Stephen Dumeyer | Reporter
Everyone dreams of becoming a champion. After 6 months of qualifying events, 16 teams and 80 players have a chance at being crowned the best team in the world at the Six Major in Raleigh, North Carolina. For those that don’t know, the Six Major is the second-largest event of the year in Rainbow Six Siege Esports with a prize pool of $500,000 with the winner taking home $200,000.
Teams can qualify many ways; the first team to qualify was G2 after winning the Six Invitational in February. The next 8 teams to qualify were those to reach the Season IX finals in Milan, Italy, those teams were: Team Empire, Evil Geniuses, Faze Clan, Fnatic, MIBR (formerly Immortals), Giants Gaming (formerly LeStream Esport and LFO), DarkZero Esports, and Nora-Rengo.
There remained two minor tournaments, the Allied Esports Las Vegas Minor which was won by former Pro League team, Team Secret, and DreamHack Valencia, which was won by North American team Rogue. Rogue’s victory was quite significant as it was the first international tournament won by a North American team since Reciprocity (then Cloud9) won DreamHack Montreal in September of 2018.
Four of the remaining five spots were filled via double elimination closed qualifier for each major region in siege: North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific [APAC for short, comprised of Japan, Korea, South East Asia (SEA), and Australia and New Zealand (ANZ)].
In North America TSM won the qualifier despite their lackluster 1-1-5 start to season 10 of pro league, notable wins came over Team Reciprocity early in the tournament and Spacestation Gaming in the finals. Both teams are considered to be in the “Big Four” of North America, which is reflected in their current standing in Pro League, second and fifth respectively.
The Latin American qualifier did have some upsets and dark horses, the Latin American giant and Pro League Season 7 champions of Team Liquid failed to qualify after making it to the winner’s bracket finals before losing two matches in a row to Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) and Team oNe. Team oNe has just recently returned to Pro League with a new roster and made an impressive run through the qualifiers. The finals were between the powerhouse of NiP and newcomers of Team oNe, despite losing the first map on Border 7-5 NiP bounced back to take a 2-1 victory winning Kafe Dostoyevsky and Villa in dominating fashion 7-1 and 7-3 respectively.
Europe is widely considered the most competitive region in Siege and the qualifier was comprised of many Pro League teams like Penta Sports, Chaos Esports Club, GiFu Esports, Natus Vincere (NaVi), and Team Vitality. There were also some Challenger league teams invited that could pose a threat to take the title. However, teams like Penta and GiFu were eliminated in the earlier stages of the bracket. Of the final four teams in the bracket, three of them currently occupy spots in Pro League: Chaos, NaVi, and Vitality. The fourth team was the Russian squad forZe who has never been in Pro League or Challenger league. forZe would lose in the Winners bracket finals to Chaos and move on to play Vitality after they knocked off NaVi. The losers bracket finals between Vitality and forZe were tied up at one map a piece headed into the third, and final, map of the day on Clubhouse. However, due to connectivity issues Vitality could not complete the match resulting in a forfeit. This set the stage for a rematch of Chaos vs forZe in the finals and the largely unknown Russian squad managed to take the win in two maps 7-5, 7-5 on Border and Clubhouse.
The final region, APAC, had a much smaller pool of teams, four as opposed to the 16 commonly found in the other regions. There was a single representative from each subregion of APAC. Japan was represented by Cyclops Gaming, Korea was represented by Cloud9, a team known to qualify for large events under other names like Mantis Gaming and Element Mystic. SEA was represented by Aerowolf and ANZ was represented by ORGL3SS. Cyclops topped Aerowolf 2-0 (7-5, 8-7) in the semi-finals in what was actually a close game despite the map score on Kafe and Bank. The second semi-final between ORGL3SS and Cloud9 resulted in a repeat essentially, a 2-0 map score with Bank being won 8-7 and Kafe being won 7-5 both by ORGL3SS the only difference was the order the maps were played. The finals were the first match in APAC that saw a decider map reached as ORGL3SS took Coastline by a score of 7-4 which was followed up by Cyclops claiming a 7-4 victory of their own on Consulate. The decider map was Villa which followed the trend of 7-4 games as Cyclops took the final map and the spot in Raleigh.
That was the final qualifier to be played but some viewers may have noticed that there are only 15 teams qualified, not 16. That is because the final spot goes to a host country invite which goes to the team that ESL (the governing body of most Rainbow Six competitive tournaments) deems most qualified to fill the spot from the country of the event. Since the event is in Raleigh, North Carolina in the United States the bid goes to a North American team. Spacestation Gaming was awarded the spot which did raise a few eyebrows seeing that Reciprocity, who is arguably a better team overall, did not get the spot due to poor performance in the qualifier.
