HCS 2023 Roadmap
HCS in 2022 was a historic year for Halo esports and it wouldn’t have been possible without all of the amazing support of fans, players, and partners alike – thank you. We know everyone has been eagerly awaiting the release of the 2023 roadmap and today we’re excited to finally pull back the curtain.
To start, it’s important that we re-establish our high level goals and philosophies about the league. It’s important because it’ll help fans understand how we make decisions as a league to keep the league going in a sustainable way so we can run year after year.
Our mission is to provide epic entertainment to Halo fans through the thrill of competition.
We believe in:
- Cultivating and uniting communities
- Providing sustained content for fans around the world to watch
- Creating a platform for players, teams, and partners in the ecosystem to thrive on.
These are the goals and how we will determine the success of the program and ecosystem. Success in these areas means we can expand and grow over time, failure in these areas means we may need to rethink our approach.
- Extend engagement outside of our games with players, and potential players. (Viewership and social media impressions/reach)
- Build a platform that players, teams, sponsors, tournament operators, and content creators can sustain successful businesses around. (Participating and investing in Halo needs to provide returns based on their goals)
- Build a vision and aspiration for our fans, players, and gamers to create a movement. (We want to create as many 1 + 1 = 3 scenarios as possible. If we all band together, we can truly create something special)
- Create exciting and epic moments in gaming culture. (When are the times we are creating a moment and capturing the attention of the greater online gaming community?)
- Player retention, loyalty, engagement, and more in-game. (The development team will own these goals more than the esports team, but still important for us to track and contribute to.)
As Year 1 of HCS was taking place and progressing, we were able to finally get real feedback and data about how the various components of the league were performing based on our goals. We thought critically about which components were having the biggest impact and which were not, and we challenged our assumptions along the way. In an effort to make improvements based on the overall format and do so in a way that’s sustainable, we’ve made several changes to the format and philosophy.
- Events: In Year 1, each region had its own multi-step process to get to Majors. (Online - > Regionals / Supers - > Majors - > HaloWC). This was the option we had selected because in theory this would give each region a more meaningful path to the bigger events. What we found however was that while that was true, they impacted how many events all players could attend as a tradeoff and ultimately didn’t provide the maximum amount of excitement, competition, and entertainment that we saw with our Majors. Instead we want every event to be as epic as the last, and we want to give the opportunity to players to have more events overall. For 2023 then, every event will be a global event that each region will have guaranteed representation at including of course the Halo World Championship.
- Online vs LAN: Last year we had had a great deal of online competition including weekly online events, Pro Series, and Supers – and they each had their own weight in the format with regards to points and placement spots. Generally our philosophy was that points meant very little in comparison not only to LAN but also to placement at specific tournaments. We think that in retrospect, the pendulum away from points was swung a bit too far and we’re going to have a more balanced approach for Year 2 where you’ll see that points and thus consistency for players and teams across the season have more weight than they did in Year 1. Finally, while Pro Series and Supers were entertaining in their own right, they did not perform up to the level we had expected them to against our goals outside of the NA Super. Thus we are moving away from them for Year 2 again in favor of more emphasis on LAN while keeping a consistent 4v4 rotation of tournaments around for players to compete in to earn points and qualify for the LAN events.
- Bracket sizes: In Year 1, we had large and in some cases like Raleigh, very large Championship Bracket sizes. The game had just launched and wanted to push the format size as much as we could in order to mitigate the potential inconsistencies that could be possible due to online competition as well as players still acclimating to the game and meta. What we found was general stability in the scene and consistency across online and LAN performances, which is great. Additionally, due to the large bracket sizes we found that there were quite a few matches that were not as competitive and thus exciting/entertaining as they could be. So for 2023 we’re slightly reducing the pool play and championship bracket slots (more details are below and in the handbook) in order to promote competitiveness in both open and championship brackets and thus make each more exciting and interesting to follow.
Without further ado, here’s the official HCS 2023 Roadmap
Texas, Texas, Texas: One of largest requests we received last year was, “When is HCS coming to Texas?”. Well, we’re excited to say that we’re headed to Texas for a total of 3 times in 2023. Texas has historically been a state HCS has visited many times over the years and we’ve always seen great attendance there. With our partners OpTic hosting one event, as well as adding the juggernauts in Complexity to the Team Partnership Program, we felt this would be a great destination and centrally located area for more events.
New event type – Global Invitational: In 2023 we’re introducing a brand-new event type and format which will be used for 2 events on the roadmap – one at DreamHack Dallas, and one in Salt Lake City with our partners in Spacestation Gaming. For these events, we’re bringing 16 of the world’s best teams to the stage to play for their share of $125,000! In terms of competitiveness, we’re expecting these to be as exciting as Majors and a great way to see which teams are the best in the world in that moment. Additionally, this format ensures that there are more events for all teams to gather instead of just Majors and HaloWC, and thus increases the number of events attended from 5 to 6 total across the year. Finally, it makes it very clear to all fans in the ecosystem that this is the event that you should be following and watching as it brings it all under one roof.
