Renegade’s Meteoric Rise: From Amateur Play to Str8 Rippin

Very few competitive Halo players make a splash shortly after entering the scene. Most players have to work long and hard to ascend the ranks and join the big leagues. Others, like Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, and Cuyler “Huke” Garland, have experienced a more prolific rise. Jonathan “Renegade” Willette is one of those players.

Upon entering the competitive Halo scene, Renegade proved he could compete with the best. His short professional career has landed him spots with reputable orgs like Elevate, Str8 Rippin, and most recently, Splyce. As the 2017 HCS Summer League commences, look for Renegade to continue establishing his place as a top Halo player.

2016 Season

Renegade surfaced in the Halo scene competing in the HCS Open Circuit. His team, Catastrophe, emerged as a top amateur team early. As a result, Renegade was courted by Team Elevate, where he would play briefly before being released. In an attempt to qualify for the relegation tournament and a shot at the Pro League, Renegade then formed a team with Halo veteran Faisal “Goofy” Khan.

The team failed to qualify, but Renegade had the eyes of top players on him. After the dismissal of OpTic Gaming’s faltering Halo roster, Renegade began subbing for Nick “MaNiaC” Kershner in the 2016 Pro League. Alongside Halo veterans Aaron “ACE” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, and Richie “Heinz” Heinz, Renegade helped lead the team to surprising victories over Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid.

Courtesy of 3sUP.gg

After a successful showing in the Pro League, Renegade found himself again teaming with ACE, representing The MoneyMatches Team at HCS Orange County. TMMT pulled off a surprising upset against Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Team Liquid in round two of the Championship Bracket and earned an impressive top 6 placing.

Renegade continued his success after joining 3sUP, making a solid push for relegation qualification at the HCS 2016 Open Circuit finals. 3sUP finished the Open Circuit Finals in first place, and thus qualified for the relegation tournament. However, the team ultimately missed the chance to qualify for the Pro League, as Enigma6 and Team Allegiance successfully defended their spots.

 

2017 Season

After being on the cusp of Pro League play in 2016, Renegade was invited to join Str8 Rippin for UGC St. Louis, 2017. The move reunited him with pro players APG, Heinz, and ACE, who would eventually finish 4th place at the event. Renegade’s talent was on display, however, showing off incredible snipes, and leading the squad to a near-upset of Team EnvyUs.

Courtesy of Halotracker.com

At ME Las Vegas 2017, Str8 Rippin qualified for HWC 2017. The qualification followed a back and forth series against Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ team Luminosity. Carrying the momentum into the Halo World Championship, Renegade and Str8 Rippin secured first place in Group D of pool play. In bracket play, Str8 emerged victorious in a close match against TMMT Crowd Pleasers, but would consequently be swept by an on-fire Team Liquid.

In the losers bracket, Str8 first overcame Splyce in an incredibly close best of 7. They would subsequently be swept by HWC 2017 runner-up Team EnvyUs. Renegade and Str8 ended their tournament run in 4th place, earning $50,000.

Placing top 4 at the biggest tournament of the year is no small feat. Renegade himself displayed consistency throughout the entire tournament. And like that, in a span of ten months, Renegade found himself going from shuffling between amateur teams to competing on Halo 5’s largest stage.

Conclusion

A few weeks ago, Renegade announced he would be joining team Splyce alongside young-gun Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller. The move came as a surprise to fans of Str8 Rippin, who anticipated the team to build on the top 4 Worlds placement.

As the HCS Summer Season approaches, Renegade will continue his professional career, and chase his first tournament victory. His achievements, however, will not go unnoticed by fans of competitive Halo. Furthermore, as a young star at the top of his game, Renegade will continue to be a dominant presence in Halo 5.

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Summer Season 2017 Roster Changes Preview

As usual, the end of a season in competitive Halo leads to a hurricane of team changes and roster swaps. While this pre-season has been quieter than most, there have still been some surprises. Most of these have been unconfirmed, but are looking more and more likely as roster lock approaches.

Evil Geniuses

EG, currently with Jason “Lunchbox” Brown and Justin “Roy” Brown, have been consistently scrimmaging with Brett

Naded. Courtesy of Brett Leonard.

