Starting this coming week, we will see a series of crucial matchups play out across the North American, European, and Latin American regions -- the relegations for Season 9.
The prize for winning is a coveted spot in the Pro League for Season 10, with the loser forced to attempt to claw back into a promotion position in the following Challenger League season. It is of utmost importance for a team with serious ambitions to have a place in Pro League, as Challenger League teams have fewer chances at getting the opportunities that Pro League teams may have, such as the Pilot Program, which provides revenue sharing for participating teams.
Last week, the top four Challenger League teams entered the playoffs, where the first and fourth placed teams from each region faced off, as did the second and third placed teams.This week, the winner of the two then will play each other -- with the winner of this match promoted straight to the Pro League.
Losing does not kill a team’s Pro League dreams, however. The runner-up of the finals plays in the Pro League relegation game against the seventh-placed Pro League team for the season, with the match taking place shortly after Challenger League playoffs end. This creates a tough scenario for the challenger league team in the relegation match, as they must now play back-to-back best-of-3s.
With this all in mind, let’s take a look at the upcoming relegation matches by region, as well as see just what brought us to this point.
North America Region
Beginning with the NA Region, looking at the end of season standings we see that Rise Nation are set to be the participant from the Pro League side for Season 9. It should be noted that OrgLess disbanded mid-season, so the auto-relegation slot was never a worry for the NA teams. Despite the team’s struggles, Paul “Hyper” Kontopanagiotis was an extremely bright spot for the team, and even managed to finish the season as our top rated player in North America for this season.
The team simply couldn’t shake its early season struggles, though, which included a 7-1 loss to now-disbanded OrgLess. However, by late in the season, the team appeared to be on the verge of turning the corner, managing a draw against eventual NA leaders Evil Geniuses and a narrow 7-5 loss against DarkZero Esports. In the end, it was too little, too late for Rise Nation, and they must now fight for their survival in Pro League.
Rise Nation’s opponent will be determined in the NA CL playoffs final, prior to the relegation match. They will face the loser between ‘92 Dream Team and Susquehanna Soniqs. ‘92 Dream Team defeated Organized Chaos to earn their shot at promotion, while the Soniqs had to overcome Disrupt Gaming.
‘92 Dream Team had a strange Challenger League season, as they joined organization Vicious Gaming mid-season on February 7th, and then left the organization only two months later on April 20th. Despite this, they have managed to earn a chance to compete in the Pro League next season. Soniqs have a team with immense Pro League pedigree from top to bottom, and look to reclaim their individual places in the top tier of Rainbow Six competition. The Challenger League finals and relegation match for the NA region will take place on Monday, May 6th.
The end of season standings for the EU Region tell a story of a very tight relegation race, with the bottom three teams separated by a single point between each other. At the bottom Natus Vincere, better known as Na’Vi, are slated to be auto-relegated, and now must prove their worth in the next Challenger League season. Above them, scheduled to play in our relegation match for Season 9, is Team Secret.
In week 13 of play, Team Secret lost to Na’Vi, and placed Team Secret in must-win position if they wanted to avoid auto-relegation. In week 14, with a win over Chaos Esports Club, they vaulted over Na’Vi in the standings, and when Na’Vi drew against G2 Esports later that evening, Team Secret was spared from auto-relegation. Despite these late season heroics, though. Team Secret must now prepare for the task of once again staring relegation in the face.
Facing Team Secret in the relegation match will be the loser of Team Vitality versus MnM Gaming. Team Vitality beat Trust Gaming to earn their place in the finals, while MnM Gaming overcame Team GoSkilla. Team Vitality is a roster that was relegated to Challenger League the previous season, and now have a chance to reclaim their Pro League position once again for Season 10. MnM Gaming are a fresh-faced roster, but are loaded with talent. They have earned the opportunity to show EU that they have what it takes to compete at the highest level of professional play for R6. The Challenger League finals and relegation match for the EU region take place on Friday, May 10th.
Latin America Region
Finally, in the LATAM region, we find a very tight finish for the relegation position. ReD DevilS e-Sports finished in seventh place with 13 points, tying with INTZ e-Sports for points, but losing the tie-breaker. In last place, and slated to face auto-relegation, is paiN Gaming with six points in the season. In their two matches versus INTZ during the season, ReD DevilS won one and lost the other. Two of their other wins came against paiN Gaming, and their final win was against Team Liquid in Week 7. ReD DevilS are in their proper position after the season’s results, and now must play against a Challenger League team in order to hold their spot in Pro League.
The Challenger League finals for LATAM sees Team oNe eSports face off against YeaH Gaming. Team oNe defeated Guidance Gaming to earn this opportunity, and YeaH had to overcome the challenge of Lowkey Esports. Now we will the see the number one and two seeds face off to determine their path to Pro League. Both organizations have been in Pro League before, but with different rosters. Both orgs now take a shot at the Pro League spot with fresh rosters, aiming once again for Pro League. Expect to see a very tight and well-fought matchup take place. The Challenger League finals and relegation match for the LATAM region take place on Wednesday, May 8th.