Not too much has happened since the Halo Infinite multiplayer beta released on Nov. 15 in terms of the competitive scene. Still, we’ve got 20 years of history and three weeks of qualifiers to get a somewhat fun, but somewhat serious power ranking ready before the Raleigh Kickoff Major next week.
If you’re new to the Halo esports scene, you might be wondering why every ranked team is exclusively from the North American region. While EU has become increasingly competitive since the start of the Halo Championship Series, they and their international counterparts are still a tier below the North Americans.
The best an international team has ever placed on LAN is sixth, and that was in 2017. Halo esports in NA has been rejuvenated with the release of Halo Infinite, and foreign players now have more competition to face than ever before. If international teams hope to make the rankings, they’ll need to prove themselves against the very best on LAN in Raleigh.
NA qualifier head-to-head tournament results
1st - OpTic Gaming
While OpTic Gaming looked like clear cut favorites going into Raleigh following their back to back wins in the first two open series, that status has become less certain this week a hard fought grand finals reset to Sentinels.
The only team they have a losing record against in head-to-head tournament matchups is Sentinels, and that series was nearly a sweep 3-0 in OpTic's favor before the momentum changed and they went on to lose six of the next seven games. They've been in the Grand Finals of every Halo Infinite tournament so far, and they arguably have the best player of all time and the current-best player in the game -- Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese and Tommy "Lucid" Wilson, respectively.
With those two, there's no reason to believe they won't be right back in the Grand Finals on Championship Sunday at Raleigh.
2nd - Sentinels
After placing ninth in the second open series, there were questions if Sentinels had lost a step after so many years of dominance.
Those questions have been answered when Sentinels bounced back with a hard-fought bracket reset grand final versus OpTic Gaming in the final Kickoff qualifier.
Their inability to get scrims early on in Halo Infinite's lifespan perhaps affected their performance in the first two qualifiers, but it looks like they've since shaken off all the rust and are playing like the team we all expected they could be.
Even with all the struggles they've faced early on in this HCS season, there isn't a team they hold a losing record against in head-to-head matchups. This four-man roster has reached 24 LAN grand finals in 26 attempts, so you would be crazy to bet against that trend, even this early on in a brand new Halo game.
3rd - Cloud9
Prior to the final Kickoff Qualifier, many had Cloud9 as the second ranked team overall. They had just lost back to back grand finals against OpTic Gaming in a razor thin fashion, but with Sentinels resurgence and C9's loss this week to a so far unproven Inconceivable roster, they had to be moved down one spot.
This roster has three Halo world champions and features some of Halo 5's best talent. They've been at the top before and know what it takes to win it all, so there's no reason why they can't claim Halo Infinite's first LAN title.
4th - eUnited
The focal point of some early season drama, eUnited have shown flashes of brilliance so far. They battled OpTic Gaming to a fifth game, they beat Inconceivable, and they currently have two series wins against Sentinels.
A series loss to the Kansas City Pioneers and an even record vs Spacestation Gaming have shown that they can be inconsistent at times, but they are without doubt a top-tier roster early on in this HCS season. Ryan “RyaNoob” Geddes has always performed well against Sentinels, and that trend has revealed itself yet again. Be on upset alert if eUnited ends up facing Sentinels late in the Championship Bracket.
5th - Inconceivable
Eric “Snip3down” Wrona is back! After a successful career on Apex Legends, he's returned to prove he's still one of the best Halo players around. Despite having two disappointing showings in the first open series qualifiers, Inconceivable put the scene on notice with a Game 5 win vs. Cloud9 and a Game 5 loss vs. Sentinels.
Inconceivable have found their form and they are ready to compete with the best Halo teams in North America. A major storyline for this team going into Raleigh is the fact that it's Adam "Bound" Gray’s first LAN. The entire community is curious to see how he performs, and if he's capable of transferring his talent from the bedroom to the main stage. A top-four placement or better would be a great start to his young Halo LAN career, and would definitely gain him a lot of traction with the Inconceivable fanbase.
6th - Kansas City Pioneers
The Kansas City Pioneers looked like a potential top-four Halo team in the world after the first couple of competitions but their stock dropped slightly with a seventh-place finish in the final Kickoff Qualifier. They've been competitive against the top-tiered North American Halo teams, but a loss last week to G2 is a black mark on their record.
This team has stuck together for a long time, worked its way up, and is a true testament to what an amateur team can accomplish if they don't split up after one bad tournament. This team is expected to place top eight at the very least, but I wouldn't be shocked if they somehow snuck into the top six or even top four.
7th - Spacestation Gaming
Matthew “FormaL” Piper was the first player to win both a Halo and a Call of Duty tournament, and he's set to compete again at Raleigh. He's teamed up with Aaron “Ace” Elam, who has the second-most LAN appearances in Halo history at 70, and those two should have more than enough experience and firepower to guide this team through the bracket.
Alec “Tylenul” Mumper has also established himself as a player to watch out for with some flashy plays on broadcast, and he could make a name for himself at what is sure to be one of the most highly viewed Halo tournaments of all time.
8th - G2 Esports
Fan favourite Chris Gilkey and FFA god Cory “Str8 SicK” Sloss are sitting pretty with a spot on G2 Esports, but they are in danger of being passed up by more non-partnered teams if they don't start taking games versus the top ones. They've traded series with G1, but a win against KCP puts them a notch ahead on the rankings.
9th - Gamers First (G1)
G1 made some noise when they (somewhat amusingly) beat G2 Esports 2-0 in the losers’ bracket and sent them home in the second open series qualifier. With them, it's worth noting that Matt “Gun Shot” is back, he was a fringe top eight player during Halo 3, and his last LAN was 2012. This team has enough experience to make some noise, and a top eight placing would put them in the mix going into Halo esports in 2022
Oxygen have been taking games from the lower-end of the top nine teams, so don't be surprised if they string a few maps together and sneak into the top eight at Raleigh.
Carlos "Cratos" Ayalaand Ayden “Suspector” Hill should never be underestimated, they just signed with a big time organization and are ready to show they deserved it.
Cartel is EU's best team, and people are excited to see what they can do versus North American competition. EU hasn’t done well historically against NA, but with Halo esports expanding beyond anything ever before, they might spring some surprises.