HCS 2016 Fall Finals Recap

Missed any of the HCS Finals action? Don't worry, we're covering it in real-time.

Three of the most well known North American esports organizations and one legendary franchise revitalized under one of the strongest companies in Halo esports today. Welcome to Championship Sunday, where OpTic Gaming, Team Liquid, Team EnVyUs, and Str8 Rippin are all competing for glory and the largest share of a $150,000 prize pool.

These four teams fought for the right to be in the final during a long fall season, where nV and OG sat pretty above the other six teams. Team Liquid was consistent during the season, splitting practically every week with a win and a loss until the final two weeks, but Str8 was the team who barely etch themselves in. After a rough 0-4 start to the year, a roster change, as well as a name change, happened in the middle of this season, turning this side from a relegation bound team to the number four seed in the finals.

Here’s a recap of the matches, and we will be updating this as the matches go on throughout the day:

Round One: Team EnVyUs vs. Str8 Rippin

If this morning’s series was any indication, these matches are going to be some of the tightest and most competitive Halo matches all season.

Str8 Rippin got on the board first in the opening CTF game, but nV was able to take it after two straight caps and a complete moment of chaos that led to the game-winner.

nV then dominated power weapons for game two, and immediately started running away with this series when it came time for the Strongholds match. Cuyler “Huke” Garland went 16-3 in an incredible show of young strength, and he would continue to go off as he helped give his side the hot 4-0 with a four minute CTF sweep.

And also, just look at that sweet telestrator action to describe the final game of this series: 

Game One: CTF – Truth

Game Final: nV 3 – 2 STR8

Match Score: nV 1 – 0 STR8

Game Two: Slayer – Plaza

Game Final: nV 50 – 39 STR8

Match Score: nV 2 – 0 STR8

Game Three: Strongholds – Eden

Game Final: nV 100 – 21

Match Score: nV 3 – 0  STR8

Game Four: CTF – Coliseum

Game Final: nV 3 – 0 STR8

Match Final: nV 4 – 0 STR8

Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese unfortunately could not use his Wizard powers to teleport his team over to the ESL Studios in time for the first map veto, and were dealt a bad game mode in CTF on Truth, where they lost three times to Team Liquid at Vegas. Nevertheless, despite Truth being a far-cry from what Midship used to be for Ola, and knowing that Str8 had a huge advantage on that map, nV was prepared to fight back.

“We were doing a little bit of stuff we talked about over the past two weeks because we’ve really had to buckle down and figure that game type out,” Pistola said.

With nV having to face one of two teams in the finals that have taken away matches away from them, Pistola gave his sage mindset on the best way to prepare for whatever is next.

“You pretty much go in with the same mindset in general,” Pistola said. “You are just confident in yourself and your teammates, and as long as you have a little bit of faith, it won’t always work out, but it all starts with a belief and faith. We are all great friends with each other and whoever we end up playing in this tournament, it doesn’t matter. I respect those guys, and out of respect for them, I’m going to give it my all so I don’t give them a victory that is just lackluster.”

Round One:

OpTic Gaming vs. Team Liquid

Welp, this series started off with a slam…

OpTic was taking no prisoners today, and Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte stepped it up even more in game two, having a ridiculous 21 kills with a nifty two-piece to boot.

After SnakeBite topped the leaderboards again on a one-sided Strongholds, OpTic Gaming went the distance in another CTF, but still blanked Liquid to take home the second straight 4-0 sweep of the tournament.

Game One: CTF – Truth

Game Final: OG 3 – 0 TL

Match Score: OG 1 – 0 TL

Game Two: Slayer – Plaza

Game Final: OG 50 – 38 TL

Match Score: OG 2 – 0 TL

Game Three: Strongholds – Eden

Game Final: OG 100 – 29 TL

Match Score: OG 3 – 0 TL

Game Four: CTF – Fathom

Game Final: OG 2 – 0 TL

Match Final: OG 4 – 0 TL

OpTic’s Tony “LethuL” Campbell. Jr was blunt about the way OpTic played against Liquid, and minced no words when talking about his team’s next opponent.

“I thought that it was going to be a lot harder,” LethuL said. “They played nV who, is the second-best team, whatever people want to call them – I mean, I don’t know why people started caring about online – Vegas, they played nV really close and beat them in the winners finals and took them to game seven and I thought they should have won game seven. So we knew that we might have our hands full going into this. Getting second seed online and playing Liquid seemed a little less favorable than playing Str8, but honestly that was not that hard.”

And as for Snakebite’s play, he wasn’t really paying that much attention until after the end of game two.

