Having kicked off on the 13th of March and running until the 18th of September, the new Rainbow Six Japan League is the biggest domestic tournament across all of competitive Siege, with its ¥32 million (US$308,000) prize pool.
Not only is the prize pool be a sizeable amount in the Japan League, but each team will also have up to each of its six players and coaches (combined) be guaranteed up to ¥21 million (US$202,000) in salary for the competitive year.
Read on to find out what went down in the first week of play from the best in Japan.
The match between REJECT and EVA:e was a highly anticipated one, in part due to it being the curtain-raiser for the Japan League 2021, but also due to a clash between Jun "NoTimeGG" Matsuura and Riku "Maavi" Kaizo -- both former Nora-Rengo players.
Starting off on Consulate, REJECT set the tone with a defuser plant in the very first round, taking the early lead and later extending it to a 4-2 first half. The lead would only widen in the next two rounds, as REJECT made it four match points over their opponents, who had lost to Nora-Rengo in the 2020 APAC North Relegations.
While EVA:e attempted to pull things back by two round wins of their own, even a post-plant scenario in Round 11 was not enough as Reject successfully completed a retake and disabled the defuser to take a 7-4 victory.
Events on the second map of Villa started similarly, as REJECT kicked things off on defense with yet another 4-2 half. However, it was switching to attack where things diverged.
Despite EVA:e trying to defend three different sites, REJECT gave their opponents no quarter and took the map 7-2, and thus the game 2-0.
Played between one of the top teams in APAC North in Stage 2 and a team that had effectively come out of nowhere for most APAC fans in the Six Invitational 2021 qualifier, the second game of the Japan League was even more entertaining.
The first map to be played was Chalet, which was debuting here in the Japan League, and was only the fourth time it had been played globally since its rework. While an attacker-sided map in the early plays, Crest surprised everyone by taking a 4-2 defensive half over Cyclops. However, the APAC North team was not to be deterred and responded in kind, forcing overtime.
Despite the pattern, though, Crest Gaming's steam ran out then, with Cyclops taking both rounds to finally close out the map 8-6.
Disappointingly for the underdogs, it seemed that their tanks were empty. As Cyclops swept to a 3-0 lead on Consulate, Crest were able to interrupt the streak with a defensive round win, but that was all that they would obtain from the second map. Four more rounds went into the bag for Cyclops, and the APAC North team took the map 7-1 to win the series 2-0.
While Sengoku Gaming is a familiar name to older APAC fans, the team is very much different from the one that used to play regularly against FAV gaming in the ESL Pro League.
However, despite having changed very much between then, its exit, and return to Siege nearly a year later, Sengoku was every much an APAC North-caliber team on Sunday.
Starting off on Clubhouse, FAV gaming seemed almost powerless against Sengoku, as the challengers swept to a 4-2 lead on the attack, no less. Things only worsened for FAV after the role swap, however, as Sengoku gaming, led by former Nora-Rengo stars Ryuki "Ramu" Matsuoka and Yuta "ReyCyil" Inoue, cleaned house on defense to win the map 7-2.
The second map of Coastline, however, would prove to be a closer affair. While Sengoku drew first blood there, FAV retorted with three defensive wins in a row before their opponents could respond to close out a 3-3 first half. Then switching to attack, FAV put the screws to Sengoku with two more rounds, but Sengoku shook themselves off to respond with a magnificent four defensive holds and take the second map 7-5.
The final game of the weekend was certainly the closest, with Team Northeption, winners of the Japan Nationals 2020 Grand Final event, going up against APAC North team GUTS Gaming.
A triple-kill from Northeption's Kohk1 drew first blood on attack and while GUTS pulled things back in an early 2-2, it was their opponents that had a 4-2 lead at the half. The two teams then traded rounds after their role swaps, but an early Northeption match point was eventually converted into a 7-5 victory on the map.
Over on Consulate, however, it was the reverse story. GUTS swept to an early 3-0 lead, which soon became 5-1 at the half, in a showing more in line with their status. Match point came early for GUTS after, in just the eighth round at a 6-2 scoreline, but Northeption gave them a fight to take the win, pushing for two more round wins before finally falling 4-7.
The pendulum swung right back on Coastline, however, with Kohk1 once again a standout with an opening defensive round triple kill as part of a 1v1 clutch. Two more round wins followed for them, with GUTS only able to pull one back in the remainder of the first half.
Switching to attack, Northeption marched on to secure match point at 6-2 as well, but, just as they had made GUTS wait on Consulate, they had to wait two rounds to close things out, winning the map 7-4 and the series 2-1.
This weekend, tune in at Rainbow6JP once again at 1 PM JST (UTC+9) for more games, with Team Northeption vs Sengoku Gaming certainly one to watch. Also being played will be FAV gaming vs Crest Gaming Lst on Saturday, and then Cyclops athlete gaming vs EVA:e and REJECT vs GUTS Gaming on Sunday.