Organised by LVUP and Ubisoft, the qualifiers for the ₩50 million (US$44,200) cup began just four days into January, where, out of three open qualifiers, the top eight teams were selected to participate in two rounds of closed qualifiers.
The first of the closed qualifiers at the end of January saw Black Pearl Maximum (BPM) and Pro League team Ageless Blue qualify, while EZDDAGE and Potato joined the two in the February closed qualifiers. Already qualified were two Pro League teams in the form of mantisFPS and Team Legacy, coming through following their victories during the ₩4,800,000 (US$4,200) offline Quarterly Cups in October 2018 and January 2019.
While BPM, Ageless, EZDDAGE, and Potato had to fight their way through the Six Challenge quarter-finals, mantisFPS and Team Legacy got direct berths in the semi-finals. The quarter-finals saw BPM and Potato both edge out their opponents, but quickly shut down by their more experienced rivals, with mantisFPS pulling off a 7-0 on both Clubhouse and Villa.
Comfortably in the grand final, mantisFPS were set to face the currently fourth (and last) placed Korean Pro League side of Team Legacy. Legacy has had a tough Season 9 so far, with just 1 point to their name, and the Season 6 Finals, Six Major Paris, and Six Invitational 2019 participants would hardly have been worried.
Team Legacy, though, gave them a challenge on the first map of Clubhouse, pushing things to the maximum number of rounds, but eventually lost 7-8. Hoping to get to the third map, Bank, they went on to Consulate, traditionally a mantisFPS stronghold. Unfortunately for them, Legacy were brushed aside 2-7 to give mantisFPS the title, and ₩25 million (US$22,100) out of the ₩50 million prize pool.
SiegeGG spoke to Kim "SummerRain" Inyeong, the team’s coach and manager to get their thoughts on their victory and the state of the game in Korea.
Congratulations on winning the Six Challenge Korea! How much does this win mean to you guys?
First of all, thank you. Recently there are many good teams that have formed in Korea, so winning the Six Challenge Korea 2019 was important and is proof that we are number one in Korea once again.
You mentioned at the Six Invitational 2019 that all your players have to work at McDonald's. How will this ₩25 million prize money (out of ₩50 million) help you guys financially?
Well, it's not just money in and of itself; this money is also means we get to practice a lot more because we can reduce our working time and spend more time to practice.
Realistically, why do you feel that you guys are not being signed by an organisation despite qualifying for every single APAC LAN, the Season 6 Finals, the Six Major Paris, and the Six Invitational 2019?
I think it's because of the APAC market size, although APAC has recently been growing very quickly. And, of course, at the Six Invitational, APAC proved its strength, so I hope that there will be more good organisation contract offers coming in future.
The Korean Pro League was reduced to just four teams earlier this season -- clearly the scene is having some issues. How can competitive Rainbow Six be revitalised in Korea?
To be honest, I don't know exactly even though I'm Korean myself. I will admit Koreans really like competitive things -- literally everything that has a competition. And, Siege is a very challenging and skillful game; more than any other FPS. I hope this can be a “drug” to Koreans in the future, and there is no doubt the Rainbow Six scene of Korea will rise.
Given the low number of teams, and the lower quality of teams, how does your team maintain such an incredibly high level of play to consistently qualify for international events? Ideally you have strong domestic competition to drive your team further, but Korea lacks that.
Well, we don’t practice and scrim with Korean teams, but instead do so against other APAC Pro League teams. So, in the end I think it doesn't matter, and we are always trying to analyse every region anyway. The world changes fast, and esports are no exception.
You played G2 Esports and Team Liquid at the Six Invitational 2019, but were unable to win either game. How do you guys plan to improve for the rest of Season 9 and beyond?
Honestly, we do everything that we can do now, but that's not enough. We need the time to practice like other pro teams. That means we need a good organisation if we want hit the world stages once more, and win against best teams in the world.
What is the key difference between the Korean competitive meta, and the other regions?
Most Korean teams really like to mix other regions’ strategies instead of create them from scratch. But it’s worth to note that Korean teams are really good at mixing.
What would you like to say to your fans, locally and internationally?
As always, thanks to who are watching our matches and sending hugs. Hopefully we can bring some good news to our fans soon!
The next game for mantisFPS is tomorrow, 20th March, against their Six Challenge Korea grand final opponents Team Legacy. Catch the action at the Rainbow6KR Twitch channel from 9PM GMT+9 onwards!
The mantisFPS roster is:
Kim “EnvyTaylor” Sung-su (Captain)
Lee “Neilyo” Inyup
Han “SweetBlack” Chan-yong
Kwon “h3dy” Yugeun
Lee “Nova” Si Hun
Kim "SummerRain" Inyeong (Coach and Manager)
Park “OniChan” Hyun (Coach)