Naded” Leonard and Michael “Falcated” Garcia. On paper, this change seems like neither an upgrade nor downgrade. The loss of Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski, whether he was dropped or left, filled a similar role as Falcated. Both open up areas around the map for their team and lay down damage.

Naded, on the other hand, has shown that he is a player capable of doing everything. Not only putting up big kills, but also aggressively pushing objectives like Lunchbox. Recent scrims show promise, with a close 5-8 loss to Team EnVyUs, and another 5-6 loss to Splyce. However, the next day, EG lost 2-11 to Crowd Pleasers. Whether this was just a bad day or not remains to be seen.

 

 

Luminosity Gaming

Luminosity has once again re-acquired Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor and has shown vast improvement. TriPPPey, providing

Courtesy of Joe Taylor.

additional slaying power alongside Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson, has really pulled this squad together. With Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson handling the objectives, LG is looking strong. Scrims have reflected this improvement. This squad has split games with Splyce, Liquid, and even one with OpTic, while their only losses have been to EnVyUs. Many are already placing this squad in their top 4.

 

Splyce

Speaking of Splyce, the young guns have dropped Falcated for Jonathan “Renegade” Willette, the former star player of Str8 Rippin. Renegade will be joined by Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, and Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro. This move seems to have provided a small boost for Splyce, as reflected in scrims. This squad has managed to beat Liquid, while also splitting games with LG. Their only losses have been to OpTic and EnVysUs.

 

Str8 Rippin

The loss of Renegade to Splyce was a big hit to Str8. He was their star player for a reason, constantly putting up huge slays, to the point of being nicknamed “Renegod” by the community. However, Str8 players have already virtually confirmed their new fourth.

Str8 Rippin will now presumably be Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “APG” Laws, Richie “Heinz” Heinz, and Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi. Danoxide has proven himself as a capable slayer, but whether he can fill Renegade’s shoes is in doubt. Str8 often oriented and played around Renegade’s power slaying, and we haven’t seen Danoxide have that role to the same extent yet. The squad may not be able to play the same way they did around Renegade due to this change, which may jeopardize their ability to remain in the top 4.

We may still see a few more roster changes before HCS Daytona. However, the changes reviewed here appear to already be set in stone. With more and more teams rising to try to challenge OpTic, we could see at least a change in the top 4 very soon.

What do you think of these changes? Be sure to let me know!

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Header Image courtesy of Halo Waypoint.

Who Benefits Most From the New Settings?

The new HCS settings have been released. With the game and meta now changing, let’s take a look at where players might see noticeable improvement during the Summer Season!

 

Fall of the Rad-ar Kids?

The most controversial addition to Halo 5’s competitive settings.

Just to be clear, no players will get spectacularly worse due to not having the full radar and automatic weapons. All have shown their ability with precision weapons, and most have at least played the classic titles at high levels despite not being pros. All players have adapted to using radar and will have to gain or re-gain their awareness. That said, some players will catch on faster and see more of a benefit due to prior experience. Here’s just a few!

 

The Up and Up

Two notable players that pretty much everyone thinks will improve are Justin and Jason Brown, or “Roy” and “Lunchbox,” respectively. These players have already stated that they are enjoying the game far more with the new settings. Being veteran players with top 8 finishes since Halo 2, these two can start showing that they are still top players.

 

Let’s hop to the Luminosity roster. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has been showing his improvement on these new settings.

 

Ninja has been performing much better since the changes, and his trademarked raging is also notably less present due to the lack of automatic weapons. The new radar allows flanks to have much more of an impact, suitable for fast-moving, hyper-aggressive players such as Ninja.

Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson is another player who will likely improve with the new settings. His slower, more methodical play-style will suit the newer radar, while once again, the lack of automatic weapons is just better for everyone.

Two more players who will likely improve are Eric “Snip3down” Wrona and Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese. Both have been vocal about supporting these changes since launch and must be happy to finally see them implemented. Snip3down, with autos removed, has more room to make his excellent shot work. As for Ola, well, he’s the Wizard for a reason. Pistola is notorious for being difficult to play against, breaking many ankles in order to slip away whenever possible. The new radar will only bolster these abilities.

Many other players will see benefits from the new changes, these are just a few notable ones. Who else do you think will perform better with the new settings? Sound off in the comments or on Twitter!

 

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Images via MLG and Eurogamer, respectively. 

