Rainbow Six Esports’ Evolution After ESL’s Departure

Andrew Czysz Jr. 2023-01-31 03:33:05
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege has been prominent in the world of competitive esports, since January 2016. Although Siege esports is not as prominent now, its storied legacy created by both ESL and Ubisoft allows it to have encapsulated value. However, this partnership would meet its end in May 2020. Which in turn, left the state of Rainbow Six Esports in question. This article will focus on Rainbow Six esports' evolution after ESL's departure.
What is ESL Esports and How Did it Contribute to Rainbow Six Siege's Esports Legacy? Founded on November 27, 2000, ESL (formerly known as Electronic Sports League), is a German esports organizer and company that produces video game competitions worldwide. In 2015, ESL was the world's largest esports company, and the oldest that remains operational. ESL is referred to as the birthplace of some of the world's most epic events. A great amount of these events were brought forth by the creation of Rainbow Six Pro League. Pro League was a professional esports league for Rainbow Six Siege, hosted and organized by ESL in association with Ubisoft. It was announced in January 2016 and began with Year 1 Season 1 on March 4, 2017. The league coincided with Rainbow Six Siege updates before Year 3, with three seasons per year; the fourth being taken up by the Six Invitational, an annual championship tournament. There were four main divisions in the league, North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific. Through 11 seasons and various Six Invitationals, Siege as a whole thrived in ESL's Pro League moniker for about 4 years. It encapsulated the legacies of players including G2's Niclas "Pengu" Mouritzen, and TSM's Jason "Beaulo" Doty. It even brought us one of the best esports casting duos of all time with the late great Michael "KiXSTAr" Stockley and Parker "Interrobang" MacKay.
Also Read: Parker "Interro" MacKay - From Call of Duty Player to R6 Caster
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, how could an awesome concept like this meets its end? Well, there is one way in particular that reveals how ESL and Ubisoft were in a crossroads, leading to a divorce down the road. What led to ESL's Departure From Rainbow Six Esports?  Moving along, let's take a look at what was the driving force behind ESL leaving Rainbow Six esports. At the February 2020 Six Invitational, Ubisoft announced major changes coming to their esports program including a team ranking system, various changes within the four main regional programs, and how the competitive Rainbow six esports season would look. When Ubisoft's plans came to fruition, the end of an era was in sight. The current structure ESL and Ubisoft had crafted was going to be demised after the Season XI Pro League Finals in May 2020. On May 19, 2020, ESL's contract with Ubisoft was set to expire. Ubisoft chose to not move forward with ESL. Since this happened,  ESL stepped away from their original role in Rainbow Six esports. The following tweet was put out by ESL Rainbow Six: Essentially, ESL aimed to leave Siege's esports program in good hands after being part of its creation. It forced Ubisoft to go a different route. The well-known landscape of Rainbow Six esports was altered, and structural changes were imminent. A good portion of fans questioned what was next for Siege esports. Luckily, these questions were answered. Ubisoft had plans in place for what the future of Rainbow Six Esports would look like. Regionalized Format for 2020 and 2021 Let's start by taking a deeper look at the changes Ubisoft planned to implement after ESL's contract expired. As previously mentioned the Pro League model that was well known by the Siege community for 4 years would be ceased. This whole leave the door open for the developers to focus on a regionalized programs across the game's four main regions: North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Each region would be in charge of the specifics surrounding their own program. Managing partners, formats, and how the program feeds into the great global esport were all in consideration. All four regions ran concurrently across four quarters, with the first three quarters each hosting a major for every region's top team. The final quarter saw every team race to the regional finals and determine relegations, with the world champion set to be crowned at the Six Invitational. In this format, the Six Invitational, something Siege esports fans loved, was untouched and took place every February as per usual. Finally, teams took part in an overhauled points system, one in which teams were rewarded for winning their majors. Majors are the big events that happen every three months, leading up to the Six Invitational. Shifting back to the system installed, it did not guarantee major winners a placement into the Six Invitational. Cumulative performance across the competitive year was the main indicator on if a team qualified for the Six Invitational. Take for example if a team starts hot and fluster to the finish, they may miss the Invitational