Can one man singlehandedly drag a team down? Yes, yes he can.
Ok right out of the gate let's get one thing abundantly clear - team Bungie got whooped by team HBO because of ME. Regardless of any other half-truths or blurring of the lines found within this recap, that is one hard, cold fact that is certifiably undeniable. The only thing more painful than sucking it up in real-time last night was reliving the horror this morning while watching the saved films. Ouch.
So from the beginning, you already know the end. A point even more evident by the fact that I'm only recounting this match as a regular news story instead of a more grandiose "Top Story." Sorry, from hereon, Top Story status is reserved only for VICTORIOUS recaps, not shameful losses.
Still, there's a story in here somewhere that's worth telling, even if only to give props to the founder of Halo.Bungie.Org - "Louis Wu" - and the team he assembled consisting of an Xbox employee and two half-robot youngsters who allegedly help "moderate the forums." Uh huh.
Since we viewed this as more of a friendly match with our community brethren, we decided to rest "Team Pwnyx" and bring in a slightly less hardcore group that Urk dubbed "Team Silver." (sorry Joe & Luke, that's how Urk set this one up) For the record, I was pretty up front in my concerns that I would personally best be placed on "Team Wood" or "Team Terracotta" rather than a hardened, forged metal. Still, my history of Halo humpdays against Wu and HBO goes back years so it seemed only fitting that I get my hands dirty one last time.
Game One: Team Slayer on Powerhouse
Score: Bungie-23 / HBO-50
Before this match even started I already had a very bad feeling, "Hey guys, i see Cable is online, there's still time to get him and replace me!"
A funny thing happens when the match begins. I completely freeze up. No, not my console, my nerves. The pressure and stress, it's suddenly too much. To date I've played a total of 3 or 4 Arena games. Hardcore competitive play isn't in my blood these days. I usually roll around in Big Team, Invasion or maybe some Multi-Team, a distant stranger to the finely honed team movement, team shooting and scientific call-outs that comprise a "real game" of Team Slayer. It's almost as if I've been playing a completely different game the past few weeks.
I believe I can fly... I believe I can touch the sky... Oh yeah, they can fly too. And they have Rockets.
"Two at Elbow!" Urk cries out. What the hell is "Elbow"? Is that the walkway connecting the Hammer Room to the Shower building? Hmm yeah, i shouldn't have come, I'm definitely endangering the mission. I'm in way over my head. "Umm guys, I see a blue guy with the Hammer at Crotch! No wait, make that Armpit! KP is one-shot at Taint!" Ugh.
Armor Lock protected against the first swing... but not the second.
The game started off decent enough, I think we actually got to the Rockets first. But things quickly got out of hand with HBO playing a very well orchestrated game, sticking together and playing as a single collective MLG-like being. Team Bungie just couldn't catch a break. I swear every time I'd spawn it'd be me on side of the map, with all four members of team HBO, while my three teammates were a kilometer away working on a secret strategy for a comeback.
Ugh I think I'm gonna be sick...
New001 and Froman are generally some of the better players we have at the studio but both are coming off some vacation and both are pretty rusty. Now clearly my -11 K/D didn't do much to help us out but our entire team went negative, getting off to a really rocky start. No real excuses for this one - just sloppy play and a lack of general teammwork and coordination got us spanked, bad.
Game Two: Team Slayer on The Cage
Score: Bungie-50 / HBO-40
After the sting and wake-up call of the first game, Team Bungie dug deep to try and rally and turn the series around. Tung imparted these words of wisdom on me, "Sketch, just don't die." All I could do was pray I put up something better than -11 and thankfully, I did just that.
Not pictured: Ske7ch - who is off dying to the Blue Team
Jet Packs are generally the way to go on The Cage and our load-out choice served the team well. I think Froman rocked Armor Lock here and there but for the most part, this match was all about the "Pull" and "Firebird" medals for both teams.
Here's an example of a typical situation I repeatedly found myself in... Not the best odds.
Most of the match seemed to be dictated by whatever team could control the high walkway (another "elbow"?) or the small center structure. There was passing success to be found in the Tower but generally anyone who spent too much time in there got flushed out soon enough. The Sniper Rifle came into play whenever it was up and both teams had some impressive mid-air shots to write home about.
Froman is a split second too late to save me but he did extract revenge
It was an incredibly stressful game but ultimately we managed to squeak by with the win and our entire team went positive. Froman and Tung got warmed up. Urk was steady. Me, I put up a massive +1, a huge leap over my previous outing. We also found out that Louis Wu apparently has a weakness for falling off of elevated maps. If only we'd kept that in mind as we chose the third and final game...
Game Three: Elite Slayer on Countdown
Score: Bungie-45 / HBO-50
So after two games we were all tied up, 1-1. It would all come down to "Dino" slayer on Countdown. As the start timer was ticking down, I hear one last edict from Tung: "Sketch, pick Active Camo and just go hide somewhere and assassinate people." In retrospect, had I listened, that probably would've resulted in a different outcome.
Time for some hot cross-map action right out of the gate.
The game actually started off pretty strong for both teams with the lead seemingly changing hands with each passing minute. HBO did a great job once again of coordinating and sticking together, ensuring that every encounter had at least two (if not three or four) battle bros on a target.
The pink Unicorn Horn kind of clashes with my flaming skull
And once again I just could not catch a break. At every respawn I seemed to be alone or would run right as my entire team ran left, coming around a corner to find the entire Blue Team waiting. My team anticipation and sixth sense was nowhere to be found and as I sank deeper into a slump my team communication all but ceased. Red and Blue were battling it out pretty closely up to about the 30-30 mark and then things started to go awry for Bungie.
The Sword put a fast hurtin' on the scoreboard on a few occasions
Once HBO got to around 40 things were looking pretty bleak. I tried to just cloak and hide in a corner, heeding Joe's advice, but it was too little too late. Bungie did make a small comeback once I stopped dying but HBO was already too far ahead and shut it down with a healthy 5-point margin. Me, I managed to pull a -10 and singlehandedly spell defeat for Team Bungie.
Joe Tung perhaps summed it up best, "I hate losing."
And there you have it, my first Reach humpday and arguably, my last. Not because I can't take losing (just search the site and you'll see dozens of humpday losses in my past) but because I finally realized my problem today as I was putting together this recap. You see, playing in these matches puts me into a very difficult position. One that conflicts me deeply.
One one hand I'm playing to represent Bungie and to trying and help my team to victory while having fun. On the other hand, it's my job as the community guy to foster and nourish relationships with our community and support our fans wherever I can. Subconsciously this registers in my brain every split second before I'm about to pull the trigger on someone like Louis Wu, who has single handedly run and built up the largest Halo online community in the world for the past decade. How could I turn my gun on someone like that, someone who is getting on in years, someone who has given so much to Bungie for so long... Yeah, I can't, and I didn't. Deep down, I threw this match because that's how much I care about our community. It's more important to me that our fans have fun than it is for Tung and Froman to protect their win percentage.
And that is why I must remove myself from any future humpday battles. I'll be on the sidelines, talking smack, ridiculing our SRS PROZ who live and breathe by their Arena status but all the while I'll keep secretly rooting for you, our awesome fans. Team Terracotta's loss is our community's victory.
And, for the record, Team Pwnyx remains undefeated and ready for their next challenge.
NEXT WEEK: Urk's assembled Bungie Team vs. The Bungie.net Forum Ninjas! This time, it's personal.