Renegade Leaves Str8 Rippin for Splyce

Aaron “Ace” Elam confirmed earlier this week that Jonathan “Renegade” Willette has left Str8 Rippin to join Splyce.

According to Ace, Michael “Falcated” Garcia was dropped from Splyce in order to acquire Renegade. This roster change has numerous implications for both squads and has the capability to shake up the top four team rankings.

 

Splyce

After being stuck in fourth place for the entire HWC 2017 season, Renegade appears to have sought after other options. Now teaming with Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi and Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro on Splyce, this team could possibly challenge the top three.

Str8 has narrowly beaten out Splyce throughout this past season. Much of this can be attributed to Renegade making absolutely disgusting plays for his team. Now bringing his abilities to Splyce, his new squad has the slaying power to contend with teams such as EnVyUs and Liquid.

Renegade was previously with Splyce before being dropped for Shotzzy, so the chemistry is already there. This team is now just about guaranteed to take the last Pro League spot.

 

Str8 Rippin

Many though Renegade would stay with Str8 for the guaranteed Pro League spot. Needless to say, this change is not good for Str8.

Ayden “Suspector” Hill. Courtesy of FantasyHCS.

Not a whole lot of options are open to Str8. Renegade proved to be their best slayer and the squad played entirely around him in order to be successful. Likely options include Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali and Abel “Rammyy” Garcia.  Other possible options for Str8 include Hunter “BabyJ” Schline, Falcated, and Ezekiel Prototype Martinez. Out of these, however, my top pick would be Suspector and Prototype.

Despite not being at HWC 2017, both have proven to be capable slayers. With players such as Ace making opportunities, both of these players could find a very comfortable spot on Str8.

With Renegade gone, Str8’s ability to remain in the top four is coming in to question. While he didn’t necessarily “carry” Str8, Renegade was a huge factor in ramping up their slaying ability.


What do you think of Renegade joining Splyce? Who do you think Str8 Rippin should pick up? Let us 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!

 

The HCS Summer Preview Playlist is a Step in the Right Direction

Following the announcement of new HCS settings earlier this week, Halo has added a ranked preview playlist to Halo 5. The playlist offers players the opportunity to test the new HCS settings, and provide feedback. The feedback will be used to help decide further tweaks to the settings. The final settings will be used for both HCS Daytona and the Summer Season of the HCS Pro League.

The playlist is a step in the right direction for 343 Industries, listening to the Halo player base. While it has yet to be seen how the decision-making process will reflect player feedback, it is refreshing to see eyes and ears turn toward the Halo community.

This piece will preview some of the more specific mechanical changes, and discuss the importance of 343i’s new move to the competitive community.

 

Map and Gametype Changes

For all competitive maps, 343i has removed all traces of automatic weapons. Silenced Assault Rifles, SMGs, Brute Plasma Rifles, and Storm Rifles have all gotten the axe. The removal of such weapons will likely satisfy the community, who has sought their removal for some time. Splinter Grenades have also been removed, as 343i follows up on their promise given last week.

Also changed are the respawn timers for Tier 1 and Tier 2 weapons. Battle Rifles, Carbines, DMRs, Light Rifles, and Boltshots will now respawn every 40 seconds. The Plasma Pistol, Shotgun, Scattershot, Hydra, and Needler will see respawn timers of 20 seconds. The change will hopefully reduce the ubiquity of each weapon, and disallow snowballing during gameplay.

The SPNKr will now be the standard Rocket Launcher. Courtesy of Gamepur.

Another interesting change is the switch on Coliseum from the default Rocket Launcher to the SPNKr Rocket Launcher. Additionally, pad formerly featuring the SPNKr Rocket Launcher on Eden will now host an Overshield for Slayer games. It seems 343 Industries is making the SPNKr the standard Rocket Launcher, and alleviating some of the power weapon reliance in Slayer gametypes.

Also specified are the initial radar changes. The Motion Sensor Inner range has been changed to 60%, and the radar will no longer pick up players traveling at base movement speed. Because of the controversy surrounding the radar, it will be interesting to see how these settings are tweaked over the next few weeks.

 

Everyone Has a Voice

The HaloWaypoint forums will be the place to provide feedback. Courtesy of Accessify.

