HCS Pro League 2017 DreamHack Fall Finals Predictions

After seven weeks of intense online matches, the Fall 2017 season of the HCS Pro League is wrapping up. This weekend, the Fall Finals will kick off at DreamHack Denver, with eight North American teams, four European teams and a swarm of open squads battling for glory. The competition is closer than it has ever been, so let’s take a look at one way this weekend’s top eight could shake out.

7th / 8th: Team Infused

Roster: James “Jimbo” Bradbrook, Robby “Kimbo” Faulk, Luciano “Mose” Calvanico, Brandon “Respectful” Stones

DreamHack

Jimbo, one of the EU’s best players. By James Bradbrook.

Infused has been making noise on the EU side of things. The squad earned their spot at DreamHack Denver by defeating all competition quite decisively earlier this season at HCS London. A makeup that looks very similar to the dominant FabE roster of last year could allow this group to put EU Halo back in the top eight. This squad had the firepower to raze every other EU squad that showed up to play them.

Infused, as well as a few other EU squads, showed up to Denver a little early in order to get some online practice in against the top tier North American teams. In scrims, they’ve for the most part massacred the other European rosters, only encountering difficulties when against the NA pro teams. Their only win against an NA team was an 8-5 victory over Ronin Esports. Other than that, they lost out to EG with a 5-8 score and were also beaten by NV 4-9. This squad has some promise and can definitely upset some teams if they get a hot start. That said, EU as a whole is still lagging behind NA when it comes to Halo. I can see this squad just squeezing into the top eight and even that will be a slog.

7th / 8th: Luminosity Gaming

Roster: Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor, Tim “Rayne” Tinkler, Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson, Bradley “APG” Laws

LG has sat firmly within the middle of the pack for the majority of their time in Halo 5 despite going through multiple rosters.

DreamHack

Saiyan, likely LG’s key player. By Tommy Wilson.

They’re not a team that can consistently challenge the top four but they’re also not a team who will ever come close to being relegated by the vast majority of amateur teams. Despite going through multiple rosters, it’s hard to picture this changing for DreamHack Denver. Saiyan is consistently putting up big numbers for the team but TriPPPeY on the other hand, has his fair share of great and terrible games. Rayne is an excellent objective player and play-maker but can’t seem to find enough room to do his thing on this team, despite having three great on-paper slayers around him. APG seems to be in a similar place to LG’s former star, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. He puts down great damage and has games where he absolutely takes over. The flip-side of this means that he usually has the most deaths in games, leading to many losses, especially in Team Slayer games.

LG ended their regular season with a 3-4 record, with all of their losses being to top four teams (OpTic, NV, Liquid, Splyce), with all of these losses being sweeps. They very narrowly beat EG and Cryptik but swept Ronin with a 3-0 victory. This team doesn’t stand much of a chance at beating the top four and EG has a reputation for showing up big at live events. They may be able to slide into that sixth spot, but there’s an open team that I think can do better.

5th / 6th: Str8 Rippin

Roster: Aaron “Ace Elam, Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi, Hunter “BxbyJ” Schline, Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali

DreamHack

Ace has returned to Str8 Rippin. By Halo Esports Wikis.

After being relegated last season, Ace has returned to Str8 Rippin and revamped the roster, with the only returning player being Danoxide. New to the squad are main-slayer BxbyJ and objective play-maker Commonly. Ace sits in between BxbyJ and Commonly in terms of play-style but he is very consistent. This balances out Danoxide’s monstrous-but-sometimes-inconsistent slaying power. Ace, Danoxide and Commonly will all be hungry to get back into the top eight while BxbyJ is sure to want it the most after being so close but falling short time and time again.

Despite technically not being a pro team, this squad has proven that they can compete. The HCS Open Circuit held four open cups this season, with three of them being won by Str8 Rippin and the other having them finish second. Scrims paint a similar picture for Str8. They haven’t had much progress against the top four but they have mopped up the weaker top eight teams such as Ronin. That said, they’ve also had some close scrims against Splyce, showing that Str8 does indeed have some potential. While other open teams such as Check6 and eRa have shown some potential, Str8 seems head and shoulders above them. They are playing at a pro level and despite having to play through the open bracket, they’ll get further than any other open team at DreamHack.

5th / 6th: Evil Geniuses

Roster: Jason “Lunchbox” Brown, Justin “Roy” Brown, Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez, Michael “Falcated” Garcia

EG, as usual has had a confusing season. They are the only team outside of the top four to not make a roster change. Lunchbox handles the objective work, Roy makes sure everyone he sees has their shields popped, Tapping Buttons and Falcated win 1v1s and clean up kills.

DreamHack

Roy, one half of the Brown Twins. By Halo Esports Wikis.

On paper, this squad works and they’ve proven it has at the Summer finals. However, things just didn’t seem to come together over the regular season. Every sort of coin toss situation seemed to go against them. Sometimes, they just made bad plays.

Scrims continue to show EG’s inconsistency. One day, they’ll lose to LG, the next, they’ll split games with Liquid. EG finished their season with a 2-5 record, with their only victories being a game 5 win over Ronin and a sweep of Cryptik. There’s no nice way around it, EG choked against LG in game 5. When they were playing well, they lost by the skin of their teeth to Liquid. The potential of this squad is nearly palpable. At their best, they can challenge the top four. At their worst, they are barely avoiding relegation. Usually, they sit somewhere in between. This, combined with the Brown Twins’ reputation for saving their best for LAN events, lands them solidly in the top six for DreamHack.

4th: Team Liquid

Roster: Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Zane “SubZero” Hearon, Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Kevin “Eco” Smith

DreamHack

Will Spartan come through for Liquid? By Tyler Ganza.

Liquid has fallen back significantly from where they stood just prior to HWC 2017. While they were able to challenge OpTic and overcome NV then, they now are the weakest of the top four teams. After DreamHack Atlanta, they dropped Ace prematurely in my opinion. During the off-season, they seemingly picked up Spartan after having only one good scrim against him despite having numerous other, likely better, items on the table. This led to them having a surprisingly slow start to the Fall season, with not even being able to contest NV. All that said, they have picked things up since then and teams should bear in mind that while they are the weakest top four team, they are still top four for a reason.

