By Jason Waddell
We continue Anaheim’s Halo: Reach previews by breaking down Pool B, host to defending Champions Instinct and three ambitious new rosters.
Instinct have all the classic hallmarks of an MLG dynasty: great communication, explosive slaying power, cohesive teamwork, veteran leadership, a telepathic twin connection and even a scruffy-haired fourth. Take a look at the statistical breakdown of their Columbus performance (http://www.majorleaguegaming.com/news/mlg-columbus-halo-reach-stats-breakdown) to see exactly how impressive this team is.
As with every past team that has found immediate tournament success, the biggest question surrounding future performance is “will they get complacent?” Don’t count on it. Long gone are the days where a dominant team could protect its position at the top of the League by relying on natural skill and a few good tactics. The modern tournament scene requires persistent practice and hard work. Slack off, and a half-dozen other teams will be there to surpass you. For the Instinct players, their sub-par finish at the Dallas Season opener is close enough in recent memory to keep the squad motivated to stay ahead of the competition for as long as possible.
Leading up to Anaheim, Instinct are putting in the work and will attend a five-team LAN over the weekend. Winning the Pro Circuit Event is sure to be the only priority for the team, but achieving a blemish-free 21-0 game record would surely be an added bonus, both for the players and their fans.
(7) Final Boss (Victory X, FearItSelf, Totz, Cloud)
Final Boss are fresh off of a highly discussed roster swap, as Ninja left the team and was replaced by Cloud, from Believe the Hype. Cloud holds the distinction of winning three consecutive Pro Circuit titles over the 2009 and 2010 Seasons, and he’ll have plenty of time to integrate his skills with his new teammates as Final Boss log dozens of hours in pre-tournament LAN practices.
Looking at the past two tournaments for Final Boss, the key difference in placement can be attributed to Pool Play performance. The team has not won a single bracket match this Season, but they were given an automatic berth into the Top 6 by winning their Pool in Columbus. In the Dallas opener, Final Boss finished 2nd in their group and settled for a 10th Place finish.
If Final Boss hope to win Pool B, they’ll need to take down Instinct. The Instinct players are certainly no strangers to Final Boss, as each current Final Boss member has teamed with members of the Instinct roster within the last two Seasons. That familiarity, however, goes both ways, and when Instinct and Final Boss squared off in Columbus it was barely a contest. Instinct put the match away in three short games, winning 5-1, 50-36, and 3-0.
Additionally, Final Boss struggled to close out close games in Columbus. In their match against Capital Punishment to reach Top 4, Final Boss lost three objective games by a single point (4-5, 1-2, 1-2). All considered, the addition of Cloud and dedicated practice hours could go a long way towards shoring up the team’s weaknesses.
(10) Active Rush (Frosty, SneakEBeaver, Aries, Batmayne)
10th- seeded Active Rush made a roster swap of their own, as they traded one “ayne” for another, with Batmayne replacing IceVayne. Batmayne arrives from Carbon, where he was the team’s leading slayer in Columbus. Currently Active Rush consist of a group of MLG grinders who, while consistently earning their Pro Players Association cards, often seem to find themselves a round or two short of finishing in the money.
In Columbus, the team managed a 10th Place finish despite losing most of their matches. Active Rush lost three of their four Pool Play matches, but because of a three-way tie at a 1-3 record and the magic of tiebreakers, Active Rush finished 3rd in their group. In bracket play, Active Rush topped 29th seeded Heartbreakers before being stopped cold by Str8 Rippin.
All in all, Active Rush’s Columbus tournament consisted of six matches played, with four match losses and the only match wins coming against 20th seeded Reality Check and 29th seeded Heartbreakers. For Anaheim, with a tougher bracket ahead of them, the same caliber performance is unlikely to yield another Top 10 finish. Active Rush are faced with a stacked Pool and, while the balance of power in the League may have shifted over the years, there’s never been a time when teams would be happy to be matched against the onslaught of Final Boss, Carbon and Instinct. It’s a star-studded Pool, and Active Rush will be looking to provide the upsets.
(15) UoR Carbon (Ghostayame, Mimic, Soldier187, RobbieB)
Carbon are a franchise that have given Pro Circuit fans an incredibly diverse range of performances. The team has covered the entire range, from the highs of their three-peat to close the 2006 Season, to the nightmare that was Carbon’s performance at the 2011 Season opener. In Dallas, Carbon truly hit rock bottom. Starting with a 16th seed, they managed to lose every single one of their Pool Play, Losers Bracket and Consolation Bracket matches to claim the lowest mathematically possible finish a team starting in the Pools can achieve, 24th.
Fortunately for fans of the once-feared franchise, none of the players from the Dallas abomination are on the current roster. For Columbus, Ghostayame resurrected the franchise with a brand new roster. Notable among the changes was the addition of Mimic, who has been in and out of the Pro Circuit since the early Halo 2 days. Ghostayame’s roster renovation continued for Anaheim, acquiring RobbieB from Warriors and Soldier from Swagger Like Us.
The current roster is a fairly eclectic mix of players who started the Season with a broad range of performances: Mimic’s Open Bracket team finished 65th-80th in Dallas, Soldier took 18th with Classic, Ghostayame 8th with Dynasty, and RobbieB was ripping headshots with Warriors en route to a 4th Place finish. For Anaheim, one positive note for Ghostayame and Mimic is that Carbon will start off the competition with a Pool Play berth already secured, rather than needing to slug their way through a tiring Open Bracket.
With a roster of players this diverse, it’s difficult to predict how well the new look Carbon will perform. The players have had mixed Halo: Reach success thus far, and certainly haven’t been given any favors with their Pool draw. Carbon certainly have a wealth of talent and personalities who can get results. The real question will be whether they can gel as a new team quickly enough to be effective in Anaheim.
Pool B is certainly one to watch, containing three of MLG’s most notable franchises: Instinct, Final Boss, and Carbon. Instinct look to be favorites to win not only the Pool, but the entire tournament. With Final Boss, Active Rush, and Carbon each bringing untested rosters to the Event, the Pool matches will serve as an early indication of each lineup’s merit.