“Honestly I didn’t notice that he had 21 kills until after the game and I literally said, ‘Damn, nice job Peter,'” LethuL said.

Losers Semifinal:

Str8 Rippin vs. Team Liquid

Both teams were searching for some ground after the hot 4-0, and it seemed that Str8 Rippin was ready to bring some life to the legendary franchise.

A 85 point plus Strongholds victory was immediately followed up by a 15 kill Slayer win, with Bradley “APG” Laws getting hyped, participating in 50 percent of the kills, and this clip of absolute beauty.

After a close Capture the Flag match that saw APG get the game winner off of an Aaron “Ace” Elam triple kill, it seemed like the entirety of Liquid took a swig of their unmarked Monster energy drinks and started to focus up.

They jumped out of the gate for the game four Strongholds match, etched out a close Slayer victory, and were able to force a game seven off of several solid runs on Truth.

In that game seven, Tyler “Spartan” Ganza and Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali played out of their collective minds, with the former hitting a killing frenzy and both of them making the crowd in Burbank become a madhouse.

Liquid, with its back against the wall, performed the incredible reverse sweep, and Str8 Rippin was eliminated from the finals.

Game One: Strongholds – Plaza

Game Final: Str8 100 – 12 TL

Match Score: Str8 1 – 0 TL

Game Two: Slayer – Regret

Game Final: Str8 50 – 35 TL

Match Score: Str8 2 – 0 TL

Game Three: CTF – Coliseum

Game Final: Str8 3 – 2 TL

Match Score: Str8 3 – 0 TL

Game Four: Strongholds – Empire

Game Final: TL 100 – 44 Str8

Match Score: Str8 3 – 1 TL

Game Five: Slayer – Coliseum

Game Final: TL 50 – 45 Str8

Match Score: Str8 3 – 2 TL

Game Six: CTF – Truth

Game Final: TL 3 – 1 Str8

Match Score: TL 3 – 3 Str8

Game Seven: Slayer – The Rig

Game Final: TL 50 – 36 Str8

Match Final: TL 4 – 3 Str8

Heading into that game four, Spartan said that he and his team were able to refocus for the rest of the series, and that helped them break down a tough reverse sweep into several small victories.

“We just had to play our game, I looked over at my teammates and said, ‘Dudes, it’s not over. We are down 3-0 and have to win four in a row, but it’s not near impossible,’” Spartan said. “I said that we need to take this one game at a time. Once we took that Empire Strongholds, that was what we needed. All we needed was that one win to know in the back of our minds that anything was possible.”

Winners Finals:

OpTic Gaming vs. Team EnVyUs

In the next installment of the #ElClasico, the teams traded dominant victories, with nV almost pulling off the steak dinner in game two.

The teams were then deadlocked at two caps a piece in game three, but some solid sniping from SnakeBite allowed OG to take down all four nV members. He then got the return, so Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom could take home the golden flag, and OpTic then used that momentum to roll through a Strongholds match.

Despite nV getting dangerously close to forcing a game six, OG was able to get the final kills down on Plaza Slayer to move on to the grand finals.

Game One: Strongholds – Plaza

Game Final: OG 100 – 33 nV

Match Score: OG 1 – 0 nV

Game Two: Slayer – The Rig

Game Final: nV 50 – 38 OG

Match Score: OG 1 – 1 nV

Game Three: CTF – Coliseum

Game Final: OG 3 – 2 nV

Match Score: OG 2 – 1 nV

Game Four: Strongholds – The Rig

Game Final: OG 100 – 53 nV

Match Score: OG 3 – 1 nV

Game Five: Slayer – Plaza

Game Final: OG 50 – 42 nV

Match Final: OG 4 – 1 nV

With SnakeBite’s shot practically on for the entire day thus far, he gives credit to his teammates for giving him great callouts and allowing him to get open for shots.

“[My teammates] make it easier,” SnakeBite said. “Their communication – which you’ve heard because we’re common on listen-ins – really play to the way I like to play. I got really lucky with this team when we formed it. We all agree on everything and we click a lot, especially at events. So I totally credit my teammates for my play.”

Although he might be watching at home, Hector “H3cz” Rodriguez may have to clear space for three trophies, if this team, as well as OpTic’s Gears and CS:GO teams, take home titles on this busy Sunday. And Snakebite, who is a part of the OpTic family, says that all three teams will be ready to do their jobs as all of those tournaments will be in their final matches come crand finals time.

“We’ll have to wait and see. Every team under OpTic is absolutely incredible, and I feel like every team has the same mindset when it comes to winning,” SnakeBite said. “We’ll have to wait and see if we all pull out the wins.”