Liquid ended their season with a 5-2 record, with their only losses being lopsided affairs against NV and OpTic. The biggest surprise of the season was that they were able to defeat Splyce, the Summer Champions, with a decisive 3-1 victory. This helped propel Liquid up the power rankings and also sparked their comeback over the course of the season. The key to how far this squad gets, is their start. They will play EG first in the champ bracket. Online, Liquid only beat EG because of a lucky break where Spartan stumbled upon Roy’s hiding spot. This in addition to the Brown twins truly coming alive at events means that this won’t be easy for Liquid. Dropping to the loser’s bracket could lead to an early flight home for the team. If they pull out a victory, they should be able to make top four, but getting past that will require everyone on the team to step up.

3rd: Splyce

Roster: Jonathan “Renegade” Willette, Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro

Splyce managed to nab their first event win earlier this year at DreamHack Atlanta. They defeated OpTic twice in order to do

DreamHack

Bubu Dubu, for two? By Halo Esports Wikis.

it. Without a doubt, the squad earned that win. Fans should keep this in mind, despite Splyce’s current Pro League record. Online and event environments are completely different and it’s not especially uncommon for terrible online teams to be dominant LAN teams. A prime example being the Denial roster during HWC 2016. At the end of the day, Splyce has two dominant young players and two top tier flex players. They won’t be falling out of the top four at DreamHack if they play how they should.

Splyce ended the league with a 4-3 record, with losses to OpTic, NV and Liquid. While Liquid did manage a surprise win over Splyce, Splyce was the only team besides OpTic to come close to snapping NV’s win streak. Liquid on the other hand, was swept. These players will show up this weekend and they are a better team than Liquid, but two giants stand in the way of another win for these young guns.

2nd: Team EnVyUs

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

DreamHack

Can NV capture another win? By Halo Waypoint.

Despite a disappointing finish at DreamHack Atlanta, NV has shown up this season. If you picked a team to win every event on paper, the correct answer would be EnVyUs. Three of the best players and slayers in Halo history, plus Huke’s explosive power. During any other time in Halo, this would have been a championship team, even possibly a dynasty. This squad has consistently been in the top three, without ever really any risk of falling out of it. This weekend, they won’t have any excuses.

NV has blitzed the Pro League, ending the season undefeated, 7-0. Splyce and OpTic took them to full series, but every other team was defeated 3-0. In recent scrims, this roster has trounced every squad with the only exception being OpTic. This squad will only encounter difficulty with Splyce and OpTic. That said, there is a big and particularly green wall that stands between them and a victory.

1st: OpTic Gaming

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

Let’s just recap. OpTic are back-to-back World Champions. They haven’t made a roster change in nearly two years.

Back to back World Champions for a reason. By Halo Waypoint.

Since then, they’ve been consistently at the top of the Halo Championship Series. Everything that happens in competitive Halo is in response to this team and their performance. That won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. This squad’s last win was HWC 2017. They lost to NV at Daytona and Splyce at Atlanta. They will be hungry to have the last say in 2017 before going into another World Championship season.

OpTic finished 6-1 in the Pro League, with their only loss being a close one to NV. When it comes to scrims, OpTic just quite simply haven’t lost. They have clashed with NV multiple times, usually closing the series 9-4 or 8-5. Based off their history and online performance recently, I see another championship coming to the #Greenwall.

Be sure to check out the HCS 2017 Fall Finals at DreamHack Denver this weekend at https://www.twitch.tv/halo. 

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Team

Analyzing 2018’s new teams

It has been almost two months since Team Liquid claimed the Aegis at TI7, and since then roster shuffles have been in full swing. Though parting ways with an old team can be difficult, it also opens up new opportunities. During these shuffles, many players understandably choose to accept offers from other well established teams. However, some times these players decide to form completely new teams from a large pool of free agents. The latter of these choices is incredibly exciting. While often composed of well-known players within the DotA scene, it is impossible to guess how well teams work together until they play. This uncertainty makes watching tournaments much more exciting whenever one of these wildcards is thrown into the bracket. The TI8 season has already seen its fair share of these new rosters, and here are just a few worth keeping an eye on.

Optic Gaming

Shortly after confirming their departure from Evil Geniuses, Ludwig “Zai” Wahlberg and Peter “PPD” Dager announced the formation of a new team with this tweet.

Teams, DotA, Optic, PPD, Zai, Misery, Pajkatt, CCnC

From left to right, Pajkatt, MiSeRy, CCnC, PPD, Zai. Photo by Optic Gaming

Briefly named “The Dire”, the team was recently picked up by Optic Gaming due to their remarkable talent. As “The Dire”, they qualified for the Dota 2 Minor Beyond the Summit 8 after winning King’s Cup America. The team also placed second in both the PGL North American Qualifier and the Star Ladder i-League Invitational qualifier.

Most of the players on this team require little to no introduction. Per Anders Olsson “Pajkatt” Lille has played MOBAs professionally since the original DotA. Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen and PPD have proven their drafting talents during their time as captains of Digital Chaos and Evil Geniuses respectively. As these two begin to learn from each other, drafting against Optic Gaming will surely be nightmarish. Interestingly enough, this team composition shows Zai stepping back into the offlane position for the first time since his Team Secret days in early 2015. His performance during that time on heroes such as Broodmother and Dark Seer was impressive, and I am glad we get to see more of it.

Quinn “CCnC Callahan is the wildcard on the team. Most recently CCnC played for Team Freedom and narrowly missed appearing in TI7 after finishing third in the NA Qualifiers. Despite playing the game professionally since late 2015, he has few notable tournament results. Formulating an opinion on the young mid-laner is difficult with so little base material, but his teammates clearly see potential. Regardless, CCnC now finds himself in a position to learn from the wealth of experience around him, and that journey is going to be something worth watching.

mID OR fEED

Another new team captained by ex-Digital Chaos vet Martin “Saksa” Sazdov was announced via twitter.