After covering what teams are playing and how they have reached this point, let’s take a look at the groups and rank how I think they’ll play out. (Immortals had a name change to MIBR; The roster of Looking for Org was acquired by Giants Gaming).
The format used in Majors for Rainbow Six Siege is “GSL-style” each pool is comprised of four teams, and the top two teams from each pool will move on to the quarter-finals. The first two games will result in two winners and two losers. The winners will play each other in the “Winners’ Match” to determine the team that will go 2-0 and claim the 1-seed in the pool the loser will move on to the decider match. The first-round losers will play each other in an “Elimination Match”, as one can tell by the name the loser will be eliminated and finish in a joint 13-16th place with the other three 0-2 teams (each of which will take home $5,000). The winner will be the second team in the “Decider Match”. This match is the final match of group play between the two 1-1 teams, the winner will move on to take the 2-seed in the pool with a record of 2-1 and the loser will finish in a joint 9th-12th with the other three 1-2 teams (each of which takes home ($10,000).
Group A: Group A has not gotten much attention from the public with most of it going to groups C and D. Empire is by far the heavy favorites of this pool which is only one of two pools to feature a team from every major region of Rainbow Six Esports.
Team Empire: Team Empire Enters the Raleigh Major after winning their last LAN tournament at Season 9 Finals in Milan. The acquisition of Danila “dan” Donstov from fellow Russian team forZe in exchange for Artyom “Shockwave” Simakov proved to be worthwhile as dan went on to win MVP of the tournament. Since then the team has not let up they currently sit in first place in European Pro League with a record of 5-2-0 and 17 points, one up on Looking for Org in second place. Their two draws came against Looking for Org and G2, arguably the next best teams in EU.
My Prediction: 2-0 wins Group A; Finishes Joint 3rd-4th
Nora-Rengo: After the losses of Yudai “Wokka” Ichise and Takumi “JJ” Iwasaki the team has not performed up to the previous standard. They’ve gone from the number one to the number two team in APAC now behind the Aussies of Fnatic. Furthermore, the former giants of APAC have started to fall out of favor in their own subregion in Japan. Cyclops currently leads them in by four points in Japanese Pro League for Season 10, this comes as a surprise as Nora-Rengo has been the number one team in Japan since the addition of APAC to the Rainbow Six professional circuit in Year 2 Season 3 (September of 2017).
My Prediction: 1-2 3rd Place in Group A; Joint 9th-12th
MIBR: The Latin American representative of this group, with a very recent rebranding (known as Immortals until August 3rd, 2019), has been as consistent as Latin America has been in Rainbow Six Esports. For those who don’t know, Latin America has always been known to have many strong teams at the top, none of which have held the crown of “Best LATAM Team” for very long. MIBR is one of the most recent teams to have fallen victim to this trend after remaining undefeated (7-6-0) in Season 9 until the very final regular-season match against Faze (the eventual number one seed from Latin America). Since then MIBR has failed to win a single Pro League match starting Season 10 with a meager 0-3-4 record and holding three points. They find themselves sitting in 7th place looking to avoid relegation in the second half as opposed to competing for a LAN spot, which was the expectation for many coming into the season. Lack of success in LAN environments has also plagued this team, they have failed to make it out of the group stages at any Major. They have also failed to make it past the quarter-finals of any season finals that they have qualified for (8 and 9). This lack of success could spell disaster for the team that was seen as unbeatable for almost the entirety of last season.
My Prediction: 0-2 4th Place in Group A; Joint 13th-16th
TSM: TSM as an organization is fairly new to the scene as they entered at the beginning of Season 10 with a lack of success in Pro League (1-1-5 Record; currently last in North America). However, there is still much hope when it comes to this team as they have proved themselves in Best-of-3 (Bo3) matches. The Pro League uses a Best-of-1 format where the teams play one map and it’s winner take all. However, in other tournaments that feature Bo3’s TSM has shined. Qualifiers for the Six Major showed their strengths with the format as they had a flawless run through the finals knocking off powerhouses such as Reciprocity and Spacestation while only dropping two of 12 maps. With the entirety of the Six Major being Bo3’s with the exception of the finals (Best-of-5) the format could greatly favor TSM.
My Prediction: 2-1 2nd Place in Group A; Finishes Joint 5th-8th
Group B: Group B is similar to Group A in the fact that there is one team that is top five in the world (Empire in Group A, G2 in Group B) while the other three teams have either limited or poor LAN experience or have suffered from the recent decline in performance.
