The release of Halo Infinite is imminent, and the first open tournament of the Infinite season has already been announced. With the hype for both Halo and its reviving esports scene growing, it presents the perfect opportunity for aspiring CDL pros who have failed to take the next step.
There has always been a very distinct link between Call of Duty and Halo, especially on the competitive side. We’ve seen many of the biggest names try their hands at both, and some truly talented few succeed in both too.
Players like the recently-retired Matthew ‘FormaL’ Piper got their start in Halo before switching to CoD, as well as young players like Shotzzy who has won a world championship in each.
But, in recent years, the landscape for both games has changed completely. The Call of Duty League now features 12 franchises — the open bracket success stories are a thing of the past. On the other hand, Halo hasn’t had a major international tournament since the 2018 World Championship that Shotzzy won.
While through one lens, this looks like Call of Duty flying far beyond what Halo could ever dream of, it could actually represent the exact opposite, with the next generation of esports stars ready and waiting.
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Where the CDL feels like a rigid system set in place, the arrival of Halo Infinite could be everything aspiring players want.
Return of the Open Bracket
Perhaps the main thing that Call of Duty fans and competitors alike miss is the Open Bracket. Hundreds of teams juking it out for the chance to take on the pro players, the best in the game, looking to cause a monumental upset.
We saw it frequently, too. Who could forget FaZe Clan’s incredible Open Bracket run, seeing them all the way through to 4th place at MLG Dallas 2018? Or Enigma6 putting their name on the map placing 3rd from the Open Bracket at UMG California 2015?
It gave aspiring pros a chance to prove themselves to the big names, while playing against them. Even now, two seasons into the franchised Call of Duty League, it’s something that both fans and players desperately want to return, giving amateur players something to truly compete for. And Halo Infinite is planning to deliver.
Commitment to Halo esports
Both 343i and a number of top esports organizations have already shown a commitment to Halo, with the likes of FaZe Clan, Sentinels and Envy announcing that they’ll be involved in the Halo Championship Series going forward.
The first event of the Infinite season has already been announced, too, taking place just days after the launch of the game. The HCS Kickoff Major will pit the best teams in the world against each other from December 17-19, with $250k on the line and — perhaps most importantly — the Open Bracket that competitors crave.
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For players that feel like they’ve been left out in the lurch, Halo represents another chance at glory, and a return to why they fell in love with competing in the first place.
“I don’t enjoy the system we have now [in the CDL], relying on franchises to create a LAN for Challengers,” Adam ‘Defrag’ Mathews told Dexerto. Defrag has been one of the top-performing and placing players in Challengers for several years, but hasn’t managed to find himself on a franchise.
Now, he’s revealed his intention to switch to Halo Infinite. “Playing through countless open brackets and believing that is the correct form of competition, it’s something I’d love to get back to.”
Defrag might not be the only one, either. While no other major player has announced their plans to switch games, he says that there are “a lot of players that aren’t happy with the current landscape of CoD outside of the CDL.”
CoD pros interested in Halo Infinite
While the Call of Duty pros remain committed to the CDL and making their name in one of the biggest games on the planet, it’s impossible for them to ignore Halo completely.
Recent retiree FormaL has hinted that he would like to compete at the HCS Kickoff Major on multiple occasions, while Shotzzy said that he would love to compete in both games, even if it just means attending the Raleigh event with a pickup team.
Could Halo Infinite mirror the influx of Halo players to Call of Duty, like happened with the likes of FormaL and Ian ‘Enable’ Wyatt all those years ago?
If so, we could be about to see a huge shift in the console esports power struggle. With the backing it has, it’s almost impossible for the CDL to fail — but that doesn’t mean a bit of healthy competition from its decades-old rival won’t be welcomed.