As MLG Chicago looms close on the pro gaming horizon, the best players in the country have prepared themselves for what could be a pivotal event on the 2006 Pro Tour. Over the course of the first three events, the young men that make up Final Boss have once again asserted their dominance over the Halo 2 world. However with more money and fame on the line than ever before, all of the top teams have been improving and striving to close the gap. After a series of surprising upsets and intensely close series in Anaheim, fans all over the country have been debating what those results mean for this weekend’s event. Chicago could set the stage not just for another excellent Halo 2 tournament, but for more major upsets and exhilarating finishes sure to keep MLG’s fans glued to Video on Demand all weekend long.

Obviously, the first question on everyone’s mind is, “Can anyone topple Final Boss?” They stormed through the Finals in every event this season, beating Str8 Rippin 3-0 in New York and Dallas and then did the same to Carbon in Anaheim. They are so dominant that of the nearly-60 games of Halo they have played since the beginning of the season, they have only dropped six of them. Their opponents have only been able to beat them in one out of every ten matches they play. That’s an astounding ratio, even for the returning champions of Halo 2.

Final Boss

The other pro teams on the tour will have what seems to be an impossible job of discovering what actually works against the champions in tournament play. Of the six rounds that they have dropped, no discernable pattern has emerged. They have not lost any one gametype twice. Four of their losses have been in Team Slayer games–all on different maps. The other two losses were Team Oddball matches that they lost to Str8 on Lockout and Midship. It seems that there are no visible chinks in the armor of these perennial all-stars of the pro gaming world.

However, the tides could certainly change in Chicago. In what is actually quite an oddity, historically, July has proven to be the month that The Ogre Twins have played their worst during. They have missed both of their previous opportunities to win MLG events in July. Back in 2004, their future teammate Walshy beat them for the second event in a row down in Atlanta. Then, last season at Halo Nationals in Philly, the Twins once again met defeat, this time with the current Final Boss lineup at their side. It’s possible that they let themselves relax a little too much in the Summer time while other teams are practicing even more in preparation for events. If history is any indicator, we very well could have a new champion in Chicago.


“July has proven to be the month that The Ogre Twins have played their worst during. They have missed both of their previous opportunities to win MLG events in July… If history is any indicator, we very well could have a new champion in Chicago.”

So what teams might challenge Final Boss for the right to throne? Most Halo fans would automatically assume that if anyone is going to do it, it will be Chicago’s winner of the Str8 Rippin/Carbon rivalry. These two teams have met at each event of the season with wildly different results each time. In New York Carbon looked flat and the well-prepared Str8 beat them 6-0 over the course of their extended series. Picking up a coach and some new gameplans, Carbon came back strong in Dallas, taking Str8 to an epic 11-game series before dropping the final match to their rivals. Carbon finally achieved victory in Anaheim where this time, after an early upset that sent them to the Losers Bracket, they reversed the New York event’s results by sweeping the series.

Gandhi and Karma (Carbon) with Foulacy and Tsquared (Str8 Rippin)

All of that sets the stage for Chicago. If both teams can avoid early round upsets, they will once again meet in the Winners Bracket semis, focused and determined to come away with the win. Str8 Rippin will no doubt have studied their loss in Anaheim and prepared themselves for their opponent’s strong-slaying brand of Halo. Carbon too, will have a strong desire to claim the second-ranked spot on the tour and will no doubt bring the same level of intensity they had in Anaheim. If these two teams meet, be prepared for one of the best matches of the weekend on Video on Demand.

There are other teams on the tour, however, that not only have a chance to make serious headway into the Championship bracket, but will look to topple one of the giants of the Halo world. XiT Woundz is on the rise after picking Samurai up before the last event and his presence was immediately felt on the XiT roster. Samurai fills that ever-so-important support and objective role that was missing on XiT’s earlier iterations. Behind the impressive slaying of KillerN and the solid talent of brothers Bonfire and Itwasluck, Sam has served to gel their teamwork together in a way that elevated the team from their disappointing 7th place finish in Dallas.

eX has grown to be the primary rival of XiT Woundz at the MLG events, as the four and five seeds continually run into each other in the third round of each Championship Bracket. eX was sporting a temporary lineup in Anaheim that was unable to break into the Top 8 after losing to XiT on the Winners Side and running into an uncharacteristically early Losers Bracket match against Carbon. However with the return of team captain Ghostayame and the acquisition of Mimic between events, many feel this is the strongest team eX has ever fielded in a pro tournament.

Several other teams will be looking to secure their spots in the top eight or crack into the money for the first time. FBI Michigan, who upset Carbon early in the brackets in Anaheim, finished in the top eight for the first time. With a win against a top-three team under their belts and the taste of prize money on their lips, you can be sure they’ll come ready to play in Chicago, just a short drive from their native Michigan. PowerTripBev.com and Zone 6 (Aero Jet), both surprise top eight finishers in Anaheim, intend to keep their prize checks rolling in and will settle for nothing less than a repeat of their West Coast performances. Other well known teams such as MobDeep.net, Triggers Down, Storm Ventures and Get Treated will no doubt want to improve on their recent performances and grab a piece of the prize money.

eX

Chicago is just hours away now and the teams are getting in last-minute preparation. Soon the biggest Halo 2 event in history will be underway with thousands of dollars on the line. Stay tuned to MLG this weekend as we see the intense rivalries heat-up once again, new teams struggling to earn their spot amongst the best and every team striving to take down the champions. Will history repeat itself? Stick with MLGPro.com and Video on Demand all weekend to find out.