cut entirely. Below are the graphics released by Ubisoft, related to the current calendar for 2020 and 2021: During these two years of running the regionalized circuit, Ubisoft hit a few roadblocks. A notable one was the Covid-19 Pandemic. It forced the August and November Majors in 2020 to be cancelled, as well as the Six May 2021 Major. However, we were able to see teams like oNe Esports and FaZe Clan each win a major in 2021 as the pandemic eased, and competition was in session. The 2022 season followed the same regionalized format. A difference was no Majors were cancelled. It was due to the Covid-19 Pandemic slowing down and allowing fans to watch matches in venues again. Notable Majors took place in Charlotte, Berlin, and Jonkoping. DarkZero won in Charlotte, while Rogue took Berlin. BDS along with their star studded player Shaiiko won the November Jönköping Major. This was Shaiiko's first win in a Major. Fans were delighted to see him on top. After the 2022 season concluded, Ubisoft was not done making changes to the structure of Rainbow Six esports. Enter the Global Circuit that will be coming soon to further complicate the landscape of Rainbow Six esports. Global Circuit for 2023 and Beyond Ubisoft, In collaboration with BLAST Esports, announced the new Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Esports Global Circuit. With a release window of March 2023, this new global circuit will have 9 regions, aiming to create even more opportunities for teams around the world. Additionally, it will also offer up-and-coming teams and players a path to the competition. Regions included in the Rainbow Six esports Global Circuit are: Europe, North America, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Hispanic Latin America, Asia, Oceania, and MENA (Middle East, North Africa). Each region will hold their programs in parallel according to the new competition structure. As explained in Ubisoft's video below, the competitive season will start in March and will end in February of the following year. Stage 1 will happen from March to May and will conclude with the Six Major in May. June-August is Off-season. Stage 2 happens from September to November, and concluded by an extended November Six Major. December to February serves as a second Off-season. Finally, February will include the Six Invitational.
Independent regional programs during the two stages will be held for all 9 regions. Both stages will serve as qualifiers for the Six Invitational. Since regional qualifiers are open competitions, up-and-coming teams can join and potentially be part of the Invitational. There is also the option for these teams to compete against professionals, as it can help them learn and grow as players. A revamped point system will be applied to open qualifiers. The goal is to score as many points as possible. Points will decide which teams will proceed to the Six Invitational. Regions will also run close leagues in parallel with their open qualifiers. The highest level of Rainbow Six esports will be enjoyed by fans as the concept of close leagues is to have the top teams competing against each other. Close leagues will allow organizations to thrive continuously. Regions that will host both closed leagues and open qualifiers include: Europe, North America, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and Hispanic Latin America. Regional programs of Asia, Oceania, and MENA will be finetuned in collaboration with BLAST Esports. Details have yet to come out though. Lastly, Six Majors will be receiving an update. Since 9 regions will be sending their teams to the Six Majors, an extended format is warranted. Specifically, the Six Majors will have an additional phase, happening before the Group Stage and Playoffs. The first phase, which is the new phase, does not have details currently. However, the source of these details will come from the Six Invitational of 2023. They include qualification paths, number of teams participating, and the competitive format. The 2nd phase includes Group stages. Players can qualify for them by either performing well in select regional closed leagues, or they can fight their way through open qualifiers. From here a total of 8 teams from the Groups phase will proceed to the 3rd phase, Playoffs. The 8 teams will compete to see who will become the winner of the Six Major. This will occur twice per season, with teams raking up points in each stage. Teams with the highest points will then compete in the Six Invitational. What's Next For Rainbow Six Esports? Simply put, the future of Rainbow Six Esports will be determined by the 2023 Six Invitational and Ubisoft's multi-year partnership with BLAST Esports. The partnership aims to make use of BLAST's industry-leading technology, 'fans first' production values, and extensive tournament organizer experience to bring the best possible experience for those involved, both fans and players.
Andrew Czysz is a shoutcaster and aspiring journalist hailing from Horlick High School. If you enjoy his content, follow him on Twitter at @AC_32. Images and Video Courtesy of Ubisoft

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