The Current State of BLAST R6 Esports

Andrew Czysz Jr. 2023-07-10 12:25:57
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege has been a prominent esports title since January 2016. After Ubisoft discontinued their parternership with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) on May 19, 2020 ending Rainbow Six Pro League, the future was uncertain. However, on December 12, 2022 Ubisoft struck a deal with Blast.TV to create, BLAST R6 Esports. This article analyzes the current state of BLAST R6 Esports.
Before the current state of BLAST R6 Esports is targeted, let's identify who Blast.TV is. Who is Blast.TV? Blast.TV is a Denmark-based esports media production company founded in Copenhagen on October 10, 2016. For about 6 years, Blast had held its own tournaments for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), under different iterations: Blast Pro Series, and Blast Premier. BLAST Pro Series To start. the Blast Pro Series was an internationally run CS:GO tournament bringing six teams together in a shortened two-day format. It was created in 2017 by Blast.TV (known as RFRSH at the time). Events happened in various cities worldwide, including Copenhagen, Los Angeles, and Madrid. Although there was a lot of success, Blast decided to discontinue Pro Series in 2019 to create BLAST Premier. BLAST Premier Blast Premier is the professional CS;GO esports league currently in session. It launched in 2020 and is based in two regions: North America and Europe. A series is divided into two seasons, Spring and Fall. Each season lasts four months with 12 regular season teams participating in a Group Stage. The top 6 teams from the stage enter the Season finals. They are open to two teams from Showdown events, which are available to various teams including those who did not qualify during the regular season. Finally, the winner of each season's finals goes on to participate in the Global Finals at the end of the year. However, winners of other prestigious non-BLAST Premier events and the highest-ranked teams on the Global Leaderboards can participate as well. Why did Ubisoft partner with them? Transitioning from the origin of Blast, let's analyze why Ubisoft partnered with this CS:GO esports giant. In a blog post published by Ubisoft, they mentioned how "delighted" they were about the multi-year partnership with BLAST. The added flexibility of "tailoring programs to the specificities of each region" offers transparency to meet a  shared goal between BLAST and Ubisoft. This goal in Ubisoft's eyes can be accomplished thanks to BLAST's industry-leading technology, 'fan-first' production values, and extensive tournament organizer experience. Leo Matock, the Managing Director of Development of BLAST commented on a post by Esports Insider stating: "We have exciting plans to elevate and grow the Rainbow Six Esports scene, and we look forward to leveraging the full extent of our esports expertise and first-class technology across broadcast, production, and direct-to-consumer streaming, to create an ecosystem that the community can be proud of, and excited about." Just by depicting how both parties feel about the outlook of BLAST R6 Esports, it seems they are on the same page and have a shared vision. How has Rainbow Six Esports been run under BLAST? Next, let's dive into how BLAST R6 Esports has been run so far in its first season. Since BLAST has arrived on the scene, a new tournament structure has arrived for Rainbow Six Esports. Even though there is a fresh coat of paint, BLAST seeks to acknowledge the legacy of Rainbow Six Esports built by ESL and Ubisoft in the past.
