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The Halo World Championship Tour: Cologne snapshot

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Doug Cortez
Contributing Editor
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This weekend, twelve teams from the EMEA region will take over the ESL studios in Cologne, Germany as they fight for their share of $50,000 and a chance to compete against the best in the world at the Halo World Championship!

Representatives from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa will be competing in a best-of-3 group stage where the top two teams of each group will advance to an eight team single elimination bracket. The top four teams from that bracket will earn the right to play against the world’s best for a share of Halo’s biggest prize pool ever: $2,000,000.

The Halo World Championship Tour: Cologne will feature some of the highest level of competition the world has to offer and with what is at stake, these teams will be looking to play some of the cleanest Halo they can. Here are the 12 teams that will be participating in this weekend’s event, and their respective groups:

 

The competition will be fierce, as this event will mark the end of the road for eight of the twelve teams in the event. Let’s take a closer look at each team, and what to watch for throughout the weekend:

Team: Epsilon esports    

  • Jimbo
  • Buk 57
  • Buk 20
  • Snipedrone

Qualified: January 17th, 2016

Epsilon comes into the EMEA Regional as one of the teams favored to win the event. Their star-studded roster have not list a series on EU soil and are fresh off a trip to the X-Games in Aspen, Colorado where they managed to upset Renegades, one of the top NA teams.

They qualified for the EMEA Regional by winning the Gfinity Halo World Championship stop in London, cruising through all the group stage and into the semifinals before dropping their first game of the tournament against Team Infused. Epsilon won three of the four online qualifying cups with a 14-1 (35-5) record over all four tournaments.

They drew a favorable group, and should not run into Team infused, the team to hand them their only loss, until later on in the bracket. Overall they are 19-1 (47-7) and should be a lot of fun to watch throughout the weekend.

Intel: Jimbo is a mad man when it comes to sniper efficiency. If Epsilon can keep the sniper in his hands, this team will be terrifying.

Team: excel esports    

  • Riotz
  • Lunny
  • Creepeazy
  • Snakey

Qualified: January 24th, 2016

The final team to qualify for the EMEA Regional was excel esports, winning the Last Chance Qualifier in dominating fashion. Before the LCQ they added Riotz, formerly of Team Infused, and saw immediate success. Prior to the LCQ, they were 11-6 (23-20) and had not made it past the semifinals in any tournament they had attended. However, after the roster change they put up a 4-0 (10-0 record) and are a strong front runner to make it out of group B.

They were a strong team before the roster change, but that adjustment has given them a huge boost. excel was knocked out by Team Dignitas in two of the four online qualifiers and Epsilon in the other two, but this was before the swap. Both of those series should be far more interesting if the teams meet in bracket play.

Intel: As a unit, this team has had the least amount of time to play together. A fast pace of play favors them, but can they gel as a team when the game slows down and their macro play is on display?

Team: FAB Games esports    

  • Monkey
  • Doodle
  • Speed
  • Kimbo

Qualified: January 10th, 2016

FAB Games esports shares a group with Team Dignitas and Millenium, which should make for some great matches. FAB played against Millenium in the second EU online qualifier finals and defeated them 3-0  in dominating fashion. That 3-0 sweep included an impressive 100-12 victory on The Rig Strongholds, and an equally impressive 3-0 win on Coliseum CTF where Speed put on a slaying clinic, outslaying all of Millenium by himself with a staggering 25 kills.

This should do wonders for their confidence as they have to beat either Millenium or Dignitas to make it into bracket play. It took them three appearances at qualifier finals to make it to this Regional, and the team has shown notable improvement in every performance.

Intel: As long as this team continues to improve, they should be a lot of fun to watch this weekend. Don’t be surprised if FAB manages to beat both Dignitas and Millenium to win the group. As long as Speed continues to play well, this team will made a deep run into the bracket.

Team: Millenium    

  • zSeifer
  • Zankioh
  • Talic
  • Solarr

Qualified: January 17th, 2016

Millenium is a strong team that has the potential to beat every team in their group, and that will all be predicated on how they have prepared coming into this event. As far as tournament experience goes, this team has one of the longest track records to date. They consistently placed top 8 in the 12 major tournaments they attended, and top 4 in nine of those 12 events.

