The Esports Minor League presented by Platinum 5 Studios begins this Monday, with eight of the best teams in semi-professional Halo ready to duke it out after qualifying for the league over the past month.
While it will not guarantee a spot in the HCS Pro League (for now), the Halo Minor League will be giving eight teams the chance to play in a structured league while earning some prize money. And as for the fans, they can look forward to some competitive play while the Halo Championship Series is expected to have some down-time this offseason.
Here’s a look at each of the teams and what they will bring to the Minors:
Qualification: UGC St. Louis Top 4 – Open Bracket (1st)
- Scott “Cloud“ Holste Jr.
- Gabriel “Gabriel“ Funes-Soto
- Tristan “Brainstrm” Gurudeo
- Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez
With PNDA Gaming switching up half of its roster, this PNDA side does seem like a brand new team compared to the squad that took home first at UMG St. Louis.
However, don’t discount Brainstrm and Tapping Buttons. Brainstrm has made his rounds in the Open Circuit, and specifically was one of Randa’s prime teammates during his time with Bittersweet. Meanwhile, Buttons is regarded as one of the best Mexican players in Halo, and was on Shock the World during most of the Open Circuit.
Still, a longtime veteran in Cloud pretty much steals the show on this roster, as he’s played with the best of them, hitting top three in tournaments since Halo 3. If anything, he’ll be fighting to attract some pro attention as he looks to return to the top stage.
Qualification: UGC St. Louis Top 4 – Open Bracket (2nd)
One word describes this team: Stacked.
Take a core of Nemassist and DasTroyed who placed second at St. Louis, and who both were solid amateurs on the scene. Next, add in two professionals in Swift Kill and RyaNoob, and you have a Most Wanted team that just screams experience and success.
It will be pretty tough to discount this team as anything less than a top three squad on paper, but with several young guns lurking in this league, the last thing Most Wanted wants to be is a group of vets that gives another team a resumé point if the new blood takes down the old professionals.
Qualification: UGC St. Louis Top 4 – Open Bracket (3rd)
- William “Will Is Sick” Lemons
- Austin “MostDamage” Baker
- Eli “Eli Elite” Ruiz
- James “Jam I Am” Chase
Okay, now this is a bit crazy. A car dealership by the name of Tarver Automotive Group basically sponsored a team named after the now defunct Scion brand of cars.
Anyway, this team may not have the longest resumé out of the eight teams coming into the minor league, but they did take home $500 in St. Louis and topped Team Solstice. Eli Elite has made somewhat of a name for himself, as his third-place spot in the Las Vegas Free-For-All definitely gives him some respect as a slayer.
This will be a definite team of interest, and fans should be looking at this squad to see where these amateurs go now that they have a solid league to play in.
Qualification: UMG St. Louis Top 4
- Jeremy “Stress” Shoy
- Dominic “BotchyHawk” Demillo
- Joe “Sprawl” Keating
- Amorist “Firebird” Johnson
This team has seen a lot of changes over the past few months, with Stress being the only member still on the team who played in its Vegas and St. Louis runs, but the new blood around him could spark some wins up.
Specifically, BotchyHawk looks to be one of my players to watch for, as he was dropped by Sicker than Yo Average just before they joined Set To Destroy. He showed a lot of solid slaying power and teamwork under a well-rounded team, and will be sure to help bolster this line-up.
Qualification: Online Qualifier #1
- Jacob “Arkanum” Santos
- “Eccentrikk” Garofalo
- Andrew “x Jr2 x” Sychtysz
- Kenneth “Yrnkuavoken” Williams
The Orgless Team That Actually Has An Org comes in with Arkanum as its grizzled veteran, playing with pros past and present since 2007.
His only Halo 4 event proved to be his only Major LAN win at RTX 2014, and with several talented amateurs playing alongside him, Arkanum does have a shot at taking home another piece of gold in the Minor League.
One man who will garner some interest from the Call of Duty community is Kuavo Kenny, aka Yrnkuavoken. He was on Team JusTus during the MLG World Finals, where his team placed 5th-6th, and he is regarded as a strong SnD player.
A comparison can be drawn to a certain young Team EnVyUs gun who traded his boots on the… er… jetpacks for a plasma pistol, but it has yet to be seen what Kenny can do in a structured Halo league.
Qualification: Online Qualifier #1
- Michael “Daffs” Mahany
- Joshua “Exemplify” Lance
- Joseph “SickStory” Ebbs
- Joey “Juziro” Bartholomay
Don’t recognize the name? That’s because this team was eXcellence gaming before the crew decided to get rid of Coby “Coby” Yamauchi and the eX brand.
Regarded as now the only team without a fully fleshed out org under its belt, winning an Esports Minor League title is sure to get this squad attention. But of course, the team already boasts an impressive resumé.
Juziro comes in as a top four Las Vegas FFA player, Daffs played under “For Wade” at HCS Orange County and Sickstory is a journeyman who bounced around several teams until finally finding his home in the Abusement Park.
I’m not telling you to buy-in on this roster, especially with other established orgs like Most Wanted and PNDA Gaming rocking solid pros. But what I am advising is for you not to be surprised if this team winds up shocking you this season.
Qualification: Online Qualifier #2
Take one good hard look at this team in the next week or so, because you may be looking at the next Pro League side.
MoNsTcR and Renegade JW are the two young guns, with the latter having close encounters with the pro league, while Prototype and Rammyy are two of the most seasoned players in the league. Together, this squad took down the HCS Las Vegas Open Circuit Finals and looks to not only be a Minor League favorite, but potentially take down Enigma6 in the Pro League Relegation Tournament.
How impressive would it be to sweep the Minor League and move on into the Pro League? Very, and 3sUp could do just that if it really takes this league seriously and wants to make some history. I mean, they DID beat E6 on LAN after all…
Qualification: Online Qualifier #2
- Joseph “TiZoXiC” Capetillo
- Hunter “BxbyJ” Schline
- Ian “Chaser” Contorelli
- Robert “ROB THE TURTLE” O’Connor
This team is like the Esports Minor League all-star team, with all of these men being semi-pros before this league and all having solid histories in the game of Halo.
BxbyJ is known for his solid FFA play, which displays what slaying ability he brings to his team. Chaser made a name for himself in Reach, before retiring up until the release of Halo 5. ROB THE TURTLE has teamed with pros and has one of the hungriest appetites for victory in the entire league. And TiZoXIC has been around since the Halo 3 days, playing with many a pro and having two major LAN victories under his belt.
Str8 Rippin may be the flashier comeback of this year, but the return of Dynasty to Halo could just take the Esports Minor League by storm.
Who do you pick as the team to win it all in the very first Esports Minor League?
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James Mattone is a journalist for GAMURS and can be contacted on Twitter –@TheJamesMattone.