What are esports?
Esports are the top level of competition for gaming. The term covers most tournaments, leagues and show matches. Instead of having regional teams like traditional sports, esports have organisations that the teams represent.
The most well known organisations include Team Liquid, Cloud 9, Evil Geniuses, and Fnatic, to name a few. What the organisation will offer the team varies, but they have been known to grant salaries, travel costs, a house for the team, sponsorship deals, and staff to help the players with stuff outside the game.
Today's esports can find their origins in the 1990s with the rise of tournaments for Street Fighter, Counter Strike, Warcraft and Quake. Tournaments and leagues take place either offline (this is in-person at what is known at a LAN event) or online (meaning the players play from their home over the internet).
Esports would be established within Siege before the game was even released. After the game's announcement at E3, Ubisoft held show matches between community members. Also in a dev blog, they discussed how they had set up internal tournaments for the game as a way to test their work.
In January of 2016, one month after the game's release, Ubisoft announced their partnership with ESL and Microsoft to develop the Pro League on PC and Xbox. The first season just included Europe and North America, with the bottom four teams of each region getting relegated. The finals took place in Katowice, Poland with a $50,000 prize pool, and PENTA Sports won it all. The Pro League followed the same format up until Season 3, where they announced the first Major for Siege, the Six Invitational.
At the Invitational in February of 2017, Ubisoft announced that the Latin American region would be joining the Pro League as the third region. Whilst LATAM covers all of South America, Brazil has heavily dominated the region.
Later in the same year, APAC was also invited into the Pro League, being split into four sub-regions: Southeast Asia, Korea, Japan, and Australia-New Zealand. This is because the distance between these countries would lead to high ping matches, which would not be fun for both the viewers and the players. At the end of their season, the top two teams from each subregion go to an APAC Finals, and the two grand finalists of this LAN will then qualify for the global Pro League finals.
Alongside Pro League, there is also the second-tier Challenger League. For teams to qualify into the Pro League, they must first qualify for the Challenger League. Once qualified, they must play a double round-robin season against their opponents, which previously ended with the top two Challenger League seeds will facing each other, with the winner swapping places with the eighth-seeded Pro League team while the loser faced the seventh-placed Pro League team for their spot in the league.
This has now been simplified for this season as the top-seeded teams no will no longer be playing against each other. Instead, the top Challenger League team will play the bottom Pro League team and the second Challenger League team will play the seventh-placed Pro League team, with the winners of both games qualifying for the following season's Pro League.
Like all sports, there are a set of rules that must be abided by. Much like traditional sports, a lot of the rules are fairly standard across the board. A team cannot cheat, use performance-enhancing drugs, or fix matches. However due to some of the Pro League and qualifiers being hosted online, there are some unique rules that you wouldn’t get in other sports.
Because of the prevalence of hackers in the game, all players must run an anti-cheat program and also a piece of software that takes regular screenshots of the player's screens to make sure they are not running any other programs to give them an unfair advantage. As the spectator, you will be able to see the outline of all players, but in-game each player will only be able to see their own teammates outlines.
Before the match starts, each team must ban their maps. The way this is done varies depending on the event but would usually be: Ban-Ban-Pick or Ban-Pick-Ban. The objective of both of these formats is to allow each team to ban a map that they are weak on or ban a map that their opponent is strong on.
On each map, the team will also get to vote on which operators to ban. Each team will have its players vote on one operator to ban on both the attacking and defending sides. Much like map bans, the objective of this is to try and counter-strat the other team by either banning operators you know would be detrimental to the other team's plans or your own.
During the operator pick phase, there is a reveal for both teams that shows which operators each team have picked. Once each team have seen what operators their opponents have chosen a mechanic called Sixth pick can come into play. It allows one person per team to switch their selected operator to another that has not already been selected. It's usually used by teams in an attempt to bring a last-minute counter to a specific operator that their enemies have picked.
Sixth pick is also used to try and deceive the opponents about what strategy a team is using or what site they are defending/attacking. For example, bringing Buck indicates the team will focus on vertical play while bringing a Bandit suggests the team will most likely defending a site where denying the hard breacher is crucial. By using sixth pick to select a certain operator after the reveal phase is over, the chances of the team figuring out the opponent's strategies are greatly reduced.
