Sunday marked the final day of MLG: Columbus 2011 and saw the finals of the $20,000 Halo: Reach
tournament take center stage. After over two days of competition, two final teams remained: Instinct and Str8 Rippin.
Instinct came into the finals as the heavy favorite having only dropped one game through the entire weekend. With an 18-1 record, they had laid waste to every other team in the tournament. With MLG pros Roy, Lunchbox, Pistola and Ogre2, they had a veritable all-star team that had adopted the moniker "The God Squad". Going into the finals, their kills-to-deaths ratio was over +200 as a team.
Str8 Rippin may be more familiar to the casual gaming fan as it is the team of TSquared, one of the faces of MLG. While Str8 Rippin came into the tournament as the 14th ranked team, they rolled through Sunday racking up impressive wins, including a a dominating 3-0 win over Dynasty (the only team to take a game from Impact) in the Losers' Bracket Finals.
The finals have a bit of an unusual format; taking the initial record that the two teams had in the preliminary round, carrying it over, and making the entire final a "Best of Eleven" affair. Instinct swept Str8 Rippin in the preliminary rounds and was thus granted a 3-0 advantage going into the championship round. This meant that Str8 Rippin needed to win six matches before Instinct won three.
Even though the odds were stacked against Str8 Rippin, they went into the round confident and felt their strongest game variants were ahead of them while their worst were played in the preliminary round.
Game 4 (the first of the finals) was Capture the Flag on Zealot. Instinct jumped out to a very early 1-0 lead by capturing a flag in less than one minute. Str8 Rippin managed to answer almost immediately, as Team Member Legit captured a flag back in short time. The rest of the battle was a back-and-forth affair with both teams seemingly hesitant to make a fatal mistake. In the next five minutes, neither team scored, but each managed to hold or control the other's flag for several minutes. The 21:19 mark saw the floodgates open in Instinct's favor, however, as they swiftly capture four consecutive flags in less than three minutes to take Game 4 and build a 4-0 lead.
With their backs seemingly against the wall, Str8 Rippin came out firing in Game 5, Team Slayer on Element. Building an early 16-9 advantage, Str8 Rippin seemed like they were on their way to their first victory over Instinct. Instinct would not be denied, however, closing the gap and tying it at 36 before ultimately winning Game 5, 50-46. Pistola and Ogre2 took charge for Instinct, scoring 14 kills a piece. TSquared championed the Str8 Rippin effort with a game high 16 kills.
With the first two games of the finals in hand, Instinct seemingly smelled the blood in the water going into Game 6, Capture the Flag on Warlock. The game was over before it essentially began. The faces of Str8 Rippin seemed utterly demoralized going into Game 6, and that sentiment showed in their gameplay. Instinct scored the big win in quick fashion, taking less than ten minutes to collect their flags and win the game 5-0.
The hall erupted after the final capture, taking some of the spotlight away from the Starcraft 2
contest which dominated the weekend. After being presented with the Columbus Champions trophy by MLG President, Sundance DiGiovanni, each member of Instinct was awarded an AR.Drone in addition to the wonderful forms they needed to fill out in order to claim their cash.
Here are a few pictures from the Halo: Reach
The crowd almost eclipsed the Starcraft 2
Instinct receives the Columbus Champions trophy.
And a few, final thoughts on this weekend's MLG event.
* I'll admit that MLG isn't for everyone and not everyone may enjoy going to see the spectacle, but it certainly was an experience. On the downside, I strongly feel that the event would have been bigger had it not been a few days before E3.
* Unfortunately, Sony (and not Microsoft) is a major sponsor of MLG meaning that most of the swag and promo stuff was PS3 related.
* Watching the MLG Pros play Halo: Reach
really is eye-opening. I can't understate how fast and accurate the players are. If you give them a quarter of a second, they can squeeze a headshot through spaces that are unimaginable. More impressive than the "kill skills", however, is the strategy they employ when playing the objective-based games. I was constantly amazed how they don't rush to complete objectives. Instead, they take their time, analyze the scene, check on their teammates and coordinate their attacks, defenses and scores. It truly is remarkable.
* The next MLG event is in Anaheim next month.
* Finally, on a personal note, it was an exhilarating experience covering a live event for TrueAchievements. It's something I'm hoping all of the team here gets the chance to experience some day! Thanks for all of your support.