Also Read: Rainbow Six Esports' Evolution After ESL's Departure
As mentioned in the above article, the concept of BLAST R6 Esports centers around a Global Circuit, featuring 9 worldwide regions. The current season was launched in March 2023 and will end in February 2024 when the Six Invitational comes. So far, BLAST R6 Esports has made it through Stage 1 of their 2023-24 competitive season. It was headlined by a Major in Copenhagen, Denmark, the hometown of BLAST. It occurred between March and May of this year.  In order to become BLAST R6 Champions of the Copenhagen Major, teams had to go through three phases: Play-in, Playoffs, and Finals. Play-in (Phase 1) Beginning with Play in, sixteen teams were gathered across 9 regions. Oceania and MENA had 1 team each. While Asia, Brazil, Europe, Hispanic Latin America, Japan, North America, and South Korea had 2 teams each. In Copenhagen's case, the teams who were in the Play-In are illustrated below: Phase 1 was played across four days (April 24-27), with a combination of Bo1 and Bo3 elimination matches. The top 2 teams from each group moved forward to Phase 2. Those teams are then paired with 8 other teams who have directly qualified by performing well in regional programs. Playoffs (Phase 2) Up next is Phase 2, which held the playoffs for BLAST R6 Esports' Copenhagen Major from April 29th to May 3rd. A total of 16 teams, eight from Phase 1, and eight from regional programs participated in a five-day Swiss tournament. Much like Phase 1, matches follow a mixed Bo1 and Bo3 format. After each match in the phase, teams advanced to play against teams with a similar win/loss ratio, until only 8 teams remain. Lastly, the elite 8 from Phase 2 will venture on to Phase 3, Finals. Finals (Phase 3) The last pit stop for the new BLAST R6 Majors that included Copenhagen is the Finals. It took place from May 5th to May 7th, in front of a live audience at the Forum Copenhagen. This Finals structure is largely similar to that of the ESL Rainbow Six Pro League days. Where spectators were allowed to pile in to watch the action. Subsequently, the top 8 teams in the competition faced off in a Bo3 single-elimination bracket. However, Bo3 only transpires for Quarterfinals and semifinals. Grand Finals are Bo5. Although the Copenhagen Major has already concluded, it's important to look back on its Phases because this will be how future BLAST R6 Esports Majors commence. What are the reactions from the R6 community? In the wake of the BLAST and Ubisoft pairing and Copenhagen's R6 Major, let's see how the community has reacted. To start, Blast and Rainbow Six Esports announced the new Global Circuit on December 12, 2022. Fans were very thrilled and welcomed BLAST into the R6 Esports family with open arms. Ubisoft had finally found a new companion after splitting from ESL in May 2020. An example of the excitement can be seen below: Furthermore, this level of joy and welcome from the R6 Community has aged like fine wine. During Stage 1 of the 2023-24 Season for BLAST R6 Esports, the hype was built around the teams competing. Once again, acknowledging the past is a goal for BLAST to accomplish. They want Rainbow Six Esports to be a main attraction across the globe once again. Subsequently enough, BLAST R6 had a huge amount of support from their fan base. According to Esportscharts.com, The BLAST R6 Copenhagen Major registered a 79% increase in watch time than the Six Jonkoping Major, which happened in November 2022, right before BLAST was a part of the R6 Esports family. A reason why this spike in ratings occurred was due to a larger number of matches played, as a result of the higher number of teams in action. Despite the addition of more teams, the audience was able to connect with the product over the three-week span. Following that, the BLAST R6 Copenhagen Major slotted into 9th place in the all-time top ten list for Rainbow Six Siege competitions by Watch hours. This clearly depicts that the Global Circuit has been well-received by audiences in a slew of countries. When digesting Twitter reactions and the Copenhagen watch hour metrics, it is clear to see that the R6 Community is fully behind the partnership between BLAST and Ubisoft so far. With production catered to fans, BLAST has the tools to ensure R6 Majors feel like a grander deal going forward. What's next for Blast R6 Esports? One last thing to touch on is what's upcoming for BLAST R6. Currently, BLAST R6 is in its first Off-Season. Referring to the schedule above, Stage 2 of the 2023-24 Global Circuit begins in September and ends with a Major in November. Although BLAST R6 is on a cooldown, the foot is still on the gas pedal as there are two things fans can look forward to. SIEGE TO WIN Esports Docuseries First, on June 12th, Rainbow Six Esports announced a three-part documentary titled "Siege to Win" that will be airing in August. It is a documentary produced by BLAST and Ubisoft highlighting the unique journeys Siege athletes go through in order to reach the highest level of R6 Esports. The trailer can be found below Stage 2 November Major for 2023-24 Global Circuit Second, on June 29th, Rainbow Six Esports' Twitter revealed the location of the November Major: For the first time since May 16, 2022, a Rainbow Six Major is being held in the United States. This time in Atlanta, Georgia. Sixteen teams from across 9 regions will clash in three phases to determine the winner of the Atlanta Major this Fall. In all, BLAST R6 Esports is trending in a positive direction so far in the 2023-24 Global Circuit. Time will tell if this pairing of BLAST and Ubisoft can continue to produce high-quality tournaments with elevated viewership.
Andrew Czysz is an aspiring journalist and commentator hailing from Carthage College. If you enjoy his content, follow him on Twitter at @AC_32. Images and Video Courtesy of Ubisoft

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