By Michael Mooridian (Gilean)
With Providence less than a week away, it’s time to bring you the final part of our Halo: Reach Championship Bracket Preview. Here, we’ll be showcasing the top of the bracket: the 6th through 1st Seeds. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to give Part 1 and Part 2 a read first.
6th Seed—Believe the Hype (Cloud, Maniac, Reliable, Snipedown)
For every winner, there must be a loser. It’s not clear what Dynasty and Believe the Hype were looking for when they conducted their roster swap leading into Orlando. But whether it was skill, chemistry, or just dumb luck, Dynasty came out ahead—way ahead, as in 1st Place—while Believe the Hype were unable to break into even the Top 8.
Right now might be an uncomfortable time for BTH fans. But there are three very good reasons why they shouldn’t jump ship just yet. If we look back at the 2006 Season, Carbon were only able to overcome Final Boss after they dropped StrongSide from their roster. But the very next Season, StrongSide came back (now a member of Final Boss) and put on one of the most dominant National Championship performances in the history of the game. There’s also the 2009 National Championships, where BTH came out of seemingly nowhere to steal the win from the Event favorites (and two members of that very same BTH roster, Cloud and Maniac, are on this roster now). Finally, BTH will likely be one of the most focused and determined teams in the entire venue. Every single member on this roster is out to prove one thing, and one thing only: that he was not the weak link before the roster swap.
5th Seed—Warriors (Dersky, Clutch, Royal 2, Snake Bite)
At this point, we’re never really sure what to expect from Warriors. They started the season with a 4th Place finish, then immediately dropped out of the Top 8. They followed it up with another 4th Place in Anaheim, then once again dropped back down, this time to 8th Place. In a quickly emerging pattern, they put on yet another 4th Place performance in Orlando.
Warriors have been up and down all Season long. And, if the pattern continues to unfold as it has been, a betting man would be wise to not put his money on Warriors. But tournaments aren’t decided by probability. They’re decided by skill, chemistry, and determination. What Warriors need to do in Providence is prove to us that these characteristics don’t just come and go between Events, but are always present. If they can show up with the same mindset they brought to bear during their 4th Place finishes, they’ll easily find a spot in the Prize Pool.
4th Seed—Dynasty (Destin, Tizoxic, Heinz, Formal)
In any competitive league, there are names that will always stand out and remain in peoples’ memories. In Halo, there are the golden-day teams Carbon, Str8 Rippin, and Final Boss; there are the teams that came into prominence after Halo 3’s release, such as Triggers Down and Status Quo; and now, Dynasty are making an impressive run at gaining the same status for their own name, all thanks to a rather fortunate roster swap.
Dynasty existed in the days of Halo 3, and achieved some respectable placings. But without a tournament win to their name, it was easy to write them off as being just a tier down from the top: a tier that doesn’t get remembered in the history books. But this new roster is looking to change all that. They’re hot off a 1st Place win in Orlando, and are coming into the National Championships with a lot going for them.
But it wasn’t so long ago when things could have gone very differently. “DynaQuo” were a short-lived team that existed only in the purgatory between Events, comprised of equal parts Dynasty and Status Quo. But the failure of this team turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened for the members of Dynasty. Heinz and Tizoxic rejoined their long-time Dynasty teammate Destin, who brought with him in his departure from Believe the Hype his new teammate, Formal. As it turns out, Dynasty were on the right track when they tried to essentially merge with another team, but this time they chose the right one.
The Dynasty name is here to stay, but winning the National Championships would certainly give it a nice boost in stature.
3rd Seed—Infamous (APG, Lethul, Blaze, RyaNoob)
For the members of Infamous, their victory in Raleigh meant a lot more than a $20,000 paycheck. Blaze, Lethul, and—to a lesser extent—RyaNoob, are all considered “Reach kids.” But “Lost Boys” might be a more fitting title, especially when looking at their team histories. In the last two Seasons, not one of these players has spent more than two consecutive Events on the same team. They’ve either been dropped or left, constantly searching for a team that feels right, that feels like home. But when they were unable to find what they were looking for, they decided to do something better: build it.
Infamous seem to be exactly what these players were looking for. Providence will mark their third Event together (along with APG), and this is already the longest-lasting roster any of these players have been on. But, better than that, it’s been a successful roster. In their first Event together, Infamous went up against the mighty Instinct—and won. In Orlando, the fought their way to the finals once again, and put up an impressive fight in their ultimate loss against Dynasty.
Infamous have made a huge name for themselves in a very short period of time. And they haven’t shown any signs that they’ll be slowing down in Providence.
2nd Seed—Status Quo (Flamesword, Ace, Enable, Assault)
Truth be told, there hasn’t been much of interest to talk about with Status Quo. Depending on how you look at it, that can be either a good thing or a bad thing.
SQ started the 2011 Season with their first 1st Place finish. But, since then, they seem to have been set to cruise control. Their placings have been consistent enough to keep their seed from fluctuating only one spot (1st to 2nd). Their roster has also shown the same stability, and has remained unchanged not only throughout this Season, but since the beginning of last. Consistency of this sort is truly rare and precious in the world of competitive Halo, and should be cherished. But it’s also been roster changes that have launched teams up to the top all Season long (Ogre 2 and Pistola to Instinct, the formation of Infamous, and Dynasty’s 50/50 swap).
After two Seasons together, Status Quo’s maintenance of the status quo has led to only a single Event win. Providence will provide one final chance for them to see if this roster has what it takes; otherwise, those temporary departures by Enable and Assault might become much more permanent.
1st Seed—Instinct (Ogre 2, Roy, Lunchbox, Pistola)
The bigger they are, the harder they fall. While the giant that is Instinct hasn’t toppled over yet, it’s certainly been seen swaying violently.
After Instinct started out with such impressive back-to-back performances in Columbus and Anaheim, fans were in a state of awe, to say the least. Sure, everyone knew that Instinct’s run would come to an end sooner or later, perhaps at the hands of some great tragedy foretold only in the books of Nostradamus. But Instinct’s run came to an end much, much sooner than most had expected; and it came not because of some apocalyptic event, but at the hands of an under-the-radar team known as Infamous.
Most people assumed Instinct would recover in Orlando. After all, they had still made it to the Finals in Raleigh and “weren’t playing like themselves” when they lost. But Instinct’s Orlando experience ended not on the Main Stage, but in a loss to Status Quo in Loser’s Bracket Round 8.
On paper, Instinct are one of the most frightening rosters to ever exist in the history of this game. Earlier this Season, they showed us all why. They have the talent to shut down most teams before they even get started. But will that be the Instinct we see in Providence?
We’re just a week away from the crowning event of the 2011 Season. Join us in Providence to see who’ll be going home as National Champions, and who’ll just be going home.