In a surprise announcement today, Ubisoft published a blog post stating that eUnited will not be a part of the US Division in 2021.
With the 2020 Season of the North American League nearing its final matches this weekend with the November Six Major, we are looking ahead to the future of the North American League and the US Division.
With eUnited’s departure from the US Division, we feel that it is important to clarify rules around ownership of league spots within the Rainbow Six Circuit and Promotion/Relegation matches in the US Division.
According to the Global Rule Book, the owner of the competition spot within the Rainbow Six Circuit is the Organization. With the Organization departing the league, the former eUnited roster is ineligible to compete within the US Divsion, but remain available to be picked up as free agents.
The departure of a team from the US Division automatically places them last place within the division. As a result, Tempo Storm advances to 7th place. The normally-played relegation match between the 8th placed US Division team and the 1st placed US Challenger League team is not necessary. We are engaging with the US Challenger League team RentFree on requirements to advance into the US Division.
We want to sincerely thank all of the North American League Organizations for their participation and contributions to the 2020 Season. We are already planning for an exciting 2021 season.
This announcement comes as a surprise to the North American community, which already had two teams removed from competition (Evil Geniuses and Luminosity Gaming) before the US Division's inaugural season earlier in 2020.
This move came after both organisations, like eUnited, decided to exit the scene after deeming it financially unviable for their purposes -- though eUnited exits in part due to COVID-19 uncertainty.
The previous decision with Evil Geniuses and Luminosity Gaming was widely unpopular and, with the former eUnited roster's situation being largely similar, today's announcement is sure to provoke criticism from players and fans alike.
Matthew "meepeY" Sharples, the team's head coach, has reported that his squad was not informed of the decision prior to its public announcement via Twitter.
Much like the situation with Ubisoft and Luminosity Gaming and Evil Geniuses, though, there was almost no communication from Ubisoft to meepeY. This was despite multiple emails sent to "very high positions", with the only response being "we can't tell you, we'll tell you soon". Following that reply, today's press release was the first meepeY had heard regarding the situation again.
Despite the press release from Ubisoft, it is currently unclear as to what exactly will be happening for the eighth US Division spot for 2021. Speculation has filled Twitter and Reddit Rainbow Six communities, with four possible theories bandied about:
- The Rent Free roster gets priority for the eigth US Division spot if it finds an organisation (regardless if the ex-eUnited roster does too)
- The ex-eUnited roster gets priority for the eighth US Division spot if it finds an organisation (regardless if the Rent Free roster does too)
- Either roster gets the spot, depending on which roster finds an organisation first
- An organisation is able to enter the scene and choose any five free agent players (not limited to the Rent Free or ex-eUnited roster), much like Disrupt Gaming
According to Susquehanna Soniqs captain Seth "supr" Hoffman and General Manager Darren "Tribizzle" Moore, the situation is as per the third theory -- that both rosters are in a race to find an organisation first.
Questions still remain, however, as to how this situation will be handled. Most notably, it is unclear if the ex-eUnited roster will be blocked from signing with an organisation following this situation.
It is more than likely that any organisation wishing to enter the scene may prefer to sign the already-proven top-flight ex-eUnited over the unproven Rent Free roster, which could mean that the ex-eUnited players may yet play in the top-flight in 2021 unless blocked from signing with any organisation.
With the US Division Relegations now canceled, there is also the question as to what will happen with Rent Free and possibly Tempo Storm if the ex-eUnited roster is not blocked from signing with an organisation.
If the second possibility above is the case, or if the third or fourth possibilities see Rent Free lose out, this would pose a problem, with the canceled Relegations meaning that Rent Free's first place in the Challenger League would be for nought.
In continuation, if the ex-eUnited roster signs with an organisation, it is unclear if its seventh place finish would be reinstated and if Tempo Storm would be dropped back to eighth place. In that scenario, it is further unclear if the Relegations match -- originally scheduled between Tempo Storm and Rent Free -- would also be reinstated, or if a new Relegations match between the ex-eUnited roster and Rent Free would be played (with the winner set to sign with the organisation ready to enter the US Division).
A reinstatement of the Relegations match, if reinstated to its original date and location, would provide its own issue in that both teams will have much more limited preparation than originally allocated.
At the same time, Rainbow Six Esports Director Wei Yue stated that he had been disappointed with the way the decision had been communicated to the ex-eUnited roster, but did not disagree with the decision itself.
It is unclear if Ubisoft will be issuing a statement to provide clarification. Check back here at SiegeGG for more updates on this story and everything else about competitive Rainbow Six.