Whew. Caught your breath yet?The second leg of the 2018 Halo World Championship rolled into London and our own Gfinity Arena, with four qualifying spots for the HaloWC Finals in Seattle later this year on the line (as well as a cool $25,000 prize pool.) For the European Halo scene, this was a great chance to prove to the world that we can be a force to be reckoned with. And in the land of the giants, several new teams took the chance to make a name for themselves alongside the established veterans. Let's take a look back over the weekend, shall we?
Infused Remain Kings Of The EU MountainGoing into the tournament, we knew it was going to be a big ask for anyone to topple Infused at the top of the UK and EU Halo scene. And the team that set a new record for best-ever finish for a European team in a major Halo tournament were in no mood to be slowed down. The team of Kimbo, Jimbo, Respectful and Mose swept aside all comers, dropping just one game all tournament to finalists Vexed. Back-to-back 4-1 and 4-0 wins in the semi-finals and final against Vexed capped off a great weekend. The qualification spot for Seattle they missed out on last time out at the Orlando Open is secure; the question now is just how far they can go on the biggest stage in April. On this evidence, another top-six finish like the Pro League Fall Season Final could be possible, if not better.
Vexed, Myztro Gaming and Fable Punch Their Tickets To SeattleIn spite of that defeat in the final to Infused, Vexed can still be very happy with their tournament. Making the final means they still lock in a qualification slot for the HaloWC Finals, and they swept through into the semi-finals without dropping a single round. Fable provided a stern challenge, with Vexed ultimately prevailing 3-2 as Fable also guaranteed themselves a spot in the finals. Myztro Gaming rounded out the quartet by also sweeping into the semi-finals without a single dropped game, most notably including a 3-0 whitewash of Endpoint. After their respective losses, Fable defeated Myztro 4-2 to move into a Grand Final eliminator with Vexed, who sent them packing with a 4-1 win.The weekend was all about Infused, Vexed, Myztro and Fable – they will fly the flag for EU Halo in Seattle, with Infused leading the charge once again. Myztro probably have the most work to do of the four, and Vexed will take heart from providing Infused's toughest challenge of the weekend.
Up-And-Comers Make A StatementOne of the most fascinating parts of following pro sport is watching out for the stars of tomorrow and charting their rise to power. On Friday, we saw some big wins by potential future stars of the EU scene by the likes of Zen State, Aerox Esports and Revive Nation in Round 1. The former two teams were defeated by Myztro Gaming and Vexed in Round 2 respectively, with Revive also falling in the second round to Mock It who would themselves be defeated by Fable in Round 3. These losses demonstrate the level of competition these teams will aspire to be at, but this weekend was a good start for them; watch out for this trio of teams to potentially be doing battle with the Infuseds of the world in years to come.
Batchford Clinches FFA TitleOver in the Free-For-All tournament, it was a fascinating battle of individual skill between some of the top players in the 4v4 tournament. In the end Myztro had a tournament victory to celebrate after all: their own Batchford prevailed to take the victory, $2,000 in prize money and a qualification spot to the FFA tournament finals in Seattle. Vexed's Snipedrone finished 2nd, pocketing $1,250 in prize money, ahead of Respectful of Infused in 3rd.
ConclusionSo what did we learn from HaloWCS London? That Infused are the kings of the European Halo scene? Tell us something we didn't already know. They remain largely out on their own in front of the chasing pack, but Vexed are within touching distance and are keeping up the pursuit. In terms of their chances for the Finals in Seattle, it's hard to say; practice, bootcamps and scrims against the top teams Stateside will be key to their chances. Myztro and Fable will feel like they can close the gap; all eyes now move to the HaloWC Sydney Finals in Australia in two weeks' time.