Rainbow Six Siege US League unifies and what it means for the region

Up until now, Rainbow Six Siege’s R6 esports scene has been split in two in North America. Both Canada and the US had their own dedicated competitive circuits with a single qualifier determining the North American representative at Six Invitational. Ubisoft recently announced the merger of both leagues into one unified North American League in 2021.

It’s been a bit of a rough patch for the R6 Siege esports scene – Ubisoft has had to contend with a number of teams leaving in a short period of time. Among them were giants like Luminosity Gaming and Evil Geniuses – and that was before Covid-19 further disturbed the scene. eUnited and Tempo Storm have also left. However, Canadian superteam Altiora rose up to the occasion and successfully qualified for the 2021 Invitational.

With the R6 Invitational just around the corner, and a full season to follow it, let’s break down the impact of Ubisoft’s recent decision.

R6 North American League

© Rainbow Six Siege

Unifying the Leagues

Rarely do we see North America make the distinction between Canada and the United States in terms of esports. Ubisoft recognized the division was not doing anyone favors, and the move seems a natural step forward for both leagues.

“We believe that this unification is in the best interest of growing the Canada and US Rainbow Six communities and will provide an interesting competitive element in 2021 as we continue to improve our league. We are actively working with the four Canada Division teams about next steps to transition to the North American League.“ said Ubisoft in their recent blog post.

That’s not the end of it though – the current Canadian Challenger League will also merge with the US Challenger League, into a single Unified Challenger League – and this new league will continue to play online the way the 2020 main leagues themselves happened.

Not much details were given as to the structure and scale of the unified competition.

Open Questions

While Ubisoft has announced the mergers of these leagues, some questions remain open – particularly those about location. While the traditional location for LAN events in Las Vegas isn’t too important while in-person events are out, eventually the competing teams will have to work out whether or not they will relocate down to Vegas or not  and if yes, who will cover the cost? Will it be permanent or on a per-tournament basis? The North American continent isn’t exactly small, so it’s an important issue to figure out.

There is the possibility of the LAN events being cancelled entirely – however, most esports seem to be planning an eventual return to live events and competitions, at least when it’s safe to do so. Thankfully the location restrictions don’t apply to virtual places – just a day ago, Ubisoft revealed the new location for the R6 Invitational – a revamp of the Stadium map, as well as places taken from Coastline and Border – first looks showed Penthouse, VIP and the Kitchen from Coastline, as well as the Archive room from Border, all in the unique style of the Stadium map.

Furthermore, the size of the competition has not been set. The unification of the challenger series might mean half of the teams will have to be relegated further down the line. Ubisoft has not been clear on this point. It would be ideal for the Challenger series to contain 16 slots and accommodate both regions fully, but this might not be the case. As for the main league, we expect an eight team league once again, with the Canadian teams filling up for all the disbanded US rosters.

All of the answers to the questions about the upcoming league changes won’t actually be available for another month at minimum – the R6 Siege Invitational 2021 is happening in February and it won’t be until after it’s concluded that Ubisoft is expected to reveal additional information about the upcoming league changes.

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