Halo Caster Mark “Onset” Hatcher makes a compelling case for LAN in Halo 6

In a video posted to YouTube Friday, European Halo caster Mark “Onset” Hatcher explains his thoughts about LAN and its importance to the Halo franchise. Simply put, LAN, or Local Area Network, is the process of connecting multiple devices together within a limited area. For competitive Halo, LAN has been the preferred method of tournament organizers for years. The low latency provided smoother gameplay and legitimized competitive results.

This all changed with the release of the Xbox One, which seemingly ditched LAN support for more of an “always-online” approach. As a result, competitions for Halo 2: Anniversary and Halo 5 must utilize online gameplay, even for live events. Problems with online services have provided a host of problems at these tournaments, most noticeably being the frequent game resets and long down times between matches.

With Halo 6 approaching, Onset presents a convincing argument for LAN support and its benefits. This article will break down his biggest points.


LAN as a Community Builder

In the video, Onset fondly recounts his experiences with friends at college. For example, he hilariously details how his friends would run ethernet cables through dorm room windows to play Halo together. This would result in other friends joining in on the fun, eventually purchasing their own consoles and copies of Halo. Onset describes how these types of sessions facilitate interest in the game, which can eventually grow into a local community.

Image by Kotaku

Onset notes that from there, the community becomes a tight-knit group with a shared interest in Halo. Some players may display an interest in competition, choosing to attend tournaments or compete online. Such interactions help both the casual and competitive side of the Halo community. Several old-school Halo players can affectionately point to similar experiences as a catalyst in growing their passion for the game.

These happenings are lost with Halo 5. The game offers no split-screen play, and the Xbox One lacks LAN support. Because online is the only avenue for interaction, the community has become a breeding ground for toxicity.

LAN Benefits Live Tournaments

In addition to the communal effect of LAN availability, Onset also discusses the burden of Halo 5 on tournament organizers. For Halo titles on the previous Xbox consoles, hosting a tournament was as simple as connecting consoles together. The ease of access resulted in booming local Halo scenes and increased capacity at national events. LAN also provided the best gameplay experience, where players could decidedly prove their skill.

Local events are made much easier with LAN Support. Image by The LAN Network

The Halo Championship Series events don’t offer this kind of environment, though. To help the online gameplay be smooth as possible, servers are flown out to each event. Different play stations have different servers, which can each provide different gameplay experiences.

Although he doesn’t explicitly say it, Onset alludes to a problem with competitive legitimacy because of the online nature of the tournaments. He suggests that a LAN-equipped Halo 6 can quell many of these difficulties, and provide a more sustainable tournament atmosphere at both the local and national level. Such a format can help players who cannot attend every national event and may also develop the more potent storylines that competitive Halo desperately needs.


Onset makes several strong points in his video and provides some nostalgia about what set Halo apart from other titles. The emotional connection to both the game and the community are what built the Halo scene. A core facet of building the community is LAN availability. Whether it be for late nights split-screening at a friend’s house or a lag-free national tournament, LAN is crucial for the longevity of Halo.

Featured image by twitch.tv/OnsetHalo

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NBA eLeague

The NBA and Take-Two Are Changing esports

The NBA and Take-Two (Makers of NBA 2K) are teaming up to change esports in a major way starting in 2018. The NBA and Take-Two have partnered to create a professional, competitive NBA eLeague.

Traditional sports games have fallen behind in the world of esports. Games like League of Legends, Pokemon, Halo, Counter-Strike and Dota2 have had been dominating competitive gaming and are already paying gamers million of dollars.

The NBA is trying to take a piece of that pie. There is so much money to be made from gaming that traditional sports need to innovate before they get left behind.

The NBA and Take-Two are trying to set the trend for these traditional sports. This bold leap could change the gaming industry like never seen before.

So what exactly will this NBA eLeague be and how will it run?

How Will it work?

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit: https://geekiversedotcom.com)

The eLeague, as Adam Silver has called it, will be a professional gaming league run by the NBA and its franchises. Each NBA team will be in control of their own 2K virtual basketball team.