Aliwi “w33” Omar is a world class mid-laner best known for his Invoker, Wind Ranger and Meepo play. It’s interesting then that he is giving up mid to play a four position support role in this line-up. The remaining three members of Mid or Feed have a fair bit of history themselves. KheZu has played in two Internationals, though his teams failed to place well in either. Cancel spent most of his competitive career with Complexity before leaving following a string of poor team performances. Timado recently left the South American team Infamous in August, who he played with in TI7. While these players don’t have many major LAN victories yet, they have the individual talent to make waves.

Since this announcement was made, Saksa has removed himself from the roster after saying he felt “burned out” on his twitter. This is a shame since w33 and Saksa would have been a great foundation to build a team around. Fortunately they have already found a replacement.  After the recent disbandment of his own squad “No Diggity”, Troels “syndereN” Nielsen will captain Mid or Feed moving forward.  SyndereN is a 4 time TI competitor himself, though most of his notable tournament placements occurred before 2013.  However, his time as a caster and analyst demonstrated his deep knowledge of the game, and that is an invaluable tool in today’s competitive space.

Spartak Esports

Russian esports organization Spartak Esports makes its debut in the DotA 2 circuit with the following roster.

It is not surprising if these names seem unfamiliar. For starters, Egor “.Ark” Zhabotinskii and Evgeniy “Chuvash” Makarov have each been active competitors for less than two years. Also, while Maxim “yoky-” Kim and Stanislav “633” Glushan have histories with teams like Virtus.Pro and Empire, the remaining members have played mostly on minor league teams.

But Spartak Esports does have a few things going for them. .Ark, Chuvash and team captain Mihail “Misha” Agatov have all played together at length on the Russian team Commanche. As any DotA player knows, competing with people you enjoy playing with has a profound effect on mindset and morale. DotA players also know that a solid mindset and good moral will not win games without technical skills to back them up. Will this team allow Spartak Esports to compete with top tier teams like Evil Geniuses, Virtus.Pro and Digital Chaos?  Only time can tell us the answer.


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OpTic

Can the new OpTic make a splash in North America?

OpTic gaming, after being stripped of arguably their best player, Will ‘RUSH’ Wierzba, and in-game leader Tarik ‘tarik’ Celik, has decided to follow in the footsteps of their rival ‘clan’ FaZe, and pick up a European roster. Their new look roster includes the likes of legendary Swede, Adam ‘friberg’ Friberg, Finnish star AWPer Aleksi ‘allu’ Jalli and a kid from Denmark you’ve probably heard of, Emil ‘Magisk’ Reif. This roster, on paper, looks pretty convincing, especially playing in the North American region. So, let’s take a look at the potential strengths/weaknesses of this roster, and see if they are going to turn some heads.

Absolutely loaded

No, this team isn’t as loaded as teams like SK, FaZe or even Astralis, but in comparison to the teams in North America, they have an abundance in firepower. Magisk will easily be the best player in the region. When he was ‘the guy’ in North (formerly Dignitas), Magisk had some of the best tournament performances we have ever seen. One such performance being a monstrous 1.26 HLTV rating at EPICENTER Moscow across 15 maps; Moscow is the only $250k+ tournament he has won. When his former teammate Kristian ‘k0nfig’ Wienecke began to take the spotlight from him, he began to fall off. On this new OpTic team, I expect him to be the focal point, so, in theory, he could return to peak form.

Oh, did I mention the Spanish star Óscar ‘mixwell’ Cañellas? On top of this massive big three, they also have the up-and-comer from Estonia, Kevin ‘HS’ Tarn. HS is coming off of a decent performance at the PGL major, which saw him at a 1.02 HLTV rating, and an incredible major qualifier performance, where he was tied for seventh highest rated player at the tournament. This team will have no trouble putting frags on the board. All that said, this team won’t be the best in North America. Quite frankly, I think Cloud9 have more proven firepower. Though I do see them in the second to third best spot, depending on if Liquid ever decides they want to do anything. If you’re including the Brazilian teams, OpTic move down two spots but could prove to be better than Immortals. Of course, that is if Immortals even stay together.

Is there a catch?

For almost every wonderful thing in life, there comes a catch. With tasty food, comes a not so great receipt. With dank memes, comes crippling depression. You get the idea, so what’s the catch with all this firepower OpTic obtained? Well actually, multiple things.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room, friberg is not an in-game leader. For all I know, he could become a great leader, he has the experience; however, he could also fail in his endeavor, and end up being back in free agency. One thing friberg has going for him, is one of the best coaches in the world, Chet ‘ImAPet’ Singh. ImAPet will help friberg massively, just as he did CLG; for example, one notable win I happen to remember was when CLG ended Gambit’s 10 map win streak on Cobblestone when the CIS squad looked untouchable on the map. Even when taking that into account, I’d say the odds are about 60-40 against him, so it is a gamble, but will be massively beneficial if it works out.

You also have to look at the way they’ll gel on the CT side, which could also be a problem. I don’t see a clear bomb site anchor here, who can consistently delay enemy pushes on the smaller bomb sites on maps. I suppose you’d have to give the nod to friberg; although HS could fit into this role, once he gets some experience under his belt. To make matters even worse, there will be growing pains in communication. In high-pressure situations, speaking your first language can be difficult, much less your second language.

Will they succeed?

In the short term, they will probably dominate smaller, North American LANs, but in long term, I don’t foresee this team breaking the top 10 in the world, but could potentially make top 15. While I’d love to believe in this team, there are just too many question marks right now to tell; if one of you OpTic members are out there reading this, I challenge you to prove me wrong and do something incredible.


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Initial fall season roster transfer thoughts

After two weeks of play and four matches for each team, Halo Championship Series players are going to have another chance to make a roster change. Teams will have until September 19th to finalize a roster for the remaining duration of the season. Let’s take a look at what teams should consider making changes and what their best options are.

