Rainbow Six Season 9 finals: A New Empire rises

In the Game of Thrones that is Rainbow Six Siege, one house has long ruled the land, conquering all as far as the eye could see. House Penta sold the heck out to G2 Esports, and for a while the supermassive black hole of money that is G2 enjoyed the success they had paid for, seeing their new mercenaries sweep all before them. However, as has happened with other G2 FPS teams, hubris and time seem to have dulled the edge of the ex-Penta blade, and a new power has risen in their place.

While the old empire has not crumbled, the road back for G2 became a good deal rockier last night as a new empire announced itself. After losing in the final of the most recent invitational in Montreal, it was all-Russian side Team Empire that grabbed a chance at redemption at Rainbow Six Siege Season 9 Finals in Milan, cruising to the last game of the weekend and a meeting with perennial G2 punchbag Evil Geniuses, led by Troy ‘Canadian’ Jaroslawski. It wasn’t plain sailing in the end, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all good things come to those who wait.

Building a foundation

It was only in August of last year that Team Empire, an org known for their Dota as much as anything else, decided to get into Rainbow Six esports. While Siege has been around a long time, the esports side of things has been something of a slow burn, and organisations such as G2 or Empire were initially not that interested, but as headlines began to mount the bigger boys realised this was a game with potential. Unlike G2 though, Empire didn’t go straight to the top, instead picking up a five-man Russian stack called Edenity, and instantly ridding Siege of arguably its worst team name.

The side was made up of Danil "JoyStiCK" Gabov, Artur "ShepparD" Ipatov, Dmitry "Scyther" Semenov, Eugene "karzheka" Petrishin and Artyom "Shockwave" Simakov, and instantly made an impact on EU Siege. DreamHack Winter saw them finish third behind G2 and the new Penta, before they went one better and made Grand Finals at the Invitational in Montreal, where they fell in fairly weak fashion to G2. However, the potential was obvious, and built on a level of preparation many other teams in the scene couldn’t match.

You see, while G2’s legacy is like that of the early Swedish CS gods, all communication and flexibility, Empire went the other way, and simply constructed systems that seemed airtight. You could and still can know what they are going to do most of the time, on attack and defence, but their level of preparation is so intense and thorough that they still win the vast majority of matches in a scene where there are very few true elite teams when compared to the pinnacle of tier one esports.

May you live in difficult times

It seems as though that intensity did have a down side too though, as the team came off the back of their second place in Montreal straight into…turmoil. Shockwave apparently decided to live up to his own name and leave the team after what management described as "unexpected". Reading between the lines, it seems as though Shockwave just got sick of something and left, but sadly for the man himself his fit of pique turned out to be just what the team needed to reach the next level.

"There are unexpected news. This announcement applies to them. Today Shockwave leaves Team Empire. The reason for this decision is a misunderstanding between the players of the team, which, unfortunately, has not been overcome at the moment.”

In Shockwave’s place can a man called Dan, signed from the Russian scene in what was presumably a last-minute sort of deal, and things immediately started falling into place. A dominant performance in the regular season saw Empire stomp their European yard while G2 floundered, all the while moaning as they tend to do on social media about the state of the game, but Empire kept their heads down and booked a place in Milan, where they barely had to break a sweat to make it to the final day after overcoming NA org DarkZero 2-0 and then winning a 2-1 vs Fnatic that was nowhere near as close as the scoreline suggests.

That put them in the final, against a team many used to consider to be one of the true contenders for G2’s crown, led by a legend of the game in Canadian. Due to the nature of the event, they only had to win a best-of-three (thanks ESL…), and there were massive portions of the action that looked like it was EG’s to lose, but when the dust had settled and the ashes had cooled, the new empire stood tall, having done what great Siege teams do, and beaten out EG in a big LAN game.

What next, though?

Sadly for their fans, Evil Geniuses have a habit of losing big LAN games, but that is a topic for another time. What it means in this context is that Empire are still a boss fight win away from truly ascending to the top level of Siege, but they have it in them. For all G2’s brilliance, that is also a team with real weaknesses, that has shown in recent months far more of those problems than was ever the case previously, and has yet to really find the answers.

Against teams like EG, that wasn’t really a massive problem, as ability and clutch factor told, and it seemed like the latter also led the EU mix to a win over the Russians in Paris. However, the fact G2 missed Milan and "allowed" Empire to get their first major title under their belt (not Major title, major) could come back to bite them, as the Russians will have taken a lot from that win, and leave the finals with a renewed sense of confidence, as well as a wealth of new experience.

Where they will next meet G2 is tough to tell, at least prior to the next Invitational or Season Finals, but fans of the game should be happy we finally have a contender, even if they had to rise out of EU. Teams like Liquid, EG and others have postured in the past as though they could be a real challenger to the crown G2 owned for so long, but always flattered to deceive. This is a new empire though, and one we can believe in, to bring the fight to the old gods of the game.


Image credit: Team Empire

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