This past Saturday afternoon, I sat in the back of the Benaroya Hall auditorium during a rehearsal of Malukah’s "Frozen Sleep". It was the third time I had heard the song live, but as the haunting melody echoed throughout the auditorium, I felt an indescribable wave of excitement and satisfaction hit me. By this time tomorrow, eight of the best players in the world would be on-stage competing for the largest prize in Halo history. After months of planning, the Halo 4 Global Championship Finals were finally upon us.
The Road to the Finals
The tournament kickoff at RTX was the first time that the Halo 4 Global Championship came to life. Between the oversized Global Championship banners, the eagerness, anxiety and passion of the competitors, and the advancing of the first six finalists, we knew that the Global Championship was underway, and players all over the globe had now set their (perhaps lofty) sights on the title of Halo 4 Global Champion. The six finalists who emerged had earned a ticket straight to the finals, and also a target on their back as players who would compete in the online qualifier and beyond would know that they’d need to battle against Halo powerhouses such as StrongSide and Snip3down. There was still lots of Halo to be played, and hopefuls everywhere knew the road would likely not be easy.
The online qualifier gave players around the world a chance to compete from their living rooms. With five grueling weeks of new game types, maps and competitors, qualifying over Xbox LIVE was no easy feat. The particular goal of the online qualifier was to ensure that players anywhere could fire up their Xboxes and begin competing. We were happy to see so many players competing day and night for their spot, and we hope that the Global Championship playlist provided a new and varied experience. We hope to support customized and optimized playlist experiences in the future, and very much appreciate all of the feedback that you provided on the Global Championship online experiences.
Gamescom’s competition was the last in-person chance to earn a paid trip to the finals, and finalists would need to essentially hop on a flight to Seattle with only a few days’ notice. Europe’s finest battled it out for some of the last spots in the competition, and in the end, the winners signed their names, boarded their flights and prepared to compete against the rest of the world in the finals. In addition to these players, we looked to recognize the efforts of those who have supported Halo 4 since launch. After several community groups and successful tournament competitors received the final invites, the stage had been set. Hundreds of players would compete in-person at the finals, all with the knowledge that only one name would be remembered at the end of the weekend.
Halo 4 Global Championship Finals
As I started to detail last week, the studio was filled with excitement heading into the finals. It was also filled with the traditional last-minute craziness that comes with managing events, but everyone was thrilled to get to downtown Seattle and see the competition get underway. We watched as the finishing touches were put on the stations, and on Thursday night the team left the dark lobby knowing that the chairs would soon be filled with intensity, emotion and some of the best Halo players in the world. Throughout the next day and weekend, we watched as players from all different parts of the Halo community came together to spectate and play in the Global Championship Finals.
Talking with some of the players before the matches kicked off on Friday was interesting. Some players had practiced every day for the past month, some just giving it a shot, and others confident that they’d be in the top 8. Around 15 minutes before start time, the Virgin Gaming referees handed me a stack of player names who hadn’t yet registered and were about to be disqualified. While a few names rang a bell, one in particular stood out: Aaron “lx Ace xl” Elam. With minutes to spare, Ace came through the doors with “no real expectation to make top 8.” We’re glad you made it, Aaron.
Having attended dozens and dozens of Halo tournaments over the past six years, I can safely say that few things are as exciting as seeing some of the best players in the world duke it out. Friday and Saturday’s matches saw player after player eliminated – on Saturday, we watched as 64 became 32, 32 became 16, and late on Saturday night, 16 became 8. By the end of that night, the finalists had been interviewed, photographed, and congratulated before retiring back to their hotel rooms. When they would wake up the next day, they’d be playing in front of thousands of people for a chance at a life-changing sum of money.
Overnight, the broadcast production team worked backstage building player profiles and graphics for the final eight competitors. On every wall, above every computer and on every desk sat this print-out:
Not only was the organization of the production team incredible, but something about seeing the mugshots of these players around every corner backstage was truly special – these were the best players in the world, and all eyes would be on them the next day.
I could certainly try to explain just how exciting Sunday’s finals were, but there is no way my words could do any sort of justice. In the rare event that you haven’t watched the Global Championship Finals broadcast just yet, check it out here. Beware, spoilers lie ahead!
