Royal2, a player with Sentinels, has been suspended after Halo Championship Series (HCS) officials determined that he had cheated during a tournament qualifier by “geofiltering.”
Complaints were made almost right after Sentinel’s last qualifying match for HCS Kickoff Major Raleigh 2021, with rival teams accusing them of having used “geofiltering”, a practice that lets you block out servers that give you a high ping (and by extension create a potentially higher ping for your opponents). There were also some suspicious “lobby connection issues” that delayed the qualifiers for over four hours as well, which some felt were related.
Here’s how HCS officials described the situation:
Following the NA Kickoff Qualifier 12-1 tournament on December 1-2, 2021, a number of players raised allegations that Sentinels had forced the game to select a server resulting in abnormally high ping for players in the game lobby. One of these accusations was directed towards Royal 2 from Sentinels. These allegations were accompanied by reviews of Sentinels players’ Twitch streams which categorized the perceived changes and abnormalities in player pings directly in the game client. There were also significant lobby connection issues during the tournament which led to the 4+ hour delay of the tournament. On December 3, 2021, HCS Administration made the decision to immediately undertake a formal investigation to better understand the causes of lobby connection issues experienced during the 4+ hour delay to the NA Kickoff Qualifier Day 2 and to more closely examine these allegations of server manipulation.
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After going back through the data, the HCS found that Royal2's server logs indeed showed some fishy behaviour:
We found that from November 26, 2021, the day before NA Open Series 11-27 on November 27, 2021 through the last match of the NA Kickoff Qualifier 12-1 on December 3, 2021, all US servers but 1 server in the United States (westus2) were missing from the server ping list, thus forcing all of Royal 2’s matches onto that server and creating an abnormally high ping for players in the affected matches.
As a result, Royal2 was found guilty and suspended from all competition until January 28. In addition to punishing him, the HCS also handed out penalties to the entire Sentinels team as well, removing their seeded position and docking them points.
Further, as a result of Royal2’s suspension, Sentinels will be unable to field the same, full roster for the tournament they’d qualified as top seed for—HCS Kickoff Major Raleigh 2021. They will now be ineligible for a Pool Play position at the Raleigh event, though “the rest of the roster is eligible to compete in the Open Bracket.”
In case you’ve read all this and are still wondering what happened, here’s a 4-minute explainer from Halo player Snip3down, that includes a few extra pieces of info that were missing from HCS’ official rundown: