By Michael Mooridian (Gilean)

It always seems to be the drama of team changes that becomes the key focus when writing these preview articles. But there haven’t been any team changes among the pro teams, thanks to a roster lock that’s been put in place between Orlando and Providence. This is to ensure, among other things, that seeding is as fair as possible for that massively increased prize pool. (It’s equivalent to the other five Events’ payouts combined. Can you say KA-CHING?)

But what does all this mean for you? For one thing, you don’t have to memorize all those new rosters.

Let's take a look at the 16 Halo teams that will comprise the Championship Bracket at the National Championships. We'll be breaking the series into three parts in order to give all these teams the attention they deserve. Today, we examine the bottom of the bracket: the 12th through 16th seeds.

16th Seed—Pure (Tri, Aptitude, Platinum, ElamiteWarrior)

After just two short Events together, the old-school Str8 Rippin roster decided to once again go their separate ways in the days before MLG Orlando. Knowing that the roster would prevent any team changes between Orlando and Providence, the squad decided the parts were greater than the whole.

ElamiteWarrior, a former Str8 Rippin member, elected to join up with Pure, a team that had just acquired pro status thanks to their recent 11th Place finish at MLG Raleigh. Elamite took the place of Toxic, joining the three original members Tri, Aptitude, and Platinum. But a roster change might have been exactly what the doctor didn’t order. Pure were unable to repeat their Raleigh performance in Orlando and were forced to settle for a rather meager 20th Place (which marked Elamite’s second in a row).

Pure have done what so many amateur players dream of doing: broken into the Top 16. But they need to step up their performance at MLG Providence, or they’ll be gone as quickly as they came.


15th Seed—Severance (Brake, Monix, Gabriel, Shaffer)

Severance have hovered around the 12th-16th Seed for the entire 2011 Season. Their finishes have been fairly consistent, to be sure, but certainly not within the range they’d like to see. Still, they’ve managed to hold out in the Top 16 against a barrage of truly impressive talents, both new and old. And they managed to do this without a high-profile name on their roster.

But coming into Orlando, Severance became a tad more aggressive in their roster transactions and acquired Brake, hoping the addition of the former Warriors/Soul player would lift them out of their underwhelming position. Brake, for his part, was hoping to return back to the Top 8—where he had resided for over a year­—after his truly disappointing 23rd Place finish in Raleigh.

While no one’s wish was granted outright, no one had much reason to complain, either. Severance managed 16th Place at MLG Orlando, which was right where most fans expected them. Brake, while not making it back into the Top 8, was at least back among the pros.

Severance have a serious challenge ahead of them at the National Championships. This will be when the true talents out there put in every minute of practice they can squeeze in. Teams feel the pressure, and the best tend to rise with it. Severance have never been referred to as one of the best teams on the Circuit, nor have its members (with the possible exception of Brake) been described as individuals capable of winning Events. For Severance, MLG Providence doesn’t represent a shot at $100,000 so much as a chance to finally break out of their claustrophobic niche.


14th Seed—Carbon (Ghostayame, Thuggish, Twylight, Cpt Anarchy)

I mentioned in the MLG Orlando Halo: Reach Championship Bracket Preview that Ghostayame and Carbon were merely trying to maintain their Pro status in Orlando. Well, they succeeded, and are coming into MLG Providence with a slightly more comfortable 14th seed; the Carbon members should have positive demeanors as a result. But if it’s motivation they truly need, then they should look not forward toward MLG Providence, but instead at the Ghost of Championships Past.

In 2006, it was Carbon that finally toppled Final Boss’ reign of dominance by winning the National Championships in Las Vegas, and Ghostayame was the key roster transaction that led to that success. Two years later, at the 2008 National Championships, Cpt Anarchy (also a Carbon member at the time) had what was called the tournament of his life. Both the Carbon name and its members have successful histories at National Championships. If there was ever a moment when this team had a chance at finding success once again, it would be now.


13th Seed—Str8 Rippin (Tsquared, Adrenaline, Merkage, Toxic)

Following Raleigh, and for the second time in the last year, Str8 Rippin were non-existent after their roster broke up. But Tsquared, longtime captain of the team, brought the name back once again from the brink of death at MLG Orlando. After Str8 Rippin were unable to qualify for the National Championships last year, T2 and Str8 came back in style at MLG Columbus with an impressive 2nd Place finish.  But then, T2 did something that perplexed nearly the entire MLG Halo Community: he changed up his successful roster (granted, for one that had been as equally successful in the past: ElamiteWarrior, Legit, Neighbor, and T2). But this new/old roster stumbled, and it stumbled hard. Str8 went from placing 2nd in Columbus to 14th in Anaheim. They dropped to an even lower placing in Raleigh with a dismal 20th Place finish, by far the worst placing in T2’s and Elamite’s history, and the second lowest in Neighbor’s and Legit’s (both of whom placed 21st back in Halo 2). The Str8 roster decided things were just not working out and once again went their separate ways.

But the name stuck with T2. And T2 immediately began to rebuild his team, showing off the tenacity he has become known for. He acquired Toxic, fresh off a relatively successful 11th Place finish in Raleigh; He picked up Adrenaline, who had just parted ways with Turning Point after a modest 9th Place finish; and he rounded out the roster with Merkage. These were not the big names that Str8 Rippin were used to printing on the backs of their jerseys. But, then again, Str8 were also playing in unfamiliar territory: the Open Bracket.

T2 obviously chose his squad well, because in their very first Event together, they were able to fight their way out of the Open Bracket and outplace the classic Str8 roster in both of their showings earlier in the season (13th vs. 14th/20th). But in Orlando, Str8 had nowhere to go but up. With a Top 16Seed to their name and the legacy of a team weighing heavily on their shoulders, MLG Providence will be a much more trying Event. Will T2 and crew once again have what it takes to make another leap forward?


12th Seed—Active Rush (Aries, Frosty, Elumnite, SneakEBeaver)

Active Rush have shown a great amount of consistency throughout the Season. Their tournament placings have regularly fallen within the range of 10th-14th Place. Their roster has remained equally regular, with team members Aries, Frosty, and SneakEBeaver making up 3/4ths of the team throughout the season. The only inconsistent bit about this team has been their fourth member. After a number of changes, Elumnite was the one they finally settled on to fill that fourth chair. And it seems to be a good fit; Active Rush broke into the Top 8 for the first time at MLG Orlando.

Active Rush have taken a path that most teams don’t. They’ve adopted the mindset of “slow and steady wins the race.” The philosophy worked for Status Quo, and it gave Str8 Rippin an edge over most teams during their transition fromHalo 2 to Halo 3.

While Active Rush might not have the flash that some other teams out there flaunt, they seem to have a great amount of chemistry and determination, which are every bit as important to winning as skill. Out of any team showcased here in Part 1 of the Halo: Reach Championship Bracket Preview, Active Rush certainly have the best chance of breaking into the Top 8 and, more importantly, into that enticing prize pool.

But, win or lose, Active Rush’s pink jerseys will always be Top 8 in our hearts.

Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of our MLG Providence Halo: Reach Champ Bracket preview!


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