Fans and competitors alike were dismayed by the organizational failures at the Halo World Championship 2017 Finals this weekend. While esports events are still a fairly new phenomenon, they are an important subsect of the gaming community, and are gradually being recognized as such. That’s what made the current state of the Championship so dissatisfying for some of those in attendance.
Much of the issue lies with the subpar venue. In comparison to last year’s location at Raleigh Studios Hollywood, this year’s venue, the ESL American Campus, was a massive step down in the eyes of some. Just take a look at last year’s Halo World Championship tournament in contrast to this year’s event:
2016 Halo World Championship vs. 2017 Halo World Championship
— Jack Frierson (@NVT_Vandy) March 25, 2017
Some have argued that the photos were cherry-picked and failed to tell the real story behind the event. Specifically, that the locations shown were designed for audience overflow, and the pictures were taken between matches. Twitter user “Greenskull” took up the task of presenting an alternative view that shed a brighter light on the matter:
— Greenskull @ #HaloWC (@Greenskull) March 25, 2017
However, while the additional photos do look better, when stacked up against images from other competitive esports events, they just don’t measure up.
Rumor has it that the esports company in charge of the event, ESL failed to acquire their preferred location, thus resulting in the tournament being held at the ESL American Campus. However, others have theorized that Halo competitions no longer have the clout that they once did, resulting in a lower turnout and the inability to find a better competition setting.
Given that last year’s Halo World Championship prize pool was a whopping $2,500,000 (as opposed to this year’s $1,000,000 pool), there may be some truth to the above sentiments. Add to this the fact that competitive Call of Duty is now one of the biggest FPS (First Person Shooter) eSports events in the world, and it begins to seem plausible that Halo may just not be as relevant as it once was. But disorganization, a dwindling prize pool, and a subpar venue do nothing in terms of lending credibility to the Halo World Championship competitions.
An additional point of contention at the Halo World Championship event was the food setup. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins of Luminosity was displeased to discover that the event staff and fire marshals were being fed before competitors. Some have found his disgruntlement petty. But his annoyance is understandable, and supports the argument that the event was poorly planned. A simple solution would have prevented this. So I have to ask, why wasn’t there a separate location for competitors to eat and rest up between matches?
In case you guys are wondering. All the fire marshals and ESl staff are taken care of for lunch. Players have to wait pic.twitter.com/YP0TqaIXT0
— Ninja (@Ninja_TB) March 25, 2017
I mean, let’s be real here for a second. Do you honestly think that Lebron James has to wait for the janitors to eat before he can? I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t. I know, it’s a classist and crass statement, but hopefully you get my point. If we’re going to argue that esports is a real sport, then shouldn’t we treat the players like real athletes? Shouldn’t they be given a specific spot to eat? Heck, we can go the extra mile and argue that staff should also have a separate dining area. That way, everyone eats at the same time, and esports competitors have the opportunity to do so without having to wait in long lines, while simultaneously cutting the wait times for event staff and attendees.
Outside of the gaming community, esports are often misunderstood and critiqued by those who lack the understanding to appreciate the physical and mental skills that go in to such competitions. And coordinators of such events do the sport no favors by overlooking something as simple as making sure that their headliners, the players competing in the event, are fed in a timely and efficient manner.
On the bright side, not everyone was dissatisfied. There were plenty in attendance who were happy to be there and didn’t feel that these criticisms were justified. However, when you’re hosting an esports event of this magnitude, one of the last things an event organizer should want is for Twitter critics to equate their event with that of a children’s birthday party.
So what does all of this mean? Well, it’s complex. And without all of the details behind what led to this situation, it’s difficult to say why the Halo World Championship has turned out the way that it has. But the biggest sentiment around the interwebs seems to be that Halo just isn’t relevant anymore.
One could argue that a staple like Halo, a game that revolutionized the first person shooter genre and multiplayer gaming, shouldn’t have to fight for its place in the esports world. But the world is changing. It’s not 2002 anymore. Like the medium of video games itself, the esports world is evolving at rapid pace, with more and more games entering the competition scene every year. If Halo is going to retain its place in the forefront, then the events that unfolding this weekend, should never happen again. Here’s to hoping that ESL steps their game up next year and puts the naysayers to rest with an awesome Halo World Championship event in 2018.
All that being said, I also wanted to give a huge shout out to the 2017 Halo World Champions from OpTic Gaming: Mathew “Royal 2” Fiorante, Tony “Lethul” Campbell, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom, and Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte. Congratulations guys, you earned it!