Day two at Halo Infinite’s second Major tournament was a day of missed opportunities and potential upsets squandered, with the conclusion of pool play and the start of the double-elimination bracket seeing the first teams get knocked out of HCS Kansas City.
Pool teams were joined by eight qualifiers from the event’s open bracket tournament. Four were from the winner’s bracket, who had the opportunity to battle in a pool and potentially start the championship bracket on the winner’s side, while the other four open teams would have to muster a run on Saturday and Sunday directly through the elimination bracket.
The open teams failed to leave a significant impact on the standings, but still stole away map and set wins against some of the international rosters. Natus Vincere’s poor tournament showing as Europe’s second seed only got worse when Complexity Gaming entered pool B and clinched a win against Na’Vi in a tight 3-2 series. With the Europeans sitting at a 0-4 record, they were dropped into round one of the elimination bracket and lost another 3-2 best-of-five series against another open bracket team, LOU Red Wolves. After a top-eight finish at HCS Raleigh, Na’Vi’s tournament run ending in Kansas City at top 24 is further signs that changes are needed if they want to have any impact on the World Championship later this year.
Other European sides fared much better, with Quadrant continuing to punch above their weight into day two. An electrifying performance from TchiK against G1 in Pool C led the French players to yet another series win and secured their spot as the pool’s second seed ahead of G2 Esports. Quadrant’s momentum going into bracket play almost caught Sentinels, their first matchup, off guard despite the series being predicted to heavily favor the legendary North American team. With one Slayer going down to the wire 50-49 and Sentinels taking a narrow 250-241 Strongholds win to prevent a 3-1 Quadrant victory, the series eventually went the way of Sentinels 3-2. Quadrant will be hoping to make a loser’s bracket run today to potentially secure one of Europe’s best placings in a North American tournament alongside Acend.
It was business as usual for tournament favorites OpTic Gaming and Cloud9, with both teams going into the championship bracket with a point to prove about their performance heading into Sunday. C9’s match against FaZe Clan was expected to go the distance with FaZe’s impressive tournament record, but C9 quickly silenced any talk of an upset with a swift 3-0. OpTic’s fight against Acend, on the other hand, wasn’t as smooth as they would have hoped for, faltering in a frantic Live Fire Slayer 50-49 where an OpTic and Acend player fell within half a second of each other to decide the match. Scrappy kill trades weren’t enough to contest OpTic’s objective efficiency, though, and the Greenwall still closed out the series 3-1 to set up a match with eUnited today.
When looking at the top performers from the beginning of the weekend, data provided by Halo Data Hive shows just how dominant the main slayers of OpTic and eUnited have been thus far. OpTic’s Lucid sits at an impressive 1.57 K/D after the 16 matches the team has played, with eUnited’s Spartan just behind at a 1.48 K/D in 19 matches. C9 and OpTic continue to be the favorites to lift the trophy in the grand finals, but eUnited have always been something of a dark horse in North America. Finishing second at HCS Raleigh and third at HCS Anaheim, the statistics put up by star player Spartan aren’t all that surprising considering they aim to cement themselves as a consistent contender for the gold medal.
Championship Sunday will begin with both the A and B stream live wrapping up round three of the elimination bracket and seeing which of the four remaining teams in the winner’s bracket will go on to the winner’s final. While C9 face off against Sentinels, OpTic aim to take down eUnited to secure their spot. Many hope the two juggernauts will face off again as they did in HCS Anaheim, with Formal now replacing Pistola on Optic.