In the announcement, 343i revealed that the Multiplayer team met with top HCS players to discuss feedback. The players brainstormed several ideas for the settings, and had a heavy influence on what is now being called “Version 1” of the HCS Summer Season settings. This is reminiscent of the MLG days, where pro players were surveyed periodically for updates to competitive gametypes. Pro player preferences often reflect the opinions of the community at-large, so many players trust they will help keep the gameplay fresh and balanced.

Pro players are not the only group providing feedback, however. An official forum thread now exists for any community members to share opinions on the settings. This feedback will be used as a consensus to sway decisions regarding tweaks to the Version 1 settings. As players continue to test the new settings, look for more changes to be made accordingly over the next few weeks.

Conclusion

343 Industries placing their trust in the community is a fantastic move. They have finally moved away from keeping competitive play as “vanilla” as possible, and now allow the players to craft the settings that they want. This will keep players engaged with the game, and hopefully point the competitive meta in a new, better direction.

The one question that many have is, “Why now?” Halo 5 is in its final year, with two World Championships already under its belt. While the changes are certainly the correct move, is 343i offering too little, too late? Is this a move to appease a community growing in resentment for the developer? Or conversely, is it the start of a long-term plan to be more involved with the players? We must wait and see if the involvement continues into Halo 6. But for now, the changes are undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

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Pro League Events: EU Left Out?

After the conclusion of HWC 2017, many fans were eager to learn the details of the Pro League. Dreamhack was confirmed to be running the Season Finals for North America. However, we haven’t heard much since then, and we’ve heard next to nothing for the EU league. However, rumor has it that while NA may be getting a quality bump, EU is receiving a downgrade.

 

an ocean away

Pro player Jake “Chalkie” White. Courtesy of Halo Esports Wikis.

According to professional player Jake “Chalkie” White, EU players and fans will not have an event of their own. Instead, the top two teams from the online Pro League will travel to Dreamhack Atlanta to join the other top 8 NA teams. The above tweet was made in response to the Chalkie’s tweet. This decision could have serious repercussions for the foreign Halo communities as a whole.

While EU events may not have the overall viewership of NA events, all of their LANs have, for the most part, sold out. In comparison, some NA events have struggled to fill seats due to being on the West coast. There may be a very good reason for this, but it doesn’t seem worth the cost. The teams that are able to travel to Dreamhack will be decided via online play, which is very inconsistent. Add in Halo 5‘s numerous server and aim issues and it seems that this setup is not at all fair to the EU community. Sending only two teams to Dreamhack isn’t the issue, the issue is that only two teams will get to play offline.

ESL’s changes to the NA structure have been great so far. The Season Finals will now be an open event with all NA Pro teams instead of a four team invitational. If the cost of these changes is the EU scene receiving a fraction of the support they had in past seasons, it may not be worth it.

ESL is yet to confirm this. However, Chalkie doesn’t seem to benefit from this in any way. Hopefully it proves to be just a rumor.

 

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Changes Are Coming to Halo 5 Competitive Settings. Here’s What They Mean for the Meta.

Last Friday, Halo announced that changes will soon come to competitive gametypes in the HCS. The changes follow several accusations from the Halo community about the competitive viability of Halo 5. In a heated debate, community members made clear that the longevity of competitive Halo 5 was at stake if their voices were not heard.

These changes seem to be a response from 343 Industries, who affirm that they will be working with pro players to implement additional updates. Shaking up the Halo 5 meta is a welcomed change to a game in which competition is beginning to stagnate. The hope of the community is that 343 Industries will continue to be receptive of such criticism as Halo 5 enters its final year of competitive play.

This article breaks down each of the changes, and explains their implications in changing the Halo 5 competitive meta.

Energy Sword Removal

When explaining the removal of the energy sword, 343 notes that the increased movement speed imbalances Capture the Flag (CTF) games on Truth. When combined with Halo 5’s enhanced movement mechanics, a player with the sword equipped can run a flag across the map incredibly quick. The utility of the weapon is consequently exploited in competitive play, allowing for very imbalanced games. 343 claims to be working on a change to the weapon, and say that it may be re-instituted later.

