League Expansion and Timing Changes
While Season 11 of the Pro League is set to start on the 6th of January, the changes announced by Ubisoft speak to the future of competitive Rainbow Six beyond that.
Given the marked increase in depth of highly competitive teams in North America (NA) and Europe (EU), a decision has been made to expand the two regions' Pro Leagues to 10 teams for the subsequent seasons after Season 11. While largely a surprise, the expansion has been much sought for in recent times, especially intensifying given the last two seasons saw a former Challenger League team win the Pro League in its debut season. While these victories were achieved by Team Empire and Natus Vincere, both European teams, North America is also receiving an expansion to its Pro League.
Outside of these two regions, however, the Pro League will not see a change in the number of teams. Therefore, Latin America (LATAM) and each Asia-Pacific (APAC) subregion and its Finals will continue with eight teams until further notice.
Of note, however, is the fact that this expansion means that both NA and EU will not have any teams relegated in Season 11, and the accompanying Challenger League for the season will have its top two teams directly promoted to the Pro League.
In another change, the timings for the NA, EU, and LATAM Pro League will also be adjusted to the following:
- EU: Monday and Wednesday, 7 PM CET (UTC+1) onwards
- NA: Monday and Wednesday, 8 PM EDT (UTC-5) onwards
- LATAM: Tuesday and Thursday, 7 PM BRT (UTC-3) onwards
APAC will not have any changes to its schedule, with games on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the following timings:
- Australia-New Zealand (ANZ): 7 PM AEDT (UTC+11)
- Southeast Asia (SEA): 7 PM SGT (UTC+8)
- Korea: 8 PM KST (UTC+9)
- Japan: 9 PM JST (UTC+9)
What These Changes Mean
With the increased competitiveness in NA and EU, the expansion of the Pro League for the two regions not only makes sense, but has arguably been a long time coming. Europe needs little explanation as to why, with the strong squad of Team Empire, Natus Vincere, forZe, Team BDS, Team Secret and Izidream being or having been Tier 2 teams.
Some, however, may feel the expansion of NA needs further justification. While recent, the successes of Luminosity Gaming and Team SoloMid have been definitively noticeable, and with Spacestation Gaming and DarkZero Esports' performances on the international stage, it is clear that NA is the strongest it has ever been. Furthermore, the presence of the Susquehanna Soniqs in the Challenger League and Disrupt Gaming until Season 10 speaks to a sustained investment from organisations towards the tail end of the Pro League despite a lack of a direct competitiveness parallel to EU.
As such, the expansion for these two regions would reward and entice organisations' investment into the scene, especially given the volatility of the leagues increasing with increased competitiveness that can result in teams as high as the top two facing relegation the following season. While not the direct investment into the Challenger League as had been hoped for, the changes signify a dedication from Ubisoft to sustain and grow competitive Rainbow Six beyond where it is now.
With Latin America also on an upward trajectory, it is likely that that region, too, will eventually see an expansion to 10 teams. APAC might also see such an expansion, but there have been no intimations made from Ubisoft towards such a change for the region as of yet.
Regardless of the unannounced future, though, the changes for Season 12 of the Pro League and beyond are a strong statement from Ubisoft towards preserving the longevity of the esport and are a positive sign for its growth.
Catch Season 11 of the Pro League in action from the 6th of January 2020, keep up to date with all the happenings in competitive Rainbow Six right here at SiegeGG.