Different tournament levels
In Rainbow Six Siege there are 4 main levels of tournaments:
- Regionals - These are usually small tournaments limited to certain regionals within NA/EU/LATAM/APAC. Most of the regionals enforce a 3/5 rule, meaning that only three members of the team have to be from the designated region (for example to compete in the Russian Major League you need at least three Russian players).
- Minors - These are smaller international tournaments and are often used as a qualifier spot for the next major. They can be offline or online.
- Pro League - An ongoing online league with all 4 regions, top 2 from EU/LATAM/NA will proceed to the LAN finals, 2 teams from each subregion in APAC will go to an APAC LAN where both grand finalists will then continue on to the LAN finals with the other regions.
- Majors - Majors are the largest tournaments in the game, currently in Siege there is the Invitational which takes place in Montreal every February. There is also a Major taking place every summer called the Six Major which changes location each year, with this year's in the USA.
Within each team there are certain roles that the players will fulfil.
Certain operators match a role better. As an example, a Smoke player would usually be taking the support role whilst a Zofia player would likely be playing a fragger role.
- Fragger - The fraggers job is to get kills on the other team. They will be first into the site, being guided by the support player. On defense, the fraggers role would be that of the roamer, whose job is to play away from the objective and pick at the enemy whilst wasting their time.
- Support - The support role is to gather information and deny access to the enemy. As an attacker you will be droning ahead of the fragger, trying to close in on the enemies location. On defence, you will be monitoring cameras and denying the attackers getting enough control of the site to plant the defuser.
- Flex - A player in the flex role must be able to adapt to playing as a support or fragger when required by the team. The flex role requires a player with good decision-making skills, allowing him to see what is needed to win the game and evolve his playstyle to match it on a whim.
- IGL - This is the in-game-leader of the team, organising the rest of the team and giving commands to execute the strategy for the team.
- Coach - Can also be called an analyst. The coaches job differs from team to team but would usually be focusing on coming up with strategies with the team, working on the team's synergy and concentration, or focusing on countering the enemy team.
Within the esports scene are not just the players and coaches, but also all the staff that support and run these events.
- Developers - Without the staff at Ubisoft we would have no game or events. Like any game development studio, there are many development roles ranging from programming art right up to those who must organise and run the esports scene alongside the tournament/league organisers.
- Casters - Casters are the equivalent to commentators in traditional sports. In most events you will have two casters at one time. The first caster will be doing what is known as a play by play, describing what's going on for those watching, whilst the other caster will be focusing more on analysing what just happened or may be about to happen.
- Hosts - These are usually reserved for LAN events. The host will be the main presence on the stage between rounds and will be opening up the tournament and closing it off each day. The hosts will also interview the winning teams.
- Analysts - Much like hosts, analysts are usually only seen at LANs. Usually, there are three analysts on a desk and their job is to break down any thought processes of the teams or strategies that the general viewer may not be aware of.
- Spectators - Spectators work in tandem with the casters. Their job is to control the camera in the game, making sure to try and catch all the action. The role of spectator takes a lot of game knowledge and situational awareness to ensure that the viewers don't miss anything important.
- Admins - Like referees in traditional sports, the Admins will make sure the teams playing are flowing the rules, they are also there to settle any disputes should they arise. At LAN events you will often see an admin standing behind the team next to the coach.
- SiegeGG - Our role in the community is to be a hub for the competitive scene. We provide stats, news reports, opinion pieces, betting, video recaps and interviews for many tournaments in Siege esports. We have partnered with Ubisoft to provide live facts and stats at LAN events. We have a huge team of experienced writers, graphic designers, developers, and video editors that are active in the scene in many ways.
- Liquipedia - This is a great place for an overview of the entire scene. You will be able to see roster changes, competition history and information about maps, operators and weapons. Liquipedia can also be used to track previous matches in a tournament as well as discovering any new tournaments.
- /r/R6ProLeague - The Pro League subreddit is a place for the community to come and discuss any recent news, matches and to post memes. You will see many community figures there, including many casters as well as players from different teams.
And so that's our roundup of the world of Rainbow Six Siege esports. Was this useful? If so you can read our roundup of the game itself right here and be sure to keep an eye out at SiegeGG for more in-depth information of the scene going forward.