Halo 5’s Midship remake, Truth. Courtesy of HaloWaypoint

Meta Implications: Removal of the sword will balance out CTF games, and allow for more structured play. This benefits teams that can control power positions and set up for spawn-trapping on Truth. Without the energy sword, the frequency of back-to-back flag captures will greatly decrease as well. If the sword returns in the future, it will likely be with a movement speed nerf to preserve its lethality as a close-range power weapon.

 

SPLINTER GRENADE REMOVAL

Splinter grenades were intended to be used as a strategic tool for area denial. Closing off flag routes, or removing the possibility of a flank would assist teams that utilized splinters wisely. In the current meta, however, splinter grenades have become more of a tool for close-range instant kills. Throwing a splinter grenade at an opponent’s feet requires little skill, and 343 has thus removed them. These grenades may make their return later, following a balance tune.

Meta Implications: Splinter grenades have become a big problem in the Halo 5 meta. More often than not, they are used as an easy-out for players who are disadvantaged in a battle. Players must now rely on better frag grenade placement, and accurate plasma grenade sticks. Additionally, because a prime method of area denial is now gone, players will be expected to tighten up positioning to win games.

Assault Rifle Removal

The AR had unprecedented power, but no reward for accuracy. Courtesy of HaloWaypoint

Citing similar outcomes during battles between players of separate skill levels, 343 Industries determined that the Assault Rifle was unqualified for competition. In the current meta, the assault rifle can be used to easily kill an opponent close-range, or benefit those who camp with the radar. Criticisms about the assault rifle had been leveled against 343 Industries for most of Halo 5’s tenure, as many players questioned its place in competitive play. 343 states that they are seeking to better tune the weapon for the future.

Meta Implications: Gone are the days of camping with the AR and the radar. The gun rewarded spray and pray use, and seemed fairly random in terms of accuracy. Players will now be required to have a better grasp of the magnum at all ranges. This will separate those with an incredible shot from others who used the AR as a last-ditch effort to take down opponents.

 

Brute Plasma Rifle Removal

The brute plasma rifle allows players to obtain lightning-fast close range kills because of its sheer power. The rifle quickly eats away at shields, and players can swiftly finish off their opponent with a subsequent melee. The lopsided nature of the brute plasma rifle prompted closer examination by 343, who then opted for its removal. The absence of the rifle reinforces the notion that automatics serve as a detriment to competitive play.

Meta Implications: Although the gun lacks lethality from a distance, it is incredibly overpowered up-close. As automatic rifles are phased out of competitive play, the focus will shift back to precision. Keeping a steady aim will put players in the driver’s seat to control a game.

 

Weapon Respawn Timer Adjustment

Addressing the snowball-like nature of the current Halo 5 meta, 343 announced changes to the frequency of power weapon respawns. These changes will affect precision rifles like the Battle Rifle and Carbine, and close-range weapons like the Shotgun and Storm Rifle. 343 adds that the changes will not impact weapons on Weapon Pads.

Meta Implications: Placing the precision rifles and close range weapons to a timer that is more consistent with the high tier power weapons has two large implications. First, teams will need to prioritize which power weapons to pursue, given their strategy and map placement. Additionally, the change will create a more level situation when teams fight for fresh power weapons. This will put more of an emphasis on teamwork and strategy, rather than one team steamrolling another.

 

Radar Fixes

Halo 5’s in-game radar has been arguably the most hotly-debated aspect of competitive play for some time. Several players have called for its complete removal, as no other Halo game applied radar to competitive play. Conversely, other players claim that disabling radar will make gameplay too chaotic, given Halo 5’s movement mechanics.

The new radar will decrease spartan ability exploitation. Courtesy of IGN.

343 was reluctant to present a decisive judgment, but will instead work with pro players and the community to determine the best method going forward. Most recently, a new radar has been tested online in the Proving Grounds playlist. The radar compromises between each camp of thought, featuring an increased range, but only detecting non-silenced weapon fire, and spartan ability usage. The new radar allows players to control when they appear on the motion tracker, and better controls for exploitation of spartan abilities.

 

Conclusion

The changes to Halo 5’s competitive settings have been met with a mostly positive reception from the Halo community. Continued support from 343 Industries will hopefully give players the voice they’ve been yearning for. With pro player feedback as the driving force, Halo competition likely seems to be forging a better path forward.