Losers Finals:

Team Liquid vs. Team EnVyUs

nV was ready to take out some anger on Team Liquid, as Huke dropped a 21 bomb en route for a 3-0 game one victory.

After almost coming close once again to a steak dinner, nV had several total controls to keep a strong string of victories against Liquid. TL now had a similar moment where if they lost in game four, their time in the finals would be over, so it was time for them to start clutching up a la their Str8 Rippin series.

Unfortunately for Liquid, EnVy was ready to get their revenge against their counterparts from OpTic and powered it home to take another 4-0 sweep over Team Liquid.

Game One: CTF – Fathom

Game Final: nV 3 – 0 TL

Match Score: nV 1 – 0 TL

Game Two: Slayer – Plaza

Game Final: nV 50 – 31 TL

Match Score: nV 2 – 0 TL

Game Three: Strongholds – Eden

Game Final: nV 100 – 38 TL

Match Score: nV 3 – 0 TL

Game Four: CTF – Truth

Game Final: nV 3 – 1 TL

Match Final: nV 4 – 0 TL

Grand Finals:

Team EnVyUs vs. OpTic Gaming

A complete standoff started this match, with both teams not scoring until OT. At that point, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona went coast-to-coast to get the first cap, before OpTic tied it up by way of Frosty.

A last second run in overtime gave nV the power to take home game one, and Huke followed that win up with some crowd-pleasing shots on The Rig.

OpTic answered and limited Snipedown to only one kill, but he would surge back for the hot 3-0 with 17 kills. nV showed their power weapon control, dominating OpTic with 13 kills to OpTic’s zero.

OG would get their revenge, almost getting a steak dinner and blanking nV on power weapon kills, but with their backs against the wall, nV decided not to blow a 3-1 lead in the finals and rallied back in Strongholds at the 88 kill mark to force a reset.

Game One: CTF – Fathom

Game Final: nV 2 – 1 OG

Match Score: nV 1 – 0 OG

Game Two: Slayer – The Rig

Game Final: nV 50 – 37 OG

Match Score: nV 2 – 0  OG

Game Three: Strongholds – The Rig

Game Final: OG 100 – 18 nV

Match Score: nV 2 – 1 OG

Game Four: CTF – Coliseum

Game Final: nV 3 – 0 OG

Match Score: nV 3 – 1 OG

Game Five: Slayer – Regret

Game Final: OG 50 – 31 nV

Match Score: nV 3 – 2 OG

Game Six: Strongholds – Plaza

Game Final: nV 100 – 88 OG

Match Final: nV 4 – 2 OG


On the reset, OG got a nice break due to technical issues and took the first game handedly over nV, but the boys in blue could not be stopped on Slayer, as The Wizard dropped a 16 bomb to tie the series.

The CTF game that followed saw OG run up to a 2-0 lead, and it seemed like a miracle would bring nV back into it.

Well, I guess we all believe in miracles, right?

nV completely clutched up and forced an OT with two captures, and put in the game winner with a beautiful crossmap run. 

Team EnVyUs tried to get another come from behind victory on Empire, and were mostly successful as they held OG at 81 points to jump in front, but OpTic took back control and a final push was denied to tie the series yet again.

The two biggest North American console sides traded another two games before heading into game seven, where Huke played at an MVP caliber with 17 kills to take home his first ever title in Halo.

Game One: Strongholds – Plaza

Game Final: OG 100 – 56 nV

Match Score: OG 1 – 0 nV

Game Two: Slayer – Regret

Game Final: nV 50 – 38 OG

Match Score: nV 1 – 1

Game Three: CTF – Coliseum

Game Final: nV 3 – 2 OG

Match Score: nV 2 – 1 OG

Game Four: Strongholds – Empire

Game Final: OG 100 – 90 nV

Match Score: OG 2 – 2 nV

Game Five: Slayer – The Rig

Game Final: nV 50 – 42 OG

Match Score: nV 3 – 2 OG

Game Six: CTF – Fathom

Game Final: OG 2 – 1 nV

Match Score: OG 3 – 3 nV

Game Seven: Slayer – Truth

Game Final: nV 50 – 36 OG

Match Final: nV 4 – 3 OG

With his very first title, Huke was almost speechless. Huke is one of the best young guns in esports at the age of 17, but he hopes that this is the start of a long a successful career.

“[I want to] continue to try and win as many events as I can until it’s all over,” Huke said. “Hopefully it’s not soon, and hopefully I could be gaming like Ola… and game until I’m 30.”

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James Mattone is a journalist for GAMURS and can be contacted on Twitter –@TheJamesMattone.

Photo credit: @TheJamesMattone