You couldn’t have asked for a better end to an incredible weekend of pro Halo at HCS Daytona. Team EnVyUs (NV) took on number-one OpTic Gaming (OG) to decide the championship in a grueling, 14-game series that put both teams’ skills and endurance to the ultimate test.

Coming out of the losers bracket after having already lost to OG in a prior round, NV knew they would have to best the reigning champs in two consecutive best-of-7 series, while OG would only need to win the first series to be declared the winner.

NV opened the first series strong with a dominating Strongholds on Empire win, taking OG 100-13. They followed it up with a narrow 50-48 Slayer victory on The Rig and a 3-1 Capture the Flag win on Truth.

They needed just one more win to clinch the series, but OG fought back, putting up their own three-win streak including a heart-pounding overtime victory in CTF on Fathom, winning 2-1 as the OT clock finally ran out.

It looked like the reverse-sweep was in motion, but then NV struck back with a vengeance, pulling of a 50-47 Slayer win on Regret after battling it out neck-and-neck the entire game. NV took the series 4-3, resetting the bracket for another seven games.

It came down to game 7. Twice.

OG came out swinging in game one of the second series, destroying NV with three unanswered flag caps for an easy 3-0 CTF victory on Coliseum. At this point, it looked like NV had simply run out of steam, but they came back strong in game two with a stunning 50-34 Eden Slayer victory.

In a miraculous reversal in game three, NV again came out on top, recovering from a 47-point Strongholds deficit to win it 100-87 after a series of successful triple caps. They would take game four, as well, in a 3-2 CTF victory, but OG came back again in game five with a narrow Slayer win.

It would be OG again in game six, this time pulling out all the stops to take Strongholds on Plaza with a substantial margin of 100-40, forcing game seven for a second time. OG again looked unstoppable, but going into the final match — Slayer on Truth — it was anybody’s guess as to who would come out on top.

The game started off poorly for OG, with SnakeBite inadvertently assisting the enemy with a botched grenade toss that hit his own teammate. NV went up 3-1 right off the bat.

But if SnakeBite’s error was a sign of OG’s exhaustion, they didn’t let it show again. They pulled themselves together and quickly rallied to keep themselves in the game. Both teams traded kills throughout the match, with each occasionally taking a one or two-point lead, but never running away with it.

NV muscled through a four-kill run to take the lead at 20-17, but OG caught up and the teams again began exchanging points, both slowly walking toward the 50-point limit but neither taking a clear lead. NV Snip3down came out with some tricky tactical magnum plays, but by the time both teams reached the 40s, it was still a one-point game.

Then NV Mikwen busted out a surprise triple kill, but the score stabilized at 43-42 in favor of NV. There it stayed for what felt like an eternity, neither team wanting to risk giving up a point. Shots were exchanged, grenades exploded in the general vicinity of players, but everyone stayed alive — as long as they possibly could.

Then NV Huke had a quick double kill, putting his team up by three. OG came back, turning it into a one-point game at 46-45 NV. But out of nowhere, NV Snip3down magically found three targets and pulled off an expert series of attacks for a triple kill. OG managed to score one more point before NV put the nail in the coffin with the 50th kill, securing the game, the series, and the championship.

NV players, previously intently focused and nearly motionless, shot out of their seats, hands in the air. If ever there was a time to celebrate, this was certainly it. They had just taken down the reigning champs and number-one seed team in an unbelievably intense, 14-game series that culminated in what was perhaps the most stressful game of Slayer that’s ever been played.

After the performance, a still-recovering Snip3down joined the casters and offered some insight into how his team pulled off such an incredible feat.

“We had to play smart and passive at the right times,” he said. “Stay on the same page and use teamwork. That was the only way we were going to win that.”

As for OG, it’s back to business in preparation for the next tournament:

Congratulations to both teams for an incredible tournament.

Also published on Medium.