Top Dogs

A few teams don’t need to consider making changes at all, even if their record has a few blemishes. Mainly, we’re talking about OpTic Gaming, Team EnVyUs and Splyce.

Roster

OpTic Halo. Image by Turtle Beach.

OpTic is OpTic, they’ve been the most dominant roster in Halo 5 and need no introduction. EnVyUs was the only team to challenge them for a good amount of time and have been able to defeat OpTic on two separate occasions. Splyce is the newcomer to this group. While they placed top 4 at Daytona, the team caught fire at DreamHack Atlanta and beat OpTic with a solid 4-2 in the Grand Finals to become Summer Season champs.

Liquid is a bit of a wildcard and could be on or off this list. After DreamHack, they dropped Aaron “Ace” Elam for a returning Tyler “Spartan” Ganza. This was a lateral team change at best, with the roster unlikely to be much better if at all than they were with Ace. The team’s only loss so far has been to EnVyUs but Liquid has shown on multiple occasions that they can practically bury nV. Since then, the team has racked up some wins, notably with a 3-1 victory over Splyce. That said, it remains to be seen if this roster can succeed.

Evil Geniuses

Roster

EG’s new star, Tapping Buttons. Image by Josbe Valadez.

Current Roster: Michael “Falcated” Garcia, Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez, Justin “Roy” Brown, Jason “Lunchbox” Brown

EG is not at all a bad team. In fact, they’ve shown they can be a contender, with DreamHack Atlanta being evident of that. The team started the Pro League strong, with a 3-0 sweep over Naventic. However, the very next night they were reverse-swept by Luminosity and fell to both OpTic and Splyce convincingly this past week. While losses to Splyce and OpTic have to be expected, the loss to LG should have never happened, it should have been another 3-0.

A roster change will not help this team. Falcated and Tapping Buttons are two of the best individual players around. The Brown twins aren’t slouches either, they’ve proved they can still compete with the best. The current EG roster has run into the same issue as a couple of the previous rosters. They make bad plays at the most crucial of moments. This comes down to lack of practice. The only way to get an idea of what to do when your team is in a bad situation is to be in that bad situation previously and getting out of it through practice. If this team puts their heads down and grinds, we could see a top 4 run come DreamHack Denver.

Ronin Esports and Luminosity gaming

Current Ronin Roster: Cory “Str8 SicK” Sloss, Sabur “Sabinater” Hakimi, Ayden “Suspector” Hill, Visal “eL ToWn

Roster

Commonly during his time on Renegades. Image by Halo Esports Wiki.

Mohanan

Current Luminosity Roster: Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor, Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson, Bradley “APG” Laws, Tim “Rayne” Tinkler

Both of these teams are in a similar spot. Both of their losses have been to top teams. For Ronin, eL ToWn has seriously stepped up to help a squad that no longer has main-slayer Spartan on it. As for LG, Saiyan as per usual has been leading his team. However, with the temporary departure of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, APG and Rayne need to step up. Both have had some underwhelming performances.

Newcomer Sabinater has been making some great plays for Ronin, but his slaying and play-making ability has been lacking. It would be unfair to say that he isn’t capable, especially as this is his first time on a pro team. He could grow into being one of the best players in the league. If Ronin was to make a change, the most likely player to be on the chopping block would be Str8 Sick. He didn’t have the best event at Atlanta and his Pro League stats, while not terrible, weren’t great either. A pickup like Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi could help fill in that role. If LG was to make a change, one of their best picks would be Str8 Rippin’s Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali for Rayne. Both are great objective player, but Commonly seems to have an edge over Rayne in slaying, which could be just what the team needs.

Naventic

Current Roster: Ryan “RyaNoob” Geddes, Troy “DasTroyed” Dusman, Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski and Kyle “Nemassist” Kubina

Roster

Ace during his time on OpTic. Image by Halo Esports Wiki

This team is confusing. During the summer season, they were able to contest top 4 teams while technically being an amateur team. Despite this, since the start of the Pro League, the squad hasn’t been able to win anything. The roster did play Liquid somewhat close, but it seems like something is off for this squad. Despite being a fan-favorite, the only player who has been sticking out a bit has been RyaNoob. That said, it is well known that RyaNoob doesn’t necessarily have the best shot. Instead, his value is in his ability to be an excellent in-game leader and to make objective plays. This is similar to Justin “SK” Mann back in Halo 3, who saw success with Triggers Down. Despite the bad start in Pro League, a team change could be premature for this squad. Even RyaNoob stated on the Team Beyond forums that his attitude was dragging the team down. The good part about this is that an attitude can be changed relatively quickly, meaning this team could become a contender again.

If Naventic was set on making a change involving RyaNoob, their best option would be Ace. He is not only an IGL similar to RyaNoob, but has also shown that he knows how to handle objectives while also being one of the most individually skilled players in Halo 5.

What rosters do you think need some fresh faces? Put your opinion out on Reddit or Twitter and tag Devin to start a discussion!

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 @DS_Frostbite!

Featured Image by Halo Waypoint

 

 

 

RUSH and tarik to Cloud9, a jaw dropping roster change

Cloud9 opened eyes and dropped jaws Tuesday morning after announcing the additions of Will “RUSH” Wierzba and Tarik “tarik” Celik. This move is one of the most surprising of all the shuffles, and also one of the best. This lineup cements itself as one of the most, if not the most, skilled lineups of NA CS history.

For more information about shufflemania, check out my articles on FaZe Clan and mousesports.

A much higher team-wide skill ceiling

Cloud9

Photo by: hltv.org

In the past Cloud9 has had players on the roster who were much less skilled than the rest. Not only that, Cloud9 has always had the problem of having a player or two not “show up”. While we haven’t yet seen how this roster can change the past issues, it’s almost obvious that it should be fixed. Not only that, but the constant confusion about who is playing what role is now gone. Everyone has their own place, and aside from everyone contributing to the IGL role, everyone knows what to do.

Having, in my opinion, the top three North American players on one team also contributes to the massive jump toward the skill ceiling. As well as having the best AWPer in NA, it helps a lot in the overall skill. Adding tarik into the mix adds a player who rarely has a bad event. Unfortunately in the case of tarik, he does sometimes have a moment where he does something that loses the round. If this can be fixed, there are almost no flaws in this lineup aside from no proper leadership.

Prebuilt chemistry

Cloud9

Photo by: hltv.org

Looking at the players of Cloud9, it’s obvious to see the chemistry already built up among players. The most obvious case is Jake “Stewie2k” Yip and tarik, as they PUG together and joke around a lot. Another example, though less known, is between RUSH and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, who both played together at CEVO Season 6 Finals on eLevate, leading to some familiarity.

The mix of players also looks to be quite a good mix on paper. Whether it be in game or out of the game, the players all seem to fit together like a puzzle. Of course it is possible for the players to not get along, but we will just have to wait and see.

Good choice in replacements

 

Cloud9

Photo by: hltv.org

While it’s sad to see the original Cloud9 roster gone, you can’t deny that the replacements are well made and make sense. Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek is now able to do what he loves full time and Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert is able to pursue something else in esports, whether it be playing or being an analyst or caster at events. Unfortunately for the case of n0thing, his benching was a team decision opposed to Shroud’s benching where he stepped down himself.

Role wise, the replacements make sense. Having a 100% dedicated entry in RUSH fixes the problem with n0thing not wanting to entry every now and then. On the other hand with tarik, he is a consistent player. And, despite the peanut-brain meme, as a player he makes smart decisions with the rare occasion of messing up a round for the team. This was an issue with n0thing as well, but opposed to tarik he did it more on a consistent basis.

Overall this move seems to be a win for the organization and players. Having a more skilled roster, players who might fit better together, and having roles make sense for once, there’s few flaws in the move. We’ll just have to wait and see how the roster all together will perform on the 22nd with the kick off of ESL Pro League Season 6.


Featured image via hltv.org

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Songs of praise for 2017’s Call of Duty World League Championship

The culmination of every Call of Duty season is the World League Championship and this year was no different. It’s no secret that Infinite Warfare has been, let’s say, disappointing but I believe this championship to be one of the most memorable of all time in spite of that. In this article, I’ll pick out a few of the things that made this Worlds a pleasure for both competitors and fans alike.

A multitude of teams

Despite OpTic Gaming going into the tournament as favorites, it wasn’t as clear cut as previous years. Due to IW’s erratic nature, any of EnVyUs, eUnited, Splyce or Luminosity could have won the event on their day.

OpTic had to beat Anaheim champions Luminosity to get to the final. [Source: MLG]

When these teams clashed they produced amazing series worth re-watching while we wait for WWII: OpTic narrowly beating Splyce to defeat the seventh place meme, EnVy’s ridiculous comeback against eUnited and EnVy sending OpTic to the lower bracket, to name a few. Any times these teams had to face off against one another you could feel the tension. After EnVy forced OpTic to play against Luminosity, I’m sure Green Wall fans were worried their team would fall short again.

You even had Rise Nation and FaZe Clan making last ditch efforts to save their dismal seasons. At one point I thought a Team Revenge style run was on the cards. It made the majority of series thrilling to watch.

A beautiful venue

Last year was the first time Call of Duty had used an arena as a venue. At the time we were all in awe at how CoD could fill such a venue, but, looking back, that stage was nowhere near as beautiful as the Amway Centre.

At Call of Duty XP, the players were in towering booths away from the crowd meaning the fans couldn’t as easily see or hear the players. This, in turn, meant that fans were less likely to get hyped about huge plays and players less likely to feed off of the crowd’s energy. This year we got the open stage we are used to seeing, filled with an array of lights to make sure all eyes stayed focused on the CoD at hand.

From the stream, it also looked like the crowd was more tightly packed in this time. The upper rank and the floor looked pretty close, making it easier for quieter fans to get involved with the chanting when it’s going on all around them.  My final point is that the lesser amount of large venues this year made the fact that it was being held in this huge stadium all the more exciting.

Multi-stream, multi-stage

MLG’s decision to run four streams in the group stage on all of MLG.tv, Twitch and YouTube is something to be proud of. While there may have been a few hiccups with the audio and flickering video, for the most part it was solid.

The schedule was easy enough to follow using the graphic on the World League Twitter and meant that the tournament could be run with the best format with all the players having the same downtime between games. This is something other esports such as Counter-Strike and League of Legends have been ridiculed for. Maybe it’s time they took a leaf out of Call of Duty’s book.

Another surprise was the decision to give the Bravo stream its own stage, directly below the main one. This is the first time I’ve seen this happen in esports and I would say it was successful. Fans could enjoy the juiciest matches’ full screen and then watch the Bravo stream in-between the Alpha games. There were times when the loser of the game on the main stage would play the winner of the team on the lower stage, making it all the more exciting for fans as they could see both games as they were unfolding.

Four teams played simultaneously at the World Championship. [Source: Reddit u/theesportstv]

To the fans

And finally, thanks to the fans for showing up and supporting what they love. All the chanting, funny signs and talking down caster’s microphones only made the stream more entertaining for us stuck at home watching from our bedrooms. It’s amazing that even with such a lackluster title this year everyone made the effort to support the biggest event of the year. Hopefully, it’s a sign of even better things to come when we ditch the jetpacks in November.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of Astro Gaming.

scump optic

Scump and OpTic finally become CoD champs

The drought is over for the Greenwall. Over two years after forming a roster of impeccable skill, the longest standing roster in Call of Duty esports, OpTic Gaming, has finally been crowned a Call of Duty champion.

The Infinite Warfare season was not the greatest this OpTic Gaming roster has experienced, but they were able to finish it in style. With tournament wins at CWL Paris and CWL Dallas, OpTic was on the verge of another dominant season before poor placings in the Global Pro League (GPL) Stage One Playoffs and CWL Anaheim. They picked it up again just in time.

