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When you hear the word “esports” today, your mind probably goes to the usual suspects: League of Legends, VALORANT, maybe even Overwatch.
But, before any of these games even existed, there was one name that defined esports in the West. A title that elevated competitive gaming from a niche pastime to a national spectacle.
That game was Halo.
Halo defined two entire generations of console gaming, and stood at the forefront of esports before the industry as we know it really existed. Yet, as quickly as it rose to prominence, Halo esports disappeared.
After almost a decade of hibernation, Halo esports is back in a big way. Following the launch of Halo Infinite, the Halo Championship Series celebrated its triumphant return with a massive tournament and an equally massive prize pool. But how did a game that was consigned to the annals of esports history make its way back to main stage prominence?
This is the Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Halo Esports.
Halo: Combat Evolved
When the first iteration of Halo, Halo: Combat Evolved, released in November of 2001, the precursors to modern esports were already going strong. Counter-Strike 1.6, StarCraft: Brood War and arcade staples like Street Fighter 2 had broken ground in the competitive space. But Halo was the first to pave its way into the American mainstream.
Fans loved the gunplay, the lightning-fast pace and the level design, but the hardware running the game was just as important. While the first Halo game was a groundbreaking success, the competitive scene for the franchise didn’t really take off until 2004.
This is when Halo 2 was released, along with the rise of online gaming thanks to Xbox Live. During this time, esports organization Major League Gaming, also known as MLG, became the leading organizer for high tier tournaments. In 2006, it began broadcasting on national television with the Boost Mobile MLG Pro Circuit, pushing Halo esports squarely into the mainstream.
Experience The Rise Again of Halo by watching the video above or heading to Upcomer’s YouTube channel.