Banner Photo: ESL
Today, eight teams will kick off the European Challenger League with four exciting matches in what's one of the most promising seasons so far. Both Team Secret and OrgLess (formerly Natus Vincere) joined Kkona Kkopteri (formerly GoSkilla) and Trust Gaming in the Challenger League after the latter two had ended the previous Challenger League season in fourth and third place, respectively. The four spots left were filled by forZe, Team BDS, GameWard Team, and SYZYGY -- teams that earned their places through the four open qualifiers.
Missed the action? No worries, here’s a quick roundup on how they got there.
First Open Qualifier: forZe
Roster: KaMa, Rask, Shockwave, p4sh4, cawkx
Games played (From the Quarterfinals): Team BDS (7-3), Supremacy (7-1), x6tence (2-1).
Following in the footsteps of their compatriots, Team Empire, forZe systematically destroyed each one of their opponents until the Grand Final where they finally were given somewhat of a pushback by the Spanish lineup of x6tence in the form of a Clubhouse loss.
The Russian roster were by far the favourites to win the First Qualifier, and even ex-Challenger League teams like Supremacy and other strong contenders to make it such as x6tence,Team GamerLegion, or Team BDS couldn't stop the Russian machine. In fact, out of 10 maps played, their entire run only saw them lose that one map to x6tence.
By then, the Russian roster were far from nobodies for a lot of the Rainbow Six: Siege community. One month before qualification to the Challenger League, forZe had beaten Team Vitality once and Chaos Esports Club twice to qualify for the Six Major Raleigh. They then pulled off what seemed to be the impossible -- beating Team Empire at the LAN Finals of the Russian Major League Season 2 -- and became the only team alongside G2 Esports to do so in a Best-of-Three or better.
Some weeks later, the Russians proved doubters wrong at the Major, showing off that they have what it takes to be more than a Challenger League roster. Alongside Team Secret, forZe are the favourites contenders to make it to Season 11 of the Pro League.
Second Open Qualifier: Team BDS
Roster: rxwd, Shaiiko, Renshiro, Panix, RaFaLe
Games Played (From the Quarterfinals): Team MCES (8-6), AVANGAR (8-6), AVANGAR (2-0).
The second qualified team was Team BDS, a roster that combined the Pro League experience of players such as Panix, RaFaLe, and Renshiro, with the well known ex-beGenius player Shaiiko. In contrast to forZe, Team BDS struggled in all their matches, always winning on the twelfth round or after reaching overtime time. Their biggest test was probably against Team MCES, when they had to pull of a big comeback to beat the French roster. Then pushing past AVANGAR in the Winners’ Finals in overtime, Team BDS once again had to face them in the Grand Final. The Swiss organization didn't struggle this time, though, and got a quick 2-0 win against AVANGAR.
However, Team BDS' best performance was displayed some weeks later. The roster got to play at DreamHack Montreal, where they qualified to the Group Stage after winning the BYOC tournament. Their group was probably the toughest one, comprising Team Liquid, Luminosity Gaming, and the Raleigh Six Major finalists, G2 Esports.
Against all the odds, and after losing 0-2 to G2 Esports in the first match, Team BDS beat Luminosity in the Losers’ Match and took revenge on G2 the second time around, this time becoming the victors on Bank and Consulate. The French team proceeded to the Quarterfinals, where they beat the North American Pro League team of DarkZero (2-1), although their run was cut short by eventual victors Team SoloMid.
Third Open Qualifier: GameWard Team
Roster: Aherys, AvenQo, Kaktus, M4DMAN, Liven.
Games Played (From the Quarterfinals): SYZYGY (1-0), Mkers (7-3), x6tence (2-1).
After the two biggest teams of the online qualifiers were already out of the picture after getting their Challenger League spots, it was GameWard Team’s turn. The French team did play in the first two qualifiers, but their best result was only a Round of 16 appearance in the Losers’ Bracket. However, a couple of changes in their roster meant that they would be right back in the thick of it for the third qualifier.
However, losing to Mkers in the second round meant that the team was already on the back foot and would have to play the entire tournament in the Losers’ Bracket. However, the roster, lead by M4DMAN, survived through the LB and even got its revenge against the Italians on Mkers. Their opponent on the Grand Final was x6tence, a team that already lost the first Grand Final to forZe, and was the favourite to win. Unfortunately for the Spaniards, they would fail to qualify once again, and GameWard Team pushed through.
GameWard Team will debut today in the Challenger League, but they have already faced Pro League teams such as Vodafone Giants, Team Vitality, and PENTA in the French League. Even though GameWard have given some tough fights to these teams, especially PENTA (drawing both league matches), the French team currently sits in seventh -- five points adrift of a LAN spot.
Fourth Open Qualifier: SYZYGY
Roster: Avadentt, Darkwin, Duckii, Neox, Nztro.
Games Played (From the Quarterfinals): Mkers (7-3), Mr. Krowleys Boys (1-0), Salamander (0-2).
Out of the four qualifiers, this was the most unexpected and, surely, most controversial. The French side lost to Mkers in the Round of 32 and had to play an incredible amount of matches to reach the Grand Final -- and, in identical fashion to GameWard team, got their revenge against Mkers. Winning the Losers’ Bracket Final through a forfeit, SYZYGY eventually lost the Grand Final, but got the Challenger League spot anyway after Salamander's disqualification stemming from the Hungarian side fielding an ineligible player.
The core of the roster is the same one that played as Don't Panic in the Six Major European Closed Qualifiers, where they lost to OrgLess (2-1) -- their first opponents today. After losing to the German roster, the French squad won against Mkers and eWorld In Progress, known for winning against PENTA on the Winners Bracket, but Don't Panic run was then cut off by Natus Vincere (2-0).
Just prior to their match, though, SYZYGY has announced that they will be replacing PrimaL with Thomas "Neox" Dumont in what is certainly a last-minute swap.
The European Challenger League starts today at 5 PM CET (GMT+1) as SYZYGY encounters OrgLess, Team BDS plays against Trust Gaming, GameWard Team faces off with Kkona Kkopteri, and Team Secret dukes it out with forZe in what is probably the match of the day -- and the whole tournament.