The first qualifier for HWC 2017 has passed, and UGC St. Louis has seeded the top teams going into HWC Las Vegas. Championship Sunday was filled with all the to-the-brink series, amazing clutch plays, and absolutely jaw-dropping moments we have come to expect from top-level Halo. Let’s take a look at how it all shook out and who walked away being the St. Louis Champions.
The Championship Bracket began with the top 8 teams from the open bracket meeting the top 7 pro teams, with the first Winner’s Bracket round having several important match-ups.
Team Allegiance met with Str8 Rippin, in what many thought would be a close series. However, Str8 Rippin proved my predictions wrong and came out hot against Allegiance with a 3-1 victory. Pnda Gaming, a team notable for including Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, fell to an amateur team, SetToDestroyX 3-1, much to the pleasure of the Halo community. Evil Geniuses was matched with a tough first round, having to face Inconceivable, a team brimming with talent. Unfortunately, the veteran leadership of Jason “Lunchbox” and Justin “Roy” Brown was not enough to stop the heated young-guns.
The second round saw Luminosity Gaming getting swept into the loser’s bracket by Str8 Rippin. However, this squad wasn’t done yet, as they were able to knock Pnda Gaming out of the tournament (again, much to the pleasure of the community) and making top 8. Allegiance also moved into the top 8 after also sweeping SetToDestroyX.
The top 8 teams continued to race forward. In the second Winner’s Bracket round, Inconceivable matched up with the reformed Team Liquid, and fell in a close 3-2 series. Liquid moved on to play OpTic Gaming, and this is where things started to get crazy. In another incredibly close series, the Greenwall dropped Liquid to the lower bracket. Meanwhile, Str8 Rippin met with Team EnvyUs, and yet again, the series went all the way to game five, with Envy clutching to beat out Str8.
The Evil Geniuses also continued to push through the lower bracket, even sweeping Luminosity Gaming out of the tournament. After that, they had to contend with an angry Team Liquid, and unfortunately fell to them 3-1, in a series that arguably should have been a sweep if not for a game reset. With this, Liquid secured their spot into the final bracket.
What remained in the Loser’s Bracket were Str8 Rippin and Inconceivable. This series was as close as it could possibly get. It went to a game five Plaza Slayer, and then continued into overtime, nearly unheard of in Slayer matches. If Str8 won, they would have reverse-swept Inconceivable and moved into the top 4. What followed… words don’t do it justice. This may have been my favorite game of Halo 5 that I’ve ever seen played.
One more time, for the Str8 chant, courtesy of @DeontaeVidad:
— 火影 Deontae (@DeontaeVidad) January 23, 2017
This is starting to look a lot like Fall Finals; we have OpTic Gaming, Team EnvyUs, Team Liquid and Str8 Rippin. To start off the Finals Bracket, the rematch we all waited for, OpTic vs. EnvyUs, and it started with a bang (mind the score). At the end of it all, Envy fell to the defending World Champions, and OpTic moved on.
In the Loser’s Bracket, Team Liquid stopped Str8 Rippin short of another miracle run, and sent them home with a 3-1 victory.
Here comes the upsets.
Team Liquid went on to meet Team EnvyUs, both hungry to get another shot at taking down OpTic Gaming and becoming the St. Louis Champions. The series once again went all the way, but Team Liquid managed to shut down the Fall Champions, and moved on to face OpTic gaming after a 3-2 victory.
OpTic was ready for them. Liquid did not come that far just to beat one juggernaut and be stomped by another though. However, it would not be easy, as they would have to reset the bracket and then win a second series against OpTic to bring home a Liquid tournament victory. However, OpTic was not looking to have a repeat of Fall Finals, and although Liquid fought valiantly to take the series to a game seven, OpTic took home another win with a 50-46 victory on Colosseum Slayer. Now, OpTic looks to regain the dominance they had last year going into the World Championship, but the competition is only continuing to snip at their heels. Either way, this tournament has made one thing certain: This is no longer a fight for second or third place. Any of the top five teams are all capable of taking the title of 2017 World Champions.
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