Frostbite’s HWC 2017 Finals Predictions

We’re finally here. Three months of competition and grinding have brought us to this. Twelve teams will compete in Burbank, California this weekend and only one will walk away with the title of “Halo World Champion.” Here’s how I think it’s all going to play out.


9th – 12th: SoaR Gaming

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

MuNoZ, of SoaR Gaming. Courtesy of HaloEsportsWikis.

Qualifying through the Latin America Qualifiers, this squad is looking to improve their region’s standing in the Halo community. Mexico City proved that they are a very competent team that has the endurance to compete with other top tier teams in the region.

However, losing their star player Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez and using MuNoZ as a late substitute could damage this team’s performance. Moreover, these players, with the exception of MuNoZ, don’t have experience competing against North American teams and that will likely work against them. MuNoZ must lead this team perfectly for them to make the top eight.


9th – 12th: London Conspiracy

Roster: Rob “SeptiQ” Singleton, Andrew “Ramirez” Corrigan, Casey “Lunny” Lunn, Kristopher “Qristola” O’Keefe

Despite having several notable players on the roster, I just don’t think London Conspiracy have the firepower to deal with the other teams attending the Halo World Championship. With Team Liquid and Luminosity Gaming in their group, it’s hard to see them winning it, meaning they’ll likely be seeded into the loser’s bracket. With other teams such as Team Immunity and Supremacy likely joining them there, this squad has a tough route to make it deep into the bracket.


9th – 12th: Supremacy

Roster:  Norwen “SLG” Le Galloudec, Romain “PuniShR” Leroy, Sonny “Fragxr” Marchaland, Simon “SolaR” Racher

This squad has a similar story to London Conspiracy. In the same group as OpTic Gaming and Crowd Pleasers, saying “only a miracle could win this squad their group” would be an understatement. And then dropping to the loser’s bracket, this theme continues. Supremacy isn’t bad, they’re just not going to be able to contend with the other teams here, specifically the North American teams and FabE.


9th – 12th: Team Immunity

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

Benno, during his time playing Call of Duty. Courtesy of EGaming Network.

Right off the bat, I’ll say that this squad has already impressed me. The team has come out to Burbank early to get more practice against North American teams and they’ve been doing well for themselves. Scrim results show that they’ve taken three games off of Team EnVyUs, with several other winnable games. They even managed to win a scrim 7-6 against Splyce. However, they’ve also been picked apart by Str8 Rippin, with a 13-0 loss and only two close games.

Immunity does have an advantage in that this is the same squad that represented ANZ at last year’s Halo World Championship. They and OpTic are the only teams to have the same rosters. This built up chemistry could very well swing fortune into Immunity’s favor, but with both Splyce and NV in their group, they’ll need to catch fire quickly.

That said, I place them here reluctantly. Depending on how the bracket plays out as well as which teams come out hot or cold, this squad could very well slip into the top eight, possibly even top six.


7th – 8th: Luminosity Gaming

Roster: Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan, Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins

Starting off in the top eight is Luminosity Gaming. With the slaying capabilities of Saiyan and Ninja combined with the support

Saiyan, the newest player on LG. Courtesy of Tommy Wilson.

work of eL TowN and Victory X, this squad is a potent combination. This was shown at HWC Las Vegas, where the squad nearly defeated Str8 Rippin and even managed to send Splyce home. Luminosity has proved that when they’re at their top level, they can contend with the best of the best. But therein lies the problem.

According to, a website that tracks the scrim scores and stats of professional Halo, LG hasn’t had a scrim in over a week. Assuming this is a lack of practice, this could severely hinder the squad’s ability to repeat and improve upon their earlier performance. Scrim results prior to their absence don’t look bad, however, with a 6-6 scrim with Splyce and a 9-4 over Team Liquid. However, there’s also a 0-7 loss to OpTic as well as a 1-12 loss to NV. This squad has the talent to squeak into the top eight, but past that, this lack of practice will keep them from progressing.


