Image via Ubisoft
The decision to not have a crowd at the Six Invitational 2022 was delivered to Rainbow Six Siege fans at the absolutely worst time — right before the grand finals of the Sweden Major.
The news was draining. There was no literal, tangible room, but through social media and conversations with fans, you could feel the collective air sucked out of the proverbial room. It was hard to focus on FaZe Clan’s eventual triumph over NiP.
It was a questionable call at the time, and undoubtedly a bad call to deliver the information in the fashion it was delivered. Since then, we’ve seen some try to play timeline jiu-jitsu: the Omicron variant of COVID-19 wasn’t named at the time of the finals, it did not exist in our modern lexicon. Data that indicated that cases would skyrocket was based on one year, a year where there was no Moderna, Pfizer, or J&J vaccine to stem the tide, there absolutely was a reasonable chance that cases in Montreal wouldn’t skyrocket again, despite skyrocketing cases during the holiday season being likely.
The fact that it ended up being the right call is good; people being safe and not sick is definitely ideal. But it felt defeatist to make that call then, as opposed to at least waiting and seeing. It definitely felt defeatist coming so close to the grand finals — it almost felt like there were some on the backend who thought that frustrations within the Siege fanbase wouldn’t boil over, which was a severe misread of the overarching mood.
Since then, however, there hasn’t been a misstep by the Ubisoft esports team. This has the potential to be the best SI of all time.
The decision to move the Invitational to Sweden was no doubt difficult, as moving an entire event is a herculean effort in its own right. Not only are the games still going to be going on without a hitch, this is the first international tournament where, as of the time of writing, every single team that qualified has made it to Sweden in some form. Part of this is due to the safety guidelines put in place by the Ubisoft esports team.
Drops have been completely reworked — no more duplicates. Every second you spend watching the Six Invitational 2022 is a second working towards an in-game cosmetic.
Co-streaming is here, finally. Co-streaming has been outright demanded for quite some time by the Rainbow Six community and is wildly successful in other esports like VALORANT and League of Legends. Time will tell whether it’s the right move for Rainbow Six, but it’s great to see an attempt at exploring a new way to market Rainbow Six Siege to esports fans.
I could kiss whoever designed the format for this event. Mickey Mouse best-of-one group stages, you are out of here. Finally, the group stage will be best-of-three, a format that undoubtedly leads to a greater quality of Siege gameplay. The scoring system and playoffs system ensure that every second of the group stage counts. A truly competitive format plus a method to ensure that the number of useless games is at an all-time low should have fans foaming at the mouth.
With all of the wins stacked up, it’s hard not to say that this is the best Six Invitational iteration ever — even if there’s no crowd. While the Omicron (and other various future) variants are out there, it’s necessary in order to stop a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 killing the event halfway through.
The format is top-notch. The broadcast will be spread across the widest amount of viewers possible, in a manner that could introduce brand-new people to the esport. For existing players, there’s an incentive to at least have the stream on to get the drops.
The hype around SI 2022 should be at a fever pitch if it isn’t already. If the format and distribution of this event isn’t the standard for Majors and future SIs moving forward, I genuinely do not know what we’re doing here.