HCS Invitational at SXSW

By Official HCS

Let the Halo 3 good times roll on! Last week, the first HCS Grassroots-sponsored event – the Halo Classic by UGC, took place and we saw the community come out en masse to support Halo esports. We watched a giant open bracket whittle down to just a handful of teams as the competition grew fiercer with every match. A few weeks ago we announced the HCS Invitational – the first official HCS event of 2019 and one that we are excited to experiment and take in different directions while maintaining high stakes competition at the core. Open events are central to Halo esports and in 2019 we are exploring options to put more open events on this year’s roadmap – more on that below.


Today we’re excited to reveal that the HCS invitational will be taking over the esports stage at the legendary SXSW (South by Southwest) festival in Austin, Texas from March 15-17. SXSW is a yearly cultural touchstone for music, film, and interactive media in the world, and we’re thrilled to bring Halo esports to the fans in attendance with over $100,000 in prizing on the line.

Tickets for fans are available HERE.

If you are not able to make it, be sure to tune in to mixer.com/Halo and twitch.tv/Halo each day at 12PM CT. Not only will you be treated to amazing matches and gameplay, but we’ve also got some exciting MCC news to reveal during the show.

As mentioned in the blog we released a couple weeks ago, our goals are to showcase Halo and Halo esports at larger pre-existing events where tens of thousands of attendees have the opportunity to watch Halo, or hang out with us and play some Halo for themselves. We also want to entertain fans in new ways by using the broadcast to showcase different formats, modes, and players/personalities in hopes of creating a more diverse and ultimately more fun and entertaining show while keeping the thrill of competition at the forefront. We also see this as a great opportunity to unite the entire competitive Halo community in new ways. With these goals in mind, we felt an Invitational provided the best format and structure for this event.

Let’s jump into the details!


Teams fought tooth and nail at the Halo Classic in St. Louis with their eyes on not only the prize pool but also the promise of earning a trip to the HCS Invitational. After the dust settled, only six teams earned the invite – congratulations to:

  1. TOX Gaming
  2. Denial Esports
  3. Team Reciprocity
  4. LUX Gaming
  5. Status Quo
  6. GMS

We felt taking the top six teams from St. Louis would provide the very best competition making for amazing gameplay and matches for fans watching onsite and from home around the world, while also ensuring we’re able to fit the entire tournament and more into the jam-packed schedule. There will be an opportunity for open FFA competition at SXSW (more on that down below) as well as more open events throughout 2019.

These six teams will battle through a double elimination bracket with the top two seeds and Halo Classic Grand Finalists (TOX Gaming and Denial) beginning their run in the 2nd round of the bracket. The six teams will be competing for a whopping $100,000 in prizing, as well as precious bragging rights moving forward into the year.


For over a year, hometown hopefuls have flocked to their local Microsoft Store each month for some competitive fun with their friends and nearby Halo community members. We’ve gotten feedback that many players are super passionate about Halo and want to up their game to the next level and have more fun competing. The Microsoft Store tournaments are meant to offer light competition where the main goals are building a local community and having some fun competing. In anticipation of the HCS Invitational, we want to take the opportunity to welcome players of all skill levels to their local Microsoft Store to learn the ropes of competitive Halo 3, have some fun while competing, and potentially earn the chance to play on mainstage at the HCS Invitational at SXSW.

Here’s how it works!

  • North America will be divided into FOUR regions: West Coast, Central, North East, South East
  • Each region will be represented by a top pro Halo 3 player.
  • Before players compete in the January and February MS Store 2v2 tournaments, they’ll have the opportunity to watch an instructional video where one of the above pro players teach them a bit about competitive Halo 3 to help them improve their game.
  • Depending on which region your store is located within, your instructor will either be Str8 Sick, Flamesword, SnakeBite, or Pistola.
  • If you attend both tournaments (Jan 27 and Feb 24), as well as make it past the first round in one of the two tournaments, you’ll have the opportunity to get flown out to Austin, Texas for a chance to compete alongside your region’s respective pro players in the $5,000 MS Store 2v2 Throwdown.