7th – 8th: FabE Games eSports

Roster: Brandon “Respectful” Stones, James “Jimbo” Bradbrook, Perry “TuFoxy” Kenyon, Luciano “Mose” Calvanico

The top European team and arguably top foreign team have proved that they are legitimate contenders for the Halo World Championship title. Despite splitting scrims with other EU teams, when it comes to events, this squad has not faltered to any non-North American team. During the Fall Pro League season, this squad did play NA teams and was defeated by Str8 Rippin 4-1. Despite this, this squad has improved since then and the recent LAN experience against NA teams will play to their advantage. Joining them in Group D is Str8 Rippin and SoaR. With this in mind, they are very capable of winning this group if Str8 comes out flat, putting both them and most likely Str8 in the winner’s bracket. However, despite being a great squad, the next caliber of teams are just a step above.


5th – 6th: Crowd Pleasers

Roster: Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Brett “Naded” Leonard, Cory “Str8 SicK” Sloss, Daniel “Danoxide” Terlizzi

Carlos Ayala at MLG Regionals last year. Courtesy of Halo Esportspedia.

This squad came out strong at Las Vegas, securing fourth. With crazy momentum-based slaying on their side, CP can just about cruise into the top eight before having real struggles. With OpTic and Supremacy in their group, they will likely take second and move into the winner’s bracket as well. The issue I have with this squad is that they are momentum based. All four players have been known to be extremely emotional and while this can play to their advantage, in the long run it is more likely to hurt them. If this squad runs up against a particularly tough match-up early in the bracket, they can tilt themselves all the way out of the tournament. However, if they can move on from losses with relative ease, this squad does have a chance to make top four.

That said, scrim results don’t paint a good picture for CP. Hard losses to NV, Splyce and OpTic shows that this team may not yet be able to stand with that category.


5th – 6th: Splyce

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

Bubu during his time on E6. Courtesy of Halo Esportspedia.


We’re starting to reach that point where any of these teams can take the title if things go a little in their favor. Splyce,

despite a disappointing performance at Vegas, punched their ticket to HWC through the LCQ. Another squad of young guns, these players all have the potential to go off and absolutely take control of a game on their own. Shotzzy, being the youngest player at the tournament at the age of 15, has shown that age is not a marker of ability. Bubu and Shooter also have something to prove, as they unfairly lost their Pro League spots due to Cratos’ actions. Scrims have been conflicting for Splyce, with 5-8 losses to Str8 but 9-4 wins over CP. However, much like OpTic, Str8 and Liquid, this roster is much stronger at live events, Vegas being the exception. Expect a hot start and continuous momentum deep into the bracket.


4th: Str8 Rippin

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

Richie Heinz. Courtesy of ESL.

This squad has been on a roller coaster of a ride since the end of HWC 2016. After Ace, APG, and Heinz were dropped from OpTic Gaming, they were acquired by Str8 Rippin, a legendary name in the history of competitive Halo. From there, this squad made a miracle run, going from the bottom of the standing to top four, just barely making it to the Fall Finals. Since then, they’ve picked up Renegade and have only gotten stronger. Despite scrim results being less than ideal across the board, this squad has shown that they are not to be trifled with. They are likely to win their group and proceed into the winner’s bracket, where they’ll likely stay there for another two rounds or so. Vegas showed that this team can contend with OpTic and they are more than capable of winning if Renegade is able to consistently put up huge numbers along with the rest of the team.


3rd: Team EnVyUs

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

“Hyoooook.” Courtesy of Cuyler Garland.

Despite Str8 being very strong, I do still think that NV are the better team. This squad is the only current squad to ever best OpTic Gaming on LAN. Since Fall Finals, NV has stumbled once the tournament slimmed to the top four. Despite consistently beating Str8 and other squads below them, Team Liquid has had them dialed in this season.

Despite this, scrim scores show a resurgence for this squad. This team has won nine scrims consecutively, with most of them being blowouts. This does also include a 7-6 victory over OpTic, although their last loss was to OpTic and was 9-4. It is completely viable for this team to come out hot and start knocking other teams into the loser’s bracket with sweeps. If this squad can manage to get past Liquid, they can take down OpTic and become World Champions.


