For the second year running, the city of Melbourne in Australia will become a hive of activity later this weekend. The Melbourne Esports Open is aiming to build upon its inaugural success in 2018 and this year, they’re playing host to the biggest LAN event in the ANZ Rainbow Six region -- the Six Masters. With the prize pool doubled from last year’s A$25,000 winnings, eight all-ANZ teams will battle it out for the title of the best team in the sub-region.
With that in mind, we spoke briefly to a member from four of the squads -- Oddity Esports (ODD), FURY, Mindfreak (MF) and Team SiNister (SiN) -- all of which will also be playing at the Ubisoft Experience event in Sydney on September the 14th for charity. The Ubisoft Experience is a celebration of the community that it has cultivated through its titles, or as Ubisoft themselves put it, “the place where we all finally meet and celebrate our love for gaming together.”
If you’re unfamiliar with any of these teams or it’s been a while since they last crossed your mind, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a brief summary of each of these teams:
Mindfreak are a name many may be familiar with -- they’ve had three different rosters to date. Most will know the name as the organisation that the now-Fnatic roster played under before their big acquisition, but this current roster previously played under the Dark Sided name, where Fnatic players Virtue and speca honed their craft.
Tied with FURY on 9 points after the group stages of Six Masters, MF stole a map away from Fnatic but couldn’t bring the points home. Currently sitting in fourth place just behind Oddity in the Pro League (PL), both teams took a map victory apiece when they met earlier in the season. Mindfreak now look to focus on their quarter-final matchup with ACME Association this weekend.
Team SiNister, meanwhile, returned to Rainbow Six’s professional circuit with the acquisition of the Avant Gaming roster. Currently languishing in last place during the regular season of the PL, their Six Masters online phase went more smoothly, with wins over Oddity and Team CryptiK. With names like Kaya “Loona” Omori, one of only two female players in Pro League, and CoconutBrah regular Erik “Nikoh” Ahrenfeld (who is currently on the team as a substitute), SiNister will be hoping to turn their fortunes around when they take on FURY on Saturday.
On the coattails of Fnatic and 0RGL3SS are Oddity Esports, who for the duration of this PL season and last, are chasing the two big dogs within the region, and giving them a real fight. Oddity have the distinction of being one of only two teams so far to have forced Fnatic into dropping points, a real mark of how this relatively new roster has come under the experience and guidance of Brandon “Raven” Langiano and Todd “Todd” Francis, who both have prior experience within ANZ Pro League (with Dark Sided and Athletico Esports respectively).
Their Six Masters run was rocky in contrast, with just a single win to their name, and they were forced to play with Raven in the lineup whilst Todd was unavailable. Squeaking into the LAN stages ahead of Team Cryptik, they now face a Fnatic side returning from a disappointing Raleigh campaign.
FURY have been struggling similarly to their quarter-final opponents SiNister within the PL -- just two points separate them both as it currently stands. Six Masters’ online component was more fruitful for the team however, collecting a 3-2 record to put them in third place in Group B behind Fnatic and Mindfreak. One of a handful of New Zealanders within ANZ Pro League, Josh “Warden” Wadham was on hand to answer our queries ahead of the upcoming events.
Here are our burning questions for these competitors:
How have you been preparing for the Six Masters Finals?
Bailey “Cutie” Murdoch (MF):
Well, we've been preparing for Six Masters by bootcamping at RMIT University in Melbourne thanks to MindFreak. This has helped the team get together and meet each other for the first time, which will build more team synergy and a positive atmosphere. Other than that, we've been doing VOD reviews and adapting to our personal play style and team coordination, practicing things such as using each other more to help take areas of the map.
Kaya “Loona” Omori (SiN):
We've been having a really rough Pro League season, so lots of things needed to change: How we prepared, roles, our strats and all that. We're going into the event with a better mentality, win conditions, and hopefully a better understanding of Siege.
Todd “Todd” Francis (ODD):
Oddity has sorted out a mini bootcamp for us, which helps a lot and is great for morale and team chemistry. We have also been studying the teams we will potentially be playing, so nothing should catch us by surprise.
Josh “Warden” Wadham (FURY):
We have been bootcamping since Sunday.
How important do you think events such as these are to the growth of the ANZ scene?
I think events like this are extremely important for the growth of ANZ because, in a way, it’s the grassroots of international Siege. Without these, only a few teams will get to have practice at LAN which, in my opinion, is very different to online with factors such as physically being there and having a crowd watching, etc.
