The best Halo teams from across Oceania have descended upon DreamHack Melbourne, hunting for either a direct invite to pool play at HCS Orlando or a shot to fight their way into the tournament via Orlando’s open bracket.
In the battle for the top of Group A, it was Divine Mind who drew first blood against the Dire Wolves, grinding out a 2-1 CTF Bazaar victory before bouncing back from a narrow 50-48 Slayer Catalyst loss to win the match 3-1.
Matthew “Swayz” was instrumental in leading his team to victory, dropping 30 kills on CTF before clutching up repeatedly in both Oddball Recharge and KOTH Live Fire.
Dire Wolves were able to salvage a 1-1 record with a 3-1 victory over Kitbash, the latter now languishing at the bottom of the group after also heartbreakingly failing to complete a reverse sweep against Divine Mind.
The 3-2 loss should give Kitbash some hope, only losing the decider on Slayer Recharge by a single kill.
Despite sitting top of the table, it wasn’t as dominant a performance as Divine Mind would have liked, especially in their hunt for a maiden LAN victory. They’ll be looking to put together a commanding performance against incoming open bracket qualifiers Vertex, who themselves will be hunting for a scalp or two as they speed through their pool play matches.
As for Group B, in what could very well prove to be a Grand Final preview come Championship Sunday, The Chiefs hushed the doubters with a strong 3-0 sweep of Mindfreak to kick off their opening game of the day.
Mindfreak’s Rhys “Ninjestics” Graham scored a quick opening capture in CTF Bazaar before the Chiefs responded with a streak of four captures — including a cleanly executed back-to-back capture that snuffed any momentum MF had.
A last gasp capture from Mindfreak wasn’t enough, and Chiefs stalled out the remaining time to leap to a 1-0 lead in the series. Slayer Catalyst was much more hotly contested, with Ali “BZIIRK” Deran featuring for the Chiefs en route to a 50-42 victory to push what had been predicted as a close battle ever closer to a clean sweep.
Oddball Recharge is where it got really interesting, as Mindfreak stormed to a 1-0 lead on the back of some powerful play from Ryan “Junior” Dunkley. However, an absolute nail-biter of a second round went The Chiefs away after they inched a single point ahead in the dying seconds before tossing the oddball away to kill off the remaining time and take the round.
Sensing the sweep, The Chiefs aggressively controlled the tiebreaker, wrapping the series up to kick off their campaign on the right foot.
Team Immunity would have sensed an opportunity against a wounded Mindfreak, but MF quickly shrugged over the earlier loss to tear through Immunity in a quick 3-0 sweep. Immunity slumped to a second 0-3 defeat to the Chiefs later in the day, and they now stare down the barrel of a lengthy path to the final via the lower bracket.
On the other hand, the score line of Mindfreak’s loss to The Chiefs doesn’t do the competitiveness of the series justice.
Their first LAN in their current iteration, Mindfreak have shown that they’re here to win, but to do so they’ll need to triumph in the rematch against the Chiefs that likely awaits them at the end of the road.
In the Open Bracket played alongside the early pool play matches, Bandits and Vertex fought through sixteen other teams to reach Championship Sunday.
However, before they stake their claims at Halo glory come finals, they’ll have to each face a barrage of pool play matches against the other three teams in their group — a trial by fire that decides their all-important seeding for the championship bracket.
Vertex have seeded into Group A while Bandits have found themselves in Group B, with their games played on the second day of pool play before the opening rounds of the Championship bracket begin on Saturday afternoon.
Day 2 of HCS Melbourne is live right now — head on over to Halo’s official Twitch channel to catch the start the remaining pool matches and the start of the Championship bracket.