2nd: Team Liquid

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

StelluR at Vegas. Courtesy of Braedon Boettcher.

That said, any rumors of Liquid’s victories over EnVyUs being flukes have been silenced. Liquid has beaten NV three times at events. Two of those were dominant 4-1 and 4-2 victories. This squad is the strongest new team to come out of the Fall season and has contested OpTic the best so far. At UGC, both of the series that Liquid played against OG went to the final games and were close. At Vegas, Liquid lost 4-1 while Rayne played with a broken controller. If there’s a squad who can take out OpTic, this is the most likely.


1st: OpTic Gaming

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

Beware this man in Blue Cave. Courtesy of Mathew Fiorante.

Back to back, two for two. Consecutive World Champions. This squad is going in already being at the top of the mountain and they have seen absolutely no failure this season. OpTic is the next dynasty of Halo and being the World Champs again will only solidify that. LethuL puts up consistently good numbers every game and does whatever is necessary to win his team the game. Snakebite is a similar story, consistent and overwhelming slaying with an insane clutch factor. Royal2 and Frosty have put up huge numbers repeatedly. Undoubtedly, these four are among the top 10 players in the game and it is likely that OpTic has four out of the five best players. As long as this team is playing their game, they will win and become the 2017 Halo World Champions.




We’re going to see the best Halo 5 competition yet this weekend. While it’s hard for me to picture anyone but OpTic winning, any of the last five teams listed here are more than capable of wrestling the title away from them. Be sure to check out the stream here!

Do you agree with my predictions? Let me know on Twitter or in the stream this weekend.


These were too good not to include. Courtesy of “overruled” and “Chong” of the Team Beyond forums. Only the dankest of memes.

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Team Liquid: Poised to be Champions?

The Team Liquid that has competed throughout this HWC season has shocked many. After dropping Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Hamza “Commonly” Abbaalli, many questioned this team’s ability to remain in the top four. However, Zane “Penguin” Hearon and Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler have ended those rumors.


Liquid From the Ashes

Eco during his previous time with Liquid. Courtesy of Kevin Smith.

After only barely taking third at the HCS Fall Finals, Liquid decided to pick up Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher and Kevin “Eco” Smith. This change was questioned. Commonly and Spartan were both regarded as top players. Eco was picked up after Liquid reverse-swept them at Fall Finals. StelluR wasn’t even at the Finals. Early scrim performances led to many continuing to question the roster change.

The only thing that seemed to be going for Liquid was that they were one of the first teams to form after the Fall Season and had already had previous chemistry as a team. However, most people thought that they would still not be able to contest with OpTic and Envy.

Then UGC happened.


UGC St. Louis

Liquid’s first notable matchup at St. Louis was against Splyce, at the time Inconceivable. Liquid narrowly won with a 3-2 victory, with no particularly easy games. Next, they encountered OpTic, and this was when people first saw what this team was capable of. Liquid took OpTic to a Game 5, very nearly becoming the second team to ever defeat the dominant roster on LAN. Unfortunately, Game 5 didn’t go in their favor and they dropped to the loser’s bracket.

Liquid fought through the loser’s bracket, sending Str8 Rippin home with a 3-1 score. Their next opponent, however, was Team EnVyUs. The only squad to ever best OpTic at an event. Again, many thought that surely, Liquid would be sent home and we would have another OpTic vs. NV rematch.

Against all odds, Liquid managed to eliminate NV from the tournament with another slim 3-2 victory. They then met OpTic in the Grand Finals and took the series all the way to Game 7. In Game 7, Coliseum Slayer, they were only defeated by small clutch plays. The game ended with less than a 10 kill difference, but Liquid had fallen. Nevertheless, the fact that they played OpTic so close and managed to eliminate NV was astounding to many. Despite this, some called it a fluke, claiming that NV just had a bad event, much like OpTic had at Fall Finals. This too, did not last.


