After a long week of playoffs around the world, sixteen of every region’s best lined up for an opportunity at the grandest stage of them all -- the Six Invitational. Before they had the chance to make it to Montreal, the North American, European, and Latin American teams went through a double elimination bracket that lasted the duration of a week to figure out who would be joining the eleven teams already qualified for the invitational. The weekend’s worth of finals would be casted by the duo of Ollie “XRTROIKA” Hatton and James “Sternab” Parkinson making their debut from the ESL studio in Katowice, Poland.
North America sent its eight finest prospects, from Pro League teams like DarkZero Esports and Rise Nation, to Challenger League representatives such as Elephant Gang and Team SiNister. Out of the numerous ESL qualifiers that followed, another eight teams joined them in the brackets. Out of the Upper Final came Spacestation Gaming -- the same team that had lost to PENTA at DreamHack Winter for the same spot they were gunning for now. In the Lower Finals, Orgless beat the Rise Nation 2-0 to secure their spot in the Grand Finals for a rematch of their Quarter-Finals match up on January 15th.
The Grand Final was a match to behold, with Rampy going on yet another rampage following his achievement of breaking the all-time one-map kill record earlier in the week. Spacestation took their map pick of Clubhouse, but then fought tooth and nail only to lose to Orgless on Oregon in the overtime. It would be the decider map, Coastline, to send Spacestation as the fourth North American representative to the Six Invitationals. Spacestation now joins Evil Geniuses, Rogue, and Team Reciprocity (ex-Cloud9) in an attempt to raise the Caber and win on home soil once again.
While having yet to add any Major championship wins to their resume, Latin America sent forth teams like Black Dragons, INTZ Esports, and Guidance Gaming. Out of the qualifier that followed, we saw teams like Santos e-Sports, Team oNe’s reemergence with a new roster, and YeaH Gaming -- notably one of the 16 organizations that attended the prior Invitational before being picked up by paiN Gaming. Unlike than the North American bracket, two separate victors -- one each from the Upper and Lower Finals would be heading to Montreal. In the Upper Final we would find Team Liquid and Ninjas in Pyjamas, with Black Dragons awaiting their prey in the Lower Final.
The phenomenal casting duo was back once more to guide us through both finals, firstly with the matchup of Team Liquid versus Ninjas in Pyjamas. Team Liquid decisively took both maps in the Upper Final to punch their ticket to the Invitational, as Ninjas in Pyjamas would square off against their ex-organisation in a rematch from the Pro League earlier that week. After Black Dragons took the first map, Ninjas in Pyjamas powered through with the help of Psycho with two back-to-back map victories to be the last Latin American team to head to Montreal. Liquid and NiP join FaZe Clan and Immortals as the four Latin American representatives in the Six Invitationals, looking to finally solidify the legacy of LATAM with an Invitational win.
To follow in the footsteps of G2 Esports, teams from across Europe such as Team Secret, ENCE eSports, and the newly-rebuilt Team Vitality put up a fight against teams like Movistar Riders, Trust Gaming, and XTreme Video Esport. Playing in the Upper Final would be Team Empire and LeStream Esport, and a Vitality that dropped out in the early Quarter-Finals would be awaiting their opponent in the Lower Final.
On the 20th, XRTROIKA and Sternab welcomed us one last time to the final regional qualifier for the Invitational to a matchup between Team Empire and LeStream Esport. Both teams being notable for their high-fragging playstyles and aggressive pushes, the Upper Final was a match to behold with Team Empire prevailing 2-0. In the Lower Final, Team Vitality sat patiently awaiting LeStream -- a rematch from their Quarter-Final matchup that again went in favor of LeStream. Team Empire and LeStream Esport will be the fourth and fifth European teams to join reigning Major champions G2 Esports, PENTA Sports, and Mock-it Esports all looking to continue Europe’s dominance.
We now wait with bated breaths for February 11th, when the week’s worth of festivities will kick off leading up to the grand three-day stage show live from Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada. The Invitational is right ahead of us, and we can only imagine who will be the third team to have the honor of lifting up the Caber, cementing their place in Rainbow Six history.
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