The kings of Halo 5, Sentinels, ended Saturday a perfect 4-0, with a 12-3 map count to boot.
It’s not the best record in the tournament – in the same way that they aren’t the best team in Halo Infinite yet – but it’s square within striking distance, right where the expectations for a team with the experiences they’ve had are at. Both OpTic and Cloud9, the teams Sentinels have been chasing, are perfect in map count thus far.
For the first few months of the game, Sentinels were getting no tier-one scrimmage opportunities. They came into the Kickoff Raleigh Major mostly raw. According to Bradley "Frosty" Bergstrom, it was a setback that had reverberations all the way to Anaheim.
“It's definitely like a month-to-month thing, right?,” Frosty said. “So I'd say now, we definitely feel very comfortable. But yeah, given what we were dealing with, coming into Raleigh, and even Anaheim a little bit, it definitely hurt us in the long run.”
Sentinels is a team partially built around mechanical skill. They have the brains, but the foundation of mechanical skill is what sets this roster apart. No one can doubt their players’ mechanics – all four players are members of the official HCS top 25 players of all time list. They have the pedigree and talent necessary to win in the modern age of Halo, which is slowly evolving and taking the form of, larger esports with official partnerships for teams.
Halo 5 was perfect for the Sentinels roster for many reasons, but chief among them was mechanics. Halo Infinite, Frosty explains, doesn’t have as bad of a skill gap problem as he sometimes says on his streams, but it is definitely lesser than Halo 5.
As Sentinels have become more comfortable, they’ve begun to express that skill more often. Against the Kansas City Pioneers and a crowd ravenous for the hometown team to take home a prized scalp, Frosty executed one of the most brilliant plays of the weekend – sneaking by Pioneers players to back-smack a ball carrier. The crowd went silent.
Despite several barriers in their way, Sentinels appear to be slowly regaining their former dominant form. The foundation, the mechanics, never left. Now as they gain a better grasp of their mechanics, they could see a return to form. “We're definitely a team that as time goes on, we're again we're gonna only get better just because we know what's going on and we're more comfortable with everything going on,” Frosty said.
With a pedigree like Sentinels have, their results in Infinite thus far can be construed as disappointing to a degree. They are the best Halo 5 team of all time, multi-time World Champions, the winningest roster of all time, for three straight years they never missed a grand finals opportunity at a tournament of consequence. For them to be on the outside looking in is a bit unthinkable just seven months ago.
At least in terms of the fans, most see a stellar OpTic squad and Cloud9 as the clear favorites, eUnited as a dark horse. Sentinels are right there in the dark horse category, with a roster that seems destined to make their way back into the favorites category. So, what will it take for the kings of the late 2010s to make their mark in the 2020s?
“We just got to put it all together,” Frosty said. “We've been looking good obviously. We just need to play our game and be confident. That's it.”
Sentinels will begin their title run tomorrow on the main stage. If they win the KC Major, it’ll be this roster’s 11th title.