The Halo World Championship Tour: Cologne recap

The Halo World Championship Tour: Cologne featured some of the best Halo from across Europe as well as South Africa. After a weekend full of nonstop action and heartbreaking upsets, four teams have emerged at the top and will find themselves on the way to the US to compete in the Halo World Championship Finals

Team Dignitas digs their own grave

Team Dignitas came into the event as what many considered to be the top contender against the dominance of Epsilon esports. Their roster, loaded with both veterans and newcomers alike, had compiled an impressive season to date. They carried a 16-4 (41-12) record, only to lose to both Epsilon who will be advancing, and Team Infused who would go on to win the entire tournament.

The team entered the event with promise and was promptly disappointed. They first met Millennium, and were 2-0’ed in dominating fashion. Their next series against FAB esports was a must-win for them, as they had to sweep in order to force a three way tie and keep their season alive. Game 1 of the series was Coliseum CTF, and Dignitas was met with more of the same fate. FABe made quick work of their opponents, winning the game 3-0 and sending Dignitas home in an early exit. Although they failed to meet expectations, team captain SeptiQ promises a return.

exceL esports excels on the big stage.

exceL esports was the first team from the EMEA region to qualify for the Halo World Championship next month, and did so in seemingly effortless fashion. They cruised through the group stage, 2-0ing both Supremacy and X-Games participants PENTA sports before meeting Group A runner-ups Team Vitality.

Game 1 of bracket play set an ominous tone for PENTA, as exceL won Fathom CTF 3-0 on the back of a 19/7/5 stat line and spectacular play from Lunny. Game two, Coliseum Slayer, saw similar results. Snakey put up a 22/4/3 stat line and displayed superior power weapon control as exceL cruised to a 50-32 victory.

With elimination looming, Vitality came out of the gate swinging in Game 3, Eden Strongholds. Vitality was up 51-3 at one point, and seemed poised to force a Game 4 in the series. exceL, however, had no intention of drawing the series out any longer than necessary and mounted a furious comeback to win the game 100-81 and the series 3-0, securing their place alongside 15 other top caliber Halo teams around the world at the World Championships.

xL continued to advance through the bracket, making to to the Grand Finals against Team Infused, who was responsible for knocking Epsilon esports out of the tournament. Infused proved to be too much for the xL squad, as they lost the series 4-0.

FAB Games esports is fabelhaft for Germany

FABe drew what many considered to be the group of death. Sharing Group C alongside Millennium and powerhouse Team Dignitas, there was a strong possibility that this team would not make it out of group play. But they made quick work of Millennium as their first obstacle, sweeping them 2-0 in Coliseum CTF and Slayer on Eden.

The tension then hit a peak as Dig was swept by Millennium, setting the stage for a do-or-die series for Dignitas when they met FABe. FABe was poised to be the bracket buster for Dig, as they had to take one game for them to advance to bracket play and eliminate Dig. They won the first game of the series, sending Dig home and advanced to play PULSE in the quarterfinals.

That series was tight, and went to a Game 5 Regret on Slayer before a winner was decided. FABe jumped out to a commanding 12- 2 lead to start the action, and never looked back, winning the game 50-37 and qualifying for the World Championship. Their run in the Cologne tournament ended shortly after that, however, as they would go on to lose to exceL esports in the semifinals 4-1.

Epsilon esports qualifies, leaves much to be desired.

Coming into this event, Epsilon was considered the clear favorite to win the whole thing. They dominated the qualifier cup series, winning three of four tournaments, won Gfinity HWC: London, and had an overall series record of 19-1, winning a staggering 87% of games.

Group play went as predicted for the squad, as they 2-0’ed PULSE Gaming and Wrecking Gaming in effortless fashion. The bracket draw placed them in the same half as their rivals, Team Infused, who were the only team to hand them a loss all season. Now they were on a collision course to meet again in the semifinals.

Epsilon took care of business beforehand, besting Supremacy 3-0 and setting up that rematch.  The first game of the BO7 between Epsilon and Infused was Coliseum CTF, and it took all 12 minutes before Infused would take the series lead, 1-0. Game two, Slayer on Truth, was more of the same for Epsilon, as they would lose the game 50-39 and go down 2-0 on the series behind a 5/12/16 stat line from BUK57.

Epsilon, on the verge of losing control of the series, entered game three with a renewed vigor that was evident in the final score. They bounced back and took game three, Plaza Strongholds, 100-54 with Snipedrone scoping a game-high 21 kills against his rivals. With a win under their belt and momentum on their side, they entered game four Fathom CTF with a barrage of aggression. They took an early 2-0 lead, and would win the game 3-1 behind 20 kills from Snipedrone, tying up the series 2-2.

Epsilon clawed their way back and looked primed to rattle off another two wins to close out the series, but Infused had other plans. Infused would win Slayer on Eden, and Strongholds on The Rig to make for a disappointing end to Epsilon’s weekend. Although failing to reach the finals, Epsilon will have a chance to redeem themselves as they head to the Halo World Championship in March.

Team Infused goes the distance

Considered to be one of the top three teams at the event, Team Infused came to Cologne with a “Championship or Bust” mentality. Their draw was favorable and with the exception of dropping one game against Vitality, they made that evident as they cruised through group stages.

Their bracket draw had them playing Millennium in the first round, one of the teams responsible for sending Dignitas home early. But Ramirez and company were not phased, as they made quick work of their French counterparts 3-1 in the quarterfinals. Beating Millennium secured their place among the four  teams that would be representing the EMEA region at the Halo World Championship, but Infused wanted more than just a top 4 finish.

They would go on to eliminate their rivals, Epsilon esports, and face surprise finalists exceL in a BO7 for the top seed coming out of the region. Infused picked up right where they left off and dominated xL in the grand finals, sweeping the series 4-0 and being crowned champions of the Halo World Championship Tour: Cologne.

The weekend began with 12 teams vying for four coveted spots, and after all was said and done, Team Infused, exceL esports, FAB Games esports, and Epsilon esports will now face the best teams in the world and fight for a chance at $2,000,000 in March. With everything that is at stake, these teams will have a month to prepare for the opportunity to make both Halo and esports history.


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