” Willette has played with Ace and crew. After Nick “Maniac” Kershner’s retirement, the team picked up their first victory in the Fall season with Renegade. He fills a similar role to Eco, being a great power slayer. Whether this will make Str8 stronger or weaker, remains to be seen.

 

Pnda gaming

Made up of Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Cory “Str8 Sick” Sloss, Brett “Naded” Leonard, and Kyle “Nemassist” Kubina, this roster’s legitimacy of holding a pro seed is questionable at best. Through unfair bending of the rules and usage of loopholes, Cratos and his squad have managed to hold the former Enigma 6 seed instead of the squad made by Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller and Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, much to the anger of the HCS community. While the ESL rules state that a team must have two members of it’s previous team to retain a seed (Which Bubu’s squad does and Cratos’ does not), Cratos still managed to snag the seed.

Nevertheless, they hold the seed. However, this squad has weakened from what it once was. Already being forced to Fall Relegations, the loss of Bubu Dubu and Shooter, two players who arguably carried the team through relegations, will hurt the team. With several other team’s looking to snatch one of the seven NA spots at Worlds, it is very possible that this team will not even make it to Worlds, at least as they are now.

 

Team Allegiance

Despite not holding a pro seed, this team will likely breeze into the top 6. Allegiance dissolved their seed from the Fall season to acquire a new roster of Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali, Ayden “Suspector” Hill, and Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi. This roster is going to be scary. Spartan, Suspector, and Danoxide are all excellent slayers and can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. All this slaying power leaves Commonly free to run objectives however he sees fit and to be a general annoyance for the opposing team.

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

Spartan will be either the catalyst or the anchor for this team’s success. He has consistently been an emotional player who can either carry his squad with jaw-dropping plays, or just be completely shut down and become a detriment. Throughout the Summer Season, he was unfortunately the latter. However, during the Fall Season, this was not so. Spartan was consistently leading his team in slays, and at the Fall Finals, rocketed his team through a game seven Rig Slayer to reverse-sweep Str8 Rippin. Despite not having a pro seed going into UGC St. Louis, this team is likely a top three contender.

Many story lines are taking shape on the road to the 2017 Halo World Championship. The personal battle between Bubu Dubu’s now amateur team and Cratos as well as the ever present OpTic vs. NV rivalry, many questions will be answered this weekend. Come back later this week for a preview and predictions for UGC St. Louis!

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!

 

OGRE 2’s Return to Halo

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

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

Courtesy of Major League Gaming.

Chargers los angeles rams coaches carmelo anthony airball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team EnvyUs:

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

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

Crowd footage courtesy of Mishwad

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

OpTic Gaming

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

And this:

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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