RALEIGH - 28 hours, 12,053 kilometers – and that’s the distance before the connecting flight. If you lived in the 19th century, your travel time would be a whopping four months, at sea to boot.
That’s the distance from the Sydney airport to LAX, and the average time to fly from Australia to Raleigh, North Carolina. That’s the situation ANZ Halo players like Aleks "Barcode" Krsmanovic deal with every single event they qualify for.
Chiefs did not make Championship Sunday: their run is over. They’ll hop on another 28-hour flight to get home, soon.
“It’s kind of annoying, like very annoying, actually,” Barcode said about the absurd flight schedule. “Get here on Wednesday, have one day to do media and stuff, and then the next day we play.”
Halo is an esport dominated by North American teams. It’s not a shock that a team outside the traditional powers flops, but ANZ, in particular, has it rough. Travel and jet lag isn’t the only systemic hurdle they have to overcome – the lack of quality practice is another.
Barcode says that they’ve been thinking about the game the wrong way the entire time, and coming here has been eye-opening. “We started playing, and just everything that we had in our heads that worked against Australian teams … out the window. Yeah, completely out the window.”
A lack of practice is compounded by a compensation issue. Chiefs are one of the few teams in ANZ to pay their teams a full-time salary – real-life and full-time jobs come first for most players from Australia, whereas in America multiple teams are paying decent wages for the work the players put in.
All the same, Barcode says that Chiefs learned a lot from this event. Smaller regions grow with every instance of live-fire reps they get against the larger regions, and the knowledge gained is something Barcode intends to share. “You’re only as good as your practice … I've always wanted to stream my scrims, like even have comms. I don't care if other teams know our strats or whatever. It only makes us better.”
While some of his teammates don’t feel the same way, taking what Chiefs learned from this event and spreading the knowledge might be one of the few ways ANZ Halo will improve over time.
Chiefs’ run at Raleigh is over – they’re out. But, how they choose to learn and grow from the experience could make a difference at the next event. There’s a choice here – take what you’ve gleaned from the dominant teams, teach others, and improve as a collective, or hoard the knowledge like a dragon hoards its gold. The former path could grow the region, but it could mean Chiefs' status as a top-tier team becomes jeopardized over time. The latter ensures they stay on top in ANZ, but will have a significantly weaker chance at improving internationally without good regional practice.