Last Chance For Glory - Who Will Join the Pro League?
As of last weekend, six of the best Halo teams in the world have marked themselves as members of the upcoming North American Halo Championship Series Pro League. But with only two spots remaining, who will find themselves chasing glory in June and who will be out looking for a new job?
There’s quite a bit of talent waiting for the opportunity to play for the final spots. But of these teams, there are four that stand above all the rest. They are OpTic Gaming, Denial eSports, Team Liquid and Team eLevate. All top talent and all names every fan will recognize, both in competitive Halo and throughout other esports. But there’s only two spots left in the league, who is going to claim them?
Over the last few months, the name OpTic Halo and the phrase “roster changes” seem to have gone hand in hand. Failing to live up to the name of their brand, which is considered to be one of the greatest Call of Duty organizations of all time, massive overhauls have taken place. Now consisting of half of their team from H2A and Halo 5, OpTic has also brought in some fresh faces to round out the roster. With a full team of Maniac, Naded, Ace and Str8 Sick, as well as being coached by former player FlameSword, this is one of the most experienced rosters in the game today.
Initially beating Renegades in a close series during the Summer Qualifier, they went on to lose 4-1 to Engima 6. During the event before this, the PAX Invitational, OpTic played some of the best Halo in their lives against this team. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to recreate this success the second time around and, in typical OpTic fashion, were tilted off the face of the earth. They went on to be knocked out by Renegades, not taking a single map. Despite this, they’re still one of the favourites to take the last chance online qualifier. They have one of, if not the, strongest rosters and have shown that they can compete with teams that have already joined the league. So long as they keep their composure, they’ll be able to make it in.
Denial has had a rocky experience with the world of Halo. Ignoring the drama that the organization and various rosters have been part of, this is quite an interesting team they’ve put together. Lead by the most seasoned player of all time, Ogre2, he alone brings more experience and gold medals than most team’s entire rosters combined. But this hasn’t stopped them from facing their fair share of trouble. Outside of Arkanum, the rest of the team seems to lack experience that the GOAT cannot make up for. Nemassist has barely squeaked through into the top eight during the past two years and to be honest, I have no idea who their fourth player, Seduce, even is.
Over the course of last weekend’s Summer Qualifier, Denial only managed to win one game. Sent home early, this has been some of the most disappointing runs in Ogre2’s history. If I were a betting man, I would put money that we won’t be seeing this Denial roster taking part in the pro league. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a chance, they just seem weaker than the bulk of their competition. If they put in the time that is needed, like we know these players have the ability to do so, we might just be seeing them come June.
Probably the most inconsistent team on this list, Team Liquid has had an interesting pre-season. Led by classic player, aPure Gangster, and accompanied by Stellur, Eco (formerly UnLegit) and Spartan, they’ve quickly become one of the fan favorites. This roster has stayed almost entirely intact from their days in the Halo World Championship, where they placed 5th-8th and left with $75,000. The only difference now is that Heinz has been subbed out for Stellur, a former member of the Renegades. While easily a beloved team thanks to members like Spartan, they’ve had an interesting pathway to where they are today.
Walking through both the Sentinels and Team EnVyUS during the Online Invitational, most assumed that Team Liquid would easily gain entry into the league through the Summer Qualifier. Strangely, this was not the case. Narrowly missing their chance, Liquid was knocked down to the loser’s bracket by a revitalized Team EnVyUs and then out of the tournament by them during the loser’s bracket finals. Outside of these events, Team Liquid has had some great and some not so great scrim results. But their play still seems to hint that they are among the best. They might lose some games, but overall they have shown that if the Pro League is reflective of the top eight teams, they should have a place there.
Throughout the month of April, eLevate’s Halo World Championship team fell apart. Never discouraged, they brought in a brand new roster to fill the void. This new team, consisting of Hysteria, Heinz, Randa and Aries, appears to be a mix and match of top talent. While OpTic and Liquid are widely favoured above this squad, I’m willing to say that they’ll be making it in. Perhaps it is just my personal bias in regards to the players on this team, but based on what I’ve seen, this roster has quite the future in Halo 5.
Due to their finish in the online invitational, eLevate was actually not present at the Summer Qualifier. During the winner’s bracket finals to secure their place, eLevate went to game seven with Engima6 and unfortunately lost. Failing to recover from their defeat, they then fell to Soul eSports Red, who eLevate had actually beaten during the first round. We certainly haven’t seen everything this roster is capable of accomplishing and because of the battles they’ve overcome in both tournament play and scrims, I’m almost certain they have a spot in the pro league.
Although these four teams are the most likely candidates to qualify, there are several dark horses that can’t be overlooked and deserve a mention. Teams like Soul eSports Red, Indecisive and even the revived Str8 Rippin that Tsquared is said to be putting together are still in the running. While it would have been great to have a league of 10 teams and have more great players included, the limit to 8 has certainly made these qualifiers more exciting.
You can see these teams play in the last chance qualifier on May 21st and May 22nd. They’ll have to face off against the other bottom 12 teams from the Summer Invitational Qualifier as well as the two teams that will come through the open qualifier. Remember to tune in to find out who takes the last two positions in the pro league and who will have to play through the challenger series next season.
Patrick Cowley can be contacted through email at email@example.com or on twitter, @PtrckCowley.