Next weekend, the top Halo teams from around the world will gather in Burbank, California to battle for the Halo World Championship crown and their share of one million dollars. With the inclusion of last weekend’s Last Chance Qualifier Champs, Splyce, the seventh North American spot has been filled. As the final week of preparation approaches, expect each team to be actively scrimmaging and finalizing strategy for one of the biggest Halo tournaments of all time. This preview will highlight some of the most promising teams from North America.
North American Titans
It’s no secret that North America is objectively the best scene for competitive Halo. North American teams have been at the cutting edge of the Halo franchise’s ever-changing meta since the inception of MLG. Most predictions for the HWC Finals will confidently select an all-American top four, and potentially round out the top six with teams hailing from the region. These two teams have been exchanging blows for the entirety of the season, and are top contenders to hoist the championship trophy when all is said and done.
The Defending Champs: OpTic Gaming
Roster: Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Matt “Royal2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, T.J. “LethuL” Campbell.
Fresh off two consecutive major tournament victories, and eager for a chance to defend their title of “Halo World Champions,” OpTic Gaming looks unbeatable. Slaying powerhouses SnakeBite and Royal2 lead the charge, and can single-handedly steal a game from the clutches of defeat. These two players are anchored by the always-consistent Frosty, and strategic mind of Lethul.
OpTic Gaming has only suffered one loss on LAN since X Games Aspen 2016 (then Counter Logic Gaming), and has somehow only improved with time. Expect OpTic Gaming to be the favorites at the HWC Finals, and successfully defend their title.
Victory means a satisfying, and well-deserved result for one of the most dominant Halo teams of all-time.
The Young Guns: Team Liquid
Roster: Zane “Penguin” Hearon, Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler, Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Kevin “Eco” Smith.
Following a disappointing finish at the HCS Fall 2016 finals, Team Liquid parted ways with Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Hamy “Commonly” Abbaali. Searching for two, Rayne and Penguin acquired StelluR and Eco to round out this roster of young-guns.
Since the pickup, Team Liquid hasn’t skipped a beat, finishing second at both UGC St. Louis and ME Las Vegas. Despite a promising effort, the team came just short of victory, falling to a red-hot OpTic Gaming at both events. As the HWC Finals approach, Team Liquid is gearing up for one last shot to overcome the Green Wall and solidify their place in Halo legacy.
If there is a team to take down OpTic, Team Liquid appears to be the most likely contender. At UGC St. Louis, Liquid nearly bested OpTic in a thrilling seven-game series, but the composure of OG ultimately prevailed. Expect each member of Team Liquid to come out guns-blazing next weekend, where they will attempt to take what they believe is rightfully theirs.
The Wild Card: Team EnVyUs
Roster: Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Cuyler “Huke” Garland
EnVyUs is the first and only team to make OpTic Gaming bleed. A win over OG at the HCS Fall Finals showed that NV is a force to be reckoned with. Since then, they’ve been unable to replicate their success, finishing an underwhelming third place at both UGC St. Louis and ME Las Vegas.
Led by former MLG Champions Snip3down and iGotUrPistola, EnVyUs seek to prove that their win at the HCS Fall Finals was no fluke. Victory for NV depends on two things: the Huke x-factor, and team mentality. If Huke catches fire, there is no team who can stop him. Additionally, if the team gets in their own heads, a game can quickly spiral out of control. NV are surely aware of their shortcomings, and will seek to make a statement after tasting victory last year. Expect Team EnVyUs to be the dark horse in the HWC Finals.
These three teams are the pinnacle of North American Halo competition, making them the teams to beat from the region. OpTic Gaming is a force of nature, and intends to demolish any competition presented at the HWC Finals. Meanwhile, Team Liquid will attempt to reach the mountaintop following consecutive runner-up placings, and Team EnVyUs hopes to recreate the magic that granted them a win at the HCS Fall Finals.
Despite the strong North American competition appearing next weekend, there are some notable exceptions: Evil Geniuses, and Allegiance. Both failed to qualify for worlds in the Last Chance Qualifier, while Splyce cruised to victory, and thus occupy the final North American spot. Look for both EG and Allegiance to rebuild in the offseason, and come back stronger.
Regardless, with both glory and a substantial amount of cash on the line, the Halo World Championship Finals will conclude a dramatic season. The competition is tight, the rosters are locked, and the North American teams are ready to defend their home turf. All of the action will be streamed live at twitch.tv/halo, starting March 24.
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