My name’s Tony Peek. By day, I’m a coder for Bigpipe Broadband. By night – well, I mostly sleep, but I also play competitive Halo as part of Team Reign. While the rest of New Zealand celebrated Waitangi Day, this small but enthusiastic group of Kiwi gamers travelled across the Tasman to display a different type of patriotism – getting utterly smashed in the big-leagues of gaming.
Team Reign spent the weekend in Sydney at the Halo World Championships, having just qualified for one of six spots by coming second at the Adversity Gaming LAN held over Auckland Anniversary Weekend. This qualifier gave us free flights to Straya, and some flash accommodation too. The top six Australasian ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ teams converged in Sydney where they competed for an invitation to the US to compete in the Halo World Championship finals. Top prize in the global championship was winnings in the realm of $2 million USD. Team Reign knew it was going to be an uphill battle as we were very much the underdogs when compared to the other five competing teams. We expected ecstasy and agony. We got both.
Our difficulties started in the real world. I was swabbed for explosives at Auckland airport, charged an extra $100 for an airfare name change (from Tony to Anthony), and then the team’s seats were changed at the last minute. Not to worry.
After a sleepless, yet enjoyable flight, the team was transferred to the Australian Technology Park where we had a chance to get used to the venue, the setups and get in some warm-up games before the competition. The team met the 24 competing players and were all promptly exposed to the glitz, glamour and sheer bling of professional gaming, as evidenced by this swanky bulleted list:
- Fully kitted out stages within the auditoriums
- Top-of-the-line filming and technical equipment
- An in-house server imported from the US(!)
- International commentators
- Exclusive free apparel
The set up would have impressed even the most hard-core of gamers. However, our practice against the lesser teams that afternoon didn’t boost the team’s confidence. After some brutal and bruising practice sessions, by way of welcome to the big league, the team cleared their minds by heading to Bondi Beach to soak up some rays and prepare for the real business on Sunday.
Championship Sunday saw Team Reign put into “the pool of death” with Team Immunity and Exile 5- Australasia’s top teams. Right from the get-go, we knew this was going to be a rough Sunday. We played Team Immunity in a best of three match on the main stage. The series was scheduled to fill one hour on the Twitch Halo stream, and would be watched by thousands of global viewers. We managed to last a stunning, cringe-worthy, embarrassment-filled 09:01 minutes in a two-nil sweep – go team!
As the game finished, the words ‘brutally owned’ came to mind. This was reinforced by the commentators, who gleefully noted that “this is the fastest capture the flag game I have ever seen in competitive Halo”, after we lost the first match 3-0 with a time of 2:08.
Good times indeed. The games went so fast that the next Team Reign match against Exile 5 (planned to be played off-stage) was pushed forward to main stage to fill in time on the Twitch livestream. This was excellent from a gamer’s perspective, as the stage is the best place to play. But it wasn’t such a good thing when playing against such elite competition, with an equally embarrassing result. See picture for proof.
In saying that, and despite the agonisingly poor results, it was one of the best weekends any Halo player (and/or gamer) could ask for. Every gamer knows that e-game communities can get a bad rap for being toxic and uninviting – but everyone competing in this event were nothing but positive and welcoming. We would definitely support and encourage any gamers out there who might be considering entering such an event, to do so. To be surrounded by a group of international competitive e-gamers and spend post-game time sharing strategies and war stories was a priceless experience.
Then there was the sheer ecstasy of having a dedicated server in the same building as players (speeds at which most gamers out there would salivate with excitement over – yes, it was as good as Halo 3 on a LAN!). This was the icing on the cake of a brilliant weekend and we hope to be lucky enough to succeed further next time. But the Team Reign crew will be sure to keep their day jobs – as a backup, in case our gaming performance doesn’t quite stack up.
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