HCS Raleigh Kick-Off Major: Everything you need to know

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Just over a month after Halo Infinite’s multiplayer went live, the esport’s first Major event will take place over this weekend as we determine who’s Infinite’s best team.

For a full rundown on the teams, schedule, format and more, check out below:

The Format

The tournament is split up into three stages -- the open qualifier, the pool play, and the champions bracket.

Open Bracket

Firstly, the open qualifier is open to everyone who bought a team pass. All of these teams will meet in person in Raleigh to play a double-elimination tournament on the Xbox. The top eight teams qualify for the first round of the champions bracket upper-bracket. The ninth to 16th-placed teams qualify for the first round of the champions bracket lower-bracket.

Pool Play

At the same time runs the pool play portion of the event. Here, the world’s top-16 teams compete across four groups. The top-two teams in each group qualify for the second round of the champions bracket, while the bottom two are placed in the first round.

This means that all 16 teams will progress forward, with the pool play games just for seeding. Both this stage and the champions bracket are played on PC.

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Champions Bracket

Finally, we have the champions bracket. Here, the 32 teams mentioned will compete in a double-elimination, best-of-five map tournament, with a bracket-reset grand-final. The winner here takes home the Raleigh title.

The Teams

With hundreds of teams set to compete this weekend, here are a rundown on the biggest names:

Pool Play

  • OpTic Gaming -- aPG, Lucid, TriPPPeY, iGotUrPistola, and Lunchbox (coach)
  • Faze Clan -- Snip3down, Bound, Falcated, and bubu dubu
  • eUnited -- Spartan, RyaNoob, KingNick, Rayne, and Chig (coach)
  • Cloud9 -- StelluR, Penguin, Eco, and Renegade
  • G2 Esports -- Sabinater, Gilk3y, Str8 SicK, Artic, and Calloussss (coach)
  • Kansas City Pioneers -- Manny, Druk, SoulSnipe, and Taulek
  • Acend -- Snipedrone, Lqgend, Shaady, and Sica
  • Quadrant -- SLG, Fragxr, NURIX, and TchiK
  • Oxygen Esports -- Common, Swish, Name, and Haines
  • XSET -- Cratos, FilthyG, Porky J, Suspector, and Brizzy (coach)
  • Natus Vincere -- Kimbo, Jimbo, Respectful, and tuf0xy
  • Bling Chilling -- Riotz, Ramirez, Phlux, Clonely, and Teyobb (coach)
  • Chiefs Esports Club -- Barcode, Praties, Pipz, Madsyy, and FlexRainZ (coach)
  • Spacestation Gaming -- Tylenul, Ace, Tusk, Deciting, and Elamite (coach)
  • Divine Mind -- DZIIRK, FlexRainZ, Rated, and Slayz
  • The Boys -- Morguhhh, Sandell, robs1n, and Snipaul

With Sentinels being forced to make a last-second change, OpTic Gaming have become the clear favourites to claim the Raleigh title after being the top team across all three HCS Infinite tournaments.

Hot on their heels are FaZe Clan who are yet to reach a grand-final, but had an impressive Qualifier run. Cloud9, meanwhile, took OG to the edge in the first two open cups, but have seemingly dropped off over the last two weeks. Raleigh’s LAN environment may, however, be their saviour.

Further down the list, KCP and eUnited have both surprised many and are definitely teams to watch out for.

Finally, while three Mexican teams were invited to the pool play, none will be able to attend and have been replaced by the next best teams from NA, EU, and ANZ -- SSG, The Boys, and Divine Mind.

For international fans, it will be Acend and Chiefs as the teams to watch, with the two undefeated domestically and debuting internationally in Infinite.

Open Qualifier

While Sentinels qualified for the Major as the top seeds, the subsequent HCS investigation and ban of Mathew "Royal2" Fiorante stripped them of their HCS Points and position in the pool play. Instead, they have picked up the SSG-bound player Matthew "FormaL" Piper, and will be a lower-seeded open qualifier roster. XSET have replaced them in the pool play.

SSG, XSET, and Divine Mind were all set to join Sentinels in the open bracket, but have now been given passes to the pool play, making the run easier for Sentinels and giving lower-tier rosters a chance to qualify for the main Champions Bracket.

The Schedule

With so many things going on, keeping track of the day’s schedule can be difficult, so here’s a simplified rundown on each day (times in EST / UTC -5):

Friday

  • 9 AM -- doors open for players/VIPs
  • 10 AM -- doors open for general admission
  • 11 AM - 11 PM -- open bracket
  • 12pm - 7:15 PM -- pool play

Only the pool play will be broadcast, not the open bracket.

Saturday

  • 8:30 AM -- doors open for players/VIPs
  • 9 AM -- doors open for general admission
  • 10 AM - 1 PM -- open bracket
  • 1 PM - 8:30 PM -- champions bracket
  • 6 PM - 10 PM -- FFA (registration from 3-5 PM)
  • 8:30 PM -9:45 PM -- showmatch

The champions bracket and showmatch will be steamed, not the open or FFA tournaments.

Sunday

  • 8:30 AM -- doors open for players/VIPs
  • 9 AM -- doors open for general admission
  • 10 AM - 8 PM -- champions bracket (grand-final from 5:15 PM)
  • 10:30 AM - 5:15 PM -- FFA (grand-final from 4:15 PM)

The whole champions bracket as well as the FFA grand-final will be streamed.

The Event & Broadcast

The games themselves will be cast by the names seen below, which include the ex-pro Dave "Walshy" Walsh, the CDL host Lottie "Praagy" Van-Praag, and Alex "Goldenboy" Mendez. Walshy and Goldenboy will also be participating in a showmatch over the weekend.

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If you are attending the event, you must be either fully vaccinated or have received a negative PCR test within the last 72 hours. More details on this can be found in the HCS Raleigh FAQs.

Attendees also have a number of extra things to take part in, such as the $10,000 Free For All tournament, which everyone can sign up for from 3 PM on Saturday.

VIP ticket holders will have a chance at playing alongside streamers and pros during Saturday’s Big Battle Bonanza rematch, as two VIP ticket holders will be drawn at random to participate. All VIPs will also be able to take part in the exclusive production tour, starting at 9:30 AM on Friday.

Finally, while not yet announced, it is likely that Twitch Drops will be available for viewers. Stay tuned for more details on this and all other announcements as we near the event’s start.