The fifth annual Six Invitational event will not take place as planned next week in France due to the introduction of an unforeseen travel restriction by the French government. Instead, the event has been "put on hold".
Said Ubisoft in a blog post:
On January 29th, the French Prime Minister announced that the French borders would be closed to all non-EU travelers.
Following this announcement, Ubisoft, alongside our partner Live Nation, have been working tirelessly to find solutions to organize the physical edition of the Six Invitational 2021 in Paris, France in February, as initially planned. However, we have now learned that LAN esports events are no longer possible in today’s context, despite the strict sanitary measures put in place.
Consequently, we have no choice but to postpone the Six Invitational 2021 to a later date. While we are obviously disappointed that the Six Invitational will no longer go ahead this month as planned, our focus is now on re-evaluating the situation and looking for alternative options; we know fans are looking forward to both the reveal by the developers of the upcoming changes in Rainbow Six Siege, as well as the competition itself.
We are working with and listening to the organizations to find the best possible solutions. We will have more details on the exact impact of this decision for rosters and Season 2021 soon.
For us, the Six Invitational is a celebration of the worldwide Siege community, requiring cross regional matches to be a truly international competition. We have all been looking forward to a clash of the regions and the conclusion of the race towards the Six Invitational that all pro teams have engaged in since the launch of Season 2020 in each region. Due to server locations, and to ensure the utmost competitive integrity, such a competition can only happen if we gather all participating teams in the same physical location.
Even if our plans are regularly challenged by the evolution of the pandemic, we are all in this together. Our ultimate goal remains the same: to offer the best experience possible for both our professional teams and our passionate community all season long, while ensuring everyone’s safety.
We thank you all for your continuous support, passion and understanding. We are hard at work and will communicate more information as soon as we can.
The new border controls had meant a number of teams were unable to enter the country, with previous agreements with the government to hold the event in a bubble now superseded, which have now led to this decision to postpone the event.
The event, which has traditionally taken place in Montreal every year, had initially been moved to Paris, France for its 2021 edition due to the country's then-laxer border restrictions surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
However, 10 days before the event began, new travel restrictions had been implemented, aimed at curtailing the spread of the new 501Y.V2 "South African" variant of COVID-19.
The new restrictions thus effectively banned all non-EU citizens from entering France and meant that 17 out of the 20 teams competing -- all but BDS Esport, G2 Esports, and Mkers -- were barred from traveling to the country for the Six Invitational.
Giants Gaming captain, Glen "Lunarmetal" Suryasaputra, was understandably frustrated at the circumstances and questioned the decision to hold the Invitational in a COVID-19 hotspot such as Europe:
With how bad the COVID-19 situation in is EU, I don't blame anyone directly for how the situation turned out. France decided to close their borders days before our departure, so when we heard that news we already expected the worse.
It was honestly heartbreaking to hear. To have spent a backbreaking amount of time and effort, working THROUGH the holidays in order to prepare for the biggest tournament of our lives only to have it be for naught at the last minute was really hard to swallow.
I have to wonder, though, why was Europe even chosen? There were never any promising signs over the past few months about the COVID-19 situation there... I can think of five better countries to have it in. Aside from the logistical challenges, I think it's a small price to pay considering that the alternative was (is) to not have the event at all.
Australia and New Zealand had been floated as potential host countries when the Six Invitational had initially been announced to have been moved from Montreal.
The two countries then already had plans to hold three other international sporting events -- two of which have been completed (the Indian Cricket team tour of Australia and the West Indies Cricket team tour of New Zealand) and one of which (the Australian Open) is set to start in four days.
In the world of esports, too, the PUBG Global Invitational.S is set to go ahead on LAN in South Korea, starting from tomorrow. There, teams from China, Japan, and Taiwan will be competing remotely (online), while the majority of the other teams will play offline at Studio Paradise in Incheon.
Now, though, should the event be rescheduled for the summer, a number of new possibilities arise.
Firstly, it possibly means a limited crowd will be allowed, with the likely expectation that everyone involved will be mandatorily vaccinated.
Secondly, this could mean Wildcard Gaming will be able to attend after they had previously announced they had been barred from leaving Australia to attend the event due to strict Australian border controls.
Rather unfortunately, however, with the current Canadian Altiora roster being replaced by an all-American lineup at the opening of the March transfer window, the Canadians will not be competing at the Invitational or in the North American League this year, with this new US-lineup presumably taking their spot in both tournaments.
This is likely to cause considerable backlash, considering that the new roster had no part in earning the Invitational spot. However, according to Ubisoft rules, it is the organisation that holds the qualification spot and not the roster, which has led to this situation.
With a month-long break ahead of us before the pro-circuit kicks off again for the 2021 season, the focus for all parties -- especially those attending LAN leagues in Vegas and Sao Paulo -- will be to minimise the chance of spreading the coronavirus in order to save lives and get both the world and R6 esports back to normal as quickly as possible.
While disappointing that the wait for another international event will be at least six months, the decision from Ubisoft and the French Government is both understandable and necessary for now.
Furthermore, though the Invitational won't be continuing, the related charms, skins, and Esports Packs will still be available via Twitch Drops and we can still look forward to the usual Year 6 and Esports panels in the coming weeks to outline the plans for 2021.