HCS Las Vegas Pro League Team Preview & Predictions
As a great buffer to the HCS Fall Season Finals, HCS Las Vegas gives us a look at not only some of the best NA Open Circuit sides, but some Pro League sides who are itching for more competition.
It also gives us a look to see how those across the pond will do against their American counterparts by way of FAB Games Esports.
Unfortunately, OpTic and Luminosity will not be taking the trip out to paradise, but nevertheless, six NA Pro League sides, along with the top EU team, is more than enough to see what the top-nine open circuit sides can do against the best pro talent.
Let's breakdown each of the seven teams confirmed for HCS Las Vegas:
Team EnVyUs (NA Pro League - First Place - 13-1, 39-15)
EnVyUs became the best online team in America after closing out their Pro League season with a 3-0 win over rival OpTic Gaming.
The only time we saw nV at LAN in full was HCS Orange County, where they were dispatched by OpTic Gaming three times by a combined series score of 10-2 with two best-of-five series and a best-of-seven.
nV kicks butt as a slaying team, only dropping two matches of Slayer in the Pro League, and plays a fast play style overall, much like OpTic.
Notice, I said nV is the best online team in America, because HCS Orange County did throw a wrench into calling them the best team in NA.
Of course, they won out of UGC St. Louis, but they had a replacement on board and that should not count for or against the full roster.
HCS Las Vegas is a great indicator of how this team will perform in Burbank. If they fall flat here, then red flags will be raised as to if this team is actually the best team in NA.
However, a win here will help them gain some confidence before those L.A. lights shine down on them, and I think this is their tournament to lose.
Predicted Final Placement: First
Team Liquid (NA Pro League - Third Place - 7-7, 34-28)
Finishing third in both the Pro League and at their last LAN event in Orange County, Team Liquid comes into this event as the contrarian option for favorite team to grab the HCS Las Vegas title.
They exited the season with a bit of turbulance, losing two five game matches to Str8 Rippin and Evil Geniuses, but look to Las Vegas to gain back ground lost in week seven of the Pro League.
With seven Buffalo Wild Wings in Las Vegas city limits, and another three on the outskirts, I truly believe Spartan will be the MVP of this tournament.
On a serious note, Team Liquid would have been my sure fire second place team, had it not been for their week seven performance.
The any given Sunday approach applies here, and I could see Team Liquid either upsetting EnVyUs like they did in week one, or falling out of the top-three. In that case, I'll put them right in the bronze, and hope they use this as bulletin board material to prove me wrong.
Predicted Final Placement: Third
Str8 Rippin (NA Pro League - Fourth Place - 7-7, 25-31)
Two words: Fan favorites.
Not only does this team have some of the most popular names in Halo, but Str8 Rippin's name brings back so many memories to fans who recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of Halo.
The team formerly known as LOL, who was the team formerly known as OpTic Gaming, turned their season around after two weeks of futility, and jumped Luminosity Gaming in qualifying for the HCS Fall Season Finals.
No matter what, you have to admit that you want to see Str8 Rippin win a title.
Str8 Rippin did take nV to five games online in week four, and many can point to that as a reason why this team can take down nV and possibly win the HCS Fall Season Finals.
nV may just be too hot for the newly annointed Str8 Rippin to handle, however, I do expect an extremely entertaining grand finals between those two sides.
Just whatever you do, don't make one of those maps Strongholds on The Rig, because then Str8 Rippin might be in trouble (they are 0-4 on this map in league play).
Predicted Final Placement: Second
Evil Geniuses (NA Pro League - Sixth Place - 5-9, 26-35)
Barely avoiding relegation were the Geniuses, who wound up edging out Enigma6, StelluR's former team, where issues were plentiful.
The Brown twins and company were freefalling fast in the Pro League, dropping eight straight games before turning it around at the last second. However, they did perform well enough at their only LAN event in St. Louis, where they were placed in third behind Enigma6 and the nV/OpTic Truce.
Momentum drives teams to victory, and picking up a game five win over Team Liquid in your last game of the season sure does something for confidence.
It's also worth saying that this is the last time EG will play this season, so a late surge in Las Vegas can make them at least walk out of the Fall Season with some spending cash.
Regardless, I don't see EG placing in the top-four, solely becaue the other Pro League teams that are here do pose serious threats to the Geniuses' chance at getting their last big payday of the year.
Predicted Final Placement: Fifth/Sixth
Enigma6 (NA Pro League - Seventh Place - 4-10, 23-36)
After falling to the Relegation Tournament, Enigma6 comes to Las Vegas with a chance to scout their upcoming competition.
Enigma6's two LAN contests were hot and cold, falling below Most Wanted to reach the top-six in Orange County, but avenging that in St. Louis by placing second.
I don't know what to expect from Enigma6 in this tournament, as they can easily ride off of bubu dubu's Free-For-All tournament success and rise to the top-four, or be lost in the Pro League shuffle.
I see them performing around the same as Evil Geniuses, taking down a few sides but ultimately dropping out of the top-four.
One thing is for certain: Expect some bad blood between Cratos and StelluR in the all-you-can-eat buffet line near the Neonopolis.
Predicted Final Placement: Fifth/Sixth
Allegiance (NA Pro League - Eighth Place - 3-11, 21-38)
As an organization that once placed second at the Halo World Championships, this has been a long fall for Allegiance. They placed sixth in the HCS Summer Season, and have now fallen to last in the recent Fall Season.
Allegiance's only LAN event does not give a lot of comfort for fans coming into this event, as they were jumped by PNDA Gaming with a game five loss.
This is a team that cannot seem to win a CTF game (5-14 during the season), so it'll be interesting to see if they have improved.
This is very hard to say, but Allegiance may get edged out by several top Open Circuit sides in Vegas.
Losing to PNDA at St. Louis was a huge indicator of how this team stacks up against Open Circuit talent, and I don't see them cracking the top-eight in this tournament.
This also serves as a precursor of what may come at the Relegation Tournament, and one could only hope that ALG proves me completely wrong here.
Predicted Final Placement: Ninth/12th
FAB Esports (EU Pro League - First Place - 9-1, 28-5)
Welcome in the European EnVy.
FAB finished the Pro League with only one loss, that being to Team Infused in week three, and they have won every other game since.
Once known as U4X Esports, this would be their second straight HCS Pro League season top finish, and they will be the favorite to win the EU Pro League title at the Finals in December.
Unfortunately, we have yet to see this full team compete in an HCS sanctioned LAN, or even in an international tournament, so this should be an interesting look at what this team is capable of.
The USA bias is to write off EU teams in console shooters, as historically, EU teams have not faired well against their NA counterparts in Call of Duty and Halo.
However, I am going against my American bias, as I legitimately see FAB as a "surprise" team that will shock some NA sides.
They are going to be able to shake off the jet lag, knock out Allegiance and either Enigma6 or Evil Geniuses, and place within the top-four.
Predicted Final Placement: Fourth
Who do you see as the top Pro League team at HCS Las Vegas?
Let us know in the comments below and for all your Halo and general esports updates, make sure you are following us on Twitter, @GAMURScom.
James Mattone is a journalist for GAMURS and can be contacted on Twitter -@TheJamesMattone.