After months of the best teams in the world vying for Halo esports history, Counter Logic Gaming walked away with the hardware. They swept Allegiance 4-0 at the Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, California, and were crowned the Halo World Champions. We caught up with them after their win, and here is what they had to say.
Doug Cortez: Thanks for your time, and congratulations on your big win! How are you guys feeling?
Paul "Snakebite" Duarte: It feels awesome to win! Putting in all this hard work and finally having it all pay off, not just for our team but for the whole organization. Awesome. That's the only word that explains it.
Wes "Clutch" Price: I think all of us can agree that this is much more than just about the money. Being able to call ourselves the World Champions means more than anything to us, and it is good to see our hard work pay off.
Doug: So, tell me a little bit about the Grand Finals series. You start off with a really close game of Coliseum - Capture the Flag that ended in a 1-1 draw. What were your thoughts when you knew you would have to replay that game?
TJ "Lethul" Campbell: I felt pretty good because [Team Allegiance] has a pretty unique playstyle. To come up with a tie and adjust to their playstyle throughout the game definitely was a win because the next game we came out and we kind of flattened them.
Matthew "Royal 2" Fiorante: Usually when we play those guys online, the first game is always the hardest because we have to adjust to their playstyle. After the first game, we immediately knew that the second game would be so much easier because we had adjusted, and that's exactly how it went.
Bradley "Frosty" Bergstrom: I felt pretty confident going into the series, and we ended up tying the first game. I still kept our confidence as we went into the replay and I knew we could dominate them like we did for the rest of the series.
Doug: Your team is the exact opposite of Team Allegiance in that they are a very emotional group that rides off of the ebb and flow of their play while you are very level headed and even keel. How do you keep your emotions in check with $1 million on the line?
Clutch: We just do a really good job of not thinking about the money and really focusing on what needs to get done. We prepare every single night for this. It isn't about getting hype, it's about how well you can perform and being able to focus and stay sharp is a huge part of that.
Snakebite: It's really not hard to stay focused and avoid getting caught up in the emotions of it all. We practice every single night and our motto going into this event as well as every other tournament is "It's just another series. It's just another game of Halo". When you look at it like that, it isn't a big stage. It's just another game.
- Counter Logic Gaming (@clgaming) March 22, 2016
Doug: After your tie, you rattle off an impressive 3-0 win on the replay. Was that the point when you realized that you were going to sweep Allegiance?
Lethul: I would say that 3-0 win was the start of it, but the next game, Slayer on The Rig, was definitely the turning point. We had not been performing well on Slayer game types throughout the weekend and even prior to this event. When we were able to beat them 50-22, I was pretty sure we were not going to drop a single game.
Clutch: If I remember correctly, the exact moment I thought the series was going to a sweep was on The Rig Slayer. Snakebite had Active Camo along with the Scattershot and pushed by himself, killed their entire team while being one shot the entire time. It was at that point that I knew we were playing well and things were in our favor.
Doug: Would you say the rest of the series was played in cruise control?
Royal 2: After the second game, you could definitely tell that they were on tilt and it was easier for us to go through the rest of the games. It wasn't quite cruise control, but we were definitely in the driver's seat and I felt like we we just the better team and that showed.
Clutch: We are the kind of team that is really difficult to stop once we get going, and I think we showed that this weekend. We've proven that in our scrim results and throughout the past few events. When we get into a rhythm and realize we are in our zone, we feel unstoppable.
Doug: In Game 4, Allegiance began to claw back into things. They established some map control on Fathom - Capture The Flag, and put a flag cap on the board. Was there ever a moment when you thought "Oh, we need to buckle down here"?
Snakebite: I don't think we let up any at all. They're a good team, a really good team, and they were not going to simply roll over and let us win easily. We've let off the gas some in the past and that cost us two maps at the North American Regionals in Columbus. We knew we just had to play our game, and we were able to close it out.
Frosty: Playing against other great teams, we have learned that at some point in the game, they are going to get control, but as long as we kept our composure, we knew that we were going to come out on top.
Doug: You guys had the opportunity to scrim any team of your choosing before the finals but you opted against it. Why is that?
Royal 2: We usually don't like to play other teams at events. I feel as if we scrim another team and have a poor performance, that hurts our confidence levels and leaves us susceptible to overthink things. We are at a tournament to play, not practice. That is supposed to happen before the event, so we just like to play and not worry about the team game until we go into a series. When warming up backstage, people have a tendency not to try as hard, but when you are on stage, you are playing as hard as you can, so I think that playing Free For Alls is just much better to get your shot warm.
Doug: What are your thoughts on Allegiance? They have had an up-and-down season for the most part but made their way to the Grand Finals. What do you have to say about the team you just faced?
Clutch: Allegiance is one of those teams that really put in the time. They grinded as soon as Halo came out and honestly, it paid off for them. It was amazing to see them down 2-0 against Renegades and be able to come back and reverse sweep. It takes something pretty special to be able to rally when your backs are against the wall. They came and they played hard. Hats off to them for making it as far as they did.
Lethul: Allegiance really does put their heart and soul into each game. That shows most when they get pretty hyped. After that series against Renegades, Naded was tearing up with emotion. They put in as much time, if not more, than anyone else and they put their all into the game.
Doug: I am glad you mention Naded. What are your thoughts on his story? A decade in the Halo scene, makes his way to the Grand Finals, and you send him packing. What was it like dealing that blow?
Snakebite: Naded is one of the best to have ever played the game; he has been doing this for a really long time. He has never gotten his win, but like we have said before, if there is one player that deserves it, it's him. It's unfortunate that we had to play against him because we are obviously going to do everything possible to keep him from winning. Naded is easily one of the best players in Halo. It's easy to want him to win, but when we are playing against him, we are going to do our best to beat him.
Doug: Any parting words?
Clutch: I really wanted to thank our organization, Counter Logic Gaming. Thank you so much for everything you do. Thanks to our fans, the community, everyone that has supported us along the way, our family, and our friends watching at home. You guys mean the world to us and it's special when you support us the way you do.
Doug: Guys, you just won the Halo World Championship 2016, along with $1 million. What will you do next?
Royal 2: We are going to Disney World!