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Pro League

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Last night, the two best Halo teams in the world went head-to-head in a thrilling World Championship final that has literally changed their lives. Today we signify the next evolution of Halo esports.

The Halo World Championship 2016 could be seen as a finale of sorts – the ultimate event in the Halo Championship Series sports calendar – but from our perspective, it’s really just the beginning.

We are pleased, proud and excited to announce the Halo Championship Series: Pro League – a long-term partnership between 343 Industries and ESL to grow, nurture and evolve Halo esports at every level of competition.

Initially, the league will focus on Europe and North America (and given the quality of global competition, we hope to expand to other regions in the not too distant future) with consistently scheduled matches, at the highest level of play, on a weekly basis. The emphasis will, of course, be on pro play, with recognizable names and teams participating. In addition, the Halo Championship Series: Pro League will also feature a Challenger League – opening up the exciting possibilities of relegation and the opportunity for aspirational challenger teams to knock out Pro squads and replace them in the HCS Pro League standings. The qualifications? Skill and teamwork.

The HCS Pro League will form the framework and basis for the action of the next Halo World Championship – and is something we’re incredibly excited to launch and build upon in the coming months.

We’ll have more details to come, including qualification criteria, timing and much, much more, so stay tuned and be sure to bookmark Halo.gg for the full scoop, soon.

Historically, Halo has always been a vital part of the esports scene, since before that term even came to prominence. Halo CE LANs are one of the foundations upon which many teams, Pros, leagues and even gameplay concepts are currently built. We were privileged to number among an elite group of PC, arcade and console games that took the idea of competitive and team-based video game conflict to a new level.

Halo’s multiplayer influences came from many disparate places. From Street Fighter to DOOM, to FIFA and beyond. But it also innovated and pushed the idea of socially oriented, competitive gaming to a place it hadn’t been on console.

Almost immediately after Halo CE shipped, Max Hoberman, one of the folks responsible for multiplayer at the time, was paying close attention to the emergent behaviors of players who were meeting physically, connecting Xbox consoles and TVs in basements and bedrooms across the world, and competing with and against each other. The thing he noticed, the thing that stood out to him was the idea that allegiance, camaraderie, and teamwork were peanut butter to the jelly of competition, bragging rights and rivalry. And he set out to recreate the tension and excitement of that physical proximity in a competitive online environment via Xbox Live.

The rest, as they say, is history. Matchmaking, clans, Friends List and, of course, Halo’s evolving multiplayer components, helped define our competitive experience for more than a decade. As Halo grew, so too did the idea of esports, emerging as a big business and arguably controversial disruption to the very idea of sports, over the last few years.

Halo’s blend of balanced map and weapon control, essential teamwork and more recently, fast fluid movement and spectacular athletic offense makes it just as fun to watch as it is to play. We’ve evened the playing field, literally and allegorically to take Halo back to its competitive roots. We’ve made all DLC free to all players, and we’ve updated the core content and promise of the game on a monthly basis. This, and the HCS Pro League are just examples of our commitment to the sustenance and nurturing of the game we love so much, and the game that’s improved at every level by your passion, commitment, and engagement.

For centuries, new sports have defied categorization but revolved around a single immutable principle. Competition to see who is the best of the best. The ancient Greeks had Olympics, the world tunes in every four years to watch soccer in the most viewed contest on Earth, and at a more granular level, schools, communities, and individuals compete for bragging rights in everything from baseball to darts.

No surprise then, that video games followed suit. And no surprise that we want Halo to be at the heart of that movement. The HCS Pro League is a big step for us, and we hope you’ll join us in the coming months for some of the most intense, exciting, and skilled video gameplay you’ve ever seen. We just can’t wait.

-Frank O'Connor

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