After months of intense competition, both online and at various LAN events, the time has finally come to crown a champion for the first ever season of the Halo Championship Series. The championships will be taking place this weekend at PAX East in Boston, Massachusetts. The first season has been filled with incredible play from all the top teams, and this weekend will certainly provide us with even more entertainment. The 8 teams will be playing for a prize pool of $100,000, including $50,000 for first place and the title of Halo Championship Series Season 1 Champions.
Now we are going to take a look at who we believe will come out on top this weekend, and in specific, a look at who we believe will finishing the weekend in the Top 4, solidifying their spots as the 4 best Halo teams in the world by the end of Sunday night.
4th Place) OpTic Halo: Flamesword, Ace, Assault and Contra
The return of three-fourths of the old Status Quo roster was a welcome sight for all Halo fans, especially falling under such a large brand as OpTic Gaming. Since the inception of the Halo Championship Series, OpTic Halo has gone through its fair share of team changes, and in specific, swapping out a fourth player to fill out the roster while the core three has stayed the same. OpTic Halo played with Aries for a time before unofficially picking up APG in place of Aries, before finally settling on Contra before Gamers 4 Giving just a few weeks ago. Contra has been a player on the rise, and OpTic Halo saw his potential and gave him a shot on the team, where he has quickly shown that he is up to the task of competing amongst the best players in the world.
If OpTic Halo is known for anything, it is that they can make runs through the tournament bracket like no one else, surprising all other teams who thought they just might be done. OpTic Halo will have a very tough task ahead of them this weekend to break into the Top 2, but they have shown time and time again that anything is possible. We will just have to wait and see.
3rd Place) Denial eSports: Chig, Mikwen, Cloud and Ryanoob
Denial has been one of, if not the most, interesting team to watch this HCS season. When looking at this team from an overall perspective, they are made up of solid players who play Halo in a somewhat unique style. A mix of old and “new” players was the theme for this team, and presented some questions of how they would perform together. Going into Halo 2 Anniversary competitions, fans and players alike knew how good all of these players were and how good they could be.
The question then became if could they put it all together to play the game their way and catch teams off guard. Well, Denial has certainly done just that and has solidified themselves as a Top 3 team. If Denial catches fire at the right time, they can easily break into the Top 2 this weekend, although it will be a tall task. If anyone can do it though, it’s this Denial team. One thing is for certain going into this weekend – you do not doubt a team that includes Ryanoob.
2nd Place) Counter Logic Gaming: Ogre 2, Heinz, Royal 2 and Snakebite
This Top 2 is one of the toughest in recent memory to predict. CLG and Evil Geniuses have separated themselves from the pack, and are the clear Top 2 teams in the competitive Halo world. It now just comes down to which team will have just enough to edge out the other when they eventually meet at an event. Evil Geniuses are coming off a win at Gamers 4 Giving, which should give some momentum going into PAX and just won the final HCS Online tournament this past weekend. None of this is to discredit CLG, who have placed in the Top 2 at each of the last 3 LAN events they have attended. With how close EG and CLG are across the board, this Top 2 could really go either way. However, based on recent performance, it seems as though EG is really starting to hit their stride since having to replace Pistola due to a serious hand injury.
With all of this, there is still no reason to count out CLG. All 4 of these players are now seasoned veterans, and the pressure surrounding them going into this championship should be nothing more than any event before it. With Ogre 2 leading the way, CLG could easily take home first place and the $50,000 prize at the end of the weekend, but their road to that first place title will not be easy.
1st Place) Evil Geniuses: Snipedown, Roy, Lunchbox and Lethul
As previously alluded to, EG seem to finally be hitting their stride and have looked fantastic in the past few weeks. The news of Pistola’s injury a few months back looked like it might be the end for EG, but bringing in Lethul has proven to be the correct decision, and the team has put everything together. This showed with the teams win at Gamers 4 Giving just a few weeks ago, where they defeated CLG and just won this past weekends final online tournament for the first HCS season. It is no question of EG or CLG’s skill, but the determining factor of who will finish first and who fill finish second will come down one factor: Clutch.
CLG has shown how clutch they can be at any point during a match, especially the one and only GOAT of Halo himself Ogre 2. Ogre 2 seems to always be the player to pull of a seemingly impossible clutch to win his team the game, and he has been doing it for so long that it now has just come to be expected of him. For Evil Geniuses, it’s a little bit tougher to say who their most clutch performer is. Not because the team does not possess one, but because any of those 4 players have shown their ability to win in the most intense situations. Will the presence of being at an event as large as PAX East play into who can come up clutch for their respective teams? It’s possible, but as it has been said many times before, all 8 of these players have been around for years now and the size of PAX shouldn’t really matter.
With all of this pulled together, you can expect to see some incredible games from Evil Geniuses and CLG. In the end, we believe that Evil Geniuses will have just enough to defeat CLG, and become the HCS Season 1 Champions at the end of Sunday.
You can tune into all the action this weekend over at Twitch.tv/Halo, as there will not be a single match you will want to miss. The tournament begins this Friday from Boston!
Be sure to discuss the event on our forums in the official HCS Season 1 thread, and good luck to all the teams competing!