It’s just over a week before we head out to Hollywood, CA for the Halo World Championship Finals. The 2016 season has been quite grueling, but we are now down to 16 teams who will represent their respective countries and compete for their share in a $2.5 million prize pool. Teams have been divided into four groups of four, with the top two teams in each group moving on into the eight team single elimination bracket. The groups have been separated as follows:Keep in mind that Team eLevate replaced Noble eSports due to contract issues, but still holds the same players of Team Noble. Tensions are high as we hope to see rematches of surprising victories over those favored to win their respective qualifiers. Group A has exceL eSports, who is undoubtedly looking to take their group and get to once again face off against Infused in Group B, as they took the first place spot from exceL during the HWC Cologne qualifier. Also out of Group A, we can expect Team Liquid to try and redeem themselves from their last couple of performances, most notably the clutch victory coming from Cuyler “Huke” Garland of Denial eSports sending Liquid packing at the NA Qualifier. Liquid needs to pull all the stops here where it matters most as they seemed to struggle at the beginning of the season. They began to turn things around during the qualifier, not taking a single loss up until the quarter-finals in Columbus, so we can expect to see their momentum continue from there. Finally, Team Allegiance will be one team to look out for too as they seem to be a powerful roster to contend with in their group, and I’m sure they’re also hoping for another go at Denial as well. Group B features tough matches throughout. Team Infused took HWC Cologne by storm with a decisive first place victory, but what was most surprising was the fact that they overtook Epsilon eSports who was favored to win the event. Then the confidence of Exile5, who in an interview with ESL stated, “…Counter Logic Gaming – as it will be a quick win for us.” when asked about which team they least looked forward to facing. Thus far, they have been able to back up that confidence, and it may help them make it through this group. Evil Geniuses are looking like they can take the group, as one of the stronger teams coming from NA we can be sure they have a vendetta against CLG for their sweep loss during the semifinals at HWC Columbus. Lastly is Renegades, who is very hard to predict as they either lose big, or win big, so we can expect anything to happen in this group as long as they are around. Moving on to Group C, Denial eSports look very promising in their group. The team quickly became one of the stronger contenders from NA throughout the season, so it can be safe to assume they will do really well in their group. However, the newly formed Team eLevate, formerly Team Noble, is pulling off spectacular victories as well, making their way into the semifinals only to be stopped by Allegiance at HWC Columbus. Team Immunity might be going through a bit of a learning curve at this point in the season, as the team’s captain Matthew “Heff” Hefren will be sitting out due to a hand injury. Teddy Joe “Junior” will be taking his place at the HWC Finals, which hopefully has no effect on the team as a whole, but the event will only tell. Finally, we look to FabE as they came out strong from the EMEA Regional Finals. They have had plenty of time to grow and adapt to other heavy teams like exceL, Epsilon, and Infused from their region. But, they also had time to take note of the other competitors from rivaling regions. They were not one of the top four teams from EMEA undefeated through quarters for no reason. The last group we look at is Group D, with the dominant CLG team looking to clear the group. It will be quite interesting to see if Epsilon can overthrow the NA powerhouse. Epsilon will be looking to stick it out to finish the job against Team Infused, and then of course continuing to take on the world beyond that. Cloud 9, formerly known as Triggers Pound, has done a tremendous job throughout the season. It would be great to see this team take a good victory as they have fallen just short of taking the gold each time we have seen them play. Combined, Cloud 9 has the experience to go toe-to-toe with some of the more seasoned teams, and they certainly have proven their worth getting this far in the season. Skyfire, formerly known as Aftermath, has just as much work as Cloud 9. It’s a question of whether or not this team will be able to take on the players from EU and NA, as they seem to be the killers of the HWC Finals. We can definitely assume that in the weeks leading up to the Finals event, Skyfire has been taking note on playstyles of all teams. It’s a big weekend and there is plenty of action to be had. All the action begins March 18 and ends March 20. Be sure to tune in on Twitch to see it all live. During the week, check back here at eSportsNation as we’ll give you predictions for who will be taking the cup, and giving you a break down once more to the format of the event and what exactly is on the line for these phenomenal players.
Who do you have favored to win HWC Finals? Any teams in particular that you’ll be rooting for? Let us know in the comments below, or talk to us on Twitter @eSportsNation.