Everything you need to know about the Halo Kansas City Major

by Brian Bencomo

The first Major tournament of the year in the Halo Championship Series takes place this weekend (April 29 - May 1) in Kansas City. A total of 24 teams from around the world – North America (U.S. and Canada), Mexico, Oceania and Europe – will compete for a share of the $250,000 prize pool, with fans in attendance at the Kansas City Convention Center. It will be the first Major since the Raleigh Kickoff Major in December.

Cloud9 won the Raleigh Major, setting off a dominant stretch for the team that included victories in the North American Pro Series 1 through 4, as well as the North American Regionals in Anaheim in February. Since then, there’s been only one more tournament of significance: the FaZe Halo Invitational held earlier in April, which saw OpTic Gaming prevail.

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While C9 are still the favorites to win in Kansas City, the last result just goes to show they’re not invincible. To get you fully caught up for the upcoming Major, here’s everything else you need to know.

Qualifiers, format, schedule and COVID protocols

Photo credit: Halo Championship Series

A total of 16 teams have already qualified for KC – eight from North America (the top eight from the NA Regionals), four from Europe, three from Mexico and one from Oceania – and are divided into four groups of four.

An additional eight teams will join the field through an open qualifier. The top four finishers will move on to pool play with the rest, bringing each group from four teams to five. The remaining teams from the open qualifier will begin the tournament in the lower championship bracket.

Pool play will determine where the 20 teams in groups will be seeded in the championship bracket. The top two teams in each group will be placed in the upper bracket, with the rest of the teams seeded accordingly in the lower bracket.

The broadcast is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET each day from Friday through Sunday.

According to the Halo Waypoint website, all attendees are required either to be vaccinated or register a negative PCR test in the 72 hours prior to the event. Attendees also are required to wear masks at all times inside the venue -- including players.

Teams to watch

Cloud9

Even though OpTic defeated them twice at the FaZe Halo Invitational, Cloud9 are definitely the favorites to win this event. C9 have taken both of the major offline tournaments that were held since the release of Halo Infinite – Raleigh and the NA Regionals – and have been pretty tough in the online events too. Until another team can beat them in an offline LAN, they should be considered the team to beat.

OpTic Gaming

Photo credit: Halo Championship Series

OpTic are by far the strongest contenders to unseat C9 from their place atop the Halo Championship Series, and already made that exact statement at the FaZe Halo Invitational. Maybe it was the addition of Matthew "FormaL" Piper that made the difference? Perhaps they’ll be further motivated by OpTic’s VALORANT team winning Masters: Reykjavík earlier this month, or OpTic Texas winning the first Call of Duty Major of the year. If OpTic can win the KC Major, they would have a strong case for being the best org in FPS esports this year – possibly even the best esports org so far in 2022.

Read more: The best esports orgs in the world in 2022, so far

Kansas City Pioneers

After finishing 5th-6th in the Kickoff Major, the North America Regionals and the FaZe Halo Invitational, cracking the top four might be a more realistic goal for the Pioneers than outright winning the KC Major. Still, that would be a major (pun intended) accomplishment for them, and they would be doing it in the org’s hometown.

The Pioneers already made waves by collaborating with the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals ahead of the Major, which included hosting a Halo bootcamp at the Royals’ baseball stadium in the days leading up to the event. Let’s see if they can forge an even deeper connection with the city with a positive result in their hometown tournament.

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Acend

Although the five-to-six best teams in Halo are all based in North America, the best team outside this group might be Europe’s Acend. They finished 9th-12th at the Kickoff Major and have dominated the European scene ever since. They won all four of the region’s Pro Series tournaments and recently won the Europe Super – the equivalent to the North America Regionals. They’re in the same group as C9, so we’ll get a chance to see how they match up with NA’s best right away.

EUnited

Photo credit: Halo Championship Series

While eUnited have had lackluster results in online tournaments (5th-6th in three of the four NA Pro Series tournaments and the FaZe Halo Invitational), they have thrived offline. EUnited were a surprising runner-up at the Kickoff Major, ahead of OpTic, Sentinels and FaZe Clan. They also finished third at the North America Regionals. They’re in a very winnable group for the KC Major, so look for them to make another deep run at this tournament.

Sentinels

Sentinels have consistently finished in the top four at the Kickoff Major, North America Regionals and FaZe Halo Invitational. Outside of one loss to the Pioneers, their only losses this year have come at the hands of C9, OpTic or eUnited. Reaching the final of the KC Major would be a huge statement for this team.

Lead photo credit: Halo Championship Series

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