Complexity Halo Statement

BY Andrew Miesner / June 1, 2024

Yesterday evening HCS admins informed Complexity that our Halo Infinite team would be disqualified from the London Major due to one of our players – Spartan – tampering with official league equipment in an effort to gain a competitive advantage. Immediately upon being informed of the situation, Complexity began to gather information from all applicable parties, including seeking perspective from HCS Tournament Administration. In an effort to provide as much detail on the tampering incidents as possible, we have summarized the series of events from Spartan’s perspective:

  • During HCS London Media Day on Thursday 5/30, Spartan among the other Complexity Halo members were assigned a Solid State Drive (SSD) for use throughout the event.
  • Immediately after receiving the SSD, the team setup their practice PCs with said SSDs and conducted a series of practice scrimmages against ITB, the other team in the practice room.
  • During the scrimmages, Spartan was experiencing PC performance issues including lower than anticipated frame rates. Spartan did not notify a tournament admin of these performance issues, instead opting to take the below actions in an effort to improve the performance of his SSD/PC. (note: Spartan has significant technical expertise in computer optimization for Halo Infinite and has previously helped the HCS to establish a standard set of steps for optimizing PCs at HCS events (the “Optimizations”)
  • Following the scrimmages Spartan took the following actions in an effort to improve the performance of his SSD/PC:
    • Spartan reformatted the provided SSD Windows installation utilizing a USB Windows image of his home PC setup. This Windows image featured the following modifications:
      • MSI Afterburner was installed to set fan curves and disable ULPS (ultra-low power saving mode) to optimize hardware performance (the Optimizations dictate that a different, though similar program, AMD Adrenaline is used).
      • Various Windows settings, services, power settings, and device settings were altered, similar to those dictated by the Optimizations.
      • Various registry changes were made, similar to those dictated by the Optimizations
  • Following the above actions, Spartan returned his SSD to the tournament admins as is normal protocol between tournament days (note: The tournament admins maintain possession of the SSD until it is issued again the next tournament day, ensuring that there is no tampering or other impropriety).
  • Friday morning the team including Spartan returned to the practice room, notifying a tournament admin that they were ready to resume practice. The tournament admin brought each player’s SSDs to the practice room and mounted the SSDs to respective player’s practice computers.
  • The team including Spartan conducted a series of practice scrimmages against Native.
  • Following the conclusion of the practice scrimmages, the team was on break for approximately 45 minutes during which some members remained in the practice room and some watched matches from the event crowd. During the latter portion of this period, a tournament admin collected the SSDs from each player’s practice computer.
  • The team including Spartan took the main stage and began to set up for the match vs FaZe Clan. The tournament admins mounted each SSD to the respective player’s stage computer.
  • As part of this set up, tournament admins went to each player’s PC to ensure that a white noise program was enabled. When the tournament admin performed this check on Spartan’s PC, it was discovered that the white noise program was not installed as Spartan had reformatted the Windows installation on his SSD.
  • The tournament admin decided that Spartan’s SSD would be swapped for a fresh SSD as a result of the above discovery. Spartan’s computer had a fresh SSD installed and the tournament admins retained Spartan’s initial SSD.
  • Spartan subsequently set up on this new SSD by updating the display refresh rate, changing a controller input setting in Steam, and utilizing a tuning preset in AMD Adrenaline program.
  • The team and Spartan played the match vs FaZe Clan on the main stage with the newly issued fresh SSD – not the reimaged SSD.
  • Tournament admins removed the SSD from each player’s main stage PC and transported the SSDs to the practice room where tournament admins mounted the SSDs to each player’s respective practice PC.
  • The team went on break for the next few hours with some members returning to the hotel, getting dinner, or staying in the practice room to watch matches, or prepare for the upcoming match.
  • In preparation for the Cloud9 match the tournament admin once again gathered the SSDs from each player’s practice PC and transported the SSDs to the featured stage where the tournament admin mounted each SSD to the respective player’s stage computer.
  • The team took the stage, set up as usual, and notified tournament admins that they were ready. The tournament admins asked the team to join the game lobby.
  • After a brief delay in which the match did not proceed as normal, Spartan and coach Ashes were asked by a tournament admin to follow them to a separate room.
  • Waiting in this room were a number of tournament administrators including HCS leadership. Spartan and Ashes were informed that an investigation had been conducted regarding equipment tampering, and that there appeared to be a serious competitive integrity issue. The tournament administrators asked Spartan to recount what exactly had happened, a request that he complied with.
  • Immediately after this discussion, Spartan and Ashes were informed of the HCS competitive ruling to disqualify the Complexity roster. Subsequently the rest of the Complexity roster was brought up to the room to inform them of the issue and decision.
  • The match vs Cloud9 was not played.

A final note on the details of Spartan’s perspective: Spartan maintains that he at no time brought an outside SSD to the event and swapped it for the tournament issued SSD, only that he reimaged the SSD provided by the tournament. HCS tournament admins are confident the SSD is not part of their competitive fleet because it is a different memory size as compared to their normal SSDs. To the extent of our knowledge, this is the only point where Spartan’s and HCS perspectives materially differ.

First and foremost, Complexity respects the competitive ruling issued by HCS and we appreciate their cooperation to determine the facts and outcomes in a timely manner. Competitive integrity is paramount to our industry and actions that detract from fair play cannot be tolerated at events of any size.

Our belief is that the spirit of Spartan’s actions were not intentionally malicious or deceitful, but his actions were careless, unprofessional and violated rules outlined in the HCS statement. Our finding is that Spartan, without informing a tournament admin, took significant and unusual steps to modify software on his SSD in order to increase PC performance, resulting in a competitive advantage. Our finding echoes the HCS statement that no additional prohibited software outside of the PC performance modifications was detected on Spartan’s SSD. We appreciate that Spartan cooperated fully with the HCS and Complexity fact finding missions, but that does not absolve him of the actions detailed above.

In light of the above findings Complexity has opted to suspend Spartan from our Halo Infinite roster pending final ruling from HCS after the London Major. We will provide further updates on additional actions in the near future.

As an organization we pride ourselves on principles of professionalism and integrity, and we expect those qualities to be shown by our personnel at all times. The above events do not reflect Complexity values and we apologize to HCS, event hosts Quadrant, our fans, and the larger Halo community. We are disheartened that this incident caused a premature end to our promising London Major appearance, but we hope to continue our work in the Halo community to set a positive example through our competitive team, community events, and more. We appreciate your continued support of Complexity Halo.