OpTic came into the Call of Duty Championship in Orlando fresh off a GPL Stage Two Playoff victory. That momentum made them a favorite, but not the only one, to win CoD Champs.

Unlike in years past, it was almost impossible to tell which team would emerge victorious. Would it be eUnited, or perhaps FaZe? The teams made high-profile roster swaps in hopes of a big payoff. How about Splyce? The European organization made it to the Grand Finals of CoD Champs on Black Ops III and was considered the best EU team again this year. Or what about Luminosity or Team EnVyUs? Both teams had solid years and were always able to contend with other top teams.

In the end, the Grand Final featured two of the oldest teams in Call of Duty esports: OpTic Gaming vs. Team EnVyUs. A regular ol’ eClassico.

OpTic and nV had played earlier on Championship Sunday in the winner’s bracket final, where nV was able to take a rare Hardpoint map off of OpTic to take the series 3-1. But OpTic surged right back in the loser’s final against Luminosity and the matchup was repeated. This time, OpTic had to defeat nV twice to take the crown. And they did just that.

The win cements OpTic Gaming as one of the greatest Call of Duty teams of all time, right up there with compLexity. Some would even say that with a CoD Champs title under their belt, OpTic has surpassed the old coL roster in that regard. Afterall, they were the team to beat for three years straight. It also helps that both Damon “Karma” Barlow and Ian “Crimsix” Porter were part of the coL dynasty, so essentially they have now surpassed themselves.

OpTic Gaming CoD Champs ring count

No other Call of Duty team collectively has as many CoD Champs rings as OpTic Gaming. They now have seven:

Damon “Karma (or three-rings)” Barlow x 3

Ian “Crimsix” Porter x 2

Seth “Scumpi” Abner 1

Matt “FormaL” Piper x 1

Along with his first Call of Duty Championship win, FormaL is also going home with an MVP award. For OpTic, FormaL has always been a rock with the AR, keeping his team in contention when his teammates are having a bad game. The MVP award adds an additional $25,000 to his winnings from the tournament.

Even though he didn’t win MVP, it’s hard to say anyone deserved the CoD Champs win more than Scump. In player polls, he has consistently been considered the best player in the game. A part of OpTic Gaming since Modern Warfare 3, Scump has been to five CoD Champs with the team. In his first two, he managed to take home third place. In his next two, OpTic settled with seventh place finishes. But now, Scump has finally earned himself a ring. Perhaps more willl come.

Trailing right behind OpTic in CoD Champs in rings is Team EnVyUs, who, with the same roster as last year, returned to the Grand Final looking for a repeat win. If they had been successful, Jordan “Jkap” Kaplan would have been the first to three rings instead of Karma and the team would have nine rings combined.

Now, just two months remain until the release of the next game in the Call of Duty franchise: WWII. The game will put boots back on the ground, a return to traditional gameplay. It’s too early to tell which players will excel and which will fall off, but the next year of Call of Duty esports will be starting off on the right foot.


Josh Billy is a long time Call of Duty fan. You can email him at joshuatbilly@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers.

Image by Lalo Torres

Initial thoughts on the World Championship draw

With the conclusion of the Stage Two playoffs, Call of Duty fans can look ahead to the World Championship in just over a week. The group stages were drawn live after yesterday’s grand final. While some teams will be happy with the outcome others may be starting to sweat. Here are some initial thoughts following the draw and who will make it through to the knockout stages.

In the clear

There are a few teams who I see making it through the groups undefeated. The first being stage two winners, OpTic Gaming. The Green Wall usually has no struggles versus the European teams and having already faced Epsilon in the pro league should only make it easier.

Clayster only recently joined eUnited from FaZe. [Source: MLG]

The second team I have going undefeated is eUnited. Clayster and Arcitys have more than enough slaying power between them to take down Mindfreak, Infused and Lethal Gaming. That’s without adding the other two into the equation. They shouldn’t be tested whilst getting out of groups.

Team number three is Luminosity for similar reasons to eUnited. Octane and Slacked are too strong for the rest of the field. Supremacy and Vitality simply don’t have slayers that can match up to them. Rise, on the other hand, have the potential with Aqua playing well as of late but the rest of the squad is far behind leading me to believe that they will also get steamrolled.

Finally, making it through undefeated I have Fnatic. It might seem like an odd choice considering the potential Str8 Rippin has, and Evil Geniuses’ veteran players, but something Fnatic has shown is that they consistently beat teams underneath them. A skill really undervalued in a game like Infinite Warfare.

The battles for second

Group A could go one of two ways. Epsilon could crush the two qualifiers or they lose out at the biggest tournament of the year. If Epsilon doesn’t return to their previous form they could struggle against Echo Fox and 3sUP who have a blend of experienced and young players. Hopefully, the European boot camp in Orlando helps them as they are a team that could make the playoff bracket interesting with their potential to take out NA giants.

Second seed Team EnVyUs might also have a rough ride in group B. The way they lost the grand final speaks to their inconsistencies. They are stacked up against Elevate, Projekt Evil and Mindfreak Black. Elevate are another team that disappointed in the global pro league so they will be looking to bounce back. Projekt Evil are a team on the rise after they qualified for group play at Anaheim through the open bracket. I am unsure on the Australians as I haven’t seen enough of them but I’m sure they have a few tricks up their sleeve that could catch the aforementioned out.

Rated is known for his aggressive plays. [Source: MLG]

I have a surprising prediction for group E in that I believe Red Reserve will take the first seed over Faze Clan. As I mentioned in a previous article, Red Reserve has all the makings of a quality team. If Seany plays the same as in the pro league I can see him consistently besting Enable. Meanwhile, Rated and Joe can outmatch Attach and Zooma in aggressive playmaking if they play their A-game.