For example, the Chicago Bulls will have the eBulls and the team will manage its roster just as they do for the on-court basketball team. There will be general managers and a salary cap.

All 30 NBA teams will be involved and this season will mirror the real season. Gamers will be paid a salary to practice, train and compete for their respective teams and the only difference is they will be training with a controller instead of their body.

These teams will be through a real draft, similar to the traditional NBA draft. Each team will have five professional gamers on its roster. They won’t be playing with LeBron James, Steph Curry or Kevin Durant but instead they will play with their custom created avatars that they work on to improve.

One area of concern most people come up with is how can they do this if everyone is going to just be a 99 overall player who can do everything? NBA2K has already fixed this issue in their latest version of the game.

archetypes and badges

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit:https://www.youtube.com)

NBA 2K17 really wanted to make sure that each player had their own specialty. In previous years a player could make a point guard who could be 6-foot-7 and earn all badges to become the most unstoppable player of all-time.

There are three solutions they came up with to halt this.

The first is with archetypes. For all examples in how this works, we will stick to looking at point guards.

When you create your player you can pick a position. Once you select the position you wish to play, you must pick an archetype. The archetypes for point guard are the following: playmaker, sharpshooter, lockdown defender, shot creator and slasher.

Depending on the type of point guard you decide to become, you will have only five badges you can upgrade. That is the second part of the solution: the number of badges one can upgrade. In NBA 2K there are dozens of badges a player can get that makes them better.

One of those badges is the pickpocket badge. To unlock the pickpocket badge, a player must get a certain amount of steals within a season. The pickpocket badge makes a player more effective at stealing the ball.

As you can see in the picture with the sharpshooter, pickpocket is not one of these upgradeable badges for that archetype. What that means is that the pickpocket badge must stay at the bronze level.

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit: YouTube)

If the sharpshooter archetype gamer unlocked the limitless range badge then they could upgrade it from bronze to silver then to gold. Once a player has a gold badge they can upgrade it to the hall of fame level. Hall of fame badges allow a player to be great at that skill.

By allowing gamers to only have five upgradeable badges, they have stopped people from becoming players that are great at everything and 99 overall.

The third way NBA 2K17 has made it difficult to become 99 overall is by including park reputation.

Park reputation is a tier system in which can only be aquired by playing at MyPark. There are five levels to each tier. The tiers are as follows: rookie, pro, all-star, superstar and legend.

A player can only get to 95 overall before the game will not let them upgrade anymore. To earn more upgrades, one must reach levels one, three and five of the superstar tier at MyPark. The amount of games and time it takes to reach those tiers is extremely straining and does not come easily.

These three additions have really helped NBA 2K level the playing field and made a game that requires multiple different skill sets, rather than just a bunch of players who can do all. This is something NBA teams will have to look at when constructing teams for their NBA eLeague.


There is a mode in NBA 2K called Pro-Am that allows all these different gamers to take their custom players play in five on five games similar to an NBA contest. These teams become really competitive and are an example of how an NBA eLeague team would look. NBA 2K have already held two major tournaments over the past two years to test how this would work in a legitimate format.

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit:http://www.usatoday.com/sports/)

The first one was called the Road to the Finals which took place in 2016. This year NBA 2K held the All Star Tournament which would gave 250 thousand dollars to the winning team Still Trill.

Over two million people streamed the final game, according to NBA 2K, proving that there is a market for competitive traditional sports games. The tournament showed is that these skilled players are capable of drawing a lot of viewers.

There are over 110,000 teams on Xbox alone in the Pro-Am game mode. The teams and players are already around waiting to be picked up by NBA franchises.

Why This Will Change eSports

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit: Matthew Hagan)

The potential of this idea is unlimited. Currently, getting the NBA to be involved is monumental for the growth of NBA 2K as an esport. The NBA is the first professional league in the United States to create their own esports league.

The success with the two tournaments that NBA 2K have already run proves that there is huge interest in this game. Eventually the NBA eLeague could expand to more teams than just 30. There could be hundreds of teams in each region of the world. Eventually there could be regional championships that lead to a world championship.

