Kickoff Major Raleigh 2021

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In February 2020, the Halo community joined us at DreamHack Anaheim for what would be the last Halo esports event for nearly two years. A lot has transpired since then as we’ve all been impacted by the global pandemic in some way. When Halo Infinite was originally set to release in 2020, the HCS roadmap we were building at the time was almost completely online with no LAN events in sight. With Halo Infinite’s release moving to 2021, the proliferation of vaccines around the world, as well as regulations and health policy changes, we knew it was time for us to bring the Halo community back together again.

As originally stated, one of our goals is to release the entire first year roadmap for Halo Infinite esports before competition begins. This is still the case, and we are on track to deliver that to everyone in the ecosystem and all of that will be arriving in the coming months. However, because the first event is just around the corner, we wanted to ensure we released that information first so that fans and players were able to prepare in time.

Today, we’re excited to announce the HCS Kickoff Major taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 17-19, 2021 with a starting prize pool of $250,000. Once again, the Halo community will be united under one roof, and this time with an entirely new Halo game to play and watch. In tried-and-true Halo esports fashion, the HCS Kickoff Major will feature an open bracket, seating for spectators, as well as full main stage and featured stations for pool play and the championship bracket. To ensure a world class experience onsite and for viewers at home, we have enlisted none other than Esports Engine to operate the event with us.

Spectator and VIP tickets for the big event go on sale tomorrow, September 29 at 10am PT.

There are going to be some important differences in how this event will be operated as the health and safety of all players, fans, and staff is of the utmost importance. Please continue reading for more details.


It’s important to remember that all around the globe we are all in some shape or form living with the realities of a world where COVID-19 and the numerous new variants still exist. We have been working closely with Esports Engine, the Microsoft Security and Events teams, as well as the venue and local government in Raleigh, but we need the help and cooperation of the entire Halo community. 


  • To enter the venue all attendees and staff must complete and attest to their health status, each day, in the Microsoft Health Check App. Entrance into the venue will not be allowed without completion each day, and no exceptions will be made.
  • All attendees must also present proof of vaccination as well as a photo ID each time they enter the venue.
  • For those not vaccinated, you must provide proof of NEGATIVE COVID-19 test results, from within at least the prior 72hrs each day along with a photo ID each time they enter the venue.

  • Per state law, masks will be required to enter the venue.

As per usual, security will be onsite conducting bag checks  and all attendees will be required to pass through metal detectors each time they enter the venue.


  • Per state law, masks must remain on all attendees including players and staff, at all times without exception.

It’s also critical to note that the COVID-19 landscape is ever changing, and we will do our best to keep you posted on the very latest event updates right here in this blog, as well as on @HCS on Twitter. We are always going to prioritize the health and safety of all attendees and staff and will do our best to take necessary measures within our power.


Before we jump into the details about format, we want to acknowledge that the news today for competitors will likely spark many questions including ones about qualifiers, how teams get into pool play, points and stakes, how it fits into the overall roadmap, and much more. Today’s blog is meant to set the table, share the details about location and dates so the community can plan to attend, and we’ll have much more information to share in the future including answers to those questions and more. All of this will be shared alongside the entire season roadmap so that you can see how everything fits together and is interconnected. 

So let’s jump into what we can share today. Just below is the standard HCS Major format that will be used in upcoming season, and below that is the slightly modified version of the format that will be used at the HCS Kickoff Major Raleigh 2021.