We hope that you enjoyed the finals, and that players and spectators alike were captivated by the game play (Goldenboy and I sure were, if you couldn’t tell). For a written breakdown of the finals as well as a look at the bracket, head here. We absolutely could not have asked for better competitors, matches or enthusiasm from the crowd for the finals. I know I speak for several people when I say that I’ve re-watched the finals more times than I can count, and I still (spoiler alert) get chills when the crowd freaks out about a no-shield Pistola surviving through both of Ace’s well-placed Frag Grenades in the tie-breaker.
The conclusion to the finals was absolutely incredible, and whether you joined us in Seattle, competed, watched on Xbox LIVE, or are about to watch the finals right now, thank you for being a part of the Halo 4 Global Championship.
Matchmaking Playlist Update
Next, let’s talk about what’s going on in Halo 4 Matchmaking. The Ricochet playlist is officially available and now playable on six different maps for a limited time. If you are like me and find yourself unreasonably enthusiastic about playing Ricochet on a daily basis, grab some friends and go for goal. (Note: The game awards bonus points if you yell “GOOOOOAL” upon scoring.) (Note #2: Not really.)
We’ve seen some valuable feedback regarding the playlist already, and want to thank those who have contributed to the feedback thread. We’ll continue to monitor feedback as we look to optimize the playlist and offer the best maps and settings for Ricochet. Throughout the month of September, we’ll be giving away big XP rewards on the weekends, with increased values for Friday, Saturday and Sunday Challenges. Here’s what’s coming this weekend:
Up Close and Personal: Earn 5 CQC Medals in a single match. 2000 XP
Raise the Flag: Win 5 matchmaking Capture the Flag matches. 4000 XP
Drop Bears!: Assassinate 3 Players in a single match. 2700 XP
I Predict a Riot: Earn 4 Killing Spree medals in a single match. 3200 XP
Game Over, Man!:Complete 10 matchmaking War Games matches. 3500 XP
Got Backup: Get 40 kills with a Secondary Weapon. 4000 XP
Be on the lookout for future updates on weekend Challenges this month! Also, in Spartan Ops, we’ll be offering the following missions next week:
Episode 6, Chapter 1: Escape Plan Episode 6, Chapter 5: Switchback Episode 7, Chapter 2: Home Field Episode 7, Chapter 5: Victory Lap Episode 9, Chapter 4: Revenge
That’ll do for Matchmaking this week – be sure to stop by next week for details on what’s coming to Matchmaking on our September 16th Matchmaking Update.
Halo 4 Game of the Year Edition
As previously mentioned, the Halo 4 Game of the Year Edition will be coming in October. We know that many of you have questions about the contents, so we’ve detailed them below.
The Halo 4 Game of the Year Edition will include:
Spartan Ops Season 1
War Games Map Pass
Bonus Content Details:
Master Chief Avatar Cloak (inspired by Halo for Xbox One)
UNSC Avatar Shirt
Ghost Avatar Prop
Haven Premium Theme
Longbow Premium Theme
Battle Rifle Arctic
Light Rifle Imprint
Be on the lookout for more Halo 4 Game of the Year Edition details on Halo Waypoint in the coming weeks.
bs angel and I often joke about what the letter “B” stands for. Seeing as my Gamertag is B is for Bravo, I argue that the letter most definitely stands for “Bravo.” Naturally, she argues that the letter instead stands for her Gamertag. This week, however, I’ve decided that B not only stands for “Bravo” but also “Bulletin.” This being said, welcome to the weekly update.
We have returned from the world’s largest game show. We gave you a brand new look at Halo 2: Anniversary, and if you were with us in Germany, you likely got hands on with the all-new multiplayer. We braved absurd crowds and lines, and most of us made it home alive. I have returned home with a terrible fever, which is why today’s Bulletin is coming in one day late. Thank you for your patience, friends. The below picture helps to shed light on why we barely survived gamescom.
At the time of this writing, there are approximately five days left until the 11th day of November. In past years, this date may not have held great significance, but if you’re like us, you may have had a figurative “X” on the calendar since June of this year. In just five days’ time, experiences both familiar and new await. On its 10-year anniversary, Halo 2 will return to Xbox Live, and bring with it a broad package of games and content.