Halo eSports at the X Games in Aspen, the recap

In a world where eSports is almost entirely dominated by MOBA’s like Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends, and DotA 2, it’s easy to forget that some of the classic franchises in eSports history are still out there. With 2015’s Halo World Championship’s showing at the X Games over and done, the eSports organizers at 343 industries and the teams that have made Halo their life have made a bold, inarguable statement: Halo eSports are back, and they’re here to stay.

The competition was absolutely brutal at the X Games this year, with several teams with incredible tenure in the eSports community coming together to put on a show for Halo fans across the world. Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses, two of the most famous names in all eSports (with teams in just about every game) both made their way into the tournament, along with several other formidable Halo teams like Counter Logic Gaming and Allegiance.

Days one and two consisted of a brutal group stage, where 4 of the 8 teams were eliminated from the tournament. Group A, consisting of Team Liquid, Epsilon, Renegades, and Team Allegiance, had a fairly even competition. Team Liquid and Epsilon were both knocked out of the tournament going 1-2, and Renegades managed to squeak by into the semifinals by having a slightly better 1-2 performance (winning 5 games out of their 3 series, where Liquid, the next best, only won 4). Team Allegiance decisively took the group 3-0, moving onto the semifinals with momentum.

Group B (consisting of Team Penta, CLG, EG, and Dream Team) was made entirely of 3-0 sweeps, with Evil Geniuses and CLG cleaning up shop. Evil Geniuses won two of its three series in the group stages, losing its third to CLG, who were completely undefeated. Team Penta suffered three 0-3 series, and Dream Team left the tournament with 2 losses and one victory, leaving CLG and EG as the teams that would advance from the group stages.

Day three was the real tournament, running through the semifinals onwards, and replacing quick best-of-5’s with best-of-7’s. Allegiance was knocked out of the tournament by EG in a 4-2 match, showing off the skill of both teams, and most definitely giving Allegiance a spot on the Halo eSports map in the future. Afterwards, CLG clashed with Renegades, decisively smashing them out of the tournament in a 4-0 sweep, sending them to a third-place deciding match with Allegiance (Which Allegiance managed to sweep 4-0) and confirming the match-up that everybody had been waiting for: CLG and EG together at the grand finals.

For the uninitiated, you should know that there’s some drama between EG and CLG. Before the events of X Games Aspen last weekend, EG split with Lethul, someone who played with them in order to get them through the qualifiers in the first place. Lethul then went on to play with CLG, and arguably became the thing that made them such an unstoppable wrecking ball throughout the events of the tournament.

Now, with former EG team member Lethul facing up against his old teammates in the most significant event in Halo 5 eSports history, the stage was set for an incredible game. Could EG go up against the undefeated team and come out on top? Would their history with Lethul make a difference in how they played? Thousands of questions were running through the heads of Halo fans, and the grand finals most certainly didn’t disappoint in providing us with arguably one of the most exciting series in Halo eSports history.

The game ended up going all the way to 3-3, both teams bringing matches to very close ends, clearly giving it their all. The final game in the tournament came down to Slayer (played on the map Regret) and ended up turning in favor of Evil Geniuses, who broke away with a very convincing 6 kill lead early in the game. While CLG was able to dominate map objectives like the Fuel Rod Cannon and the Overshield most of the times that they popped up, Evil Geniuses were able to outplay them at every corner, maintaining absolute control over the flow of the match at all times. CLG ended up crumbling under the pressure of Evil Geniuses mastery of an aggressive, fast-paced playstyle, and lost the match before they had a chance to take control and slow things down.

This match not only gave us an incredible look into the peak of Halo eSports, but also played out some incredibly interesting drama regarding Lethul, who fell at the hands of the old team that he left behind after group stages (his final defeat being on a map named “Regret” no less). If ever you’ve been interested in checking out the Halo eSports scene, you owe it to yourself to check out some of the games that took place during X Games Aspen, especially these epic grand finals. With this last match-up after a long and exciting set of international qualifiers, there should be no doubt in the minds of spectators that Halo eSports is going to be thrilling us for a long time going forward. Here’s hoping that the next major tournaments for Halo 5 can be even half as good as this one.

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