$1m prize pool, best team in esports: Rainbow Six set for breakout 2019
So 2018 was a great year for esports and not just the ones you’ve heard of. While CS, Dota and League went from strength to strength, it was also a record breaker for a number of other games. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege was one of those, despite having a name about as intelligent and subtle as a Donald Trump photoshoot, and, in 2019, things are set to get even better, with a million dollar tournament to kick things off.
That event is the Invitational in Montreal, the third version of the tournament and without doubt the biggest single competition the game has seen so far. Previous iterations have enjoyed prize pools in the hundreds of thousands, but a new crowdfunding initiative means this will push the $1m mark, which should rightly make headlines on its own. With a 30% revenue share deal in place for the Montreal event, which takes place from February 11th-17th, teams are set to make more from the game than ever before, too.
The $3m team
This is excellent news for the current world champions, G2 Esports, as rumour has it the org paid close to $3m to secure the former Penta Sports team that now represents the European superteam. Denmark’s Niclas ‘Pengu’ Mouritzen, Juhani ‘Kantoraketti’ Toivonen and Joonas ‘jNSzki’ Savolainen of Finand, Spaniard Daniel ‘Goga’ Mazorra Romero, and Swedish team captain Fabian ‘Fabian’ Hällsten are the five men who cost so much, but when you look at what they deliver to G2 it’s hard to say it was money wasted.
As Penta Sports, they won the invitational at the start of the year, an epic game between themselves and EG that happened before Kantoraketti joined. Shortly before the Paris Major their move to G2 was confirmed, and with their new Finn in place they stomped the yard, not dropping a game in finals and making it very clear the gap between themselves and EG had grown considerably. If you watch CS, and think Astralis winning a lot is boring, you’d probably be sent to sleep by the regularity with which G2 lift pots in R6S.
That obviously creates a few amazing storylines, and the losses they have suffered are all the more epic for their infrequency. Like Astralis, the G2 team also push the meta, not just for themselves, but the entire field, and there has never been more on offer for the others behind, jockeying to dethrone the kings. And it’s not just at the top level where R6S is growing, as one of the biggest names in esports has decided to support the grass roots too.
ESL Rainbow Six - support is key
You can’t really follow esports without knowing about ESL, organisers of arguably the best events in both CSGO and DotA year on year, and they are very aware of the R6S potential. They have been promoting smaller esports scenes in the UK for a while, and last year included R6S in that effort, which such good results that they’ve decided to come back for another run.
Last season's ESL Premiership Rainbow Six Siege ended with a sold out live final in Studio One in Leicester and featured Pengu on the desk, as well as G2’s analyst and coach Shaz. Despite the UK’s relatively modest esports history, the event sold out in three days and it seems like they want to replicate that, with open qualifiers for the Spring Season 2019 taking place on January 16th and 19th, with a final prize pool of £10,500 at the event.
That might not seem a lot, but for a semi-pro team it’s not just a decent chunk of cash, but also invaluable experience in a LAN environment, as well as the chance to be treated like a full professional, something that can inspire any player not yet on that level. The commitment from ESL to R6S in the UK also reflects the fact that, unlike many games, UK players are actually pretty decent at this one, with three of the five members of Team Secret hailing from Britain, as an example.
All in all, it’s an exciting time for the game, and for UK esports too in this respect. With the CSGO Major not until March, we urge you to tune in to the Invitational and see what all the fuss is about, as we’re sure you’ll love it. With this much work behind the scenes, and the press developers Ubisoft get elsewhere, it could also be a breakout year for R6S esports if things go well, and that would be of benefit to the entire scene.
Images: ESL, Ubisoft