Next weekend, the top six teams in Italy will compete for the Winter championship title as the upcoming Six Invitational attendee of Mkers, the recent Challenger League squad of MACKO, and the new challengers of Legion all vie to take the title.
Kicking off way back in October, the season saw a double-round robin, Best-of-One map format take place -- the same format as during Pro League Season 11 -- with the season opening up a lot more compared to previous Italian nationals.
While Mkers have won nearly every prior tournament, MACKO took the last title and attended the prior Challenger League season. Mkers responded to this by completely remaking their team and, most recently, qualifying for the 2021 Six Invitational.
The team worth focusing on first is Notorious Legion who, after winning the relegations to get into this season, surprised the scene consistently. The fully French team (which is allowed to compete thanks to its Italian organisation) secured a 6-6 draw on Day 1 against Mkers proving they meant business thanks to a standout performance from Nyfuun.
They followed this up with victories against many of the wannabe challengers of GoSkilla and CGG, before ending the first half with another draw against MACKO to keep their flawless record intact.
At the mid-season window, however, they opted to drop their statistically best player of SurA for the ex-Vitality player of sNKy, which led to the immediate loss to Mkers (7-5) when they returned. They otherwise managed to sweep the rest of the teams, though, which meant that the move did little damage except to their flawless record.
Mkers, meanwhile, despite making a massive change in dropping the ex-Tempo Storm player of Sloppy at the mid-season, cruised through their opponents with relative ease. The only hiccup along the way was the previously mentioned draw against Legion on Day 1 and another rather shocking draw against Italian Gaming Project on Day 5. Other than this they won their 12 other games to take first place as many expected despite playing with a substitute for most of the season.
Next up, we have MACKO, the reigning champions. They have very clearly been playing as underdogs to Legion and Mkers with them failing to win in their four meeting against them (three losses and one draw against Legion). This puts them in a very tough position going forward as they'll need to find a new spark which has remained unseen for the last three months. Elsewhere the team also drew against Cyberground Gaming which finished the seaosn second to last place.
Finally, the remaining three teams were separated by a massive gap as while Hmble finished in fourth place with 22 points, fifth and sixth place of GoSkilla and IGP had just 11 each. Hmble simply lost to the three teams ahead of them -- Mkers, MACKO and Legion -- both times they met leading to their position as the separator in the middle of the table. IGP, meanwhile, struggled against many of the lower placed teams but beat MACKO (7-4) and drew against Mkers in two very unexpected results which pushed them from being one point away from last to being in the playoffs.
And so the following six teams will be competing at the Finals:
- Mkers -- Scatto, Sasha, Gemini, Aqui, and Torok
- Notorious Legion -- Nyfuun, Otgaz, Demoniak, Kxhz, sNKy, Arquero, GunnY (two coaches), and Yosh (analyst)
- MACKO Esports -- SirBoss, T3b, Alation, J3n4, Keenan, Px7 (coach), and Volteli (analyst)
- Hmble -- wuK, cmarc0r, Jokerr, Stelks, carzi and SnyP (coach)
- GoSkilla -- Neuro, Darkwin, Bommax, Kerv, YZN, and Sways (analyst)
- Italian Gaming Project -- ATK, Brodello, HappySimo, Lolloboii, Atroci, Smile (coach) and Nootka (analyst)
These lineups are very different from the teams which began the season with players such as sNKy and Lollo being the biggest additions. Lollo, however, will be unable to play for Mkers in this tournament as he was only 17 when the season began meaning their coach of Torok will sub in.
Stats wise, it's not hard to see where Legion's newfound success has come from even if they did kick the league's second-best performer at the mid-season. Legion is also largely responsible for the somewhat odd fact that there are just two Italians in the top eight players of the Italian nationals.
While they did dominate the tournament, Mkers' stats are somewhat surprisingly low as Torok replacing Sloppy in the team as their third Jager main means Aqui's remarkable performance likely was responsible for their flawless record.
Mkers and Legion will progress straight to the semi-finals to be met by the winners of GoSkilla vs Hmbl and MACKO vs IGP respectively. This means GoSkilla beating IGP by head-to-head points after tying to season with 11 points has meant a lot more than it seemed to at the time. Considering the big gap in performance during the regular season MACKO and Hmble will still be the clear favourites to make it to the semi-finals while Mkers' unbeaten record means they'll be eyeing up the trophy already.
The games will be cast in Italian by the regular names of Etrurian, ChiNook, JustRyuk and LordChanka with RedLike observing on the Rainbow6IT Twitch channel.
As well as the finale of the Winter 2020 season, the placement of each team during this season also offers them a chance to qualify for the "Season Finals" in July. Here, the top six teams from the combined performance during the Winter 2020 and Spring 2021 seasons will be invited to take part in the tournament.
As well as the extra prizemoney and title, it is likely that the victor of this tournament wins the Challenger League 2021 spot for Italy with this possibly also being the nation's first LAN Final in 20 months.
Keep an eye out for updates on all this and more here at SiegeGG as this season comes to a close and 2021 kicks off.