The 16 qualified teams for the SSG Global Invitational will be broken down as follows:
- Top 8 from Arlington Major
- North America: 4 teams
- Europe: 2 teams
- Mexico: 1 team
- Australia and New Zealand: 1 team
Partnered Team Events: The team partnership program is continuing to expand to bring more and more opportunities to teams in effort to help them grow their business while providing great content for fans. Some of these will be smaller online tournaments where teams are broadcasting, others will be large in person tournaments like with the HCS Major and Global Invitational with OpTic and Spacestation respectively. We see teams as a critical component to the entire ecosystem and this is a big leap we’re taking forward for the program as teams have come to us wanting to run more and more tournaments. As time goes on, our ambition to continue to expand this philosophy year over year, and we’re really excited to see where it goes.
Note: For any team tournaments that are part of the official HCS roadmap, the administration will not be managed by the teams but rather by the league directly and independent from the teams. This is to avoid any conflict of interest and maintain competitive integrity.
Weekly Online Events: As with last year we’ve once again partnered with FACEIT to bring you all of the online competition taking place, including of course this weekend’s Charlotte Online Open and subsequent qualifiers. Also taking place on FACEIT are the Quadrant and FaZe Clan Online events coming this Spring. The weekly online events are meant to provide teams with stable and regular competition to earn points, gain tournament experience as a team, and ensure they’re securing positioning for LANs and travel coverage to the various events.
Prizing: Each Major in 2023 will feature a prize pool of $250,000 for the 4v4, and a $5,000 FFA open to all players. As always the Majors feature an open bracket where any team can show up and fight for a share of the prize. As mentioned above, the Global Invitationals will feature a prize pool of $125,000. Finally, the Halo World Championship will once again see a $1,000,000 prize pool as well as award the title of the best Halo team in the world!
Feb 11-12: Charlotte Online Open (Feb 12 for rest of world) Feb 13-14: Charlotte Qualifier (Feb 14 for rest of world) Feb 24-26: HCS Kickoff Major Charlotte: Mar 12: Open Series 2k Mar 16: NA Open Series 2k Finals Mar 19: Open Series 2k Mar 23: NA Open Series 2k Finals Mar 26: Open Series 4k Qualifier April 1-2: NA Open Series 4k (Apr 2 rest of world) April 16: EU Quadrant 4k Qualifier, Open Series 4k Qualifiers (rest of world) April 22-23: NA Open Series 4k April 23: EU Quadrant Open Series 4k, MX/ANZ Open Series 4k April 30: Open Series 2k May 4: NA Open Series 2k Finals May 7: NA FaZe Clan 4k Qualifier, Open Series 4k Qualifier (rest of world) May 12-13: NA FaZe Clan Open Series 4k DreamHack Dallas Qualifier, Open Series 4k DreamHack Dallas Qualifier (May 13 rest of world) June 2-4: HCS Global Invitational @ DreamHack Dallas June 30 - July 1: HCS Arlington Major hosted by OpTic
- July 16: SSG Pre-Qualifier
- July 22-23: HCS/SSG Global Invitational Qualifier, (NA starts on July 22. All other regions start on July 23)
- August 4-6: HCS Global Invitational hosted by Spacestation Gaming
- August 12-13: HCS Open Championship (All Regions - NA starts on Aug 12. All other regions start on Aug 13)
- Sept 1-3: HCS Fort Worth Major
- October 13-15: Halo World Championship 2023 (Seattle, Washington)
WHERE TO WATCH
In 2023, you’ll be able to watch all official HCS events live on Twitch and YouTube as in Year 1.
And for events with multiple streams, we’ll be using these channels:
Be sure to follow and subscribe to each account to ensure you’re not missing any of the action!
Crowdfunding: Our desires and ambitions around crowdfunding remain strong, and going forward we want to increase our support here and provide a more transparent way for fans to contribute to the scene they love. There won't be crowdfunding in 2023. For us to bring it back, there’s some feature work in the game/web that we want to ensure is in place first before we bring crowdfunding back again in a big way. We want to make this a fully fledged feature that players and fans have a great time engaging with and supporting. We’ll have more details down on the road on this.
Handbook: The HCS 2023 handbook is also available and ready for players to reference here. We encourage all players to read and understand the handbook so they best know the format, how the tournament structure works and comes together, and how they can best be prepared for the competition this year. This is where you’ll find all the information regarding qualification, points breakdown, code of conduct, and more.
Free-For-All (FFA): FFA will still be a regular part of the HCS roadmap with an open FFA at each major with a prize pool of $5,000, as well as at the Halo World Championship with a prize pool of $25,000. At the moment, there are no plans for weekly online FFA tournaments and we will continue to look for opportunities to include FFA into the ecosystem.
After a long offseason it’s finally time to get back into the action and Charlotte is just a few short weeks away from kicking off – we can’t wait. All new rosters, new events, more global events than 2023, and nonstop action. Best of luck to all teams competing!