Previous rank: #1
Pool A - Sentinels, Oxygen Esports, Esports Arena
Roster: Renegade, Stellur, Eco, Penguin
Cloud9 is poised to join elite company this weekend and become one of only 19 teams that have ever won multiple events. They've won every Pro Series since Raleigh and have faced relatively little opposition, never being pushed down to the losers bracket, and putting up an impressive 48-7 map count in the process.
When you look at the cumulative Pro Series stats the entire team ranks in the Top 25 for KDA. Stellur, one of the game's least talked about players, has the fourth-best KDA in Halo esports at 6.31 and his 1.27 K/D ranks at number five. With the gametypes and maps unchanged since Raleigh, it's hard to see how Cloud9 doesn't walk away with another LAN win under their belts. It's very possible that they get challenged by FaZe or a newly reformed Sentinels roster, but given Sentinel's lack of practice and their own tempered expectations going into the event that seems unlikely.
Previous rank: #3
Pool B - Fnatic, Gamers First, Spacestation Gaming
Roster: Falcated, Bound, Snipedown, Bubu Dubu
While FaZe Clan has only seen the Grand Finals once in Halo Infninte's life span, it's hard not to rank them at number two. Faze has been consistent, whereas Sentinels and OpTic gaming have placed anywhere from second to outside the top 8 entirely. Snipedown and Bound have been this teams two top performers, both putting up over 17 kills per game and averaging positive kill death ratios, FaZe has all the slaying power it needs to land themselves in a Grand Finals at Anaheim.
Previous rank: #5
Pool A - Cloud9, Oxygen Esports, Esports Arena
Roster: Lethul, Frosty, SnakeBite, Royal2
The gang is back, and this will be the first time since November 2018 that Lethul, Frosty, SnakeBite, and Royal 2 will all play together again on LAN. This four-man roster has been in the Grand Finals of every tournament they attended, reaching 18 straight in the Halo 5 era and establishing themselves as one of the best Halo teams of all time. Sentinels played well in Royal 2's absence, at Raleigh they did well given the circumstances and even though they finished in seventh place in the third Pro Series tournament, they responded with a second-place finish the following week. Formal did a great job filling in, but he's not the 5th best halo player of all time, and when Royal 2 returns you have to think Sentinels will be an improved squad.
Previous rank: #2
Pool C - Complexity, G2 Esports, UYU
Roster: Trippy, Pistola, Lucid, aPG
It's hard to say which OpTic Gaming will show up this weekend. A team comprised of some of the most veteran names in Halo, they've been uncharacteristically streaky. OpTic Gaming has won back-to-back online tournaments, but they've also placed ninth in the first Pro Series, forcing them to requalify for the following week. They've played much better as of late beating teams like FaZe and eUnited in Pro Series play, but they also most recently dropped a series in the losers bracket versus an incomplete Sentinels team. If OpTic is playing at their best they have a great shot to win the tournament and they'll hope to do just that and flip the narrative surrounding their team.
Previous rank: #4
Pool D - Pioneers, Torrent, XSET
Roster: Spartan, RyaNoob, King Nick, Rayne
eUnited were the runner-ups at the HCS Major Kickoff LAN this past December, but they've also struggled online since then, despite their rigorous practice schedule. However, to be fair, they weren't performing exceptionally well online either before their second-place run at Raleigh. Still, finishing in the middle of the pack multiple times in a row isn't a trend you want to be associated with, especially when your roster was only two series away from winning a LAN. They've done a good job challenging FaZe and they've also been one of the few teams to consistently win games versus Cloud9, forcing them to multiple series-deciding game threes. RyaNoob was rumored to potentially miss the event due to a positive Covid test but the team caught a major break and he will be in attendance at Anaheim.
Previous rank: #6
Pool D - eUnited, Torrent, XSET
Roster: Druk, Taulek, Manny, Soul Snipe
One of the hardest teams to gauge in Halo esports, due to their inconstancy, the Pioneers are looking to flip the script and break into the Top 4 on LAN. They've managed to do so multiple times online, and they were one game away from doing it on LAN as well, they've proven they have what it takes. They've also shown they can be beaten, getting bounced out of the final Pro-Series tournament in ninth place versus an upstart XSET. It will be interesting to see how they perform and if they can secure a good placement before their "hometown" LAN in Kansas City later this spring.
7. Spacestation Gaming
Previous rank: #7
Pool B - FaZe Clan, Fnatic, Gamers First
Roster: Ace, Tylenul, Ziyon, Flazin
77777. Sevens are great if you're playing the slots, but for a Spacestation Gaming lead by Ace, the second most experienced player in Halo History, seventh place just isn't good enough. On the bright side, they finished in the top 8 at Raleigh despite having a last-second replacement, now they have a set roster with over a month of preparation leading into the event.
8. G2 Esports
Previous rank: #8
Pool C - Complexity, OpTic Gaming, UYU
Roster: Gilkey, Sabinater, Str8 Sick, Tusk
It's hard to tell where G2 Esports ceiling is, are they a Top 8 team? Top 6? Top 12? They've placed everywhere in-between since Raleigh. Str8 Sick has quietly been one of the best slayers in the game, putting up an impressive 3.79 KDA which ranks 11th best in the esport, and fan-favorite Gilkey's point of view will be one to watch regardless of how his team performs. XSET's stock is rising fast and G2 Esports is gonna need a solid showing at Anaheim if they hope to remain in the Halo World Championship picture going forward.