A year ago, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, Tony “LethuL” Campbell Jr., Mathew “Royal2” Fiorante, and Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte lifted up the HWC trophy as CLG. This year, the same foursome lifted the trophy again as OpTic Gaming.
Despite a hot Team EnVyUs and a proven threat in Team Liquid, OpTic proved to be the strongest Halo team on the planet this weekend. OpTic’s 2017 HWC performance may be one of the most commanding major tournament run in the history of esports. The team finished with an astounding map record of 22-2, totaling four series sweeps in the process.
Their grand finals opponent, EnVyUs, were up and down in the first two days, going 1-2 on opening day but rebounding 3-0 on the second day. Their upward trend continued into Sunday as they took down Str8 Rippin with a quick 4-0 sweep in the lower bracket semifinals. In that series, Cuyler “Huke” Garland continued his incredible play, averaging over 15 kills per game and a 1.32 Kill/Death ratio.
Liquid and EnVyUs were then set in the lower bracket finals while OpTic awaited the winner in the grand finals.
In a 4-2 win, 17-year-old phenom Huke tallied a game-high 16 kills in the second map while game five belonged to the legend Eric “Snip3down” Wrona. Snip3down was responsible for 19 of his team’s 50 kills in the game with 16 of those as headshots. In the final game, Coliseum CTF, it was Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese’s turn to step up and carry the load. Along with capturing one of the team’s three flags, Pistola posted an incredible 12-3 kill-death statline.
By advancing to the grand finals, Team EnVyUs got the chance to dethrone OpTic Gaming, a team they know very well. EnVyUs-OpTic matches are dubbed ‘eClásico’, a playful spin on soccer’s El Clásico between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. This matchup was no classic, however. Although the scores were close, OpTic’s skill was just too much; EnVyUs didn’t win a single game as OpTic rolled to a another series sweep.
Royal2 and SnakeBite led the way for OpTic over the tournament, finishing with the top two kill/death ratios. Royal2 concluded HWC with an unthinkable 1.55, while SnakeBite posted a 1.37 ratio. SnakeBite was also the leader in kills per game, averaging 15.04. The next closest was Team EnVyUs’ Austin “Mikwen” McCleary with 14.425.
Venue and marketing issues aside, the 2017 Halo World Championship was a great event with incredible matches from start to finish. The champions may be the same as last year’s, but the way we got to the finish was completely different.
Mikwen and Huke garnered much-deserved attention with their lower bracket run. Team Liquid gained more legitimacy by being one of only two teams to take a map off of OpTic. SoaR Gaming and Team Immunity gained the invaluable experience of playing on the international stage and Splyce showed the potential that they can grow into one of the top four teams in the world.
An uncertain path now lies ahead for the players and the community with just a few events announced for this year. But the second HWC should now leave many fans hopeful and even confident that Halo will have a strong 2017.