My last thoughts are with group G and Splyce who were disappointing at playoffs. Ghost Gaming was unlucky not to qualify for stage two playoffs. They showed great promise despite having not been formed long before the league kicked off. There’s also Millennium led by MarkyB and Moose waiting in the wings to reclaim their spot at the top of European CoD. Splyce have time to sort out their play and I still expect them to top the group but it could be a tight finish.

What are the storylines to watch?

Previous World Champ from Advanced Warfare, Replays, is back out of retirement to captain the Echo Fox side. Much of the community will be rooting for him to make it deep as he’s loved for his stream and just being an all-around nice guy.

One grudge match everyone is looking forward to is between Str8 Rippin and Evil Geniuses. Str8 Rippin player Study was dropped from the latter not that long ago so he will be out for blood. Str8 is also responsible for bringing young gun Temp back to the top of the scene. He missed out on a lot of top Call of Duty after the age restriction was imposed on the World League, but now he has finally turned eighteen and is ready to dominate the competition.

Can Europe win a world championship? Splyce finished second at CoD XP last year which was a huge boost for the European scene. This year they’ve surpassed that by winning Stage One, the first time an EU team has won an international event in CoD history. Fans from the region will be wondering if there’s any chance they can take first this time around.

Team EnVyUs have the chance to win back to back Worlds, something that has never been done before. This roster has ridden the Infinite Warfare gauntlet but has stuck together in spite of that. The World Championship could be the reward worth all that wait. Not only that, but JKap could actually win three rings in a row. A feat that would probably never be reached again.

JKap first won the World Championship in 2015 with Denial. [Source: zimbio.com]

And finally, will OpTic Gaming do what they couldn’t before? Green Wall fans can be found far and wide but they all crave the same thing, the World Championship. OpTic Gaming has won MLGs to X-Games in recent years but has missed out on the illustrious ring despite fielding the God squad we know and love. With the win at stage two under their belt, is this Scump and Formal’s time to take it?

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of unionxvg.com

 

Cloud9

Cloud 9 needs a change

Over the past few months, Cloud 9 has again hit their almost routine summer peak. Jake ‘Stewie2k’ Yip and the boys managed to make the finals at ESL One Cologne and were the only North American team to qualify for the major. However, if Cloud 9 wish to have sustained success, the current five-man roster they have will need some tinkering.

Leverage

Cloud9

Stewie2k at Global esports cup – via HLTV

In terms of ‘winning’ roster shuffles within your scene, your team needs to have all the leverage. The aforementioned ‘leverage’ is results. Cloud 9 have exactly that going for them right now. As I said, they were the only NA team at the major, not to mention they were one win shy of the playoffs; they also made the finals of Cologne. Cloud 9’s problems as an organization in the past have shown through, not leveraging into roster changes while they had the chance. Instead, they usually wait too long, hoping the roster they have at the time will resolve their issues. In other words, the ‘GM’ of Cloud 9 hasn’t ever really put his foot down and forced a change, but they could redeem themselves post major with some intelligent roster moves.

C9’s needs

Cloud 9 has one of the best duos in the game currently, with Stewie2k and Timothy ‘autimatic’ Ta. They are not lacking in star power, they are lacking in role players. It is possible that Jordan ‘n0thing’ Gilbert, Michael ‘shroud’ Grzesiek or Tyler ‘Skadoodle’ Latham could be moved. However, it is likely only the latter two will be removed if any change is made at all. They need a consistent, bomb site anchor, who can place themselves on the back burner for the good of the team, and play fundamental CS in after plants. The idea of a dedicated AWP player has lodged its way into their minds, but they don’t necessarily need to target one. Most famously they need an in-game leader, who can help them coordinate on both offense and defense.

Their options

Cloud9

North aizy – via theScore

The players in OpTic should be locked up tight after what happened with Peter ‘stanislaw’ Jarguz. So players from OpTic are most likely a no-go. If they could manage somehow, Will ‘RUSH’ Wierzba would be an ideal replacement for n0thing. Team Liquid’s stanislaw would be a good target, but I doubt he would be on board. CLG to me is the most obvious team to take from. C9 have made it clear they want to stay an all NA team; although, an interesting addition to their lineup would be Philip ‘aizy’ Aistrup in place of n0thing, assuming he’s on board with moving to NA. North and aizy’s future is completely undetermined, but it would be an interesting move.

Aizy brings basically everything you get from n0thing, and more. He is an inconsistent player playing an inconsistent style. Although, he has more flexibility than the 1.6 legend, as he can take a role on the back burner and still be semi-effective. It is a real long shot, unfortunately, and has less chance of happening than Gambit winning a major. Oh, I meant it has less chance of happening then the iBUYPOWER guys getting unbanned. Wow, this has been a crazy week for Counter-Strike huh.

Cloud9

Rickeh at SL i-League Season 3 – via HLTV

Terrible jokes aside, let’s take a look at CLG, and what they could give to Cloud 9. The most obvious plus right away would be Pujan ‘FNS’ Mehta. He is an in-game leader, whose style of play actually reflects that of shroud. The man can play fundamental CS, in post plants, or when soloing bomb sites. He is also willing to be the last priority of the team in terms of individual agendas. One player I think Cloud 9 should and will consider is Ricky ‘Rickeh’ Mulholland. He is really the only suitable replacement for Skadoodle within the region, despite not being from NA.

Act now or regret later

An addition of Rickeh would instantly make this team very scary to play against, even without removal of n0thing. While it is also unlikely, it would be in C9’s best interest as they seem to be committed to the idea of a dedicated AWP player. The ideal lineup for Cloud 9 in my mind would be Stewie2k, autimatic, Rickeh, RUSH and FNS.

Cloud9

Stewie2k being interviewed by NadeStack’s Ammar

If Cloud 9 try to roll with their current roster, they will almost certainly end up in the purgatory of being third, potentially even fourth best in NA, and only being able to choose players from the likes of Misfits or NRG. Think of this as a ‘letter’ to the key holders to the beaten up, old Ferrari that is Cloud 9. Stewie and autimatic, either drop that bucket of rust off at the dump or fix it up, give it a new paint job and care for it. Don’t let your vision of what this car once was blind you from what it is right now. What is it right now? It is a project, a project that needs a makeover, and soon.