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HCS Changes for the Upcoming Season

Two World Championships later, we are entering what is presumably the final year of Halo 5‘s competitive tenure. With a FPS Halo typically being released every three years, we will likely see a beta later this year. However, Halo 5 may be running on fumes. Currently, the game is becoming stale to many. With only eight maps and three game modes used competitively, we could use more content. On top of this, 343 Industries’ lack of communication has damaged the long-term health of Halo 5.

 

New Maps and Modes

With only 12 combinations of maps and modes, Halo 5 seems especially bare-bones compared to past games.

Stasis, the only post-launch map added to the HCS. It was universally hated and was eventually removed. Courtesy of Halo Waypoint.

Unfortunately, most of the maps added post-launch are unsuitable for competitive game-play. New maps would be a great way to bring back some interest in the HCS. Developer maps would be great, but 343’s spotty record with Halo 5‘s maps is not exactly commendable. Forge maps may be a great alternative to this. Community maps were used in both Halo 3 and Halo: Reach and were well-received. To facilitate community involvement, 343 could hold a Forge contest much like they did with the HWC Season, except have it focused on competitive maps. Have pros test the maps, and if approved, add them into the rotation.

Another way of gaining interest would be new modes. While 343 has attempted to add Assault, it has not worked particularly well and most pros stand against it. However, older modes such as Oddball could work spectacularly with Halo 5‘s mechanics. Adding this mode to rotation-heavy maps such as Plaza and Eden could showcase excellent game-play, assuming the pros agree. Even modes such as King of the Hill could be tested. If the pros wanted to take a crack at it, they could also attempt to make the changes they see fit to the Assault mode.

 

Community Interaction

Brian “ske7ch” Jarrard, community manager for 343i. Courtesy of Brian Jarrard.

Another change that needs to be made is in regard to 343’s communication with the wider community. It has taken 18 months for 343 to recognize and act on the issues of automatic weapons and the radar. This is despite the majority of the competitive community metaphorically screaming about these issues since launch. This is unacceptable. To maintain a healthy competitive atmosphere, developers must constantly re-tune multiple features of the competitive portion of the game. 343 has not done this at all, until recently. Ideally, with the new settings changes and changes to the Pro League structure, this will no longer be an issue.

 

Halo 5 had the possibility to be an excellent competitive game through its entire life. Unfortunately, this potential went untapped. With the changes made after HWC 2017 though, we can send Halo 5 out with a bang.

 

Are there any other changes that you would like to see in the HCS Pro League? 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!

 

 

Do Team Liquid and EnVyUs Need Roster Swaps?

Both Liquid and EnVyUs have been nipping at the OpTic roster’s heels since the start of the HWC season. Both teams were able to take OpTic to game 5s and game 7s at UGC, but were not able to come as close during later events. At Vegas, Liquid was able to take games from OpTic, but remained unable to beat them. At the HWC Finals, again, Liquid managed to take a game, but couldn’t take them down. NV met OpTic in the grand finals, and despite the games being close, fell 4-0. So what is stopping these teams from being able to take down the two-time World Champs? Can these rosters be improved by swapping a player or two?

 

Team EnVyUs

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

Austin “Mikwen” McCleary. Courtesy of Halo Esports Wiki.

This roster was fabled as a new God-squad when forming for the Fall Season. The only team that many thought could contest OpTic. This was proven true, as NV consistently beat OpTic online and were able to take them down at Fall Finals. However, HWC 2017 has been a different story. At UGC, they fell to OpTic in game 5. Liquid seemed to have NV’s number at Vegas as well.

At the HWC Finals, despite coming out hot in most of the games, NV were swept by OpTic. Throughout the whole weekend, Mikwen was being an absolute slaying machine and led his team through the loser’s bracket all the way to the grand finals. Snip3down and Huke were providing their usual slaying power (albeit less due to Mikwen just killing everything). The only weak link of the roster during HWC was The Wizard, Pistola. However, he was usually keeping his deaths down and had on-par damage. That said, it was obviously not his best tournament, but his Vegas and UGC performances do show that he is still a top player.

Snip3down has confirmed on stream that this squad will be staying together for the upcoming UMG Daytona event.

 

Team Liquid

Zane “Penguin” Hearon. Courtesy of Zane Hearon.

