Sentinels beat OpTic to win Esports Arena’s $25,000 Invitational in bracket reset grand final

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A total of 16 teams -- including one from Mexico and one from Britain -- fought in a double-elimination tournament this weekend for a $25,000 prize pool. After a hard fought battle from some of the favourites, Sentinels took the win in yet another bracket reset grand final.

Here’s a look at how the tournament went down for those at the top, as well as the underdogs.

Upper Bracket

The upper bracket saw a number of upsets, most of which included the increasingly impressive Kansas City Pioneers roster. This lineup continued on from where they left off after their fourth and third place Open Cup finishes by taking down Oxygen Esports and then eUnited -- the latter in a 2-0 scoreline.

In another mild surprise, after a strong first few weeks of Infinite, Cloud9 looked closer to the team we saw during the NA Qualifier, as they were taken down by Inconceivable, 2-1.

Finally, while Spacestation Gaming managed to take a map off of OpTic Gaming, the final two quarter-finals saw the tournament’s two favourites, OG and Sentinels, press onwards to the semi-finals. Here, they beat their respective opponents in straight 2-0s, as they were eager to meet again in the winner’s finals.

While Sentinels initially managed to keep up with OG, map four saw OpTic come from behind to eclipse Royal2’s 18-8 K-D to win the series 3-1 and reach the grand-final.

Lower Bracket

While those teams were meeting up top, teams were fighting for survival in the losers’ bracket.

By round three, virtually all of the underdogs were out, with Cloud9 winning the hardest lower-bracket game so far in a 2-0 over XSET. They followed this 2-0 with the same scoreline against G2 Esports, before losing 2-1 to KCP, with the latter game featuring an incredibly clutch map two.

Meanwhile, eUnited came off their own defeat to KCP to beat SSG 2-0, but then lost to Inconceivable to set up a Pioneers vs Inconceivable rematch from the NA Qualifier semi-finals. After winning 2-0 the first time around, a 22-11 kill-death count from Bound helped Inconceivable lock in a win once more, but in a closer 2-1 scoreline.

Inconceivable vs Sentinels was thus the lower-bracket final. While the game started with some flashy plays, Frosty was unfazed and stood up for the Sentinels in the later maps to take this game in a 3-1.

Grand Final

And so we had the OpTic vs Sentinels rematch from both the upper-final earlier in this very tournament, and from the NA Qualifier grand final last week.

At this point, this was Sentinels third best-of-three in a row, with a fourth possibly needed should a bracket-reset occur. It was also nearing 3 AM ET at this point, yet no matter the map or game mode, Sentinels were on top.

A straight 3-0 reset the game and meant Sentinels overtook OpTic in their head-to-head map records, with SEN having won 10 out of the 18 played by this point.

During map one of the reset, Frosty was simply unstoppable, as his fragging allowed Lxthul to get the map’s lone flag capture.

On map two, Sentinels were just one kill behind virtually the entire game. But Luciid, with active camouflage and the Sidekick, widened the gap, as he spent most of the map with more than twice the kills of his closest teammate. Eventually, SEN shut him down, leading them to tie things at 45-45, before OG ended the game with a nail biting 50-48 scoreline.

After a long A and C hold from OpTic, Sentinels then triple-captured the Strongholds on Recharge. After losing it momentarily, Frosty with an Energy Sword helped them regain all the sites, winning the map 250-101.

Returning to Oddball, Sentinels closed out yet another objective game 100-48 and 100-79 to take the map and series in a combined 6-1 -- a true statement from the Halo 5 dynasty. As such, they are now unquestionably the favourites heading into the Raleigh Major.

International invitations

While this tournament had no impact on the wider HCS circuit, this was an important tournament for NAVI and the Knights, as it marked their debuts against their North American counterparts.

Both teams hoped to represent their region well, as Halo has been dominated by NA for the entirety of the past 20 years.

With this in mind, the Pittsburgh Knights came into this tournament having not lost a single map domestically across both Open Cups and the Raleigh Qualifier.

At this event, while they fell to both G2 and eUnited, they knocked out Oxygen Esports -- the eighth-seeded NA team going into Raleigh -- in a 2-1 series. That is a result they will likely be happy about, considering joint-seventh is the highest a non-NA team has ever finished in a major tournament.

As for NAVI, this roster has been struggling in Europe, having finished their three tournaments in third, fourth, and third place.

In this event, while they lost their two big-name matchups versus G2 and eUnited by 0-2 scorelines, they beat Vandyl 2-1. Vandyl had finished their three prior tournaments in joint-25th followed by two joint-17th place finishes.

The European region will therefore likely pin its hopes on Cartel, the French roster that won all three regional tournaments ahead of NAVI, with the team set to announce a new organization by Friday.