Since the incredibly successful (from an esports perspective) launch of Halo Infinite, organizations have been clamoring to claim a slice of the pie.
XSET is the latest organization to enter Halo Infinite by signing the Crowd Pleasers roster that features Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, Oliver “FilthyG” Gerlach, Ayden “Suspector” Hill, and Steven “PorkyJ” James. Suspector and Cratos have been teaming up since 2015 and XSET is the next step in their journey as a duo.
“We’ve had teammates say to us before that we only play for each other because our teamwork is so good,” Cratos said of the relationship between himself and Suspector.
“No matter what we say, we know we both know each other,” Suspector said. “We want to just be the best team we can be and get better, otherwise we wouldn’t still be here together. So, we just know whatever we say is genuine and for the team.”
For a time, the XSET roster didn’t have a ton of hope for Halo‘s future. Suspector and Cratos were testing out the waters in Call of Duty, PorkyJ was playing Halo 3, FilthyG was playing Halo 3 and working. “Halo 3 had a little online tour come back,” PorkyJ said. “So it was just me and [FilthyG]. We were kind of playing on and off back and forth with that.”
Times were tough and relatively lean for most Halo competitive players during the Halo Infinite delay—and Crowd Pleasers, now XSET, were no exception to that. They learned that the competitive scene would be delayed alongside the release of the game at the same time the public did, and the one word everyone agreed on to sum up their mood at the time was “depressed.”
Now that Infinite is here, everyone seems to want a piece of the pie. There are nine partnered HCS teams: Na’Vi, Cloud9, G2, Spacestation Gaming, Sentinels, OpTic Gaming (post OpTic-Envy merger), Fnatic, eUnited, and FaZe Clan. Oxygen Esports has already secured a team as well. With how well 343 seems to be handling the start of the competitive scene, 2022 could see a gold rush of sorts as more and more teams are tempted to invest in an esport that seems to have woken up from a coma—at least for now.
“[343 are] very open, and I feel like they’re actually communicating maybe a little bit better about how to sign up for these things,” Suspector said. “And just being real open about how, like, anyone can do it. If you want to compete in Halo, here’s your way to do it.”
Despite having signed, partnered organizations, Halo is maintaining its grassroots origins by hosting extensive open bracket tournaments. All XSET’s players concur: That’s a good thing and Halo is doing it well. “That’s not competition. That’s gatekeeping. Like that has nothing to do with competition at that point,” Cratos said when discussing the HCS format as compared to other esports.
So far, this XSET squad has shown promise in the fledgling days of Infinite. They’ve earned a top-12 placing in the past two HCS NA open tournaments, netting them a total of 1,320 HCS Points. Even if they fail to qualify for the Raleigh Kickoff Major through the Dec. 1 to 2 Qualifier, they’re surely a dark horse team for a deep bracket run in the open bracket at the event.
Overall, the future looks bright for Halo and XSET’s new roster is excited to be back to Halo after an extended break. “It’s nice just to focus on the game and not have to worry about the outside world,” said FilthyG, who will be taking time off school to focus on Halo.
XSET’s campaign to qualify for championship bracket play at the HCS Raleigh Kickoff Major will begin on Dec. 1.Internet Explorer Channel Network