Pro League Relegation Tournament Preview and Predictions
Tomorrow we find out who lives and who dies; four teams will enter the North American HCS Relegation Tournament, but only two will come out on top. Team Liquid and OpTic Gaming, the two bottom teams from the Pro League will face off against Denial eSports and Team eLevate, the Open Circuit champions. Who will it be?
The environment surrounding the tournament will most likely be the contributing factor over who will be joining the other six teams in the second season of the Pro League. For those not in the know, the four team, double-elimination tournament will take course over the entirety of one day. It all comes down to who shows up, and who does not. Teams have been preparing for several weeks to take this tournament by storm, so let’s take a look at how the different rosters have prepared.
Team Liquid, who finished seventh during the Pro League, is generally regarded as the favorites of the tournament. They have been the most successful when it comes to scrimming against top teams and have truly pulled themselves together over the latter half of the season. Over the past few weeks, they have managed to win the majority of their scrims, despite going up against the top four teams exclusively. The following is a chart demonstrating their scrim results over the past month:
OpTic Gaming has also been on the path to recovery, although not as successfully. While Team Liquid has been able to consistently compete with the top teams, OpTic has had some major difficulties. Of their last twenty scrims, dating back to the end of June, they have only managed to win one set of matches. Their one victory was against Team eLevate, a 6-1 set on June 22. Since then, much like Team Liquid, they have played primarily against the top four HCS teams. Their constant string of losses should not be seen as completely negative, however.
Team Liquid has been able to come out on top consistently over both Enigma6 and Team EnVyUs, two teams poised to have a chance to dethrone Counter Logic Gaming as the HCS champions. They were also able to defeat OpTic Gaming, one of the teams they will be playing against, quite decisively. Based on statistics alone, it is quite clear that Team Liquid is the most prepared team entering the tournament.
In typical OpTic Halo fashion, their practices have been plagued by the tilt the team often faces. Starting out each series strong, after a handful of defeats they quickly lose much of their motivation and begin to hand over the games rather easily. Those watching OpTic’s scrims have commented on the trends of negativity that have reared their ugly heads. The team often devolves into harsh arguments about the mistakes made and put each other on the defensive; not exactly the optimal team environment.
But what can you expect? OpTic’s roster formed in a peculiar way, picking up aPG to replace Naded at the last minute, as well as bringing in Str8 Sick to fill in for Flamesword. The team found themselves constantly set back by defeats and delays, putting them weeks behind their Pro League competition.
Although they have the benefit of a long history of professional experience, it seems like this might be the last straw for this struggling OpTic Gaming team.
Looking at the amateur teams is much more interesting. Both rosters consist of an odd mix of new blood and old talent. Denial’s roster, consisting of Rammyy, Cloud, Gabriel and Falcated, and eLevate’s team, consisting of Randa, Brain Strms, Nemassist and V t3ct9, have been touted as the future of competitive Halo. The player we have seen the most of from both squads has been Denial’s Rammyy, who subbed for both Team Allegiance and Counter Logic Gaming during the HCS Pro League.
While they both possess a new group of talented players, how well have they actually prepared for their shot at the big leagues?
Examining the scrims of these teams is a lot more difficult than their Pro League contemporaries. Due to changing gamertags and members, the information surrounding their practice is not as widely available. But what we can look at is the team’s performance during the Open Circuit, as well as their member’s history in competitive Halo.
Outside of a few choice series, namely their 4-3 win over 3sUP Gaming, Denial had a relatively easy time during the Open Circuit Finals. Going undefeated the entire tournament, nothing less was expected of the team that possessed possibly two of the best players not currently on an HCS Pro League team. Both Rammyy and Falcated have been said to be among the best, and Rammyy, at the very least, has certainly proved it.
During his substitutions for HCS players, Rammyy found himself undefeated, beating both Team Liquid and Renegades while playing for Allegiance as well as Team EnVyUs and Renegades again alongside CLG. But it is a lot easier to look good playing with the likes of Snakebite and Frosty; tomorrow we get to see if he really lives up to the hype.
While not as hyped at Denial, eLevate has been a roster that has widely fallen under the radar. Described by E6 player Cratos as “randomly good,” they are not a roster that should be underestimated. Although they are not as favored as the other team’s attending the event, they certainly still have a chance of coming out on top.
Now that we know a little about the teams that will be playing tomorrow, it is time to make some predictions.
Due to entering the tournament with the highest seed, Team Liquid has chosen to face off against Team eLevate in the first round. As a result of Liquid’s strong recovery and practice time well spent, there are few who could predict anything other than a win for them. They have the experience and the skill, so as long as they play their game, Liquid should be able to come out on top. This will move Liquid up to the winners finals while pushing eLevate down into the losers bracket.
As Liquid has selected to be matching up against eLevate, that leaves OpTic to face off against the hyped roster of Denial. Despite Denial’s obvious skill and experienced leadership through one time national champion Cloud, this is the first LAN event for half of the team. Playing online and playing in person, with your opponent sitting across the room, cameras zoomed into your face and fans cheering in the background are two very different experiences. While some teams crack under pressure and others rise to the occasion, it is a safe bet to say that the experienced OpTic roster will be able to maintain their composure and come out on top of this matchup.
Well, it would be if they were playing in such an environment. Due to the schedule of the event, the first round of the relegation tournament will be played off-stage on a side station. Once again. a whole new environment. While OpTic has the experience needed to win, they have been known to crack and turn on each other under high pressure situations. It is time for some new blood in the HCS and it looks like it will likely be Denial.
Should Denial win, they will have to face off against Liquid in the finals, while OpTic would have to play with their life’s on the line against eLevate.
First off, the match up of OpTic and eLevate, the most unpredictable part of the event. Personally, I feel as though OpTic’s experience will manage to pull them through and allow them to eliminate the inexperienced Team eLevate.
Next, you have the winner’s finals between Team Liquid and Denial. This has been the series that many have been waiting for; will Denial prove themselves to be truly good enough to contend with a real HCS team? While they might be ready to enter the league, I do not see any way that they can contend with Liquid. Team Liquid is hungry for a win and have been practicing their hearts out, being able to compete with the best teams in the world. I feel confident in saying that Liquid will be able to remain in the HCS for another season.
This leaves the final match of the event: OpTic vs. Denial. A repeat of the first round, but several hours later, without the teams being as well rested as they were at the beginning of the day. These games can go either way, and are extremely hard to predict without knowing which teams are going to show up that day. It is a tough decision to make, but I have got to hand this one to Denial. There is a reason that Rammyy and Falcated are so highly regarded among pro players, and it looks like they will finally be able to show off their skills in the HCS.
Remember to tune in tomorrow to see these four teams fight for their future. While the first round is not streamed, all subsequent games will be. Check them out at twitch.tv/halo.
Who do you think will come out on top? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @GAMURScom.
Patrick Cowley can be contacted on Twitter, @PtrckCowley.