It took every single gametype that MLG uses for tournament play to determine the winner in the Playoff Finals this weekend in New York. In the end, Carbon proved that not only was their victory in Orlando no fluke, but also that they are the only true rivals to Final Boss on the Pro Circuit. No other team in the tournament came close to playing as well as these two juggernauts, and when they met in the Finals the crowd at the Jacob Javits Center was electrified by the stunning show they put on.

The series between these two teams started in the Winners Bracket Finals. Final Boss came out swinging on Beaver Creek CTF, gaining complete mid-map control and dominating Carbon despite some heroics from Shockwav3 to stop early caps against his team. The Ogres could only be described as “going nuts” during this match, putting up huge numbers and leading their team to a 3-0 victory.

In the second game, Carbon threatened to pull even in the series after getting the lead along with the power-weapons and control of the Center Ring. Final Boss was prepared, however, and used a boost jump to get Walshy from the Bottom Middle of the map all the way to Ring 3 without ever being seen by Carbon. With Walshy in position to rain down fire from above, the rest of FB coordinated a rush that killed their opponents, took control of the Ring and earned them the power weapons. They carried that momentum despite a late charge from Carbon to win the match in nail-biting fashion 50-49.

Anyone who doubted Carbon’s ability to repeat their upset performance from MLG Orlando was silenced when the young squad made an epic comeback to take the Playoff title from Final Boss and bag their second consecutive tournament win.

In the third game, Carbon and Final Boss took turns vying for control of the Green Room set-up during Oddball Lockout as the lead swung back and forth. Finally deciding they were not comfortable with the Green Room any longer, Carbon took their next possession and headed for the Sniper Tower, where they felt they had a better chance to maintain control, despite the opportunity for FB to “playball” it if they were able to put together a string of kills. The strategy worked for Carbon though, as Final Boss seemed unable to break sniper control for long periods of time and could not force the Green Room back onto their opponents. Carbon took Game 3 and began to show some signs of life.

However, Game 4—as well as the WB Finals—would go to Final Boss, as they fought off a late comeback from Carbon to win 5-4 on CTF Midship. While Final Boss was able to jump out to an early lead, the brilliance and solid positioning from Carbon’s Gh057ayame and Shockwav3 constantly harassed them and stopped several flag-runs that allowed Carbon to draw close. The two were playing so well for a while they seemed to be taking Final Boss on 2-on-4 and keeping the game even. In the end, the members of Final Boss were able to simply press their slaying advantage to kill all four Carbon members and run the flag back through Carbine 2 for the win. That meant Carbon would have to defeat Str8 Rippin in the Losers Bracket Finals and come back from a serious deficit if they hoped to win the tournament.

Final Boss had a commanding 4 – 1 series lead over Carbon, but eventually fell 6 – 5 in what was truly one of the most dramatic and bi-polar series in all of MLG history.

After Carbon dispatched Str8 and headed back to the main stage for the Championship match, they approached the stage with the bright eyes and confidence that is usually reserved for the team that won on the Winners Bracket side. While every member of Final Boss expressed their complete confidence in closing the series quickly, that confidence was quite possibly exceeded by the brash enthusiasm of their opponents. Before the series began, Karma told MLG, “In Anaheim we had to come from the Losers Bracket after losing early in the tournament. So when we got to the Finals, we were just happy to have knocked off Str8. This tournament is different. We’re not content with 2nd place. If we have to come from the Losers Bracket, we’re going to destroy whoever is waiting for us in the Finals.”

Judging from the Championship Match, that determination was mirrored in every member of the Carbon squad. Even after they dropped the first game of the Championship series (TS Warlock) under the crushing control of Final Boss, they didn’t give up. Down 4-1 in the series, their coach xXx got the attention of the members of Carbon by reminding them that they were playing for $30,000. Forgetting what had happened up until that point, with the encouragement of their coach the Carbon players refocused and turned the series around.

The “never-say-die” spirit of Carbon cannot be understated, as the team overcame absurd adversity to stage their landmark comeback.

Game 6 was the gametype that Carbon had completely dominated in Orlando and would prove to once again completely dominate in New York. In CTF Warlock, Final Boss looked to be running the first cap of the game back to their base when suddenly the Carbon members took control. They killed the flag carrier, returned the flag and then ran back the Red Flag to completely turn the tide of the match. Behind that momentum they went on to win 5-0 and rattle the top-ranked team.

