UPDATE 20/3: Cloud9 Confirmed as APAC North Invitee, to be Joined by Two Korean Qualifier Teams
In addition to the Japanese allocation of teams to the upcoming APAC North division, it has also been announced that Korea will be having three teams represent the subregion.
Of the three slots, one has been awarded to Cloud9 by virtue of its long involvement in Siege as a team and organisation.
The Cloud9 team was the first APAC team to represent the region at a Pro League Finals, in Season 6, and also made it to the Six Major 2018 and Six Invitational 2019.
Cloud9 will be joined by two other Korean teams, selected through a qualifier to be played over the course of this and the next Saturday. Actually the Korea Open Championship, the tournament will also function as a qualifier for the APAC North division and the top three teams -- including a Cloud9 already in the grand final -- will be inducted into APAC North.
The double-elimination tournament will be played on the 21st and 28th of March from 3 PM KST (UTC+9) and can be watched on the Rainbow6KR Twitch and YouTube channels. Participating will be the Pro League teams of SCARZ and Axiomatic, alongside Cloud9, as well as Talon Esports and Safehous
After last month's announcement about the reorganisation of the competitive scene for Rainbow Six, new details about the APAC North division have now come to light.
At the Six Invitational, it had been announced that ESL Asia-Pacific (APAC) would be continuing to handle the league while ESL involvement ended in other regions.
It had also been revealed that the subregions of Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia will be combined into an "APAC North" region, played with 12 teams online, while South Asia (i.e. India, Bangladesh, etc.) and Australia-New Zealand will play in what is likely to be a LAN-based "APAC South" division.
For APAC North, this would have meant a reduction from the 19 active Pro League teams this season. As such, it was unclear how the 12 slots would be distributed, though it was almost certain that a "legend" system would be introduced to ensure current top-tier teams were able to make the switch.
Now, it has been revealed that NORA-Rengo and Cyclops Athlete Gaming (CAG) will be invited to the APAC North division to make up two of four Japanese teams that will be part of the league. The other six teams in the Pro League will then play for the two coveted slots that remain in a qualifier to be played next weekend on the 21st and 22nd of March, from 12 PM JST (UTC+9).
The direct-invitation of NORA-Rengo and CAG is certainly the most logical choice, given that the two teams have had the greatest achievements in the subregion.
Little needs to be said about NORA-Rengo, with the team having made it to the Season 7, Season 8, and Season 9 Pro League Finals, as well as the Six Major Paris, Six Major Raleigh, and Six Invitational 2019.
CAG, on the other hand, only appeared on the international stage at the Six Major Raleigh, but has made it to the APAC Finals two seasons running, and will likely do so again give its current position. What's more, CAG also took home the Alienware Japan League title, which is effectively the Japanese Nationals tournament.
With this information, it is rather likely that APAC North will see an equal 4-4-4 split between teams originating from Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia, but no information about the other two subregions has been yet revealed. However, it is almost certain that Cloud9, Fnatic, and Giants Gaming will be invited as "legends", much like CAG and NORA-Rengo.
Keep an eye out here at SiegeGG for more updates about competitive Rainbow Six as the Pro League resumes shortly, and more information about the future of the esport is revealed.