This past weekend, the six best teams from the Australian and New Zealand region met at the Australian Technology Park in sunny Sydney, Australia for the Halo World Championship Tour: Sydney. Once the final shot was fired, two teams were left standing with a ticket to meet the best in the world at the Halo World Championship next month.
Team Immunity asserts their dominance
Team Immunity came to Sydney as one of the best teams in the region. They also brought with them one of the top records at the event, a commanding 19-3 over 22 games. With a record like that, iM was not a team to be taken lightly, and they showed all weekend why their statistics are as good as they are.
iM drew a group with Team Exile5, and Team Reign, and made quick work of both, sweeping both x5 and Reign before making it to bracket play. They faced Authority as the runner-ups from Group A for the first time all season during the semifinals in a BO7 to determine which team would represent the ANZ region at Worlds.
Game 1, Strongholds on The Rig, was primed to be a good match as both teams came in undefeated on that map and gametype. Authority was beating teams on Strongholds by an average of 75 points and statistically looked like the stronger team. iM thought otherwise, and made a statement by winning 100-44.
Authority jumped out to an early lead in Game 2, Plaza Slayer, after overshield was burned and Wogggy got his hands on the sniper rifle and the next 8:42 were nothing short of nail-biting. With the score 49-49 in the closing seconds of the game, iM Seduce managed to get his hands on a new overshield as it spawned. With victory imminent, Seduce charged Wogggy, certain that he would net the last kill and give his team a commanding 2-0 series lead.
However, Wogggy made the play of his life, managing to melt Seduce’s overshield with a plasma pistol beatdown combo to give Authority to the win. Immunity would go on to win the next 3 games in poignant fashion, and qualify for the Halo World Championship along with advancing to the grand finals against Team Exile5 in a rematch from the group stages. But in that second meeting, the results were the same. iM was simply too much for x5 to handle and iM took the series 4-1.
Team Exile5 fights their way to Worlds
By coming in second place at the final ANZ Qualifier, Team Exile5 qualified for the Halo World Championship Tour: Sydney and exceeded expectations. They shared a group with the eventual winners of the event, Team Immunity, and Team Reign, who qualified for regionals at the AvT Auckland LAN.
After a first round bye in group play, x5 swept Team Reign 2-0 before getting a bit of their own medicine and being swept by Team Immunity. Their 1-1 record in pool play was enough for them to advance out of group play as the number two seed and to put them up against group A’s winner Team Prime in the semifinals. Prime had only dropped a single game in group play, and entered their series against x5 with both confidence and momentum.
But that did not seem to matter to x5, as they went on to upset the higher seeded Prime with a final series score of 4-1. That series win earned them the right to represent the ANZ region along with Team Immunity at the Halo World Championship in March.
Entering the Grand Finals as an underdog against the best team in the region, Team Immunity. But x5 had to feel good about the first game type of the series, Capture the Flag, because x5 held an 11-0 record in CTF mode, and improved in Game 1 to 12-0, taking CTF on Truth 3-1. But x5’s luck ran out after that, as iM would win the next four games straight, and be crowned the winner of the Halo World Championship Tour: Sydney.
The weekend began with six teams full of aspirations to join the best in the world, but only two will make the trip to the Halo World Championship. Team Immunity and Team Exile5 have the talent and potential to perform well, and with the opportunity to represent their region on the biggest stage in esports history, they will be playing with something to prove.