HWC Vegas 2017

At Vegas, Liquid managed to defeat Pnda 4-0, a team that later went on to get top four and punch their ticket to HWC Finals. Next, they once again were met with NV. Much to the disappointment of many, Liquid forced NV down to the loser’s bracket with a 4-1 victory. NV were outright dominated in two games of the series, and their only win was relatively close. Liquid had shown that they were now OpTic’s greatest contender.

Let it be noted that according to Penguin, Rayne’s controller had malfunctioned, rendering him unable to crouch. With Halo 5’s controversial radar inclusion, not being able to crouch and stay off the radar was crippling.

Team Liquid’s Rayne. Courtesy of Tim Tinkler.

Nevertheless, Liquid continued on to meet OpTic, but were defeated 4-2. Liquid then dropped to the LB to play NV yet again. NV was playing much better at this point, but it was not enough for them to overcome Liquid. NV was eliminated from the tournament after a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Team Liquid.

In the Grand Finals, Liquid once again faced OpTic. With several close games, Liquid was defeated 4-1, with a larger margin between the two teams than at UGC. All still, with Rayne’s broken controller.


Looking to the HWC Finals

This weekend will decide if this squad has what it takes. They have shown that they are no longer third fiddle. They are better than NV, with little room for doubt after three consecutive LAN wins over them. Their chances at taking down OpTic are likely greater than those of any other team. However, they will need to come out very hot, or they too will not be able to break through the Greenwall. Liquid have shown that they are more than capable; but when you’re against a team like OpTic, no mistakes can be made. We won’t see if Liquid can accomplish this until this weekend, but they are surely going to be OpTic’s main contender.


Do you think Team Liquid has what it takes to be our 2017 World Champions? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

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The Playbook: Rig Slayer

The Rig is one of the most important maps to learn in Halo 5, as it plays host to both Slayer and Strongholds. Having to play the same map twice in a single series can be a double-edged sword. If a team wins the first rendition of the map in a series, they’ll be more comfortable for the second. The opposing team who lost the first time around has the opposite effect. That said, here’s how you can help net yourself a win on Rig Slayer.


Rig Slayer Map Layout

Rig is the first asymmetrical map we’ll be covering in the series. The Red team spawns in the Bunker, with the Blues at the Carbine area. In the Nest, you’ll find a sniper rifle, with little cover. If the Red team is not careful about pushing this

Camo spawn.

area, the Blue team can easily toss in grenades. In the opposite corner of the map is the Scattershot, right by Barrels. Either team can choose to bait the Scattershot, by waiting for an enemy to push into the area and then shooting the explosive barrels.

The Camo spawns in the inside area of the map, adjacent to the White Hall. Hitting the white circle underneath the Camo platform will cause it to fall to the Sewers area. This is how nearly every game is started, as it allows both teams to further contest for Camo.

The Tower sits between the Bunker and Barrels and gives a nice overview of the entire inside area of the map. Behind the Tower is the Pipes area, which can be used for plenty of sneaky getaways.

Movement Around Tower and Pipes

Red Team Starting Strategy

Due to the Rig being asymmetrical, the Blue and Red teams have different strategies to use off the break. The Red team spawns inside of the map and has the better positioning. They are also in prime position to get control of the Camo.

Nest, featuring the Sniper.

Have two players rush Engine 2 (E2). One player should push into White Hall in order to watch the Nest and the Sniper. The other should have their eyes on the Camo and Basement Door. A third player should push up to the Tower and watch the Long Hall and Top Mid area as well as keeping an eye on Barrels. They may also be able to cover a part of the Outside Catwalk. Your fourth player should be charging the Camo. If the fourth dies, the player who was in E2 watching the Basement should be the next to attempt to grab it. Once the Camo is secured, the player in Tower should grab the Scattershot if it’s still available.

If a Red player grabs Camo, they should drop to Sewers and push into Basement for an easy flank.


