In a game like Halo where past success doesn't always guarantee future success, and this being the first LAN in nearly two years, on a brand new title, there was a lot at stake for the competitors who participated this past weekend. With that said, let's take a look at who the event's biggest winners and biggest losers were:
Biggest Winners from Raleigh
Formerly known as Cartel, this was a team I covered in my “most to prove” article, and they did just that. In pools Lqgend, Shaady, Sica, and Snipedrone beat XSET and even took a game from the eventual tournament winners, Cloud9.
A brilliant OT win from Acend vs G2 Esports in Game 1 set the tone for the rest of the series, Shady was able to pull the flag and run it to his own base without being shot.
Following that overtime victory, they would go on to defeat G2 Esports 3-0, and even take a game from Sentinels before being eliminated from the tournament in 9th-12th place.
The Acend roster returns to Europe with the confidence knowing that they can hang with these top North American teams, and they aren’t a free win anymore. They’ve got nearly 5 months to sharpen up their game and beat up on their European peers before they’ll have another chance at an even better performance in Kansas City.
He did it, he won his first event. This was his sixth attempt and had he failed, he would have tied Naded for most all-time Grand Finals appearances without a win, a record no true competitor wants to be associated win.
Penguin wasn’t just along for the ride, he earned it, with impressive slaying prowess late in the tournament. Penguin had the least amount of deaths on his team in both the Winners Bracket Finals and the Grand Finals and he led his team in K/D across both series. Now he’s on the best team in Halo esports and the next LAN is a month away, this could be the beginning of a nice winning streak for Penguin.
Who had eUnited in the Grand Finals? Be honest, not many of you did. But this weekend eUnited proved themselves as a top team and will most certainly be in those discussions moving forward.
Spartan had an incredible tournament, his play was crucial in eliminating FaZe Clan in the Loser Bracket Finals, he lead his team in kills three out of the five games that series, and he even had the most kills in a pivotal Game 5 slayer. Rayne and King Nick also had stand-out performances during the series, and with a selfless teammate like RyaNoob in the mix, this team has the potential to make some serious noise a year from now at the Halo World Championships.
You know you’re a special talent when you’re the primary sniper on a team with Snip3down. Bound had perhaps one of the most anticipated debuts ever at HCS Raleigh, on quite literally the biggest stage ever with over 250k concurrent viewers, and he didn’t miss a step.
Bound was one of Halo 5’s best players late in its lifecycle and he’s transitioned into becoming one of Halo Infinite’s best players. He not only had his fair of flashy montage-worthy plays at this event but he put up the numbers that made a difference for his team, Bound nearly went +10 in a Game 5 Slayer that ended KCP’s tournament life.
FaZe would then go on defeat Sentinels in a stunning 3-1 series, before eventually losing to a Game 5 Slayer to eUnited in the loser bracket finals, in which he had 18 kills. Now with invaluable LAN experience under his belt, and teammates like Snip3down, Bubu Dubu, and Falcated, he has all the potential in the world to leave a lasting legacy on Halo esports.
Biggest Losers from Raleigh
Everyone expected OpTic Gaming to at least reach the Grand Finals at Raleigh, they had either placed 1st or 2nd in every Halo Infinite tournament they participated in. Instead, they were eliminated in 5th-6th place by a Sentinels roster with Formal in place of the suspended Royal 2, a team they had previously 3-0’d just the day before.
OpTic doesn’t need a roster change, they don’t need to change their approach, they’re already good enough. They just need to show up on tournament day and play to their potential, and with Anaheim roughly a month away they won’t have to wait long to get another chance.
Another LAN, another missed Grand Finals, which used to be a given for this team. Yeah, they didn’t have Royal 2, but that’s beside the point, the LAN is happening whether or not your team is prepared for it.
The last time they reached a Grand Finals was 3 LAN tournaments ago, at DreamHack Atlanta in November 2019. The last time they reached back to back Grand Finals, you have to go back to June of 2019, nearly two and half years ago. Top teams aren’t giving them scrims anymore, and the community is now wondering if they’re still a top 2 roster. Sentinels may have eliminated OpTic gaming but at the end of the day, they placed 4th, the team’s lowest placing in nearly six years of competition.
Oxygen Esports and XSET
Both organizations were North American pool play teams, and both were eliminated by open bracket teams before failing to finish Top 16.
Given their proven North American rosters and the expectations of signing with organizations with such giant financial backings, both teams came out as losers this weekend. They will both undoubtedly have another shot at redemption at HCS Anaheim, but now the pressure is really on, another failed attempt to place Top 16 could prove catastrophic for these teams and their Halo World Championship aspirations.
Not a single player on mouse and keyboard placed in the Top 64. Halo esports has been controller dominant for nearly two decades, and the pro scene is established with years and years of continuity, a MKB player appearing out of nowhere and reaching the Championship bracket was always a pipe dream this early on in Halo Infinite's lifespan, but it still doesn’t inspire confidence, especially given the sub-par conditions MKB players have to endure playing on Xboxes in the open bracket.