  • Open Bracket: Big open brackets where any team can sign up and compete in the tournament are part of Halo’s esports DNA and we hope to see more teams competing this season than ever before. This will be a double elimination bracket where the top 8 teams will move on to the next stage in the tournament. The top 4 from the winner’s bracket moving forward into pool play, and the top 4 from the elimination bracket (or lower bracket) moving on to the championship bracket (starting in the elimination bracket portion). The HCS Majors are global events and will be open to players from around the world.
  • Pool Play: We will be providing accommodation and travel stipends for 16 qualified teams made up of teams from North America, Latin America, Europe, and Australia / New Zealand. Teams will be  drawn into 4 pools of 4 where they will be joined with the top 4 teams from the Open Bracket to play in a single round robin format. The Top 2 teams from each pool will go into the winner’s portion of the championship bracket. The 3rd place team will go into round 3 of the elimination portion of the championship bracket. The 4th place team will go into round 2 of the elimination portion of the championship bracket. And finally, the 5th place team in each pool will go into the 1st round of the elimination portion of the championship bracket where they will start in the first round and will face off against teams coming from the elimination portion of the open bracket.
  • Championship Bracket: Ultimately, a 24 team double elimination championship bracket-style will determine the tournament winner. This is the culmination of the both the open bracket and pool play, the winner will take home the lion’s share of the $250,000 starting prize pool. Think you’ve got what it takes to make the championship bracket?
  • Free-For-All: Once the open bracket has concluded, we will be hosting a Free-For-All tournament with a $5,000 prize pool open to all of those in attendance. More format info will be provided at a later date. 


Because of (a) the limited window between game release and Raleigh; and (b) the inclusive spirit of the HCS, we have a modified format for Raleigh that expands the Championship Bracket from 24 teams to 32 teams. 

For the Open Bracket: The top 16 teams from the Open Bracket will be entered into the Championship Bracket, with 8 from the Open Bracket winners added to Championship winners, and top 8 from the elimination portion of the Open Bracket added to the elimination portion of the Championship Bracket.

For the Pool Play: We will be providing accommodation and travel stipends for 16 qualified teams made up of teams from North America, Latin America, Europe, and Australia / New Zealand. Teams will be drawn into 4 pools of 4 where they will play in a single round robin format. The Top 2 teams from each pool receive a bye and are added to the 2nd round of the winner’s portion of the Championship Bracket. The bottom 2 teams from each pool are added to the 1st round of the winner's portion of the Championship Bracket where they will compete with the top 8 from the open bracket.

Championship Bracket: In the end, a 32 team double elimination-style championship bracket will determine the tournament winner. This is the culmination of both the open bracket and pool play, the winner will take home the lion’s share of the $250,000 starting prize pool.



Venue: Raleigh Convention Center

Address: 500 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601, HALL B

Starting tomorrow on September 29 at 10am PT, spectator tickets will be available for purchase. We are offering a few different packages and promotions, so let’s jump right into the details.


  • Entrance into event for the entirety of the tournament.
  • Access to compete in the Free-For-All tournamnt at no extra charge.
  • Price: $50


  • Early Entry to the Venue
  • Dedicated Entry Line at Check-In
  • Access to the VIP Lounge
  • Limited Edition VIP Credential
  • Early access to the Free-for-All Competition Registration (30 minutes before general admission)
  • Exclusive Production Tour including photo op on main stage
  • A chance at being one of two VIP ticket holders to play in a special show match on Saturday night December 18.
  •  Price: $100

Partnered Team Codes: As announced last month, we have 9 partnered Teams that will be competing in the HCS at launch. In order to provide extra value to fans and also allow fans to support their favorite teams directly, you can use any of the below codes at check out to receive a 10% discount on your tickets. When you save 10%, the Teams receive 10%. 

  • FAZE
  • ENVY
  • NAVI
  • G2
  • CLOUD9

Support your favorite team, and get a discount on spectator tickets. It’s a win-win! If you use a team's code, be sure to share on Twitter and tag the teams so they know you've supported them!

Team Passes: Team passes will  go on sale November 17. We’ll have more details on price, where to purchase, how to register your team, and more at that time. We want to note that all teams will be required to purchase a team pass, including those starting in pool play. Once those teams qualify for pool play ahead of the event, we will provide a refund.

Refund Policy: As mentioned above, circumstances during the pandemic are  ever changing e. For the HCS Kickoff Major, we will have a full refund in the case of the event being canceled or if spectators will no longer be allowed. For any questions regarding the refunds you can email


It’s been a long time coming but Halo Infinite and the first event are just a few months away. Soon we’ll all be playing some Halo on LAN, watching the best players in the world duke it out for the first time, and of course creating unforgettable moments together as a community. We hope you’ll (safely) join us in North Carolina later this year!


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