Blue Team Starting Strategy

The Blue team has the weaker initial spawn. Have one player push to Barrels to grab the Scattershot, but be mindful of a

Barrels and the Scattershot spawn.

player in Tower. If this player is fast enough, they should be able to grab it without any trouble and double back to help the next player. Have the next player sit in the Basement Door to contest or at least burn the Camo. If a Blue player gets the first Camo, they should still drop to Sewers, but then should push into E2 to get a flank of their own. The remaining two players should push to Nest to secure the Sniper as well as contest White Hall. After getting a couple of kills, the Blue team should immediately swarm to the inside area of the map to get the Bunker spawns.


Rig Setup

Due again to being asymmetrical, the Rig has less of a focus on collapsing on spawns and more of a focus on holding

The Bunker area.

areas. After the initial fight, a team ideally should have control of the Bunker spawn, with one player anchoring the team there. The rest of the players should be split between controlling the White Hall and Tower. From there, let enemies push in, and kills rack up. Holding this setup basically guarantees you the Camo while also providing relatively good access to both the Sniper and Scattershot spawns.

When attempting to break a setup, the best way is to wait for a power weapon or Camo to spawn. Once your team has control of it, they can get easy kills and flood back into the superior side of the map. If the other team pushed your outside spawn, use it to your advantage. Have a player sneak back into the Bunker while they are pushing elsewhere and force them into the weaker spawn.


These strategies are very general and will not apply to every case. Make sure that you are conscious of what’s happening around the map and that you’re prepared.

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Halo World Championship Finals Regional Preview: North America

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

North American Titans

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


The Defending Champs: OpTic Gaming

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

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

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

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

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


The Young Guns: Team Liquid

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

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

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

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


The Wild Card: Team EnVyUs

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

Snip3down of Team EnVyUs. Courtesy of Halo EsportsWikis

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

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



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

Halo World Championship 2016 Trophy. Courtesy of Xbox Wire

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

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

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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!

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The Playbook: Empire Strongholds

Empire Strongholds is one of the most disliked game-modes in Halo 5. Many cite it as a map that invites the use of unbalanced automatic weapons and grenade spam. While this is true, Empire SH is very winnable, and here’s an outline of how to do it.


Strongholds Basics

Let’s talk about Strongholds in general first. In a sense, the cue for making a play is similar to that of CTF. Wait until you have a few members of the enemy team down. Then push for a Stronghold capture. If possible, never attempt to capture a zone alone. It takes too long and Strongholds are typically very easy to collapse on and clear out.

Remember that while a triple-cap (holding all three zones simultaneously) is fastest, it’s not worth losing map control. Holding two will ensure that you are still earning points. Never push to capture a third Stronghold when you have little to no map presence or have teammates waiting to spawn. That said, if you are about to lose control of the map and of Strongholds, then it is preferable to hop into another zone as it will lead to you trading Strongholds with the other team. This buys your team time to make a counter-attack, while also allowing you to keep scoring for a little bit longer.


Empire Map Layout

Empire has less power-weapons and power-ups than other maps, but they are still very important. The Overshield (OS)

The OS spawn.

spawns at the outside area of the map. The Active Camouflage (Camo) spawns inside of the Tower. Both are on two minute static timers, meaning they will spawn two minutes after they are picked up. The Plasma Pistol spawns in front of the Tower. Use it to melt the OS off of players if the enemy team is able to grab it.

The Turbine sits between the Pit Stronghold and the outside area. Along with the Tower, both areas are key to maintaining control of the Pit.


Strategy: Airstrikes and Gunfire

Empire is more slay-heavy and rotation-focused than any other Strongholds map. Due to this, it suits teams that are able to play very fast. Controlling both power-ups or at least being mindful of their times is very important, more so than most other maps.

The Camo spawn.

At the start of the match, two players should immediately run to get control of the OS. It is more valuable than the Camo in most situations. A third player should rush to the Tower for the Camo, but be ready to burn it if necessary because they may not have help immediately available. The fourth player should be floating between their base and the Pit. This player needs to be sure to grab the Plasma Pistol in case the opposing team is able to grab the OS. This same player should always fall back to capture the home base, and the players who pushed outside should capture the Pit if they win the initial fights. Be mindful of the times of both power-ups.