Without these LANs, the only teams from ANZ who would have made a LAN would be Fnatic, 0RGL3SS, and ourselves, via either the Pro League APAC Finals or the APAC Invitational/Major qualifiers. It gives teams a goal to strive for and it’s extremely good that some of them have been opened up to Under-18 teams, bringing in more competition. A good example of this is the Oceanic Cup where we lost to Extricity for a spot at that LAN event.
It is important obviously for exposure and sets a good example of the kind of competitive Siege people wouldn't see online or in multiplayer. I think it benefits the players with the experience of being on stage in front of an audience versus a stream, and for the in-game experience that plays out differently to online a lot of the time.
It's nice to have the opportunity to attend events such as Six Masters and UbiXP, even though in the grand scheme they don't mean that much. APAC LAN and global LANs is what everyone wants to be attending, which has been locked out by Fnatic and 0RGL3SS for quite some time, but attending these other events helps improve the quality of all the other teams.
I think events are extremely important for the local scene, as well as allowing teams who don’t generally get top 2 in the PL the opportunity to attend a LAN.
Despite that, the scene still sees players struggle significantly. What improvements would you make to the region?
What most APAC PL players would want is more monetary support. With my knowledge of organisations, I know not all can do this, but I believe that once a team has been properly provided with their needs to improve, the team’s skill ceiling is extremely high. If you look at the results of Fnatic, you can see the benefits that monetary support does for a team. Not to say this is the only thing that can make a team great, but I believe for a region like this, it helps a lot in terms of hours put in and out of game.
The scene really just needs more money and exposure -- our players don’t have the ability to completely focus on Siege as they need to study or work for money. Obviously our subregion has very little experience compared to NA or EU, which makes our teams not as well-rehearsed and decent paying orgs won’t take a second look. In the case of 0RGL3SS though, they’ll get a decent org too -- the difference [between them and Fnatic] was that Fnatic (Mindfreak at the time) made Invitational and did decently, whereas 0RGL3SS haven’t made it out of APAC LAN. It will happen soon for them and it’s heartbreaking Joey couldn’t wait around for that.
It's hard to say. Anything that helps organisations get more exposure, which should allow them to support their teams, would obviously be good.
How do you balance your career as a professional R6 player with other responsibilities?
For me, personally, I find it quite easy. In a way I’ve shaped my life around Siege already and I'm thankful for my family allowing me to do this. They support me all the way which takes a lot of stress off my back.
Whereas for some people like ItBeStyle, they are putting everything they can into making this work. He starts work most days from 4am to 6am because he's a tradie, then still manages to be on time for scrims and risks that precious sleep that he desperately wants. Personally, I don't think many people would be able to do that and I know I definitely wouldn't be able to.
I work a lot and my whole team studies or works full time. I work during the day and have scrims/practice at night, like I have two jobs. It gets very tiring but that’s how our scene works for now. Recently, I have had no choice but to work full time just before MEO which is definitely not ideal, but I know we can win if we all focus.
Luckily for me, my work is pretty flexible, but it's still a challenge to balance. I missed most of the Six Masters online phase, but luckily we still made it to the LAN stage. I know it's a bit of a struggle for a lot of other people within ANZ. It's hard to juggle work, uni, and Siege, especially when financially, Siege gives very little within ANZ.
Personally, I work every day so as soon as I get home, I’m playing Siege and that can be four hours up to eight a night.
What aspect of UbiXP are you looking forward to the most?
With the UbiXP, I’m quite looking forward to meeting a lot of people who said they're coming to watch our team play! As well as seeing the other teams, the fans get to meet and talk with their favourite players. It's nice that Sydney is getting a LAN with new teams, because I believe it'll bring in a lot more people with the chance to meet new players.
I love the fun side of Siege, the competition will be all fun and jokes which is really all the game was for us when we all started playing it. Also, I’m excited to meet more people that I play with or happen to think I’m okay at the game.
Mostly just hanging out with my team, it's not often that we get the chance to meet up in real life.
I’m mostly looking forward to meeting all the new people attending it, as well as putting on an awesome show match.
That's all from us here at SiegeGG for now, tune in to this weekend's Six Masters tournament on the main Twitch channel, twitch.tv/rainbow6 from wherever you are in the world, starting later today at 5 PM AEST (GMT+10), and 10 AM and 9 AM on the subsequent days, before UbiXP on the 14th and 15th of September.