Few would have guessed the grand final esports showdown we received on Championship Sunday going into HCS Kansas City. Despite a sluggish start to the Halo Infinite league season, Sentinels’ iconic players dominated the weekend with excellent performances versus HCS Raleigh champions Cloud9 and a revitalized OpTic Gaming.
The Event Recap
Sentinels defeated C9 in a best-of-five series for the winners semifinal, and the big finals rematch following C9’s comeback from the lower bracket was an even more impressive display of seasoned brilliance. Sentinels trounced C9 4-0, wiping away the reigning Major champions’ formerly unblemished Halo Infinite record with a flicker.
The grand finals followed the same pattern as the teams’ earlier battle, with Sentinels’ primary slaying combination of Frosty and Royal 2 outclassing C9’s efforts. Closing out a map boils down to kills and then controlling of the pace after those kills, with both teams being equally matched in their effectiveness. C9 had little room to operate with given Frosty’s 1.29 K/D and Royal 2’s 1.4 K/D, and every mistake in their plan proved costly. The challenges they were experiencing in directing the game’s pace were on full display during heated listen-ins to the typically calm and cool boys in blue.
C9 only showed glimpses of dominance in each of the four matches, with Capture The Flag on Aquarius witnessing a back-and-forth of flag grabs before Sentinels won 5-3. However, over the remainder of the maps, Sentinels’ triumphs appeared to be a piece of cake. Sentinels frequently collected 70 to 80-point streaks each time they won control back of two or three zones in what would be the final match of the final on Streets Strongholds, and a metaphor for the series as a whole. By comparison, C9’s limited moments of rough objective time only netted them 85 points by the end of a match.
Renegade’s lack of effect, a normally steady slaughtering presence for the lineup, could have been another important cause in C9’s collapse. Renegade’s posture and clutch factor can drastically influence the result of a game when C9 has control of the match and Eco’s in-game leadership can steer their rotations. During the HCS Anaheim event earlier this season, he averaged 1.32 K/D. In the big finals in Kansas City, though, the Sentinels shut him down, and he has been unable to pull through with only a 0.97 K/D in the facing a series sweep. The rest of C9 didn’t fare any better, trailing Sentinels by 35 kills and 12 assists.
Snakebite, the team’s captain, echoed this sentiment. He stated, “We knew we could accomplish it.” “We just said let’s play our style, play confidently, and let that drive us through as immediately as the day started.” I’m quite pleased of the group.”
Sentinels will be looking to keep their hold on the elite Halo throne at the upcoming HCS Major in Orlando later this year. With a four-month gap between now and then, teams like C9, OpTic, and eUnited will have plenty of opportunity to iron out their faults and comeback to the main stage in much better shape.
With the continent’s regional finals, European Halo fans won’t have to wait nearly as long for additional tournament action.