Additionally, Mixer will reignite the Mixer Matchups program for this tournament series starting on Sunday, January 27 with monthly broadcasts supported by livestreams from participating store locations and commented live from Mixer Studio One on Microsoft Campus. This is the first of many ways Halo and competitive gaming content will be showcased on Mixer, so stay tuned to @WatchMixer and the Mixer Blog for more information on Mixer Matchups.

Finally, we’ve heard stories of amazing community ambassadors attending their local Microsoft Store tournaments with the intention of growing the community, teaching players how to improve their game, and promoting a fun environment. THANK YOU! We’re asking each Gaming Expert in each Microsoft Store in North America to nominate official ambassadors in their stores. To show our appreciation for the ambassador’s support, they will also have the opportunity to be flown out to SXSW in Austin, Texas to spend the weekend with the Halo community and enjoy the show.

Here are the dates for the winter and spring Microsoft Store tournaments:

  • January 27
  • February 24
  • March 31
  • April 28
  • May 19

The first two will feature Halo 3 2v2 tournaments on official tournament settings, and format for the tournaments starting in March will be announced at a later date.

To learn more about the Microsoft Store tournaments and register – CLICK HERE


We’re kicking up the entertainment value at the HCS Invitational to have some fun on the mainstage like never before in the HCS, all while donating money to good causes.


Warthogs careening over a hill. Banshees cutting through the sky. 16 players armed to the teeth with carnage and chaos on their minds. At the HCS Invitational, pro players, casters, HCS Grassroots content creators, and fans in attendance will jump on the mainstage for a Halo 3 Big Team Battle match for the ages.

Stay tuned for more details on scheduling, competitors, game types, and more.


Years ago, Snip3down and Lethul were great teammates. They dominated tournaments. Won championships. And yes, even hugged and spoke fondly of one another.

That all ended when Lethul left his team for Counter Logic Gaming just days before roster lock for the historic X-Games 2016 Halo 5: Guardians tournament. Since then, a rivalry like we haven’t seen before in Halo esports sprouted, and the two have competed against each other in many championship grand finals matches.

At the HCS Invitational, we’ve decided to pit the two against each other yet again to really let them take the gloves off – but with a unique twist. Dodge ball style, Snip3down and Lethul will need to pick their Showmatch teammates and prepare for a battle across the Halo franchise because the casters will be spinning a wheel to determine which Halo game, team size, and mode they’ll be competing on. Halo: Combat Evolved 2v2 on Prisoner? Halo 2 4v4 on Lockout? 1v1 Octagon on Halo 3? We won’t know until the big day.

Let us know on twitter if you’re on #TeamLethul or #TeamSnip3down!


Not only will we have a jam-packed broadcast going all weekend long, but we’ll also have a booth at SXSW for fans in attendance to hang and go hands on as well.

Halo 3 Open FFA

For those looking to compete in an open tournament at SXSW, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be hosting a $5,000 FFA that will be open to anyone attending. We’ll have scheduling and format details in the coming weeks.

HCS Grassroots Stream Team

To entertain fans both in the booth and online at home, HCS Grassroots content creators have been formally invited to join us onsite at the HCS Invitational and will be streaming from the booth. Pull up a bean bag and enjoy the show put on by:

Application reviews for the next wave of HCS Grassroots content creators are nearly finalized, and the next wave of creators to join the crew will also be attendance and streaming all weekend long.

And finally, if you just want to sit down and play some Halo for a bit, we’ll have some consoles set aside for you as well for cooperative and competitive experiences as well


Open events will continue to be a staple of Halo esports. Coming up after the HCS Invitational will be:

Rest assured, we’re working diligently with partners around the world to host more open LANs in 2019 – both HCS Grassroots and official HCS. We’ll be announcing more of what’s next during the show at the HCS Invitational.

The HCS Invitational at SXSW is a tournament and event experience like Halo has never seen before. We’re taking some risks, we’re trying some new things, and we’ll be taking our learnings going forward as well. Thank you for the tremendous level of support shown to the HCS Grassroots program and its partners, as well as the HCS itself. Be sure to follow @HCS on Twitter, and let us know which part of the event you’re most excited about.