Oh boy what a year it has been. After Counter Logic Gaming established themselves as the Kings of Halo 5: Guardians with a win at Halo World Championship, they have gone on an impressive run of dominance which included not dropping a bo5 or scrim. This season the godsquad goes under the OpTic Gaming brand, but the core four return coached by former pro Chris “Royal1” Fiorante for the HCS Fall Pro League Season.
Slowly but surely other teams crept up and a giant slayer was born in Team Envyus. Headlined by rising talent Cuyler “Huke” Garland and longtime pros in pistola, Snipedown, and Mikwen, the boys in blue have been able to flip the script by going 2-0 against OpTic Gaming to take the first seed in the Fall Season.
The excitement even boils over into relegation where Cratos and Enigma 6 will be fighting against Rammy and 3Sup after being reverse sweeped at HCS Las Vegas by the AM team causing Cratos to smash his Final Boss Scuf.
The NA tournament is not even limited to 4v4 action as the ASTRO FFA tournament will continue its appearance at HCS events where we have seen pros and AMs take the top crown in the Free For All action.
Andy “Bravo” Dudynsky
Tom “Tsquared the Savage” Taylor
Pro league Record: 13-1
Map Record: 39-15
Roster: Eric “Snipedown” Wrona, Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Justin “Pistola” Deese, Cuyler “Huke” Garland, Marcus “Elumnite” Lovejoy (Coach)
Team Envyus comes into the HCS Pro League with a LAN win under their belt at HCS Las Vegas where they pulled an all-nighter fighting Team Liquid in two bo7 series in the Grand Finals. Besides their recent LAN win, Envy was able to only have one early season loss to Team Liquid (which they avenged later in the season) and defeated OpTic Gaming twice during the season. While that might bode well for Envy’s chances against OpTic, the GreenWall is still undefeated on LAN as they did not attend HCS Las Vegas. The person to watch on Envy’s side this tournament is Snipedown. Arguably the historically best on the team, Snipedown has a long history of LAN performances which used to include his former teammate “Lethul” who is a member of OpTic.
Pro League Record: 11-3
Map Record: 36-19
Roster: Tony “Lethul” Campbell Jr. , Paul “Snakebite” Duarte, Matthew “Royal 2” Fiorante, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, Chris “Royal1” Fiorante (Coach)
While their online performance was not quite so dominant this time around, they won their last attended LAN (HCS Orange County) defeating Envy several times throughout the event. The special thing about this team for me is that not any individual player “carries” the team. All of the players have shown a deep understanding of the Halo 5 meta especially the “Halo 5 kid” himself Frosty. At the Summer finals Frosty went godmode with the sniper on Eden Slayer and throughout the Summer season exposed different parts of the map that would always be a joy to see him use. Of course no one can forget the rest of the cast featuring another bona fide sniper in Royal 2 and a bigtime slayer in Snakebite. Look for OpTic to play on a different level from the other teams especially on a big stage as Fall Finals.
Pro League Record: 7-7
Map Record: 34-28
Roster: Hamza “Commonly” Abaalli Tyler “Spartan” Ganza Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler Zane “Penguin” Hearon, Kory “Symbolic” Arruda (Coach)
Team Liquid had a hot start to the season with a big win over Team Envyus, but eventually bottomed out. After being in regulation last season, Tyler “Spartan the Dog” Ganza decided to rebuild the roster from nearly scratch and they have done pretty well on LAN with a second place finish at HCS Las Vegas. If any team has to worry about Liquid it would be Envy who has generally looked weaker against Liquid with the exception of Las Vegas. Commonly, Penguin, and Spartan are all players who tend to go huge at times, and if they are all firing on the same cylinders can truly be a force to be reckoned with.
Pro League Record: 7-7
Map Record: 25-31
Roster: Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “aPG” Laws, Richard “Heinz” Heinz, Kevin “Eco” Smith, Emanuel “Hoaxer” Lovejoy (Coach)
The Cinderella story of the Fall Pro league. After being dropped by OpTic Gaming the day the Fall season started, former pro Nick “Maniac” Kershner retired, and Team LOL was borne. At first the team looked to be doomed to face an 0-14 record, but Aaron “Ace” Elam was able to rally the troops and recreated the Halo World Championships Team Liquid roster to qualify for the fall finals on the last day of the season.
Towards the end of the season, the team made an announcement that they would retire their temporary Team LOL name in favor of being the debut “Str8 Rippin” Halo 5: Guardians roster. Str8 Rippin was a legendary MLG Halo 3/Reach squad headlined by players such as Tsquared, ElamiteWarrior, and Snipedown. Current Halo caster Tom “Tsquared” Taylor decided to resurrect the old name and logo to add the cherry on the top of Str8 Rippin’s fairy tale journey. Whether they are able to make a deep run at the tourney remains at large, but down the stretch the team was playing some of the best Halo 5 of anyone.