An eLeague allows people who could never play in the NBA a chance to become NBA stars. This includes people who have disabilities and are unable physically play the sport. It doesn’t matter your size, weight, or gender, anybody who is good enough on the sticks can end up being drafted to an NBA eLeague team. That is something that no other professional sport can offer.

This is just the beginning for the NBA and Take-Two. Once the money begins to flow they will realize they need to expand the field. Before you know it there will be an NBA2K Hall of Fame and a list of new NBA eChampions.

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Combo Theory

With Evo behind us, I’d like to to start a new series of tutorial articles. I’ve had this project on the docket for awhile and I’d like to talk about Killer Instinct. Killer Instinct is a 6 button fighting game from the crew at Iron Galaxy Studios. The game had a rough launch as it struggled under the weight of the negative press surrounding the Xbox One reveal. Killer Instinct’s third season saw the launch of 4 new characters and a solid PC port that has revitalized the community. Today’s topic will scratch the surface on two of TJ’s offensive options. Before we get started, Killer Instinct uses the same inputs as Street Fighter and I’ll have the commands for the moves used in this article listed.

Flying Knee(←→+HK, MP, LP, LK, MK, HK, HP)

Flying Knee →AutoDoubleBarrage(←→+HK, MP, LP, LK, MK, HK, HP)

TJ Combo is Killer Instinct’s boxer character. He has good normal attacks, but his specialty comes from the wide range of uses for his special attacks. TJ also has a unique trait called the Auto Double Barrage that lets him chain together blows for a safe, damaging combo. This is done by starting a combo then doing hitting all three punch and kick buttons in any order. TJ can cancel Tremor(↑↓+Punch), Spin Fist(←→+LP) or Flying Knee(←→+HK). Spin fist is the safest way to start a barrage especially since the player can cancel into it from TJ’s Punching Bag Command Normal(Repeatedly Mash LP).

Auto Double Barrage is TJ’s hardest combo to break and is his best damage ender. If TJ is willing to use shadow meter, he can get up to 60 percent damage off a single combo. Auto Double Barrage can be cancelled by repeating any button in the sequence. This causes TJ to gut check his opponent and TJ can cancel a light kick into his Shoot Toss (←→+MP) command grab to start a new combo.

TC→BSC→TC-> (←→+MP)→ (↑↓+HP)→ ADB

TC → BSC → TC → (←→+MP) → (↑↓+HP) → ADB

The second tool I want to talk about is TJ’s first target combo and back step cancel. Target Combos (TC) are sequences of buttons that can be mashed for certain moves. This lesson revolves around TJ’s first Target Combo, MP→HP. Target Combo 1 is fast, far-reaching and can be used to whiff punish opponents. TJ can also cancel it into any of his specials to lead into Auto Double Barrage. You can also use the first Target Combo as a manual and I recommend using that to practice manual timing as TJ’s auto-linkers are easy to read.

Target Combo isn’t safe on block, but it can be made safe by cancelling it with Back Step (←→+LK). Backstep Cancels (BSC) have a wide variety of uses including extending combos and applying pressure to their opponent. TJ can cancel his first target combo with a backstep then immediately follow it with another target combo up to 3 times before having to special cancel it. You can fake opponents out by whiffing target combo then immediately Backstep canceling to make it safe. This sets up situations where your opponent will attempt to whiff punish and you can counter punish them.

TJ’s ability to combine Target Combos, Backstep Cancels and Auto-Double Barrages make him incredibly dangerous. Don’t be afraid to stay aggressive with your opponents, because Auto Double Barrage is a guaranteed 30 to 40 percent damage if unbroken. TJ players dominate at close range and these tools will compliment that. Auto Double Barrage is a safe way for reliable damage while the Target Combo loop is effective for pressure and mind games. The options listed here are some basic tools for TJ players to start their offense and play footsies with the opponent. Thank you for reading and I hope this helps anyone looking to play TJ. Last but not least, here are some additional resources for people who want to play TJ Combo:


Seth Hall has been playing fighting games for the last four years and writing for the last two. He can be found on twitter @themanseries and will be competing at The Fall Classic in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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