Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece that reflects the views of the author.
Halo World Championship 2017 is over. The dust has settled. A World Champion stands crowned. Well, re-crowned.
Congratulations to back-to-back Halo World Champions, Tony “LethuL” Campbell, Jr, Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante and Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, representing OpTic Gaming!
That said, this was very likely the worst run season of the Halo Championship Series yet. Numerous, repeated blunders from both 343 Industries as well as the Electronic Sports League (ESL) were present during the HWC. Let’s go over what went wrong.
At the start of the season, the HCS confirmed which teams would hold pro seeds going into the HWC season. The rules stated that for a team to keep a pro seed, they had to retain two original members of their roster. Herein lies the first issue with this season, and it was before the first event even started.
While Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller and Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, two former members of Enigma6, formed a squad with the expectation that they would retain their pro seed, they were left without it. Instead, the seed was given to Carlos “Cratos” Ayala and his new squad, in direct contradiction to the rules previously put out by ESL. This was due to Cratos’ coach submitting a fake roster (Here’s a statement from an ESL employee on the matter and another with its implications).
The fact that ESL allowed this to stand, despite referring to their rules as “a living document,” is disgusting. No justification exists for allowing a fake roster to stand without any sort of punishment. Combined with Cratos’ prior questionable actions, it seems that he is able to get away with quite a lot under ESL’s league management. This includes the same coach signing onto Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher’s account on a different box to sign StelluR out in the middle of a match.
However, the lack of competitive integrity extends further, most notably at the HWC Finals. According to multiple sources, the side station, as well as the blue side of the main-stage, were plagued by lag spikes as well as “heavy aim,” which has been a noted issue for Halo 5 since its launch. No long-term fix has even been mentioned and the majority of the community has given up on 343’s ability to properly care for the game after launch. The worst part of this is that it was apparently not fixed until the last day of the tournament. OpTic Gaming spoke of this “heavy aim” issue in the newest episode of their Vision series.
Everyone's talking about the production….I'm just mad my aimer was dragged down by a 50Kg weight, not good enough for so much on the line
— Matthew Barker (@iM_Voltage) March 25, 2017
Yeah, the tech delay is because Huke's Xbox on the blue side is lagging like it has been for players. They're looking into it.
— Celeste Anderson (@itsBiiTTERSWEET) March 26, 2017
So when it happens to us, it's whatever…. when it happens to top teams, everything on hold to fix it. So fucking tilted right now
— Matthew Barker (@iM_Voltage) March 26, 2017
The fact that this was reported to ESL and they chose not to act on it until the final day of the tournament is absolutely unacceptable. Add on that this tournament is a World Championship and $1,000,000 is on the line. It only makes ESL seem even worse.
Starting with UGC St. Louis, the production this season was abhorrent. Frequent breaks and technical issues plagued both UGC and Vegas. This is an issue that arises with 343 not implementing Local Area Network (LAN) functionality into Halo 5. However, even despite that, events can still work relatively well, it’s just that these two did not. However, the venues for both St. Louis and Vegas were great and provided an entertaining live experience.
Now let’s get to the elephant in the room.
The HWC Finals venue was an absolute disgrace. ESL and 343 undoubtedly failed the community as a whole in this respect.
People paid $65 and traveled from around the world to sit in a tent and watch the same stream that I watched at home. While community figure Dan “Greenskull” Hammill did post pictures that showed a fuller venue, it was only marginally better. ESL should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen and allowing the 2017 HWC Finals to boil down to memes.
The only thing that saved this season was the astounding level of game-play. Following the event, an apology was provided, but it was mostly the same that’s been said before. We’ve heard “We’ll do better because that’s what Halo deserves,” constantly since 2012. After seeing little to no improvement, much of the community, myself included, are reaching the end of their patience.
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