1st OpTic Gaming
2nd Team Envyus
3rd Str8 Rippin
4th Team Liquid
While the storylines run deep, at the end of the day four teams sit down to play Halo and the best team wins. Team Envyus may have won the summer season, but it is not their time to beat OpTic Gaming on LAN especially if they are coming from the losers bracket. Str8 Rippin and Team Liquid are both solid rosters, but there is only four spots. Hopefully all of the rosters stick together because these teams have been super exciting to watch throughout the season.
Enigma 6 Group
Pro League Record: 4-10
Map Record: 23-36
Roster: Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi, Ayden “Suspector” Hill, Jesse “Bubu Dubu” Moeller, Nicholas “Showtime” Laskaras (Coach)
Well…. StelluR sent Cratos to Relegation where he belongs! That’s the joke at least. The season started off rocky for Enigma 6 after some personal/business issues with hiring young talent Brandon “StelluR’ Boettcher causing bad blood between StelluR and the Enigma 6 roster leading to StelluR leaving the team for Evil Geniuses. While EG would not make Fall Finals for a second season in the row, they would have the satisfaction of sending Enigma Six to the seventh seed where E6 will fight to remain a pro team. As the seventh seed E6 was able to pick who they wanted to play first of the two AM teams. Surprisingly they chose 3Sup after being reverse swept by them at HCS Las Vegas on LAN. While I would love to see the “most powerful org in the world” out of the pro league, they still have three good pro players… and a god.
Pro League Record: 3-11
Map Record: 21-38
Roster: Cody “ContrA” Szczodrowski, Devon “PreDovoNatoR” Layton, Michael “Falcated” Garcia, Cory “Str8 Sick” Sloss, Phillip Jones (Coach)
Team Allegiance a.k.a the Heartbreak team after losing multiple b05s online by slayer scores that were insanely tight. While they are the eighth seed in the pro league, they are easily one of the most dangerous LAN teams in existence and I see no issue for ContrA and company qualifying for the next season.
Roster: “Rammy” “Prototype” “Renegade” “MoNsTcR”
Led by the young god of the Pacific Rammy who came out of nowhere last season and veteran Prototype, 3Sup has the best case for becoming a pro team. Boasting a strong performance at both HCS Orange County and HCS Las Vegas, 3Sup definitely has the talent to beat Enigma Six and The Money Matches Team on LAN to qualify for a pro league spot. Look for Renegade to go big on LAN after being dropped by Str8 Rippin in favor of “Eco” because he played insanely wel for an AM on the pro level.
The Money Matches Team
Roster: “TriPPPeY” “Saiyan” Tyler “TireIron” Mara “BoamX”
One of my favorite AM players to watch in the Team Beyond Doubles is “TriPPPey” who is leading The Money Matches Team at Relegation. TMMT is not as notable as 3Sup mainly due to undergoing some roster changes late (BoamX made his name on Most Wanted), but the team is definitely stacked in terms of AM competition. While I do not see TMMT qualfying for pro league, it will be exciting to see them play on LAN and get some practice against better teams.
From the big dogs fighting in the championship bracket to the smaller ones fighting for their spot in the league, there is so much to be said for this event. To get some more perspective I talked with ESL Halo Product Manager Timo Karamustafa about Fall Finals.
1) What is the most exciting aspect of hosting the HCS NA Fall finals at Burbank?
First and foremost: we’re finding out who our Fall champions will be. Personally, I want to see everybody give OpTic a run for their money and see if EnVy can carry their strong online performance to LAN. And we’ll have the Relegation tournament to see which teams are going to be joining us for the next season of Pro League.
But beyond that, there is so much more that I am excited for, prime amongst all things is that we will be talking about Halo esports 2017 throughout the weekend, we have an audience FFA tournament again, we may have the best casting line-up for any of our events yet, and everyone can win something – there will be a huge raffle where people can win Xbox’s, a Team Liquid Maxnomic chair, controllers, Astros, jerseys and more. Stay tuned to @ESLHalo for the details.
2) What do you expect out of the event in terms of spectator engagement?
We hope that everyone watching, in the studio in Burbank or from home all around the world, is going to have a great time. From a viewership perspective, I hope that we will maintain the growth that we have seen from Summer to Fall Season also for the finals. I think we have a kick-ass show lined up and given how competitive this season has been, I don’t think there was ever a better time to tune into an HCS Pro League broadcast.
For everyone coming on-site, we’ll have the FFA tournament, give-aways, and of course all the action right there in the studio with the opportunity to meet the Pro League players and snap a pic or get an autograph.
The team here is hyped for the event and we hope everyone will share in the fun on December 10/11 starting at 10.00AM Pacific Time on twitch.tv/halo
3) What kind of plans will be announced at the Fall Finals and will the Pro league come back for a Winter Season?
Let’s just say that everyone who stays tuned to the show throughout the weekend will learn more about all of what is happening with Halo esports in the year of 2017.
And that is a wrap! I hope you enjoy the show and if you will be watching please leave a comment below stating who you are supporting and stay tuned to RealSport for indepth analysis after the action.