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

If NV was the roster to take on OpTic during the Fall Season, Team Liquid held that title during most of the HWC season. They were able to take them to their limits at UGC, but were only able to take one game from OpTic at Vegas and HWC.

At Finals, the only player that seemed to struggle was Rayne. Even then, he had assists and objective work to help his team. Penguin, StelluR, and Eco, on the other hand, all seemed to be performing well. Much like NV, the issue with Liquid’s stats is that there’s only so many kills to go around when Penguin is getting every power weapon. Again, there is no merit to make a roster change.

 

Conclusion

Individual skill is not what is separating OpTic and every other team right now. OpTic, NV, Liquid, and even Str8 all have similarly talented players for the most part. The difference maker is teamwork and chemistry. OpTic has been teaming for over a year, compared to a few months for the rest of these teams. While both NV and Liquid can make roster changes, they would only really be “side-grades” so to speak. Not necessarily upgrades. They’d be changing talent in one area for talent in another. Both of these teams should maintain their rosters for the upcoming season and improve as a team in order to take down OpTic.

 

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Things MLG Did Right With Halo That The HCS Can Adopt

Ever wonder why most competitive Halo veterans refer to the days of MLG Halo as “the good days”? There’s good reason. The matches were the most competitive, the personalities were enormous, and the storylines were compelling. Although Halo esports has grown and matured, the Halo Championship Series (HCS) hasn’t quite captured the magic that was primetime MLG Halo. However, the HCS could imitate some of the triumphs of MLG to better the tournament experience.

Sometimes to forge the best path forward, it’s necessary to look to the past. HCS, the oddball is in your court.

 

The Pro Circuit Format

For competitive play, MLG utilized a season-like format for their Pro Circuit. The circuit included several open events placed around the country, concluding with an invite-only national championship event. Events were held in areas like Anaheim, Dallas, Columbus, Orlando, and so on. The spread of events across the nation allowed for competitors of all regions to attend tournaments without too much burden. This kind of regional balance is something the HCS sorely lacks. A structured, seasonal open event schedule would allow players to better plan for each event, and could provide some consistency that the HCS needs.

Courtesy of GameGeex

Along with the live events, the MLG Pro Circuit also held Pro Circuit ladders. The ladders allowed teams to schedule matches at their own pace, climb ranks, and earn pro points. At the end of each seasonal period, the ladders would be formatted into a tournament bracket. The top ladder teams would then compete for seeding points at the next MLG event.

This structure benefitted amateur teams who put in the work, and fewer players were left at the liberty of a single-elimination qualifier tournament. Many amateur players were left discouraged during the previous HCS season, as the format seemed to stack the deck against them.

 

Live Event Experience

Most will agree that the MLG live event experience during the tenure of Halo 2 and Halo 3 carried unmatched hype. Whether it was Walshy likening the defeat of his former team to “taking candy from a baby”, or Faruq Tauheed hyping the crowd with his “Lock it up!” catchphrase, the excitement was always palpable. This type of environment seems absent at HCS Halo tournaments. The long downtimes and the going-through-the-motions style production makes the atmosphere seem deflated. While a professional atmosphere is necessary in today’s esports climate, competitive Halo feels truly at home in a grassroots environment. The HCS can surely better compromise between the two.

Courtesy of Major League Gaming

MLG events also boasted an incredible viewing experience for main stage play. The teams were seated just next to each other, with large projection screens above each respective setup. The coliseum-style seating brought spectators together and surrounded the main stage with hype. It gave primetime competitive Halo the experience of a sporting event, complete with great commentary and a rowdy crowd.

While Halo esports is more developed than 2008, the HCS should tap into this experience for future events. Put microphones on the crowd, allow some more trash talk, and keep the viewers entertained between or before each match. The Halo World Championship Finals live experience was heartbreaking, and crowd engagement needs a major resurgence.

 

Conclusion

Although these are just my opinions, I think most will agree with the unforgettable experience that was a MLG Halo tournament. With a year left of Halo 5, the HCS has plenty of time to improve the aspects in which they are lacking. Creating a more consistent, structured tournament format, and a better live experience will almost certainly help cultivate interest in Halo esports. The HWC Finals were ripped online for the tournament experience, and there’s nowhere to go but up.

 

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