The Halo Championship Series finals were held this past weekend in Burbank, CA at the ESL studios. Championship Sunday featured the top four teams in North America battling through a double elimination bracket to see who would be claimed the champion for all of 2016. Team Liquid, Optic Gaming, Str8 Rippin, and Team Envyus all were in town to try and claim the $150,000 prize pool.

Winner’s Bracket Round 1: Str8 Rippin’ vs. Team Envyus; Optic Gaming vs. Team Liquid

The day started off with Envyus facing off against Str8 Rippin. This was one of the shortest matches of the tournament as Envyus quickly swept the series, 4-0. The theme of this series revolved around very clean power weapon control from the side of Envyus. Justin “Pistola” Deese led Envyus through the series with crazy numbers, but the whole team looked dominant.

The second match of the winner’s bracket also ended in a sweep. Optic Gaming cruised through Team Liquid in a convincing fashion. This match had less than fifteen minutes of regulation time in it, which shows why Optic was heavily favored to win this whole tournament. The Greenwall looked like they were going to come out on top yet again.

Loser’s Bracket Round 1: Str8 Rippin’ vs. Team Liquid

The first “do or die” match of the tournament featured two of the hottest teams in the HCS. Str8 Rippin’ is a long time fabled Halo franchise that featured the little brother of one of the founders of the team, Aaron “Ace” Elam. Team Liquid is relatively new to Halo and came along with a former X-Games Gold Medalist, Hamze “Commonly” Abbaali.

Str8 Rippin’ ripped straight through Team Liquid to jump out to a quick 3-0 series lead. Brad “APG” Laws carried Str8 in the first three maps with monster performances. Team Liquid was beginning to look like they did not even belong to be in the same building as these other three teams. They did manage to bounce back and grab the fourth map. Liquid also turned it around on the fifth map and stole that one away from Str8 Rippin’. The momentum had changed in the building as the fans and the casters could start to see Liquid picking up steam. Str8 choked for the third time on the sixth map as Liquid tied up the series, 3-3. There was no stopping those guys, as they completed a miraculous reverse sweep to send Str8 Rippin’ home with a fourth place finish.

Winner’s Bracket Round 2: Optic Gaming vs. Team Envyus

These are the two clear-cut favorites to take down the whole Halo Championship Series. Optic Gaming came into this tournament undefeated in a LAN setting. Envyus was coming into this tournament with a 2-0 record versus Optic Gaming while in an online setting. Sadly, this first series did not live up to the hype.

Optic and Envyus split the first two maps but then Optic cruised through Envyus to complete the 4-1 victory. Optic’s LAN prowess looked like it would be too much for the newly constructed Envyus roster. In order for Envyus to win the tournament, they would have to battle out of the loser’s bracket and win two series against Optic Gaming, a team who has never been defeated in a LAN setting.

Loser’s Bracket Finals: Team Envyus vs. Team Liquid

Team Liquid is the current come from behind kings of Halo 5. They were coming off their last match with a hot hand and hoping to find Team Envyus with their heads down after their rough loss in the Winner’s Bracket.

Envyus once again put Liquid in a quick 3-0 hole. The story was in place for Team Liquid to complete another reverse sweep in the loser’s bracket. A good narrative is all that this match featured, because Envyus shut them out to send them home with a third place finish, 4-0

Championship Match: Team Envyus vs. Optic Gaming

The time has finally come. After Envyus’s 13-1 regular season, could they reset the bracket against the best LAN team in the world? The match started out with Envyus jumping out to a 2-0 series lead after two strong performances. Envyus must have had quite the pep talk before this series, because they did not look like the team that Optic had just beaten 4-1. Optic managed to squeeze out two maps over Envyus but ultimately fell to them in the first best-of-seven series, 4-2.

Now the real fun would begin. This series was as back-and-forth as everyone expected it to be. The teams continued to trade maps until it all came down to a game 7 as the series was tied up, 3-3. Team Slayer on Regret was a perfect scenario for Team Envyus to be in. Cuyler “Huke” Garland made the play of the tournament in the middle of this map to completely crush the momentum on Optic Gaming’s side. After this swing happened, Envyus did not look back and took down the 2016 Championship.

ESL and 343 Studios put on an amazing event in Burbank, CA. The players repaid them by showing fans some of the best Halo that has ever been played. Click here for live eSports matches for today.

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