Halo 5 debuted its new partnership with MLG this past weekend in Orlando in what ended up being one of the most exciting tournaments in the title’s history. The union with MLG was one competitive fans had been begging for considering Halo was the title on which that organization was built. The tournament ran with the typical MLG A-class production, and the weekend was made even better by some of the spectacular play on display throughout the event. Ultimately it was Splyce who came out on top, as they made taking down OpTic Gaming look like an easy feat, demonstrating Halo may be entering a new era in more ways than one.
This was the first time we would be seeing many of the new rosters competing in a LAN environment, with only OpTic not making a roster change since the previous event in Denver last October. Pool play went almost exactly as the casters and fans expected, with OpTic, Splyce, Team EnVyUs and Reciprocity all exiting the stage with perfect 3-0 records. These teams clearly had the four strongest rosters on paper heading into the event so it was no surprise to see them start off so well, but how they would fare against one and other was still anybody’s guess.
All four rosters would easily close out their first series of the championship bracket, immediately placing them in the Winner Bracket semi finals against one and other for the matches fans wanted to see most. OpTic Gaming matched up against and Team EnVyus and demonstrated their first major signs of weakness in all of Halo 5’s history. The new young nV squad came out to play and stunned OpTic, the casters and the fans at home by becoming the first team to sweep OpTic gaming at a major event. Reciprocity suffered an identical fate at the hands of Splyce as the incredibly young and talented roster were looking to prove that this new roster was worthy of a championship.
OpTic quickly pulled themselves together in the Loser’s Bracket against a Reciprocity team that was in an equally frustrated position, and were able to hand them 4 straight losses to advance to the tournament’s semi finals where they sought revenge against Team EnVyUs.
OpTic used their momentum from the previous series to get two quick wins in the series and jump out to an early lead for the first half of game three. It was at this point that it appeared nV remembered they had swept OpTic just the previous day, and battled back to win game three before clutching out game four Truth Flag to tie the series at two games a piece. OpTic were determined not to go down to the same team both days, and responded with victories of their own on Coliseum Slayer and Eden Strongholds to advance to the finals.
Waiting for them was a new iteration of the Splyce roster that contained four previous champions, the only roster outside of OpTic to be able to currently make that claim. Splyce demonstrated why they had only lost two maps heading into the series, with an explosive five-minute victory on Truth Flag before securing a decisive win on Rig Slayer to jump out to an early two game lead. The third match was Empired Strongholds and with Splyce getting full control with 80 points on the board, appeared to be destined to be up 3-0. Instead late game heroics from multiple OpTic members turned the final moments in their favor and got them their first win of the series. This success was short-lived however, as Splyce were able to win Game 4 decisively getting the 3-0 victory on Coliseum Flag in just over 7 minutes. While OpTic was able to force a sixth game through a solid finish to Regret Slayer in game 5, the young guns proved too much to handle as they secured the tournament victory in a dominant Plaza Strongholds performance.
With Splyce demonstrating they are more than capable of handling OpTic and all other challengers, the next event in Columbus may be the first where OpTic is universally expected to emerge victorious. It looks like 2018 will truly be a different year for Halo, and not just because of who is running the events. For all information on the Halo World Championship and upcoming events, check out the official Halo Esports page.