Welcome to the second edition of Behind the Match-Up! In this series, we'll provide in-depth analytical previews of all four of the first round Halo 3 matches that will take place at the Las Vegas National Championships on November 21-23. Unlike every other tournament throughout the 2008 Pro Circuit, the Las Vegas National Championships provide us with the unique opportunity of knowing exactly which teams will be facing off in the very first round, along with their potential routes through the bracket based on their performance. Each installment of the series will be released periodically, and will lead us into our usual round of pre-event coverage that you've come to expect.
In this edition of Behind the Match-Up, we'll take a look at the match-up between 3rd seeded Final Boss and 6th seeded Ambush. These two teams have played only once this year, but that one match brought us a very exciting five-game-series in the late stages of Toronto competition. Final Boss emerged victorious, taking the last two games of the series after falling into a 2-1 deficit. However, is there more to the story than that? There sure is, and that's exactly what we're about to take a closer look at.
Ambush and Final Boss both made large roster changes after Orlando, and both teams have stuck with the same line-up ever since. In their only meeting of the season, both teams battled with the exact same rosters they will do battle with in Vegas, giving us a much more reliable set of games to analyze.
Final Boss entered the season as the reigning 2007 National Championships. They continued their success with a win at the 2008 Season's inaugural event in the Meadowlands. However, contrary to the team's prolific past, Final Boss struggled at the next two events, finding themselves watching the Finals for the first time in three years of competition. It was at this point that the team parted ways with Walshy, beckoning Neighbor from Str8 Rippin to take his place. Since Walshy's departure, things have improved slightly for Final Boss; They've finished 3rd in two consecutive events, but are still coming up short of where they have become accustomed to finishing -- first place. The team hopes that the familiar glamour and glitz of Vegas will be just the thing to help them get back on top.
If you look at Ambush's season thus far, it's quite amazing to see how far they've progressed. The Ambush roster that will attend Vegas features zero members from the original Ambush roster who attended Meadowlands. At the beginning of the season, Heinz, Nexus, and Cloud were on Believe the Hype, while IGotYourPistola was on Are You Ready, the 27th place finisher at Meadowlands. Slowly but surely the Ambush roster we know today came together, their finishes improving throughout the season. After Orlando, Cloud joined back up with ex-teammates Nexus and Heinz on Ambush to complete the team's current roster. They come into Vegas as the sixth ranked team, although the team hasn't finished below 5th in the past three events. Keep in mind that Nexus and Heinz were a part of the Believe the Hype team at San Diego who provided us with one of the biggest upsets of the season as they swept Final Boss in three quick games.
Below you will find the results from when the teams met earlier this year at Toronto. Games highlighted in gold represent gametypes that the teams will play in the first round at Vegas.
Record by Gametype This Season
Below you will find the total records for each team this season, broken down by individual gametype. Once again, games highlighted in gold represent first round Vegas gametypes. You will also notice that both teams have had their best and worst statistical gametypes marked green and red respectively.
Vegas will mark the second time this season that Ambush and Final Boss will meet. In their only meeting this season, both teams played with the same rosters that they will use in Vegas, with Final Boss taking a close 5 game series
Game 1: Onslaught CTF
The teams have yet to meet on Onslaught CTF this season, but we can conclude that this first game will be filled with excitement. Onslaught CTF has provided fans with exciting games all season, whether it be an impressive blowout, or a close fought battle featuring narrow captures and clutch flag returns. Either way, Ambush will likely be on offense as fast and furious as possible, while Final Boss will try to capitalize on any mistakes the younger Ambush team may make. Expect a close game with lots of excitement to start the series.
Game 2: The Pit Team Slayer
The next game will mark the first gametype in which the teams have previously met this season. When the teams met in Toronto, Pit TS served as the fifth and deciding game of the series. Final Boss has always specialized on the opening break of Pit TS, often able to control both the Overshield and the Rockets right off the bat. Ambush will likely count on some clutch sniping from Pistola, while Neighbor and Ogre 2 will control the other. In their previous match, a well executed flank by Ogre 2 through Dark Hall disrupted Ambush's defense early on. This enabled Final Boss to jump out to an early lead that Ambush was never able to overcome. If Ambush is able to counter Final Boss' opening push, they may be able to use their strong spawn control to build a lead on FB. This game will come down to Ambush's opening, so be sure to keep an eye on that in the early going.
Game 3: The Pit King of the Hill
Game 3 will see the players return to the Pit, but this time it's all about the Hill. This has historically been one of Ambush's weaker gametypes this season, and without a pre-event LAN scheduled, they will need to find some other way to improve in it before Vegas if they hope to defeat Final Boss. This gametype will likely come down to Ambush's ability to capitalize on any downtime the game may present. If they can continue their strong slaying while grabbing hill time, they could easily come out on top in this gametype.
Game 4: Guardian Oddball
This gametype serves as the second in which the teams have previously met. Like Pit TS, Guardian Oddball went to Final Boss the first time around. In fact, Final Boss won by a staggering 112 second margin, which must have been a huge confidence boost heading into the fifth game of that series. Nonetheless, most of the gametypes in this series seem to play to Final Bosses advantage and Oddball Guardian is certainly no different. However, if Pistola gets going, there is no telling what can happen. Combine this with the strong set of skills found with Cloud, Heinz, and Nexus, and Final Boss could find themselves struggling to keep up. Similar to Pit KotH, this gametype will come down to whether or not Ambush has the ability to keep up their strong slaying skills while collecting ball time. Ambush is one of the most difficult teams in the league to setup against, due to their unpredictable playstyle. If Final Boss is able to get setup though, it may spell disaster for Ambush.
Game 5: Narrows Team Slayer
If the teams find themselves in another Game 5, it will all come down to Narrows TS. Expect to see an array of spectacular sniper battles in the center of the map, while both teams will look to push as hard as possible. Ambush has proven to be big fans of the man cannon so far this year, so don't expect that to end now. Rocket control will be important, as a good rocket spawn camp could result in a 5 kill swing in either direction. Ambush needs to rely on their strengths, keeping Final Boss away from the top middle of the map as much as possible.
As was stated earlier, Ambush has no plans to LAN before the 2008 National Championships. Although this may seem like a sure recipe for failure, this has been their methodology all season long, and has not prevented their success thus far. Final Boss has plans to LAN twice prior to Vegas, once against ex-teammate Walshy and the rest of Instinct, and the other with eighth-seeded Legendz.
As previously mentioned, Behind the Match-Up will be a periodically released series that will roll out between now and the week before the 2008 Pro Circuit finale. Expect to see the next iteration of Behind the Match-Up next week, as we tackle the match-up between 2nd seeded Triggers Down and 7th seeded Carbon.