The next two games would be all Carbon as they cruised through TS Lockout and Oddball Midship. While the members of Final Boss were playing relatively well, they seemed unable to all get clutch at the same time. The Ogres in particular were taking turns carrying the team and then struggling, as if only one of them at a time was allowed to play like the genius pros they truly are. With those two games slipping away, Final Boss was suddenly looking at a very different series. Tied at four games apiece, the Championship was either team’s to take.

The Ogres were finally able to get on the same page in Game 9’s CTF Sanctuary, where their combined slaying kept Carbon struggling for control the entire match. Getting a hold of both snipers, Final Boss ran the first cap in and looked to be in position to control the game entirely. Carbon would not give up however, as they managed to pick up a sloppy cap to tie the score and force sudden death. Eventually, Final Boss was able to use their long-range shooting to assist a rush to the flag from the Carbine spawns and run the blue flag back for a 2-1 victory. That put FB up 5-4 in the series and set up back-to-back Team Slayer games to determine the winner.

It is clear now that Final Boss truly has a rival squad on their hands–and after such an uninterrupted streak of superiority, they can’t be too happy about it.

In TS Midship, Final Boss was able to jump out to an early lead and force Carbon to find a way to come back on the small and fast-paced map. Carbon found their answer in Gh057ayame and Shockwav3, who once again dominated on Midship for their team. They overwhelmed Final Boss at Pink 2, creating control on that side of the map for their team and plied that to generate a lead. Gh057 in particular was huge for his team, as he became what many were calling the “anti-Ogre” over the course of the event. During TS Midship he was able to continually drive the Ogres out of Pink 2 and out-BR them, despite shooting from below. So with the series tied and only one game left to determine the victor, all eyes were on the main stage for TS Beaver Creek.

Although they were able to grab a small lead early in the match, Final Boss was clearly not all on the same page during the final game of the series. After Carbon grabbed a lead, the members of FB couldn’t seem to decide whether they wanted to try to control a base or to press for the kind of mid-map control that won them the first game of the series at CTF Beaver Creek. Often, the Ogres ended up on top of or behind one of the bases completely without cover or help, while Walshy and Saiyan were pressing to generate kills and control of the Creek and the Rocket Arch. The result was disastrous for the first seeded team at the event. Ogre 2 spent crucial moments of the game just sitting on a portal with a shotgun, failing to help his brother or his teammates who were under fire near the Creek. Saiyan and Walshy meanwhile, despite picking up some kills and occasionally managing to steal the OS from Carbon, were easy targets under the organized shooting from the opposition.

Will Final Boss be able to bounce back after their second straight loss to Carbon? We’ll find out at the National Championships, which are guaranteed to be a major milestone in the history of pro gaming.

Carbon had almost perfectly locked down the Blue Base late in the game, and the longer the game went on, the tighter their grip on the control became. Karma in particular came up big for his team when Final Boss threatened to make a comeback. Near the end of the match, Ogre 2 had picked up rockets and headed to the top of the Blue Base. From that position, he could have broken Carbon’s control and allowed Walshy and Saiyan to finally get control of the Creek. Instead, Karma managed to BxR the rocket-carrier and then pick up a killing spree for his team. For the last few minutes of the map, the top, back and Needler Side of Blue Base was completely controlled by Karma, which kept Final Boss from staging a takeover of control and potentially winning the match.

With that win Carbon, succeeded in completing one of the most astounding comebacks in the history of MLG, winning five games before the mighty Final Boss could win just two. It is now clear that a true rivalry is developing between these two teams and that the Championships in Las Vegas are any team’s to win. With $100,000 and the title of 2006 Halo 2 Champions on the line, you can be sure that not only Final Boss and Carbon, but every team with an invite will be preparing to make Vegas an even better event. Congratulations to Carbon for their victory at the Playoffs in New York, but remember not to take it easy before the Championships. You are now the team with the target on your backs, and all the best of the Halo 2 world are coming to Las Vegas to win.

Congratulations to all of the Playoff Prize Winners!

1st – Carbon :: $30,000
2nd – Final Boss :: $20,000
3rd – Str8 Rippin :: $12,500
4th – Xit Woundz :: $7,500
5th – Legendz :: $5,000
6th – Storm Ventures :: $3,750
7th – FBI GamerGraffix :: $3,000
8th – ShooK On3 Gaming :: $2,500

You can check out the entire Level 2 Playoff Bracket right here!