The best Halo teams in the world will be uniting for an epic two day event as HCS Raleigh officially kicks off. Here is Esportsgg’s top teams to watch out for at this tournament.

In just over twenty-four hours, sixteen teams will be competing at the first HCS LAN of the season. HCS Raleigh is the dawn of a new era for competitive Halo.

For some teams, this is simply a chance to compete in front of a crowd. For others, it’s a shot at putting down a statement as the best team in the world. The HCS Raleigh or “Kickoff Major” boasts a staggering $250,000 prize pool despite being just a 3-day event. It will take place offline in the Raleigh Convention Centre.

Two of Esportsgg’s Halo writers Marn and Maverick have put together a list of teams fans should watch out for at the event. You can find the bracket here.

North America

OpTic Gaming

  • Bradley “aPG” Laws
  • Justin “iGotUrPistola” Deese
  • Tommy “Lucid” Wilson
  • Joey “Trippy” Taylor

OpTic Halo has been one of the most hyped rosters since Infinite’s launch. OpTic Gaming has not been seen in Halo Esports for over three years, despite having previously fielded multiple World Championship calibre rosters. But following their high-profile merger with Envy Gaming back in October, they have made their grand return to Halo with an incredibly talented roster with a heap of experience between all four of them

They come into HCS Raleigh off the back of two second place finishes at both the HCS Raleigh NA Qualifiers as well as at the Esports Arena 25K Series E Launch Invitational. While they should more than likely make it out of Pool Play, their potential road to glory will not be an easy one. But that won’t stop the Greenwall faithful from getting behind their team.

Sentinels

  • Tony “LethuL” Campbell Jr.
  • Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom
  • Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte
  • Matthew “FormaL” Piper (Temporary Substitute)

Sentinels Halo have been in the spotlight in the days leading up to HCS Raleigh, but for all of the wrong reasons. They were originally set to be the Number 1 seed going into the major.

However, after their player, Royal2 was discovered to have been tampering with Halo Infinite’s game files in his favour, Sentinels were hit with a heaping of punishments. The first being that Royal2 would be suspended from competitive play until January 28th. And the second, and arguably most damning of the lot was that, although they could still play at the tournament, Sentinels would be forced to start in the Open Bracket.

Since then, Sentinels have acquired former Call of Duty and Halo World Champion Matthew “FormaL” Piper from Spacestation Gaming as temporary substitute for Royal2 at HCS Raleigh. So, despite the fallout from the Royal2 ruling, Sentinels still have one of the most dangerous looking rosters on paper. And with the addition of FormaL should be able to make it through the Open Bracket with relative ease.

Cloud9

  • Kevin “Eco” Smith
  • Zane “Penguin” Hearon
  • Jonathan “Renegade” Willette
  • Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher

Cloud9 comes into HCS Raleigh with a chip on their shoulder. In Halo five they were one of the best teams in the world along Sentinels. Now, however, question marks are starting to creep in for the NA side. C9 started off Infinite the way they left five, fighting amongst the best and reaching multiple finals.

In their past two tournaments, however, they have faltered, finishing 5th-6th twice and not looking at their best. One thing is for certain, competing at a LAN event is the fuel to ignite most teams. This seems to the be case with Cloud9 who can’t wait to jump into Raleigh and get off to winning ways.

Cloud9 will not have to wait long to get their opportunity to prove they are still one of the top dogs of Halo. HCS announced last night the groups for pool play. Cloud9 will be taking on Acend (formerly Cartel), XSET and Spacestation Gaming. While C9 are comfortably favored against their NA counterparts, Acend has been a monster in the EMEA this season and is yet to suffer defeat.

FaZe

  • Adam “Bound” Gray
  • Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller
  • Michael “Falcated” Garcia
  • Eric “snip3down” Wrona

FaZe Clan is one of the dark horses to win HCS Raleigh, and for good reason. On December 13 FaZe announced they have signed the Inconceivable roster. This rosters last two tournament placings should get fans very excited heading into Raleigh. They placed in the top three at both the NA Qualifiers and the Esports Arena Invitational.

Not only have they picked up an incredible roster, they have also picked one of the most legendary players to play Halo. Snip3down previously announced he would be stepping away from the TSM FTX Apex Legends squad and would make a return to Halo.

All eyes will be on FaZe Clan to perform at this tournament, and for good reason. Snip3down knows how to handle the pressure and this roster will look to him as the calming presence. FaZe is in a relatively straight forward group and should look to come out as the winners.

EMEA

Acend

  • Kaci “Lqgend” Sabri
  • Shady “Shaady” Zer
  • Renan “Sica” Grall
  • Michael “Snipedrown” Juchau

The kings of Europe are Raleigh bound! The roster formerly known as Cartel has been picked up by popular EMEA organization Acend. Acend’s roster is simply breathtaking and will spare no time showing the rest of the world why the EMEA should be taking seriously in Halo.

Dominant is an understatement when speaking about Acend’s performances since the roster was formed. Over the span of ten tournaments, including three from Halo Infinite, Acend has only finished lower than first on one occasion. Meaning they have racked up an impressive nine championships. Acend is yet to be matched in Halo Infinite, winning all three of their events and making quick work of qualifying to Raleigh.

Acend will not have to wait long to get their opportunity against NA’s best. They have been seeded alongside Cloud9 in Pool D. This is set to be an exciting match, as C9 has a point to prove and will come firing out of the gate. On the other side, Acend will be looking to prove they are simply not just a good team from a “worse” region.

Quadrant

  • Sonny “Fragxr” Marchaland
  • Paul “Nurix” Villemont
  • Norwen “SLG” Le Galloudec
  • Sébastien “Tchick” Darriet

Quadrant is a UK-based Esports organization that was created by McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris. Their roster, which is made up of a full French contingent, have impressed many in the weeks leading up to HCS Raleigh, and will be hoping to get their season off to a good start.

Tchick is somewhat of a newcomer within this roster, with the other three members having been in the EMEA Halo scene for about 3 – 4 years. Fragxr and SLG will be hoping to rekindle their dynamic partnership which saw them have plenty of success on Supremacy and most recently Fable Esports. Nurix is primarily known for his exploits in the lower tiers within Halo where he has had a relatively successful time. He also had a brief stint on Supremacy back in 2017 but ultimately remained in the shadows.

Whether this team has what it takes to make a deep run remains to be seen. They set a blistering pace to qualify for this event, with their only loss coming against Cartel; who have since been acquired by Acend . However, given the teams they will be matching up against in Pool Play at Raleigh, they may find themselves in dangerous waters from the outset.

Stay tuned to esportsgg for the latest Halo news and updates.

Jordan Marney -

Jordan Marney

| Twitter: @MarnMedia

Jordan "Marn" Marney is an esports journalist from across the pond. Marn specialises in telling stories about League of Legends and Call of Duty. Marn has been a passionate esports fan since 2014 and has written for publications Unikrn, Esports Network, ESTNN and The United Stand.