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The Meteoric Rise of The Halo Championships


Esports distinguishes itself from traditional video gaming by its competitive nature, pitting human players against each other and often incorporating an engaging spectator element akin to conventional sports. 

Esports tournaments typically involve amateur and professional gamers vying for a cash prize. Imagine esports as a realm of competitive video gaming that celebrates skill and professionalism. The professional gamers who compete at this level have an intimate understanding of the games they play, like the depth of knowledge of professional footballers or athletes in their respective fields. 

Prominent corporations like ESPN, Activision Blizzard, and Electronic Arts have recognised the potential of esports and established dedicated divisions. The global esports industry is projected to experience substantial growth, reaching $1866.2 million by 2025. 

Although esports initially emerged as small-scale video gaming competitions, it has now evolved into a lucrative industry worth billions of dollars. It continues to generate captivating content and novel branding opportunities, garnering attention from mainstream media.

As of 2023, there are 532 million e-sports audiences worldwide, but not every game makes it onto the esports stage; however, one game that has stood the test of time in competitive gaming is the Halo series. 

The Beginning 

In November of 2001, when Halo: Combat Evolved was first released, the early foundations of modern esports were already well-established. Games like Counter-Strike 1.6, StarCraft: Brood War, and popular arcade titles like Street Fighter 2 had already made their mark in the competitive gaming scene. However, Halo became the trailblazer for esports in the United States. 

The game’s devoted fans were captivated by its intense gun battles, fast-paced gameplay, and well-designed levels. Yet, the hardware on which the game ran also played a crucial role in its success. While the initial Halo game was a groundbreaking achievement, the franchise’s competitive aspect didn’t take off until 2014 with the Halo Championship Series. This significant turning point came with the release of Halo 2 Anniversary, coinciding with the emergence of online gaming. During this time, Major League Gaming (MLG) emerged as the premier organiser of top-tier tournaments. By 2016, MLG had even begun broadcasting its events on national television through the Boost Mobile MLG Pro Circuit, firmly establishing Halo esports in the mainstream.  

The Middle 

The HCS (Halo Championship Series) is a pro esports competition for the game Halo, organised and hosted by ESL. It was announced in Nov 2014 after the release of the Master Chief Collection, with Halo 2: Anniversary being the version played. 

During its infancy, the HCS included online cups and locally played events where teams competed to earn HCS Points. These points determined their advancement into the Season Finale. In 2016, the HCS introduced the HCS Pro League and HCS Open Circuit while transitioning to Halo 5. 

The series underwent another change in ‘18, reverting to a system similar to Seasons 1 and 2 and removing the Pro League. This was also the final year of the original HCS. In ‘19, the HCS launched the Grassroots program to support third-party tournaments. In Aug 2021, the HCS returned with the release of Halo Infinite, introducing Cross-Play and Cross-Input for the first time.

Compared to the debut HCS in 2014, a $1,000 prize pool paled compared to the six-figure lump sums seen at tournaments over the last five years. 

A Popularity Boosts: E-Sports Wagering 

The popularity of e-sports betting has skyrocketed recently, firmly establishing itself as a crucial component of the betting and gaming industry. 

A key factor behind the surging interest in e-sports betting is its widespread availability on a global scale, and competitive Halo was at the forefront during this surge. While the best fast withdrawal casino sites for UK punters remained as popular as ever since online platforms made it possible for individuals from various parts of the world to participate in e-sports events and place wagers on their preferred teams or players, a new player in the world of online betting had arrived, and was here to stay. It has fostered a massive worldwide community that avidly follows tournaments and events, heightening the thrill and fascination surrounding e-sports betting.

There is No End 

Much like Call of Duty, League of Legends, and CS, it isn’t easy to anticipate the end for Halo on a competitive stage, if ever! The game has undoubtedly witnessed its rise and fall and rise again. But after the Halo World Championship, 2023 became the second most-watched Halo event ever. 

The 2023 edition of the Halo World Championship has shown significant uptrends compared to the 2022 event. Peak viewership increased 11%, while average viewership rose by 33%. 

After the 2023 championship finished, the HCS has officially announced that the series would return in 2024. However, specific details regarding the prize pools, partnered teams, and hosting locations are yet to be disclosed. The continued growth of Halo is undoubtedly good news for both the teams and fans. With an increasing number of viewers tuning in to watch this esports spectacle, it will be intriguing to see if any other organisations qualify for its partner team program.

Moreover, as two of the biggest teams in esports – Faze Clan and Optic Gaming – continue to compete, I don’t believe we’ll witness a stunt in the growth of Halo’s e-sport popularity anytime soon. 

TXH loves nothing more than kicking back at the end of the day, controller in hand, shooting the hell out of strangers via Xbox Live.

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