Ubisoft’s hugely popular first-person shooter Rainbow Six is set for regionalized eSports leagues this year, with the Asia-Pacific League the latest announced by the French video game development studio.
The Asia-Pacific League forms the third of four regionalized leagues as Ubisoft aims to create a competitive structure for Rainbow Six eSports that works in all four corners of the world, even while unofficial Rainbow Six leagues such as the Thermaltake Esports League thrive in the likes of home base Taiwan.
What is Rainbow Six?
Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is the latest online tactical shooter game launched for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, as well as Microsoft Windows for PC gamers. Since its initial release in April 2015, Rainbow Six has become one of the most watchable eSports video games, thanks largely to the need for team cooperation between players. With a host of adrenaline-fuelled gameplay modes, including hostage and bomb defusal scenarios, players control ‘attackers’ or ‘defenders’ in each game mode to try and take control and win the scenario.
Ubisoft’s ambition for Rainbow Six Siege was always for it become a headline eSports title and it hasn’t disappointed. In early 2016, Ubisoft staged the inaugural Rainbow Six Pro League tournament for PC and Xbox One competitors. It was such a success that the same event was scheduled a year later. By the time the 2018 Pro League tournament rolled around, some 321,000 viewers clamored to watch the action unfold on Twitch. Prominent gamer pundits Richie Shoemaker and Nathan Lawrence confidently predicted after this tournament that Rainbow Six could at least challenge Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) as the number-one eSports first-person shooter title.
The Rainbow Six Asia-Pacific League will be split into two divisions, each with a different format. The North Division will be made of teams based in Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan. The South Division will have two leagues within it also – the Oceania league and the South Asia league. The expansion of the Asia-Pacific League not only reinforces the growing interest in Rainbow Six in the Far East, but in eSports overall. eSports is now listed as a genuine market to bet on among Asian bookmakers, alongside the likes of baseball, football, horse racing and MMA. As of 2018/19, some US$8 billion was matched on eSports markets, generating a revenue of around US$560 million for the industry – more than half the anticipated revenue (US$1 billion) thought to be earnt in 2019 by the rest of the eSports industry.
The Six Invitational: The pinnacle of the Rainbow Six eSports League
For all of Ubisoft’s efforts to create four unique regional programs in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and North America that are tailored to each continent, the main goal for the professional Rainbow Six eSports teams will be to appear in the Six Invitational.
Within each regionalized Rainbow Six League, there is a general ‘race’ for qualification to the Six Invitational. Teams will compete in regional games as well as three ‘Majors’ to rack up points in their regional league. The Majors help to determine the ‘Global Standings’ over the course of the season and discover the top 16 most consistent Rainbow Six teams on the planet. Think of it as an informal Rainbow Six Siege World Cup. The event is the showpiece tournament and marks the end of the 12-month season. In February, the Six Invitational 2020 was bagged by Spacestation Gaming, who shared the incredible $1 million first prize, taking a third of the overall $3 million purse.
The event was hosted in Laval, Canada, which saw Spacestation Gaming and Ninjas in Pyjamas go head to head in an epic final. Spacestation Gaming did have a one map advantage over the opponents after winning their quarter and semi-final encounters. However, Ninjas in Pyjamas started brightly to take the first two maps of the final and inch ahead. It looked all over bar the shouting in map three as Ninjas in Pyjamas secured the opening four rounds here too, only for Spacestation to rally and eventually claim map three 7-5.
This proved to be the hammer blow from Spacestation, who took full control of the fourth and decisive map to win 7-3 and take home the Six Invitational 2020 trophy. In doing so, Spacestation Gaming became the first North American eSports team to win the prize since its foundation in 2017.