European Rainbow Six Ends The Year With Its Biggest Upset Yet
The European Qualifier to the Six Invitational 2020 featured a star-studded roster of European League and even Six Major fame. Chaos, Rogue, Team Secret, Team Vitality, Natus Vincere, and Tempra Esports all partook in this enormous Qualifier. In the end, an unknown Italian team called ‘Mkers’ rushed through the bracket to secure the last spot for the Six Invitational, leaving lots of disappointed top teams in their wake.
WHO ARE MKERS?
Hardly anyone in the international space has paid much attention to the Italian scene as of late. There are zero Italian players in EUL, and the Challenger League only features four Italian players on two separate teams. Most recently, Mkers even failed to qualify for EUCL. Their players don’t even have profiles on Liquipedia yet!
But that is bound to change very soon, as they have secured a milestone achievement that, in theory, should have been reserved for a more established team. However, they have more than earned their right to be at the Six Invitational after beating almost all relevant teams in attendance. They swept through the Open Qualifier with relative ease, landing a spot in the playoffs alongside Secret, Chaos, Rogue, and Vitality.
MKERS MARCHING THROUGH TO THE FINALS
They commenced their run with a victory over WhiteTigerZ, which wasn’t particularly impressive. But when they suddenly secured two 7-3 maps over Rogue, they started drawing attention. The German team had struggled in recent months, and it was easy to put their defeat down to poor performance on their part. However, there were no more excuses when Mkers beat Chaos. This team had looked sharp even with their coach on the server. But the Italians took them down on two maps to secure a slot in the Finals bracket. One last match versus Team Secret remained. Peter “pacbull” Bull and his men finally brought them to a stop, delivering a 2-0 victory to secure first place in the playoffs.
The Qualifier Finals were supposed to prove a much tougher challenge. After all, Natus Vincere and Tempra Esports had secured the most points in Europe over the year, outside of the 16 teams that had already qualified. Tempra Esports had even managed to make the November Major. So there was no way for Mkers to actually beat a team of their calibre, right?
Well, first they had to compete against Natus Vincere. The NaVi boys were obviously not prepared for the Italians, as they dropped a 4-7 map to start the day. Suddenly, they were within an inch of defeat and folded under the pressure. They let Mkers get away with an 8-7 overtime win on Kafe to secure a spot in the very last match of the Qualifier. On the other side of the bracket, Secret narrowly lost out to Tempra, who wound up making it to the Grand Finals as well.
The Tempra and Mkers clash was almost over before it began. After a narrow 7-5 Consulate victory for Mkers, the two teams basically rushed through the remaining maps. The Italians added a 7-1 Kafe win to their tally, but Tempra struck back on Villa on a 7-2 scoreline. Finally, Mkers ploughed through their Clubhouse defence to deliver a 7-3 score for map and match victory. They beat Tempra Esports in style, setting themselves on top of a team that just recently beat G2 Esports for a slot at the November Major. Most crucially, Mkers are now the ones who hold the Six Invitational spot and are bound to attend the mega-event early next year.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EUROPEAN SIEGE?
Many teams in this bracket had a legitimate claim for this Six Invitational spot. The resurgence of Team Secret after the addition of pacbull was beautiful to watch and certainly inspired confidence in them being able to carry their performance over to the next level. For a majority of EUL Stage 2, they were Major prospects alongside BDS Esport. But that image has faded now and has instead been replaced with that of a team that continues to struggle for solid footing. This Qualifier has been the last ride for Chaos, as the organisation will drop all Rainbow Six players in the coming year. Ever since the signing of Fabian “Fabian” Hällsten, Team Vitality has not delivered on its promise. Their defeat in this bracket is just another of many disappointing results in 2020. After topping Stage 1, Rogue completely broke down in Stage 2 and failed to deliver even a single map victory. This team is at its lowest point yet, and with their early exit in this Qualifier, they don’t appear to be recovering at any rate.
On the one hand, it’s a major disappointment to see so many teams get beaten by a team that is not even on Challenger League level, but on the other hand, it was amazing to witness such a grand upset taking place. This was a fitting conclusion to a year filled with ups and downs for Siege and esports in general. Most importantly, though, it inspires confidence in the lower tiers of European Rainbow Six competition. Obviously, there are lots of talented players waiting to be discovered on this continent. So while Secret, Natus Vincere, Tempra, Vitality, Chaos, and Rogue most definitely feel some sense of disappointment now, a team of unknown Italians has just secured a slot at the biggest Rainbow Six: Siege event of all time. Ain’t that a reason to celebrate?
Images via @R6Esports