Nora-Rengo has been a name almost synonymous with Asia-Pacific Rainbow Six in the past, but recent events have seen that perception gradually shift.
The Japanese organisation was part of the APAC setup all the way from the start of formal competitive Siege in the region and immediately began a long period of Japanese dominance.
Appearing at the Season 6 APAC Finals, the team did not qualify just yet, but instead burst into the global conscious with a scintillating performance against Rogue after having qualified for the Season 7 Pro League Finals.
Chief to that sudden interest was electrifying player Yudai “Wokka” Ichise, who wowed all by pulling out an ace against Rogue in his very second international round of Siege.
Nora-Rengo then went from strength to strength, winning its first international match at the Six Major Paris in 2018, before winning the Season 8 APAC Finals on home soil and then securing revenge against Rogue in the Pro League Finals. The victory also booked Nora-Rengo’s place in the history books as the first APAC team to make it to the semi-finals of any international event.
Fans came to love this antic-filled, heart-pumping Japanese team that played a brand of Siege unique even compared to its Brazilian counterparts. The Six Invitational 2019 saw the best-ever result for an APAC team, as Nora-Rengo very nearly made it to the Grand Final of Siege’s premier event, losing 1-2 to Team Empire.
Season 9 saw the Japanese continue their string of international appearances at the Milan Pro League Finals, but their inability to make it to the semi-finals -- then assumed to be just a blip -- ended up being the harbinger of a steep downfall.
The Six Major Raleigh saw Nora-Rengo crash out without a win, before Aerowolf demolished the team at the Season 10 APAC Finals to deny the Japanese a seventh international appearance in a row.
The spiral continued, as Nora-Rengo missed out on the later-cancelled APAC Finals for the first time and in the new competitive format only scraped together a 10th place finish amidst a wage scandal surrounding owner Yasuhiro “kizoku” Nishi.
Put together in a list, one can really begin to see the team’s slide downwards:
- February 2019 -- NR's last international victory
- March 2019 -- Wokka leaves due to financial strain, focuses on streaming
- May 23rd -- Legacy player ReyCyil leaves NR
- August 26th -- Claims of unpaid wages and misused funds surface
- August 27th -- NR sponsors reportedly separate from the organisation
- August 30th -- kizoku resigns from NR
- September 4th -- NR seemingly uninvited from the JP Championship
- September 9th -- NR Academy team leaves to join REJECT
- October 16th -- APAC's biggest R6 streamer, Wokka, leaves NR
- October 20th -- Ar7hur leaves NR following unpaid wages (later rectified)
- November 1st -- Legacy player Merieux leaves NR
Now, the team faces relegation, with former player Riku “Maavi” Kaizo gunning for their spot with his new team, Eva:e.
Firstly, can you introduce yourself and your role in Nora-Rengo?
I’m Akidog and I used to work as the chief analyst of the Rainbow Six team.
Due to my predecessor (kizoku) resigning after the recent trouble, I accepted the position as the new CEO.
Currently, I’m engaging in work to support our players as well as serving as a liaison with companies.
Nora-Rengo has had a tough year and faces relegation tomorrow. How does the roster plan to recover performance-wise?
Nora-Rengo is going to play the relegation match in this after replacing Merieux with Candy.
As Candy was originally part of Nora-Rengo, he will have little trouble adapting in terms of tactics and coordination (and vice-versa).
We are not only having to handle the meta, which is changing every day, but we also have to create our own strategies that utilise our inherent gunfighting skills.
Nora-Rengo has already lost to Eva:e before so how well do you think your relegation match will go?
While Eva:e itself is a brand-new team, the roster has definitely the best talents in Japan. The relegation game will be a match worth watching as both teams have many players skilled at gunfights.
We’re still aiming to keep improving and win it all in APAC North after we get back from relegations, so firstly we’re going to be striking against at Eva:e.
Nora-Rengo has also been embroiled in a large financial misuse controversy over the last month, leading to the exit of kizoku. What are you doing to fix these issues and to improve the organisation's reputation?
That’s not because of financial misuse, but because someone recorded kizoku's voice while was reprimanding a player heavily, which led to his resignation. But I’m making an effort to help our players, staff, and creators that trust me and will keep challenging for the future of Nora-Rengo, so I’m going to recover our credibility and results step-by-step.
As the new CEO, what are your longer-term goals for Nora-Rengo?
As for the longer-term goals, we’re aiming to re-secure our dominant position in Rainbow Six that has been a core part of Nora-Rengo until now. We also have plans to help grow other teams in other esports to secure the highest rankings in each Japanese competitive scene.
What message do you have to Nora-Rengo fans around the world?
Nora-Rengo will be back. For that, our players as well as staff including me are pushing forward with all our efforts.
I hope you will all support Nora-Rengo in the long run and look forward to our present and future!
Catch Nora-Rengo’s defence of their APAC North slot for the 2021 season tomorrow, at 1 PM JST (UTC+9) on twitch.tv/Rainbow6, with this possibly the last time the team and organisation will be in the top-flight for at least a year.