Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Revival of Competitive Halo

It’s practically been a year and a half since I wrote my nostalgic article, “The E-sports Scene: Now and Then” that featured my history with the MLG Halo scene and the LoL scene at the time.  On Tuesday was the release of The Master Chief Collection, the masterful release of the four original canon Halo games; Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4. The Master Chief Collection comes equipped with all of the multiplayer maps of each game with the ability to change game-specific maps to another game’s maps on the fly. 

On November 5th, 343 Industries announced the Halo Championship Series, or HCS, which is the premier Halo eSports League. The HCS will be hosted by ESL and other tournament organizers to run a circuit much like Starcraft’s WCS and League of Legends’ LCS. The circuit will run from November until March 2015 and will showcase only Halo 2: Anniversary. The HCS has already kicked up tremendous hype over the past weekend with their preseason Master Chief Collection tournament. The tournament featured legendary teams such as Halo 2’s Str8 Rippin, Halo 3’s Believe the Hype and the legendary players themselves, Heinz, Ogre2, Flamesword, Pistola, Ace, Snipedown, APG, Ninja, Hysteria, FearItSelf, Naded, Gandhi, Tsquared, Roy, and coaches Walshy and Elamite competing for $20,000. 

After the tournament, third place team Shoot to Kill (StK), was received by professional League of Legends team, Counter Logic Gaming. Now CLG Halo, the team consists of Heinz, Ogre2, Royal 2, and Snakebite. Ogre2 is said to become the coach of the team. 

Ogre2 is one of the most dominant players in the entire Halo series from the start with Halo 2 team Team 3D, which would later become Final Boss. Ogre2 has also won 40 tournament titles. Heinz played for teams such as Triggers Down and Dynasty while Royal 2 and Snakebite played Halo: Reach for Warriors (2011) and Status Quo (2012).

Halo saw increase play and viewership in North America through Major League Gaming when they first showed the original Halo in 2002 and only expanded until the end of Halo: Reach when MLG dropped the series. With the arrival of Halo: Reach, more fans tuned out of Halo for Starcraft or stopped watching because Reach changed many mechanics to the meta-game, such as reticule bloom, which made the player wait a second to shoot accurately or take the chance of missing the shot, and the sprint option that changed CTF gamemode and the pace of Team Slayer. 

One of the main concerns the Halo Championship Series might have for the future of eSports is the infrastructure of foreign teams. Like League of Legends and Starcraft 2 Championship Series, they feature tournaments within their circuit for different regions: North America, Europe, South Korea, and for League of Legends, China. Teams and players compete within their region and the highest ranking teams at the end of the season compete in the World finals brackets. If the HCS can feature a regional circuit final it can possibly regrow the competitive scene within the first few years up to peak viewership such as League of Legends, DotA2, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive.
With CLG already acquiring a team, there might be hope that big names will also get into the HCS, such as the foreign names of Ninjas in Pyjamas, SK Gaming, Fnatic, and Meet Your Makers. Local teams might consist of CompLexity Gaming, Optic Gaming, Cloud 9, and Evil Geniuses.