It’s all come down to this -- the biggest event of the year. A whole year of waiting with bated breaths since PENTA Sports (now G2 Esports) lifted the Hammer in front of Montreal. With a new year comes a new installment of the Six Invitational. Not some but the best have gone through Pro League struggles, DreamHack competitions, and a week’s worth of online qualifiers to get where they are today. This continues our week-long coverage of the Six Invitational 2019, live from Montreal, Quebec.
Maps: Consulate (4-7), Bank (7-2), Coastline (7-4)
NR: Wokka, ReyCyil, Merieux, Ramu, Papilia, kizoku (Coach)
Empire: karzheka, JoyStiCK, Scyther, ShepparD, Shockwave, and RayzerGM (Coach)
What does it look like when two fairytales collide? Well, probably something like Team Empire versus NORA-Rengo. Team Empire came into this match just a hundred days after having been in the Challenger League, and just over a year after they had failed to make it out of the group stages (as Room Factory) at the Six Invitational 2018. Since DreamHack Winter, the team has not lost a single game, and undoubtedly wanted to keep that streak going.
NORA-Rengo, on the other hand, seemed to have come to the event just to have as much fun as they could. Dancing on stage, smiling from ear-to-ear whether winning or losing, and making funny faces at the camera had become synonymous with the team during the course of the Invitational. Then there was also the matter that they had made history to become the first APAC team to make it to the Semi-Finals of the biggest tournament, the biggest Major, in Rainbow Six history. Dancing and smiling, they, too, wanted to keep going and forging a path for the rest of APAC to follow.
Map One: Consulate
The series started off on Consulate, a map that NORA-Rengo had only played twice this season, winning it once and losing it the other time. Team Empire, on the other hand, had a far more superior record on it with eight wins and two losses. Starting off on attack, Team Empire’s take of the basement bomb site was as strong as it could have realistically been against a team of NR’s calibre.
The Japanese, though, made it clear that it would be an extremely tightly contested affair as they won the next three rounds on the trot, thanks to great play from Wokka, and terrible positioning from the remaining two members of Empire who were unable to deny the disable. There seemed to be nothing stopping NORA-Rengo, in fact, as they cruised to a 5-1 and then a 6-2 lead. A poorly played 4v2 would see Empire start to engineer a comeback, but it would be all shut down on the 11th round for NR to draw first blood.
Map Two: Bank
Incredulously, NORA-Rengo had picked Bank as their map rather than Border, which had been left unbanned by Empire, where they had not only beat PENTA once by a score of 7-3 but also a second time by a score of 7-1. Whether it was a fear of Empire on Border, given the 3-0 record and 10 bans of the map against them, or confidence on Bank (which would be odd, given that they had only scraped by Fnatic 8-6 on it the day before), it would come to haunt NR later.
NORA-Rengo started the first round in what seemed to be a strong push, but fell apart in the post-plant as they were unable to deny Empire disabling the defuser. Three more rounds to Empire later, the APAC representatives were in dire straits and sinking fast. While they would get two rounds, Empire would clean things up and push things to Coastline.
Map Three: Coastline
The Eastern Europeans would once again get off to a flyer, winning their first two defenses with consummate ease before NORA-Rengo would be able to answer back with two of their own on attack. Once again, it would be Empire’s turn to win two in a row, and this would give them the first half by a score of 4-2.
Two more with Empire now on attack meant that NR would have their backs against the wall, and while they would stave off elimination for one round, a comeback would not be on the cards. Team Empire, Season 8 Challenger League team, would go to the Six Invitational 2019 Grand Final.
Maps: Clubhouse (7-2), Coastline (7-2), Oregon (Not Played)
G2: Fabian, Pengu, Kantoraketti, Goga, Joonas and Shas[O]Udas (Coach)
Reciprocity: FoxA, MarkTheShark, LaXInG, Skys, Retro, and HOP3Z (Coach)
Team Reciprocity, with their 2-1 victory against Evil Geniuses, had put their foot down and made it clear that they were not to be underestimated. Having dropped Goddess for Skys and then having been sold to Team Reciprocity from Cloud9, future prospects were uncertain for this team. Few would have predicted their incredible first half of the season after their sixth-place Season 8 finish, and fewer still would have confidently been able to say that they would get to the Semi-Finals of the Six Invitational.
G2 Esports, on the other hand, need no introduction. Here to defend their title as World Champions, the Six Invitational 2018 winners may have had a tough time in the first half of the Pro League, but have transformed themselves at LAN. Gone is the tentative, shaky G2, and back is the dominant and aggressively confident G2.
Map One: Clubhouse
Having lost Clubhouse 7-8 against Spacestation Gaming the day before, and with it having been a strong map for Team Reciprocity so far, it seemed that G2 Esports may have made a miscalculation in their map bans. Starting on attack, with Clubhouse being defender-sided, the murmurs of doubt grew louder.
The first round went to G2 before Reciprocity fired back with two of their own, but those two rounds would be all that the Europeans would be willing to concede to their North American rivals. Through his team’s brilliant play, G2’s coach Shas silenced all doubters to prove that he and his team do not make mistakes when it comes to the map bans. Some incredible plays from G2, and Pengu especially saw the team take six rounds in a row to lock out Clubhouse.
Map Two: Coastline
Speaking of mistakes in the map ban phase, the voices doubting Team Reciprocity were far louder and far more united.
They had, after all, brought G2 Esports to Coastline.
Not only has Coastline been G2 Esports’ best map since the start of 2018, their record of 16 wins and just one loss (to Team Liquid in the Season 7 Grand Final) means that there is no team better on any singular map than G2 is on Coastline. What’s more, Coastline undoubtedly holds a special place for the Europeans given that they had completed their reverse-sweep of Evil Geniuses on this map at the Six Invitational 2018.
To Reciprocity’s credit, they kicked things off positively with a win on attack. However, G2 Esports would then go on a four-round rampage as Reciprocity would look rudderless in their approach. A second round win would mean that the North Americans would be finishing the half 2-4, but as it was on Clubhouse, their tally would remain stuck at two. Three incredibly swift rounds meant that G2 Esports would take the series in dominant fashion -- the double 7-2 scorlines not quite having the same ring as G2 6-2, but being far from something they would ever be unhappy with.
That was your roundup for the second day of playoffs action at the Six Invitational 2019, stay tuned as we bring you more comprehensive news and stats coverage throughout the week, leading up to the Grand Finals on Sunday!