Karma once again proved that he is the undisputed king of Halo 2’s FFA and 1v1 battles by cruising his way to a seventh straight tournament victory and a huge payday at the MLG 2006 Playoffs. With yet another victory under his belt, Karma is poised to become the first completely undefeated Halo entity during the course of an MLG season–so long as he continues his streak by winning the National Championships in Las Vegas next month.

The 1v1 battles in the Level 2 bracket were a real treat for any fan of the game that managed to make their way over to watch on Saturday. The entire first round was packed with great matches, including Karma’s 15-12 defeat of KillerN and Naded’s overtime victory over Ogre 2. During that match, Naded and Ogre 2 drew even during regulation at 14 apiece and then tied again at 3-3 in the first overtime. In the second overtime, Ogre 2 suddenly became extremely impatient and with time winding down and the score tied he rushed Naded, who was holding a shotgun and baiting the rush. He blasted Ogre 2 for the kill to win the round and cheered as he realized the 15 seconds left on the clock wouldn’t be enough for Ogre 2 to get a kill and tie it once more.

While StrongSide has proven to be a worthy competitor, Karma sits high atop the rankings as the clear master of the 1v1 game. At the Playoffs, Karma took home top honors for his sixth consecutive tournament, netting a $5,000 prize check and even more speculation that he may be more machine than man.

In the next round, Karma rolled past Naded 15-5 while StrongSide battled Walshy for the right to play in the WB Finals, eventually coming away with a solid 15-12 finish. This set up a Winners Finals match that would be repeated in the Finals. While Karma picked up the first kill against StrongSide early in the match, he allowed StrongSide to go on a mid-game run to take a commanding 8-5 lead. Karma made good use of his host advantage by sitting back with grenades and some long-range shooting to climb back to an 8-8 tie. The two competitors see-sawed back and forth for the next few kills until Karma was finally able to establish some form of map control and finish StrongSide off 15-12.

In the Losers Bracket, Ogre 2 and Legit defeated their respective teammates, Walshy and Naded, and advanced to face each other for the right to play for the Top 3. After a hard-fought match, Legit came away with a solid 15-8 victory. This set StrongSide and Legit up for a rematch of their first-round battle to determine who would face Karma in the Finals. While StrongSide had vanquished his opponent 15-9 during their first series, he would find Legit somewhat more confident and composed in this match. Legit played a rush-and-wait style of attack in which he would reveal himself on radar with a high-paced rush and then suddenly freeze. This caused StrongSide to start moving as well and give Legit enough information on radar to know exactly where to place his grenades before he snuck around to generate a kill.

Legit let his individual talent shine through in the 1v1s, taking out Ogre 2 on his way to a third place finish.

However, StrongSide was not without his own tricks. Feeding off of Legit’s faster-paced playing style, StrongSide set himself up places to shoot across the map and then port to catch his opponent off guard. At one point he was able to snag two quick kills in a row out in the open and then set up on the top of a ramp for the “StrongSide spawn”–which forces his opponent to spawn on the ground–for a third kill and a solid lead. He held onto that lead despite a late rush from Legit to win 15-13 and set up a rematch against Karma.

Karma remembered the previous event when his patrol of the top center platform had allowed StrongSide to wait him out and force him to play down in shots for most of the match. Keeping that in mind heading into their rematch, he tweaked his strategy to keep StrongSide from catching him sleeping again. Playing much more often from down low this time, Karma kept his grenade supply fresh and his view of the map wide by often keeping near the portals. Once he had an idea of his opponent’s position, he would ‘nade and shoot with the advantage as he advanced to higher ground. Armed almost constantly with a shotgun, fresh grenades and a clear view of the map, Karma was able to overcome an early 0-3 deficit to cruise to another 1v1 victory over StrongSide.

Karma, relaxing after the completion of his death march through the 1v1 Playoffs.

Headed into the National Championships, the top seven players below Karma will all have to yet again relearn how to play against him and watch VoD to find any holes in his strategies. While every single player that is invited for the Finals in Las Vegas is talented and brilliant in his own right, it will take an extraordinary achievement by a player with unreal levels of strategy, patience and confidence to fell the giant. Should any of these seven players fail, Karma is positioned to win his eighth straight event and complete his sweep of the 2006 season. Congratulations to Karma on his victory, and good luck to any who would challenge him–it looks like you’re going to need it.

Halo 2 Level 2 1v1 Winners:
1st – $5,000 :: Karma
2nd – $3,000 :: Strongside
3rd – $2,000 :: Legit
4th – $1,250 :: Ogre 2
5th – $750 :: Naded
6th – $500 :: Walshy
7th – $375 :: Fonzi
8th – $300 :: KillerN

For complete results of the Level 2 1v1 tournament, check out the official bracket!