After gaining control of the Pit, keep players in Tower and Turbine in order to lock down the Pit as well as gain influence over other areas of the map. Players in Tower should be watching the opposing team’s Platform (Plat) in order to catch spawners who are pushing out of their base. Turbine players can help control the opposing team’s outside Bend area.


Here’s where having high aggression is helpful for Empire; As soon as you get a player or two dead, push their base to get a triple-cap. Once captured, immediately rotate back around to your home base to clear out the players who are now spawning there, and maintain the triple-cap for as long as you can.

This is a hard map to break out of when you’re on the back-foot. In most cases, keep yourself out of a triple-cap. Wait until OS spawns, then push for slays, then push Strongholds. The key to this map is to always know how and when to rotate. If you see your teammate clear out the opposing base and start capturing the Stronghold, double-back to your base to maintain control.

These strategies are very general and will not apply to every case. Be sure that you are conscious of what’s happening around the map and that you’re prepared.


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.


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.



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 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!

Will Str8 Rippin Qualify for Worlds at HWC Vegas?

Str8 Rippin, comprised of Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz, and Jonathan “Renegade” Willette, seems to have hit a slump recently. Disappointing scrim scores and Online Qualifier results seemed to hit them hard. This squad was top 4 at the St. Louis event earlier this year, but their ability to carry this performance forward into Vegas is now in question.


Scrim Performance

Str8 Rippin has not been able to win a 13 game scrim in over two weeks. Their last win was on February 10th against Pnda Gaming. Even then, it was not a particularly convincing win, ending at 8-5 with a decent amount of relatively close games.

Ace, captain of Str8 Rippin, during his time on OpTic Gaming. Courtesy of the HCS.

Following that, Str8 lost two scrims 12-1 to Team EnvyUs, with less than four close games. A Team Liquid scrim the next night ended in a similar fashion. Unfortunately, it gets worse; Str8 fell again to Pnda Gaming 9-4, and Luminosity 7-5. The issue here is that these two teams are typically seen outside of the top 6. This is creating doubt in Str8’s ability to break the top 4 again, or even qualify.

Most recently, this squad has lost 9-4 to Allegiance and 9-3 to EnvyUs. The upside to these two scrims is that the games were significantly close, each having at least 3-4 games that could have gone either way. This shows some potential improvement on the part of Str8.

Str8 most recently played in the final Online Qualifier and ended up with a 5th-8th finish, falling 3-1 to EG. EG has recently been improving, largely due to bringing Tom “OGRE 2” Ryan out of retirement. Fortunately, Ace and Co.’s seed for Vegas is already set due to how the point system is set up.


Looking forward

Str8 only has a couple of days to prepare for Vegas. If they don’t make top 6 this weekend, they will have to play in the Last Chance Online Qualifier. The issue with this is that several teams, such as Pnda, seem to be much stronger online compared to LAN.

The silver lining for this squad is that they have taken a recent break from grinding Halo 5. Members of the squad were present at the MLG Atlanta event, and then the team was in New York City to help promote Halo Wars 2. This led to a large gap of time where the team was unable to consistently practice. Unfortunately, the squad seemed to suffer another loss yesterday.

The loss of Emanuel “Hoaxer” Lovejoy as their coach, less than a week prior to the event, can work against this team.

Str8 Rippin promoting Halo Wars 2. Courtesy of Str8 Rippin.

Scrim results have been improving recently, but Str8 has an uphill climb and not a whole lot of time to get back to the top. However, Str8 is in a good position to still qualify at this weekend’s LAN. The top 6 will move on to Worlds, and Str8 likely still has the firepower to beat out lower Pro teams. They are more than capable of pulling together to qualify and prove themselves as top 4.


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 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.

View post on

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.

View post on

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 🙂

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Devin! Get in touch with Devin personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @Frostbite_XV2!

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