Rainbow Six

The most exciting Rainbow Six North American League changes

Rainbow Six North American League has finally been revealed to the world and the hype is real. Ubisoft revealed the first step in it’s quest for a deeper global outreach for Rainbow Six esports. With plenty of announcements and changes to the current system, there’s a lot to unpack from today’s announcement. Here’s what you need to know about this new era of R6 esports with the Rainbow Six North American League.

New league, same game

The Rainbow Six North American League will kick off this June when the former R6 Pro League will be split into two new divisions. The regional divisions will be divided into a U.S. and a Canadian division. R6 Challenger League will also be split into similar divisions. These leagues will compete side by side, so there will be plenty of Rainbow Six action to choose from during the stages.

Rainbow Six North American League Roadmap

Stages will run for five weeks, with three stages per season beginning in 2021. The stages will lead up to the global Rainbow Six Major tournaments. Four teams from the Rainbow Six North American League will selected based on performance to represent the region at the Major tourneys every stage.

Best-of-three matches return to the Rainbow Six pro scene, expanding on the single map series that were seen in the ESL Pro League. Competitive seasons now run from March to February of the next year, ending with the Six Invitational championship.

The LAN of the free

Let’s start with the biggest and most exciting change coming to the U.S. division by far: LAN matches. Eight teams will move to Las Vegas for offline Rainbow Six North American League matches. This move follows plans from other major esports like Overwatch and League of Legends. The U.S. league is full of teams familiar to Rainbow Six pro scene fans.

Rainbow Six North American League US teamsjpg
Top row from left to right: Darkzero, Team SoloMid, Tempo Storm, Spacestation Gaming Bottom row from left to right: eUnited, Oxygen Esports, Susquehanna Soniqs, Disrupt Gaming

The new league sees the Soniqs and Disrupt Gaming move up from NA Challenger League to the primetime. However, it also sees the loss of two major orgs for the NA scene, Luminosity and Evil Geniuses. Oxygen Esports, formerly known as Team Genji, is the new kid on the block in the U.S. division. The org expanded into Rainbow Six after acquiring the ex-Reciprocity org. Team Genji was previously only known for digital card game esports like Hearthstone. With the expansion and rebrand, Oxygen became the eighth and final member of the new NA League.

Originally slated for ten orgs, the league was reduced to eight teams with the departure of Luminosity and Evil Geniuses. Both orgs decided to forgo the LAN environment and dropped rosters in the process. After facing community and player backlash, Ubisoft addressed the LG and EG issue and why those players did not make it into the new league. The developer stated that it was the job of the two orgs to find new homes for the rosters and not Ubisoft’s responsibility.

Why was the Reciprocity roster picked up to join the new league but not the Evil Geniuses or Luminosity Gaming rosters?

Pro players in esports are contracted by their team organizations to compete in the North American League, and as such, it ultimately comes down to their respective team management to handle matters such as roster transfers and contract buyouts.

The statement goes on to say that the ex-Reciprocity roster was able to secure a new roster with help from the Reciprocity org management. REC was slated to be one of the orgs invited to the inaugural season, but had to shutter its R6 division due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ubisoft states it was looking for a replacement org to fill the spot when REC informed them it had found Oxygen to take the roster and fill the slot.

Canadian R6 esports gets to shine

Canada has been host to plenty of fantastic Rainbow Six pro scene events. The annual Six Invitational is the most obvious one, however Dreamhack Montreal has been a premier event in North American R6. Ubisoft showed signs of officially expanding into Canada when they partnered with Northern Arena for the Canadian Nationals events. Now Ubisoft has announced an opportunity for Canadian R6 rosters to prove themselves on a global scale.

Rainbow Six North American League Canada Division

The Canada Division will feature four teams decided by an open qualifier for its inaugural season. Registration for the qualifiers starts on May 11, with the official online qualifiers taking place on May 30-31st. These four teams will fight against their American counterparts at the end of each stage for a Major spot. Canada Division teams are also eligible for Global Standings Points to qualify for a Six Invitational spot.

This is by far my favorite part of the Rainbow Six North American League announcement. Canada has been a factory for R6 talent like Troy “Canadian” Jaroslawski, Owen “Pojoman” Mitura, Davide “FoxA” Bucci, Sam “Jarvis” Jarvis and Louis “Helbee” Bureau. Hopefully with this expansion, we’ll be able to see more Canadians make their way to the upper echelons of the R6 pro scene.

However, Canadian players will still be at a slight disadvantage to the American squads when it comes to making it to Tier 1.

Full Canadian rosters will not be able to make their way to the LAN stages of the U.S. Division, according to R6 commentator Rob Flynn. They can only have players plucked from U.S. squads to create American dominated mix rosters. Hopefully the Canadian scene can expand to warrant a LAN league as well one day.

Rainbow Six Challenger League changes

Fans of R6 Challenger League shouldn’t worry about the Rainbow Six North American League expansion. While there were worries regarding franchising, there’s still a chance for your favorite Tier 2 teams to rise to the big leagues. Each December the NA League will conclude with a regional tournament that will also feature the worst NA League teams playing off against the first place Challenger League teams. Those matches will determine whether a team will be relegated to Challenger League or will stay in the Tier 1 leagues.

Challenger League teams under the new NAL system will be decided by open qualifiers startign in June. Unlike previous years, only one team will be able to climb its way up from R6CL to the U.S. pro league. Relegation matches will take place at the end of Stage 2 for the first year of the RAL program. The online Challenger Leagues will feature eight teams in each regions. Each regional league will play three stages a year, similar to the pro division.

Ubisoft stated in the NAL blog post that R6CL matches will be broadcast on a regular schedule to better promote the players and teams.

More announcements on the way

The Rainbow Six North American League announcement is the first step in Ubisoft’s global program rollout. Announcements for the EU, LATAM and APAC regions are all set for the end of May.

What are you most excited for with the new Rainbow Six North America League? Between the LAN matches, the Canadian expansion and more support for Challenger League, it’s an exciting new era for North American R6.

Check back with SQUAD for all the latest news as Ubisoft changes the face of Rainbow Six esports worldwide.

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Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is a Canadian writer, journalist and public relations specialist. PC gamer, fan of FPS and RPGs. Follower of several esports titles including Rainbow 6, Overwatch and CS:GO. Every software or game he touches will magically have inexplicable issues somehow.
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