Zankioh is one of the best snipers in the league and that should be should be on display this upcoming weekend. Both Dignitas and FAB also have some very strong snipers on their rosters, which means these teams will be fighting for power weapon control. If Millenium can control the sniper and keep it out of the hands of their opponents, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Intel: Millenium has slaying prowess, and they should win the majority of their Slayer games, but the true litmus test will be in whether or not they can translate that into wins with objective games.

Team: PENTA Sports    

  • Triczr
  • Anima
  • Blizz
  • Soul

Qualified: December 19, 2015

PENTA Sports was the first team to qualify for the Regional, sweeping FAB Games esports in the German Qualifier finals. They got swept in a bit of revenge by FAB in the third online qualifier, then went on to play some of the best teams in the world at X-Games Aspen. But didn’t perform as well as they’d like, failing to win a single game against Counter Logic Gaming (NA), Evil Geniuses (NA), and Dream Team (NA) in group play.

It is worth mentioning that CLG and EG went on to play in the gold medal match, so their group draw was no walk in the park. Anima is individually one of the best players in the game and he will need to perform at a high level if his team wants to make a run at HWC.

Intel: PENTA had a weekend to compete against what some would argue are the two best Halo teams in the world in CLG and EG. Although their results left much to be desired, they gained some valuable experience that no team other than Epsilon can claim. If they are able to bring insight and experience from their weekend in Aspen, they team could win the entire event.

Team: Pulse Gaming   

  • SLG
  • Cxlii
  • Krystalx
  • RS8

Qualified: January 23rd, 2016

Pulse Gaming comes into the Regional representing France as one of the best teams in Europe. They performed well in the online qualifiers, finishing in the top eight in all but one,  and won three of them outright.

The team came in second place at the XES Championship, securing their spot at the Halo World Championship Tour: Paris. They were the lowest seed in the tournament, as questions arose about their ability to perform on LAN. But they exceeded expectations, beating Supremacy and Team Vitality on the way to winning the event along with €10,000.

The series between Pulse and Epsilon should be a good one, as both teams will strive to establish European dominance. They tend to a play a more methodical style of Halo, so a slower paced game works to their advantage.

Intel: As far as longevity goes, this is one of the most stable rosters in the entire region. If Pulse can avoid a fast paced game, their teamwork should shine and take it out of groups in second place. However, a faster paced game may leave them exposed.

Team: Supremacy    

  • Fragxr
  • Unwize
  • Silent
  • Punishr

Qualified: January 3rd, 2016

At the beginning of the season, Team Supremacy looked like one of the top teams in the region. They began by winning three of the first five pre-qualifier events, and finishing top four in every pre-qualifier after that. They also placed first in their respective group at the XES Championship, going through their bracket completely unscathed.

Supremacy saw similar success in the first European Online Qualifier, facing off against FAB in the finals and winning the series 3-1. They entered Halo World Championship: Paris as the number one seed, and the clear favorite to win the event. Their first opponent of the tournament was Pulse Gaming, a team that Supremacy had a 0-1 (0-2) record against. Vitality went on to dismantle Supremacy, quickly sending them to the losers bracket.

Supremacy was looking to bounce back from an early loss and  turned their attention to Millenium, a team that they had a record of 2-0 (4-0) against and fared the same fate. As a result, the highest seeded team was sent home after a poor performance, and Supremacy will have to return to form in order to compete with the likes of PENTA Sports and excel esports.

Intel: Was their performance in Paris a lack of motivation, or can we expect similar results in Cologne this weekend? Veteran duo Unwize and Silent will have to get back to their electric ways if they want to right the ship.

Team: Team Dignitas    

  • Septiq
  • Respectful
  • Mose
  • Fuzion

Qualified: January 17th, 2016

Formerly known as Team Vibe, Team Dignitas comes into the EMEA Regional as one of the teams favored to win the event. The roster is loaded with talent, and are considered by some to be the only real competition that Epsilon will face over the weekend.

The team is led by Rob “SeptiQ” Singleton, who has high level tournament experience both in Europe and North America, and two up-and-comers in Mose and Respectful that bring a plethora of promise with them. They enter the tournament with an impressive season record of 16-4 (41-12), having only lost to rivals Epsilon and Team Infused.

