How Community Tools Are Redefining Competitive Halo
The revival of competitive Halo through the Halo Championship Series has completely redefined the landscape that fans were familiar with from the old days. With an influx of funding and support from Microsoft, as well as 343 Industries, the game is finally getting the developer and publisher backing that it deserves. But too often in esports, this support means losing the community involvement and grassroots feel that competitive gaming was founded on. Thankfully, this has not been the case for the HCS, in fact, it has birthed a new generation of community tools that are pushing the boundaries of what was available in the days of MLG.
Halo 5 Arena, a website launched by community member Charas, has given the community a new way to follow teams outside of the pro league. Acting as the ultimate scrim and ranked play tracker, the site provides any statistics you can think of. If a team does not stream their scrim, or you simply do not have the time to sit down and watch it, you can find everything you need to have an idea of how the set went. The days of finding out about vague scrim results from someone online are gone now that you can see exactly how it happened without even having to deal with the less than desirable stock stat tracker offered at Halo Waypoint. This leads to more information being available to the greater community, and fans are able to make more informed opinions about their favourite teams.
Not only does it offer access for scrims, but if you miss a game from the pro league, all of the information regarding the game will be available there as well. Whether it be merely who won or the damage done by a particular player, Halo 5 Arena has it all.
The website also provides in-depth stats for the ordinary player. While many similar websites have done this throughout the history of Halo, none have provided a platform with as much dedication to the competitive scene.
Completely changing how fans watch competitive Halo is theFantasy HCS website. Originally a twitter project, applying this classic concept of fantasy sports to Halo has revitalized many fans’ interest in the game. For more people, every game matters now. Every kill or assist makes an impact on whether or not you beat your friends. This is especially important in an era where it feels like one team, Counter Logic Gaming, is far ahead of the pack. For many, there is now an incentive to follow the games that are perhaps lesser in quality as they can still provide the same excitement and competitiveness as a first and second place showdown.
This same concept applies to the European scene. For a long time, EU has been a sideshow that the majority of fans only have an unclear idea of what is actually going on. Fantasy HCS provides an avenue to not only get educated on the players and teams, but a reason to get excited about it as well.
Currently, there are almost 200 leagues, with tons of active players taking part. Whether or not you are taking part in Fantasy HCS, it has certainly made an impact on how viewers consume competitive Halo.
Very similar to the impact that Fantasy HCS has made, HCS Power Rankings are bringing more ways to think about the competitive scene to the community. Organized by VinFTW, no longer do we have to wait for the weekly Team Beyond power rankings to go live in order to create a slew of drama, instead we can do it ourselves.
Some have contested that they act only as popularity contests rather than their actual purpose but the power rankings give fans a way to express their opinions in an open and anonymous way. All those wishing to participate have to do is vote in the survey tweeted out by the HCS Power Rankings account each week, it is that simple.
In terms of actually getting players to play the game, Team Beyond’s tournament platform has done just that. Sites that host tournaments that anyone can sign up and play for have been around forever, but none stand out right now in the way that Team Beyond’s does. Players can take part in both two-on-two and four-on-four tournaments, with the much desired Free-for-Alls coming at the end of the month. The best part is that the winners of these tournaments are not just playing for tokens or chump change; every week, a prize pool is put up by Astro Gaming, a headset manufacturer. It might not be life changing money, but it is more than enough.
But do not think you are going to be able to walk away with the money just because you are one of the best Halo players on your block. Team Beyond’s tournaments feature players from the HCS, making it extremely competitive. They also feature a casted stream and better production value than anyone else doing the same thing.
There are plenty of other community tools that are developing the competitive scene, these are just some of the most prominent. Hopefully in the future, we will be able to spotlight others as well. If you have not yet, make sure you check them out as well at ESL’s portal for competitive Halo where many other community resources can be found.