Few teams in the history of Halo have dominated the esport during an entire year. In 2015, that honor went to Evil Geniuses, winning almost every major event in the Halo 2: Anniversary Edition life cycle under the Brown twins: Jason “Lunchbox” Brown and Justin “Roy” Brown.
As the competitive scene shifted from Halo 2: Anniversary Edition to Halo 5: Guardians though, new kings were crowned in the esport, and the team of Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante, Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Tony “LethuL” Campbell Jr. and Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom became the team of 2016. A duo that had consistantly placed second in the game prior, Royal2 and SnakeBite became the biggest winners in the first year of the Halo 5 life cycle thanks to two of the biggest roster moves of the year.
Counter Logic Gaming’s 2016 run started with those controversial moves, as Halo legend Tom “OGRE2” Ryan, as well as Scottie “Cloud” Holste, were replaced with LethuL and Frosty. LethuL was a part of that 2015 EG team that saw dominance over the scene, and wanted to continue his winning ways with a new duo of SnakeBite and Royal2.
Meanwhile, Frosty was a fresh face to the Halo scene, only having a year of LAN experience under his belt. After winning Iron Games Daytona with a temporary squad though, he proved his worth by besting several pros and would go on to be the fourth member of the CLG squad.
Out of the gate, this side saw a second place finish in Aspen, as the Geniuses took home the X Games title, and LethuL’s move to CLG was put into question. Many believed that LethuL would never be able to replicate how dominant the EG side was in 2015, and CLG fans had some buyer’s remorse for their new acquisition.
That was until the Halo World Championship, where the team turned themselves into a million dollar roster with a NA Regional first place finish and the world title later in March. This turnaround could be credited to their ridiculous scrimmage regimine, which saw them reportedly play over 270 times and win over 200 of those games before the World Championship tournaments.
After winning the most prize money in Halo esports history, the team then took to dominate the pro league, finishing with a 13-1 record and the summer season belt, before CLG would then sell its side to OpTic Gaming. OG took this team under its organization mere hours before the start of the fall season, and caused a shockwave throughout the scene as the worst organization in the Pro League last year immediately had their fortunes turned.
The team under the #GreenWall finally slowed down in this following season, taking second in the league but winning at the team’s only LAN in Orange County. And in Burbank, their year would end with a fizzle, losing to EnVyUs in two best-of-seven series at the Fall Season Finals that proved the mortality of this side.
However, concluding that OpTic should not be the team of 2016 due to these past two months would be a disgrace to one of the most successful years in Halo history for a group of four pros.
To start with the comparisons of nV and OG, many were doubting nV all season for the sake of OpTic defeating them on LAN in Orange County, and it was only until that fateful Sunday in Burbank that silenced doubters of that team’s skill. Nicknamed “The God Squad,” it was literally engineered to be an all-star team to try and de-throne the champions, and it succeeded. However, it wasn’t until the finals when the community stopped the “only good online” argument for why nV bested OG twice during the Pro League.
With that said, Team EnVyUs may be the best team going into the 2017 Halo World Championship thanks to this recent string of success, however this does not take away CLG/OG’s success in the year prior, taking home $1.1 million in a staggering display of power. Besting most of the current pros on the grandest stage of all in Hollywood, and sweeping out Allegiance 4-0 in the Grand Final, this group made 2016 “The Age of CLG” until the organization left the scene.
Also, in a recent scrimmage, OpTic beat Team EnVyUs, so it is not like OpTic has fully fallen off of its throne.
The buyout by OpTic could also be considered a confirmation of this team’s dominance, as OG made several moves in conjunction with this Halo team buyout that saw them take multiple top flight teams under its banner. In a mad grab for the best in esports, such as with the dominant Gears of War team that took home the MLG Columbus Open, OpTic brought in the top performing Halo team, and OG curse or not, still performed as one of the best teams in North America.
In terms of raw skill, OG showed just that in the recent Pro League, with Royal2 posting a ridiculous 2.19 K/D along with a slaying power only matched by nV. And even in the finals where they took second, every player finished with a positive K/D, a stat no other finals team could achieve.
While OpTic Gaming will leave 2016 without the “Halo Title Belt,” it will leave as the team of the year in my eyes, and will still be one of the best teams in Halo going into the Halo World Championship season in 2017.
James Mattone is a journalist for GAMURS and can be contacted on Twitter –@TheJamesMattone.