Canadian Siege Ends The Year With A Much-Needed Victory
Canadian Rainbow Six: Siege competition has never been on par with that of the United States, Europe, or Latin America. At the Six Invitational 2020, a total of three Canadian players were present, all of which were featured on US teams. After the conclusion of the last ever Pro League season, the regional systems were revamped, and the North American League was designed around the Canadian and US Divisions. While the offline Finals obviously fell through this year, the teams from Canada at least got the opportunity to fight for a spot at the August and November Majors - to no success.
On both occasions, the core four from the US Division made the Major. Spacestation Gaming, DarkZero Esports, Team SoloMid, and Oxygen Esports are a cut above the rest. Even though all of them faced minor issues and slumps throughout the season, these four teams are miles ahead of any other rosters in NA. But they had already qualified for the Six Invitational, which left the remaining teams a chance to finally achieve something within the league. Unfortunately, three of them have already disbanded.
THE AFTERMATH OF NAL
When it was clear that eUnited would be auto-relegated to Challenger League, the organisation was quick to drop the roster. Tempo Storm dissolved soon afterwards, and the Susquehanna Soniqs have benched three of their players. Now that Kevin "Easilyy" Skokowski has announced his retirement as well, this team is basically dead in the water. From the Losers Group of Stage 2, only Disrupt Gaming remain. Following such a tumultuous closing to the first US Division Season, the Canadian teams finally had a window for attack - which they mostly failed to use.
From the six teams that made the Top 16 of the Six Invitational Open Qualifier, none actually managed to make it to the Finals stage. Mirage and Honor Esports were beaten out by the likes of APE or SuprSoniqs, a team that hadn’t even existed a month ago. The last hope for Canadian Rainbow Six: Siege laid in Altiora, who were automatically slotted in for the last stage as the winners of the CA Division Finals.
ALTIORA IN THE SIX INVITATIONAL QUALIFIER
Considering that all Canadian teams had failed so far to beat the US representatives at any Six Major Qualifier, Disrupt Gaming were the clear favourites in this bracket. On top of that, a new contender emerged in the form of SuprSoniqs. As the in-game-leader, Seth "supr" Hoffman assembled a roster from many of the players left behind by the Soniqs, United, and Tempo Storm. Most notably, Tim “Creators” Humpherys was on board as one of the best performing players of the US Division.
So the Canadians already faced an uphill challenge. However, both of these favourites were gone before they could actually meet Altiora anywhere in the bracket. SuprSoniqs were beaten by RentFree in a tense Best-of-Three series that played out all possible regulation rounds and an additional overtime on Oregon. In the Semi Finals, beastcoast upset Disrupt Gaming on a 2-1 scoreline to make the Grand Finals. Altiora, being the Canadian representative, were automatically put into the Semi Finals against RentFree. There, they only won on the slightest of margins. An overtime Coastline victory put them in the Grand Finals.
They kicked things off with a relatively comfortable 7-4 win on Kafe. But then, beastcoast strung two one-sided map victories together to put themselves onto match point. They could have won it then and there if Altiora hadn’t brought everything back on Villa and Theme Park. Two 7-4 maps later, the Canadians finally acquired the Six Invitational 2021 slot after a brutal Grand Finals series.
THE STATE OF NORTH AMERICAN SIEGE
While European Siege is struggling with its own share of problems, the North American scene is on a completely different level. Only the top four organisations can actually offer a somewhat decent level of job security, and after them, there is really no one in NA to pick up the slack. There are quite a few promising players, but they’re spread out thinly amongst all those org-less teams. If only someone like Creators could band together with some upcoming players and a capable in-game-leader, they might actually be able to compete for Major spots in their region. However, it is much more likely that Creators will eventually be integrated into a team like DarkZero or Oxygen, who can offer him a salary and a much higher shot at international fame.
Just like North American Counter-Strike, the Siege scene struggles for footing not only just in an international context. The space desperately lacks actual organisations that are willing to invest in the game. With the coronavirus pandemic keeping some of the traditional revenue streams shut, this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
At least this Qualifier win signals a change in directions for the competitive Canadian scene. Even though Altiora likely won’t make a huge splash at the Six Invitational, they’ve put the country on the map and can take home some valuable experience to help them overcome some of their US counterparts in the future. Their next aim should be to make it to a Six Major Qualifier, where they will get the chance to beat a US Division team for a spot at the next Major tournament - provided that NAL features the same structure and setup for Season 2 as it did this year. For now, however, they have set their sights on the Six Invitational and will try to do their best there to make Canada a serious contender in the international Siege space.
Images via @R6EsportsNA