G2: G2 has been commonly referred to as the best team in the world since the Six Invitational in Montreal in February 2018. Since then they have lost one singular match on LAN which was Season 7 finals to Liquid in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They have also won every major in Rainbow Six since the Six Invitational 2018, so it would be hardly justifiable to bet against them. One thing that has remained firm throughout this sustained success is the core roster. Four of the five players, Niclas “Pengu” Mourtizen, Daniel “Goga” Mazorra Romero, Fabian “Fabian” Hallsten, and Juhani “Kantoraketti (Kanto)” Toivonen, have been one the roster since when G2 acquired the team from their previous organization, Penta Sports, prior to the Six Major Paris in August of 2018. The sole roster change came at the beginning of Season 10 when it was announced that Alexi “UUNO” Tyopponen would become the new fifth player and that Joonas “jNSzki” Savolainen would be joining mousesports. Since the change G2 has a 3-1-3 record in Pro League, good for 5th in European Pro League. Many have been worried about the lack of online success leading to a potential loss in Raleigh. This may not be the case however as before the Six Invitational 2019, in February, G2 had started the Pro League season 2-3-2. They then went on to take the event handily losing one singular map to Spacestation Gaming in the quarter-finals. G2 should always be a favorite on LAN no matter their online situation.
My Prediction: 2-0 Wins Group B; Finishes as Champs
Rogue: Rogue got to this point by being the first North American team to win an international LAN event in nearly a year, they were also crowned team USA after winning the United States Nationals last year. Despite all this they have seen limited success in pro league in recent seasons, Season 8 was the last time they qualified for season finals and they fell in the quarter-finals to Nora-Rengo. Season 9 saw the team finish in 4th place at 5-3-5 and they currently sit in 6th place in Season 10 with a record of 1-4-2. There is faith in this team however as their lack of success has come via draw in Pro League, obviously, in tournament play, there are no draws, this came to their benefit at DreamHack Valencia where they won five maps that went to overtime and dropped none. I believe that with the relative weakness of the other two teams in the pool that Rogue can avenge their disappointing 13th-16th place finish at the Six Invitational 2019.
My Prediction: 2-1 2nd Place in Group B; finishes in Joint 5th-8th
Secret: The UK team of Team Secret (with the exception of Finland Native Aku “Fonkers” Seppa) has seen some time within Pro League after a solid Season 8 saw them one singular point off reaching season finals. However, Season 9 saw Secret seemingly self-destruct as they went from one of the few teams to take down G2 to the last place team in Europe which resulted in the auto-relegation into the challenger league. Despite the Season 9 struggles the organization remained with the team and helped them rebuild with the release of Ryan “Lacky” Stapley, and the retirement of David “sTiZze” De Castro. The two were replaced by Fonkers, who came over from fellow UK team MnM Gaming (now NaVi), and former G2 analyst Daniel “Ferral” Rotheram. The team qualified via the Allied Esports Minor, an international tournament that was the first in Rainbow Six to feature the Swiss System (shown below) for the group stage.
Group Play from the Allied Esports Minor in which Secret went 3-0 with an impressive 22-10 round split.
Team Secret made the most of their first good opportunity at an international LAN event but it could be a fluke, many teams see impressive beginnings to fall into struggles on LAN (ex. Faze Clan posted an impressive 20-2 round split in the group stages of the Six Invitational 2018 only to be knocked out by eventual runner-ups, Evil Geniuses, in the quarter-finals.)
My Prediction: 1-2 3rd Place in Group B; Joint 9th-12th
Cyclops Gaming: The current leader of the Japanese Pro League comes into the Six Major with no previous international experience so the bar has been set pretty low for the newcomers. However, Japanese teams have proven to be sneaky when there is a lack of footage of their gameplay, Nora-Rengo proved this after a close 2-0 loss to Rogue at Season 7 finals before following it up with an upset in the rematch at Season 8 finals.
My Prediction: 0-2 4th Place in Group B; Joint 13th-16th
Group C: Group C has been hailed by many as the “Group of Death” with no clear-cut favorite. Each team is considered a strong contender to move on and arguably all four teams “deserve” to but at the end of groups, only two teams will see themselves playing up on stage.
Evil Geniuses: If any team was considered the favorite it would have to go to Evil Geniuses as they have made it out of the group stage at every major they have played in. Also, the experience at LAN events is unrivaled in this group, Austin “Yung” Trexler, has played with the core roster since the beginning on Continuum and has only missed one season finals event (Year 2 Season 1) making him the record holder for most LAN’s attended. EG has always been known for their consistency in making it to the latter stages of bracket play, but have also always been known to “throw” or blow a lead late. At the Six Invitational 2018 in front of their home crowd in Montreal, they sat one singular map victory away from defeating Penta Sports (now G2), only to drop the next three maps and the match, 3-2. This happened again at Season 9 finals in Milan against Team Empire. EG lead the match 1-0 and also sat on triple championship point on Oregon up 6-3, only to lose the defense of the Dorms objective (the first or second-best site on the map depending on operator bans) three times in a row to send the map to overtime which was then won by Empire. They would go on to lose the third and final map, Clubhouse, 7-3 to continue the streak of faltering at the biggest stage. This team is perfectly capable of making it to the finals but will their own minds get the best of them?
