The competitive eSports scene was important to the growth of Halo, but waned in the series latter years. 343 Industries and Microsoft are seeking to revitalize competitive Halo play with the release of The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One and an officially sponsored eSports league.
The Halo Championship Series (HCS) is a single sanctioning body for Halo competitive play in cooperation with the ESL, Twitch, and tournament organizers. The series will use Halo 2: Anniversary as the base for a year of competitive play following its release next week as part of The Master Chief Collection.
— Halo (@Halo) November 5, 2014
Here are the official details of the HCS.
- The first season of the Halo Championship Series will kick off shortly after the launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and run from November (preseason) through March of 2015.
- Teams of four Spartans will compete in a structured series of online and in-person LAN events.
- All officially sanctioned tournaments (LAN and online) will award HCS points to the top teams.
- At the end of each season, teams with the highest HCS point totals will be invited to compete at the HCS season finals in March 2015. More details to be announced.
This is actually Microsoft’s second attempt to make Halo relevant again in the eSports scene. Halo 4 was dropped by MLG following a deal between Microsoft and Virgin Gaming. However, the introduction of loadouts and other changes to multiplayer in Halo was not well received. Still 343 Industries tried with a Halo 4 Championship in 2013, but with individual players competing for the prize versus a team of players in a finale at PAX Prime.
That said, 343 Industries has made major additions to its competitive gaming staff over the past two years with hires like Andy “Bravo” Dudynsky and other gamers who made their marks in the competitive scene. While it was too late for their influence to be greatly felt on Halo 4, they’ve obviously helped guide the direction of Halo 5 back to an arena-based shooter versus a Call of Duty clone and are applying the lessons learned by Riot, Valve, and Blizzard.
“It’s never been particularly organized, there’s no great structure,” Halo Franchise Media Director Che Chou told Polygon. “Every league has different standards. We wanted to create a centralized system. We look at what Valve and Riot are doing at the forefront of eSports, and also admire that they’re flexible and always changing.”
“The job of a sanctioning body is to unite the kingdom,” he later added in the interview. “Instead of doing one tournament here and one tournament there, let’s make all of them matter. At the end of the day, if people are going to invest their time in playing competitive Halo, I want to reward them with the most impactful fame and rewards possible.”
In an eSports world dominated by the likes of League of Legends, Dota2, StarCraft II, and Call of Duty, it will be interesting to see where Halo can fit back in with the HCS. At the very least, it will be used as a springboard for Halo 5: Guardians.
Will you be competing or keeping track of the Halo Championship Series? Sound off in the comments below.
[Images via Xbox Wire]