Three takeaways from the HCS Summer League thus far

The third week of the HCS Summer League has ended, and the top three picture is starting to become clearer. These are three observations of the Summer Season before we enter the final week of competition.

 

Semantics Really Matter, Apparently

Fans who had tuned into the second day of Pro League week three play were met with an extended delay early-on. The match countdown timer had ended and instead replaced by a “We’ll be back” graphic. The series was set to feature teams Luminosity Gaming and OpTic Gaming, and likely would have drawn in a larger crowd. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins of Luminosity is a popular streamer on Twitch, and OpTic is the undisputed best team in Halo 5. Fans were eager to see how the new addition to Luminosity, Ryan “RyaNoob” Gettes, would perform in his second Pro League outing.

When the casters finally returned, some-30 minutes later, they explained to the audience that Luminosity would be forfeiting the match. The reason for the forfeit being that Luminosity had only requested a substitute player for one match, not two. The team is using the term “substitute” for RyaNoob, as he has yet to officially sign with Luminosity.

Ninja clarified his intentions on Twitter, which seem perfectly logical.

It’s disappointing, but surprising to see a match with the potential to bring in viewers be dealt with in such a way. OpTic probably would have won the series anyways, but that is beside the point. ESL have seen their fair share of criticism from the Halo community. Situations like this certainly do not help.

 

EnVyUs Should Avoid Game 5 Like the Plague

Team EnVyUs could be having a drastically different season right now. Currently at 2-3, EnVy is in a tough spot. They find themselves among two other capable teams in the throes of uncertain Pro League placement. It’s no question that EnVy is a better team than Evil Geniuses or Luminosity. But to an outsider, they may just seem like another average team taking up a middling spot in the top eight.

So just what happened, exactly?

In week one of Pro League play, EnVy squared off against OpTic gaming. EnVy had just embarrassed OG at HCS Atlanta, and was riding high. After jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, the series looked all but over for OpTic. Except it wasn’t.

OpTic caught fire, and stunned EnVy with three back-to-back wins, taking the series. EnVy had every opportunity to close the series, but couldn’t. The loss put EnVy in a hole early, and set the tone for OpTic to win four more consecutive Pro League series.

EnVy’s face-off against Splyce in week three painted a similar picture, just without the demoralizing reverse-sweep. The series went back-and-forth, with neither team claiming too much momentum. The two squads eventually arrived at game five, where Splyce would narrowly emerge victorious.

If EnVy were able to take each series, they’d be at a comfortable 4-1, and likely tied for the top spot. A placement that provides a much clearer demonstration of their true ability. Although this isn’t the case, there’s no reason why it can’t be. EnVy plays both Ronin Esports and Str8 Rippin next week, who are the 7th and 8th seeded teams. Two wins against these vulnerable squads may elevate EnVy into the top three.

 

The OpTic vs. Splyce Showdown is Going to Be Epic

OpTic Gaming is a team that needs no introduction. They’re the back-to-back World Champs and the most dominant force in Halo 5. The roster monopolizes the “Top 5 Players” discussion, and they belong to one of the biggest orgs in esports.

Bubu dubu of Splyce. Image by FantasyHCS.

 

Splyce, on the other hand, is a different story. After having their Pro League spot essentially stolen, Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller and crew made a grueling trek through the amateur Halo scene, wiping the floor with nearly every AM team as they went. Splyce went on to place top six at the Halo World Championship and secured their place in the big leagues.

Splyce only got better with the acquisition of power slayer Jonathan “Renegade” Willette, who helped them secure a top four finish at HCS Daytona. Since qualifying for the Summer Pro League, they have all but demolished the competition. Both a hyper-aggressive playstyle and slaying prowess have carried Splyce to five straight victories in the Pro League.

When these two teams meet up next week, it will surely be the most exciting Pro League series thus far. While it’s nearly impossible to predict an outcome for the series, Halo fans can be assured that it will be far from boring.

 

Featured Image by TeamBeyond.net

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Team EnVyUs claims victory at HCS Daytona after a thrilling Grand Finals

A Rivalry for the Ages

It’s been explicitly stated time and time again: EnVyUs is made to take down OpTic Gaming. But after failing to replicate the success they had at the HCS Fall 2016 Finals, many wondered if OpTic had become unbeatable. Following an embarrassing performance in the Grand Finals at the Halo World Championship, Team EnVyUs sought to regroup for HCS Daytona. The focus for this event: Beat OpTic Gaming, and demolish anyone else who dared to step in their way.

Of the three times the two teams met last weekend, Envy conquered OpTic twice, both times when it mattered most.

Image by HaloWaypoint

The first clash between OpTic and Envy occurred in the Winner’s Bracket Finals. Despite a close series against Team Liquid, the Green Wall appeared dominant. EnVyUs had just closed out a reverse-sweep against Ryan “RyaNoob” Gettes’ white-hot Oxygen Supremacy squad.

As fate would have it, the World Champions and HWC Runners-up crossed paths once more. This time, with a spot in the Grand Finals on the line.

The series did not go as expected for EnVyUs, as OpTic rallied to a 4-2 series victory. Although guaranteed a top 3 finish, EnVy was not satisfied. While OpTic waited comfortably in the Grand Finals, Envy met Team Liquid in the Loser’s Bracket Finals. EnVy’s resiliency prevailed, as they dominated Liquid with a 4-0 sweep. The win catapulted Envy into the Grand Finals, granting a second chance at taking down OpTic Gaming.