My Prediction: 2-0 Wins Group C; Finishes Runner-ups
Giants Gaming: The primarily French squad under Spanish ownership had seen extreme success over the last three seasons of Pro League qualifying for season finals each time in second place. They currently sit one point back of first in Season 10 and look to end their streak of bad luck at LAN events. Despite qualifying for the Finals they failed to make it past the quarter-finals two out of three times with their last glimpse of the Semi-finals coming in May of 2018 at Season 7 Finals. With a very consistent roster with little weak points, their first tournament with this new Organization could be their breakthrough.
My Prediction: 1-2 3rd Place in Group C
Spacestation Gaming: The team that has become known for their ability to draw in Pro League has managed to qualify for their 2nd straight major. They proved their ability on LAN 6 months ago when they came second out of Group B that featured Empire, Rogue, and Immortals and was widely considered the group of death that they wouldn’t stand a chance in. Despite the predictions, Spacestation earned themselves a spot in the quarter-finals against eventual champions G2. However, they didn’t go down without a fight and managed to become the only team in the whole event to take a map from G2 and later was praised by IGL (In-Game-Leader) of G2, Fabian, who isn’t exactly known for his pleasantries. Look for this team to slip through the group stages and make a run at whoever gets matched up against them in the. quarter-finals
My Prediction: 2-1 2nd Place in Group C; Finishes Joint 5th-8th
Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP): The number one team in Latin America looks for redemption after going a meager 0-2 with a 14-34 round split at the Six Invitational 2019 before missing Season 9 Finals. With the least LAN experience and success of any team of this group they could be the sleeper team or just end up being a free win for Evil Geniuses and the loser of Giants vs Spacestation.
My Prediction: 0-2 4th Place in Group C; Joint 13th-16th
Group D: Group D has been considered the “second group of death” if one could call it that. They have, arguably, the best trio of teams; however, this is also the group of Russian Squad, forZe, who is completely new to this environment. Faze, Fnatic, and DarkZero all qualified for Season 9 finals with the first two making it to the Semi-Finals. Don’t let that sway you from DarkZero however, as they did lose to eventual champions, Team Empire.
Faze Clan: For anyone who has ever touched a First Person Shooter, this is probably the most recognizable team at the Six Major. They come into the event with impressive performances at the last two season finals, finishing runner-up in Season 8 to G2, and making it to the semi-finals in Season 9 before losing to Evil Geniuses. The current number two team in Latin America also finished in first last season and could be the first team with consistency to come out of the region.
My Prediction: 2-0 Wins Group A; Finishes Joint 3rd-4th
Fnatic: The boys from down under have gathered quite the fanbase since Season 8 finals when they threw off North American giant, Evil Geniuses, in the quarter-finals while being led by their coach Jayden “Dizzle” Saunders during the absence of team captain Etienne “Magnet” Rousseau. They have consistently been a threat at LAN events ever since so you can never count them out, especially with the aid of the team Kangaroo shown below.
My Prediction: 2-1 2nd Place in Group D; Finishes Joint 5th-8th
DarkZero: The North American representative of Group D has become quite comfortable at the top of NA Pro League standings for the last couple of Seasons including qualifying for Season 9 finals for the first time since the team was under SK Gaming. This is the only team with every player to have a siege.gg rating of 1.00 or above in the world currently at the mid-way point of Season 10. This means that anyone and everyone on this team is capable of supporting the team in any way possible. However, the team does lack recent LAN experience and success so they could use this as an opportunity to turn the tables and become the next giants of North America.
My Prediction: 1-2 3rd Place in Group D; Joint 9th-12th
forZe: The Cinderella team managed to get arguably the worst possible draw to continue their run through the Six Major. They have no Pro League or Challenger League experience and have been a consistent second-place team in the Russian Major League behind Team Empire. Considering forZe is in a group comprised of teams all top two in their respective regions currently and forZe is a borderline top 16 team in Europe, it’s pretty hard to even say that they have a fighting chance. However, forZe has recently qualified for European Challenger League, easily beating the favorites of BDS Esport, Supremacy, and X6tence.
My Prediction: 0-2 4th Place in Group D; Joint 13th-16th
Way-Too-Early Bracket Play Prediction
|Empire vs Fnatic||
G2 vs Empire
|G2 vs Spacestation||
G2 vs Evil Geniuses
|Evil Geniuses vs Rogue||
Evil Geniuses vs Faze
|Faze vs TSM|