It was a mixed bag in Halo Infinite’s inaugural offline tournament.
The Halo Championship Series (HCS) invaded Raleigh, North Carolina, for the first major LAN of the year. More than 270 teams registered for the event, where they’d compete for a share of $250K USD and establish themselves as a team to fear.
HCS Raleigh represented more than just an ordinary offline Halo tournament. This weekend marked the first LAN event since DreamHack Anaheim back in 2020. What’s more, Halo Infinite ushered in a new era of competition, featuring both crafty veterans and talented young up-and-comers. Needless to say — this tournament was monumental.
Day one of the HCS Raleigh included all of the highs and lows one could expect from the first Halo LAN in almost two years. However, two storylines dominated the headlines; exponential viewership numbers and frustrating technical difficulties.
Record-Breaking Viewership on Day One
Excited to say that the #HCS Kickoff Major Raleigh 2021 is now the most viewed Halo esports event of all time…and it's only Friday.
Thank you so much to everyone watching from around the world!
— Tashi (@Tashi343i) December 17, 2021
Starting with the bright spot, day one of HCS Raleigh proved the first few HCS Online tournaments were no fluke. Mere moments after the official Halo Twitch channel went live, thousands of fans flooded in with support. The main broadcast steadily maintained around 60K viewers throughout the day.
It was a heart-warming resurgence for fans and players, and hopefully, a sign of things to come. Averaging 60K viewers is no easy feat, and as Halo Esports lead Tashi put it, “and it’s only Friday.” The buzz was undoubtedly the high point on day one, but an unfortunate dark cloud stalled the momentum.
Unfortunate Game Crashes & Stream Delays
Disaster struck the tournament right out of the gate during the opening set. Spacestation Gaming and XSET were to square off in a best-of-five series in Pool D. Game one went off without a hitch, but game two began a string of technical delays that would affect sets throughout the day.
Several series suffered game crash issues and significant stream delays. Esports Engine Co-founder Adam Apicella took to Twitter in response to a tweet from Call of Duty analyst Anthony “NAMELESS” Wheeler’s questions regarding the issues plaguing the event. “Tech issues on match 1 to start the day,” wrote Apicella. “Been fine since. It had to do with the PC drivers on the new machines.”
While Apicella thought the issues subsided, that was not the case. A match in primetime between XSET and top European team Acend became the most problematic of the bunch. The two teams went to a decisive game five, but multiple crashes deflated the Raleigh Convention Center and thousands of viewers.
Attempt one at game five provided an exciting display; Acend rallied back from a ten-kill deficit to tie the game. Unfortunately, Sica of the European squad crashed during the match, following another in the game before. The Twitch clip above captured during the broadcast accurately portrays the frustration. XSET and Acend eventually finished their series, but the delays slowed momentum.
17 game 5s bs
— Cratos (@CarlosAyalaJr) December 18, 2021
XSET player Carlos “Cratos” Ayala Jr. vented his frustrations on Twitter, stating, “17 game 5s bs.” The same game crash issue affected many more matches throughout the day, and the HCS did their best to fill downtime and keep the vibes in check. Despite the setbacks, the action throughout the day was outstanding. Fixing the persisting game crashes will be a critical goal for those behind the scenes moving forward. Hopefully, those issues will not factor into Saturday and Sunday’s action.
Feature Image: HCS