 

A Grueling Grand Finals

The first series of the Grand Finals started off strongly in EnvVy’s favor, putting up dominant performances on Empire Strongholds and Truth CTF to take a 3-0 lead. The threat of a bracket reset must have created a sense of urgency with OpTic gaming, as they retaliated with three straight wins to tie the series.

In Game 7, Regret Slayer, the teams exchanged blows for most of the game. Through superior map control, EnVy was able to create some distance late in the game. After trapping OpTic in their base, Envy edged out a win 50-47, and forced a bracket reset.

Image by TeamBeyond.net

The second series of the Grand Finals began much like the first, with Team EnVyUs jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Facing their first tournament loss since the Fall 2016 Pro League finals, OpTic stormed back with consecutive wins on Plaza Slayer and Rig Strongholds. With the series tied 3-3, a deciding game 7 would determine which team takes home a majority of the $75,000 prize, and the title of best Halo team.

The early stage of Game 7 Truth Slayer favored OpTic, as they established map control to lead by a few kills. With the help of Justin “Pistola” Deese and Cuyler “Huke” Garland, EnVyUs reclaimed control of the game through the midway point.

OpTic gaming was not finished, however, and took the lead through 35 kills with the help of some sneaky support plays by Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom. As a response, EnVy slowed down the pace of the game, closing the kill gap into the final moments of play. Following an epic triple kill by Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, EnVyUs again took the lead. Mikwen’s triple allowed Eric “Snip3down” Wrona to grab the Active Camo, who then closed the game with a triple of his own, winning the tournament.

Conclusion

Both teams put on a thrilling show throughout the grueling 14-game Grand Finals. In the end, the will of Team EnVyUs to win proved strongest, as they defeated OpTic Gaming. While the victory may not be total redemption for the Halo World Championship, it serves as a reminder that OpTic Gaming is human after all. Although incredibly dominant, the Green Wall is not free from some cracks in their foundation. At HCS Daytona, Team EnVyUs exposed these faults and had the skill to capitalize.

Will EnVyUs hold on to the crown? Let us know in the comments!


Featured image by HaloWaypoint

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Player Feedback Noted as HCS Releases Version 2 Competitive Settings

Quickly following up on their promise to listen to the players, the HCS has adjusted the new competitive settings. The new settings, dubbed “Version 1” were released last week, receiving praise from many competitive players. The update, aptly named “Version 2” continues to tweak in-game properties and better balance the game. Due to the speed in which these settings are updated, it is possible that the settings used at HCS Daytona will have progressed to Version 3 or Version 4.

This piece will break down each change, and briefly discuss their impact on the game.

Battle Rifle Added to Carbine Two on Truth

Pink Tower has always been a power position, no matter which iteration of Midship is being played. In Halo 5, however, the presence of a Battle Rifle on Pink 2 created a very skewed balance of map positioning. To place better emphasis on the Carbine side of the map, a Battle Rifle has replaced the Carbine Rifle on Carbine 2.

Car 2 will now be a more contestable position. Courtesy of Youtube.com

 

The addition of a Battle Rifle will help players fighting on that side of the map, and make it a more viable position to defend. It will also eliminate much of the cross-mapping imbalance from Pink Tower, as players will have an equal precision rifle to fight back with.

 

Increased Magnum Ammo

The removal of the Assault Rifle as a starting weapon left the magnum as the lone tool for post-respawn play. Although this change was beneficial, the absence of a second weapon caused players to run out of ammo quickly. Players who were caught without magnum ammo were an easy target, and the default amount just wasn’t enough. To combat this occurrence, magnum ammo has increased to 60.

This change has effectively doubled the carrying capacity of the magnum, and will certainly reduce, if not eliminate situations in which players find themselves without a round to shoot.

 

Tactical Magnums in Fathom Treehouses

The TacMag creates stealthy precision. Courtesy of Reddit.com

343i cites pro player feedback as the primary influence behind this implementation. Previously, silenced Assault Rifles appeared in each treehouse. With automatics now phased out of Halo 5 competitive play, the stealthy tactical magnum will appear in its place. The tactical magnum is equipped with a silencer, thus allowing for stealthier plays.

The silenced magnum will help players put precision shots on opponents without appearing on the new radar. For this reason, it will be primarily useful when flanking. A player effectively utilizing the tactical magnum will sneakily stop a flag run, and buy time for teammates to counter-capture.

 

Plasma Pistol in Security on Eden Slayer

In the Version 1 settings, an Overshield was placed outside on Eden Slayer. The lack of an Overshield counter created a significant advantage for the team to reach the Overshield first. Resulting was a mad-dash to the Overshield at the beginning of games. To better balance the equation, a Plasma Pistol has been added to Security Tower.

The addition will allow players to feel more comfortable when utilizing a more balanced push at the start of each game. With a charged shot, the plasma pistol can remove an entire Overshield upon contact. Accordingly, players with the Overshield must now play more cautious to keep their precious powerup.

What are your thoughts on these changes? Are there any more you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments!

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The Playbook: Rig Slayer

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

 

Rig Slayer Map Layout

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

Camo spawn.

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

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

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

Movement Around Tower and Pipes

Red Team Starting Strategy

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

Nest, featuring the Sniper.

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

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

 

Blue Team Starting Strategy

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

Barrels and the Scattershot spawn.

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

 

Rig Setup

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

The Bunker area.

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

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

 

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

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