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 Josof!

Featured image via https://www.csgowallpapers.com/

Frostbite’s DreamHack Atlanta HCS Finals predictions

After seven weeks of competition and one full month of time to prepare for this moment, DreamHack Atlanta is here. Over the course of the next three days, we’ll see the best teams from North America and Europe go at it for their share of $200,000. Let’s take a look at some predictions for the top eight!

7th/8th: Ronin Esports

Roster: Visal “eL ToWn” Mohanan, Cory “Str8 SicK” Sloss, Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Ayden “Suspector” Hill

Ronin, since the start of the season, has been constantly struggling. Their only win throughout this season was their first match against Str8 Rippin. Halfway through the season, Ronin looked to improve by swapping out Carlos “Cratos” Ayala for eL ToWn. This swap proved unfruitful, as Ronin didn’t win another match for the rest of the Pro League and ended their season by getting reverse-swept by EG.

Ronin’s scrim scores also don’t show a lot of promise due to their inconsistency. They have managed to defeat EG and Splyce, but the next week they were 13-0’d by both Splyce and OpTic Gaming. This will be a tough fight for them, but with their firepower, they should be able to survive relegation.

7th/8th: Luminosity Gaming

Roster: Joe “TriPPPeY” Taylor, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson, Bradley “APG” Laws

Luminosity, while not having to fight through relegations like Ronin, does not seem to be playing their best Halo leading up to DreamHack. They ended their season 3-4, tied with EG, but due to having a low map win percentage, they only made 6th place. During the roster swap period, LG acquired APG from Str8 in order to bolster their slaying power. DreamHack will decide if this was a good decision or not.

In scrims, LG has at least been performing slightly better than Ronin. However, they have the same issue: inconsistency. Either way, against top four teams, LG hasn’t even had any particularly close scrims. They can snag top six however, assuming EG and OS are not in top shape.

5th/6th: Evil Geniuses

Roster: Jason “Lunchbox” Brown, Justin “Roy” Brown, Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez, Michael “Falcated” Garcia

DreamHack

The key to EG’s success. Image by Josbe Valadez.

Tapping Buttons seems to be just what this squad needed. EG has been struggling since the start of 2016 and this is the best form we’ve seen the squad since since X-Games 2016. They started the Pro League with Brett “Naded” Leonard, but after Daytona, Naded departed and left EG scrambling. With the help of the greatest of all time, Tom “OGRE2” Ryan, the squad got Tapping Buttons. Since then, EG’s season has gone surprisingly well, despite having a 3-4 record. With the exception of getting swept by OpTic, EG’s other losses to Team EnVyUs, Team Liquid and Splyce were all in close five game series.

Scrims, as usual with EG, paint a different picture. This roster has always struggled online, but close games to amateur teams as well as a narrow loss to Str8 Rippin can leave even the most stalwart of fans worried. However, the Brown Twins have a reputation for being LAN gods for a reason and many expect them to remind competitive Halo fans why that is this weekend at DreamHack.

 

4th: Team Liquid

Roster: Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Zane “SubZero” Hearon, Aaron “Ace Elam, Kevin “Eco” Smith

DreamHack

Image by Halo Esports Wiki

Liquid had a surprisingly slow start to their Summer Season. They suffered losses to both Luminosity and Splyce, neither of which were close matches. During the mid-season roster transfer period, they surprised the community again by dropping Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler for Str8 Rippin’s Ace. Many questioned the decision, as SubZero had stated previously that he planned to always remain a duo with Rayne, and that this change could imbalance the team’s chemistry. In fact, it had the opposite effect. Liquid returned in the 3rd week to defeat Team EnVyUs 3-1 and were the only team to defeat OpTic all season. They ended their season with a 5-2 record.

Recent scrims show that Liquid’s only losses so far have been to Splyce and OpTic Gaming.

3rd: Splyce

Roster: Jonathan “Renegade” Willette, Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro

If you told someone to put together a squad based solely on slaying ability that wasn’t nV, this is the squad you’d probably get. Even bubu dubu, the most objective-oriented player on this roster, has shown that he has talent in slaying. This squad took most teams by storm during the season and ended 6-1 with their only loss being to OpTic. This squad only narrowly lost to Liquid at Daytona and they’ve only gotten better since then.

Scrims look good for Splyce, with dominating wins over not only Ronin and Luminosity, but also nV. If Splyce and nV meet in the bracket, it could be a toss up, but nV’s experience as a team could be what propels them over Splyce.

2nd: Team EnVyUs

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

The HCS Daytona champions ended their season a bit shy of where they probably would have liked to have been. Their season ended 4-3, with losses to Liquid, Splyce and a reverse-sweep at the hands of a vengeful OpTic Gaming. However, this squad has remained consistent and it takes more than online victories to prove that Splyce or Liquid can take down nV. DreamHack will decide if this team is still OpTic’s biggest contender, or if they’ve fallen by the wayside.

Scrims for nV look relatively normal. Close losses to OpTic, one loss and victory over Splyce and dominant performances over most other teams. However, Snip3down has been having some hand issues, so if he hasn’t properly healed, it could affect the squad’s performance.

1st: OpTic Gaming

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

DreamHack

Image by Turtle Beach.

Is anyone really surprised that OpTic Gaming are the favorites to win? Since forming, they’ve only lost three events, all of which were in long, close series. Liquid may have beaten them online, but have only come remotely close to defeating these juggernauts once. EnVyUs has defeated them on LAN, but they have been inconsistent with their performances against OpTic and have also been blown out of the water several times by this squad.

Scrims are like usual for OpTic. Clean victories nearly across the board, with only a couple close defeats here and there. Make no mistake, OpTic are coming to win DreamHack and add to their already long list of victorious events, and they’re looking to be in perfect shape to do it.

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 @DS_Frostbite!

Header image by Halo Waypoint

 

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