This team will come out looking to show the world that they are the best team in Europe and have a good chance of doing so. If there was to be a group of death, Group C would be it. But look for Dignitas to cruise through the group stage nonetheless. 

Intel: Coming off of a bitter 3-1 series loss to Epsilon in the HWC Tour: London, their focus will be on meeting Epsilon in the finals and that eager attitude may mean they will run the risk of overlooking another team before they get there. Dignitas’ biggest weakness may be that they’re good and they know it.

Team: Team Infused    

  • Blackjack
  • Chalkie
  • Tufoxy
  • Ramirez

Qualified: January 17th, 2016

Group A has one of the more compelling backstories of the tour stop. Joining Vinco Gaming and Team Vitality is Team Infused, a team that at one point was struggling to adapt to the new meta of Halo 5:Guardians. The addition of Blackjack to the roster marked a turning point for the team, as they have gone 12-5 (27-16) since the beginning of the season.

Chalkie and TuFoxy are slaying powerhouses, and are a big reason some consider this team to be the third best team in the UK right now. As strong and deep of a roster as this is, they are yet to win an event and will be looking to do so this weekend. They also carry some bad blood with Vitality gaming, and that should be palpable when these two teams meet in group play.

Intel: Infused’s rivalry with Vitality may be one of the highlights of the entire weekend. Vitality has shamed them before, and Infused will have bit of extra motivation when they play each other. Infused should be careful, however, because Vinco is a strong team that can surprise a lot of people if neglected.

Team: Team Vitality    

  • Boti
  • Mephisto
  • Hitaborg
  • Renox

Qualified: January 17th, 2016

Team Vitality, aka “Machine Gun Sheep,” have the most swagger out of any other team at this event. They are known for making the trip over to the UK and beating some of the best teams at events, getting the best of both Blackjack and Infused in the past. In fact, Vitality’s captain Botinus has walked up to the camera, taken a Jack of Clubs from his pocket and ripped it up on-stream.

They are also notorious for putting on sheep masks after winning a game and after a top 8 placement in ten of their last 11 events this year, including a strong second place finish in Paris, they may have earned that swagger.

Intel: Vitality should be wary of their rivalry with Team Infused. If they drop their attention, Vinco Gaming could easily upset them and send them home early. And how much attention will those sheep masks get when they board their flight to Cologne?

Team: Vinco Gaming    

  • Pupsky
  • Sharp
  • Havoc
  • Radical

Qualified: January 16th, 2016

Having won the South African Qualifier in commanding fashion, Vinco Gaming, led by team  captain Pupsky, arrives at EMEA Cologne without a single blemish on their record. They are a perfect 3-0 (8-0), and are capable of beating any team in their group.

They have not played against many, if any, EU teams in scrims and that may prove to be the best thing that could happen to them as the other teams have not had a chance to learn their playstyle. Vinco is a great wildcard for this group and is primed for an upset, especially if Vitality and Infused are at each other’s throats.

Intel: Havok will be playing with Vinco in place of Plain Filth due to some travel issues. Havok is a veteran EU player with plenty of experience, but it will be interesting to see if the roster change affects their chemistry at all.

Team: Wrecking Gaming    

  • Squall
  • Hardliner
  • Septic
  • Nightz

Qualified: December 6th, 2015

Rounding out the teams that will be competing in Cologne is Wrecking Gaming. They qualified for the event through points and have had a few of roster changes throughout the season, which makes this team a bit unpredictable.

The Wrecking crew are geared towards a fast playstyle that should be a lot of fun to watch this the weekend. However, they didn’t have a favorable group draw as they are forced to beat either the UK champions or the French Champions before they can make it into bracket play.

Intel: Hardliner and Squall were late additions to the team, and that may be the tipping point in a close series against Pulse. This team has an edge to them that could prove to be a stumbling block for the French Champions.

The Halo World Championship Tour: Cologne will be nothing short of explosive, and spectators will be in for non-stop action. With only four EMEA spots available at the Halo World Championships, the competition will be fierce.

You can tune into the event on Twitch at 3:45AM Pacific Time, 12:45PM Central European Time on both this Saturday, February 6, and Sunday, February. Between Cologne and Sydney World Championship shows this weekend, that’s a ton of Halo excitement. Follow ESL Halo on Facebook and Twitter and use #halowc for all the latest Halo World Championship news.