Welcome to the Boston Esports Report, a column I’m going to do my best to keep up with regarding the biggest movers and shakers in the Boston esports scene. Since I’m only one man, and there’s far too many games out there to reasonably cover on a consistent basis, I’ll likely focus on Halo and CDL, as that’s the stuff I mainly watch – and probably the stuff you’re gonna want to read about most often these days anyway.
Having said all that, I’m very much open to reader feedback. So if there’s an individual or team – no matter how big or small – that you’d like to see covered and followed, just let me know here in the comments or on Twitter (@WGGPapaDom or @WickedGoodGames) and I’ll add ’em to the list. I’m all about following up-and-coming grassroots players and squads, so if they’re repping Boston esports and starting to make noise – I want to know about them.
Now without further ado, we’re kicking off this column with this weekend’s HCS Raleigh Kickoff Major, let’s dive in.
In a pretty unprecedented moment for Boston esports, we got to see two locally based teams – Oxygen (OXG) Esports and XSET – start the weekend in pool play along with some of the biggest names in Halo. Fresh off their merger with Kraft Sports Group, Oxygen Esports’ roster was only just founded a few weeks ago but has already shown some promise on the scene ahead of HCS’ kickoff major.
OXG has told outlets they’re looking to “own the New England market” when it comes to esports, but we’re going to need to see more from them if that ownership is going to extend to a white-hot Halo pro scene that is quickly eclipsing the CDL in terms of hype and popularity. OXG kicked off their playoff run with a thrilling set against BBG that went the distance, but unfortunately resulted in a heartbreaking game 5 loss in Slayer on Recharge, 50-37.
Common, Swish, Name, and Haines showed some promise and quickly bounced back in the loser’s bracket – where they handed Solaris a 3-1 gentleman’s sweep. Unfortunately that earned them a date with a very determined Team War who sent them packing for the weekend after a 3-1 series loss of their own. Oxygen seemed disciplined and capable when playing objective maps, but just couldn’t keep up when it came down to pure slaying power. They only managed to win a single slayer map at HCS Raleigh, and are going to absolutely need to level up that aspect of their game in order to compete at this level.
If you’ve been following HCS in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard of Sentinels’ cheating scandal which resulted in the complete nullification of their recent qualifier event results. In short, this means every member of Sentinels was stripped of 3,660 total HCS qualifying points, as well as their 1st place Pool Play position for the HCS Kickoff Major this weekend. Royal2, the member of Sentinels accused of cheating, is also suspended until January 28th. Since Royal2 was suspended, Sentinels added FormaL to their Halo roster – and the ensuing fallout around that whole situation deserves a whole other blog.
Enter the Boston-based org known as XSET. XSET was able to sneak into Pool Play based on HCS points thanks to Sentinels forfeiting their spot, and they were determined not to squander the opportunity. FilthyG, Porky J, Suspector and Cratos definitely put on a show and let the rest of the competition know they deserved to be on that stage in Raleigh, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this roster does next.
After handing partnered org SpaceStation Gaming a 3-1 gentleman’s sweep in what might’ve been one of the biggest upsets in Pool Play, XSET couldn’t quite hold off Acend – easily one of the best EU teams in Raleigh – and were finished off later in playoff play after being swept by FaZe Clan.
XSET’s squad is very well rounded, but the main standout was easily Cratos – the 28-year old HCS vet and former champion who was the first to let SpaceStation Gaming exactly what time it was.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to see XSET continue their run, but one could easily say that they defied a lot of expectations and will absolutely continue to be a team to watch.
All in all, we didn’t see a truly deep run for either team at HCS Raleigh, but there’s lots of promise and players to watch for on the Boston Halo scene. Once again, if there’s teams and players that you’d like to see covered and followed, just let me know here in the comments or on Twitter and I’ll keep an eye out. You guys know I’m not our resident esports guy, so any and all feedback is welcomed as I continue to level up my coverage.
Thanks for reading, we’ll see ya next time.