Challenger League Season 9 Preview

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Tomorrow will see the start of one of the most promising seasons in the history of the Challenger League, with 24 teams battling out for a chance to play in Season 10 of the Pro League.

As the secondary league in R6 esports, the Challenger League mimics the Pro League’s rules and schedule to a large degree, with eight teams also playing a double round-robin tournament, but across seven play days -- half the time of the Pro League season -- meaning there are two best-of-one map games per play day.

Following this, the top four teams compete in a single-elimination bracket with the winner being automatically promoted to the Pro League for Season 10, and the runner-up playing the seventh-placed team in the playoff spot for a chance of promotion.

These rules have been in place for a season now, with Team Empire, ENCE eSports (now known as mousesports), Excelerate Gaming, and ReD DevilS e-Sports making it to the top league last season, so let's take a look at who are the big contenders this time around.

Europe

Team Vitality: Spark, BriD, BiBoo, sNKy, Quaal, and Lyloun (their analyst)
Supremacy: KSiiX, DjuZ, Tactics, Alive, and Mrofficer88 (their coach)
EnD Gaming: Alation, Peak, Torok, Sloppy, Pyro, and Bagel (their coach)
PACT: Derius, Magic, Deep, AueR, Optyk, and dojczman (their coach)
MnM Gaming: neLo, CTZN, Doki, Kendrew, Saves, and GiG (their coach)
Trust Gaming: Leonski, Avaiche, Deapek, Quadzy, and Anthony (their coach)
XTreme Video Esport: Falko, Joghurtzz, Liven, Renshiro, Voy, and fiskeR (their coach)
ex-NYYRIKKI: Stigi, Movetaho, pannari, OSKAMOSKA, Kalenski, and Vapo (their coach)

Europe will kick off the Challenger League season tomorrow, with eight games every Monday for the whole season, all cast in-studio on the two main channels of rainbowsix_uk and rainbow6BNL. This is a real step up in production value to match what will be a really thrilling season, with this being a really open tournament for the first time in a long time with anyone having a good chance to qualify.

While they have been struggling recently, losing against an amateur team at the Lyon e-Sport 2019 tournament and having to qualify for this league via the loser’s bracket, the big name team here is clearly XTreme Video Esports. While the organisation may be unknown, the players certainly aren’t, with the roster making up the core of the ex-DreamHack champions of Millenium, and the ex-Pro League winners of Yunktis. It’s clear that this team has some of the most successful and well-known French players in R6 history, and will be hoping to follow in Team Secret’s and Team Empire’s footsteps in becoming the latest national super-team to storm into the EU Pro League.

The new XTreme Video Esports’ roster via @XTremeVideo. From left to right: Liven, Voy, Joghurtzz, Falko and Renshiro.

In their way though will, firstly, be the French lineups of Supremacy and Team Vitality, who will both also be hoping to return to the Pro League after being relegated last season. Vitality has since shaken up their lineup by adding in sNKy and Quaal, while Supremacy still has yet to announce their replacement for Alphama after he joined LeStream Esports at the beginning of the season.

The French player BiBoo waving a French flag after he led his French roster to the Paris Major via @DreamHackR6

Unlike previous seasons, though, the Challenger League contains a lot more diverse range of nations than the usual French domination, with the remaining five teams representing the nations of Italy, Poland, Finland, the UK, and the Netherlands. The nations of Croatia and Belgium are also represented by individual players. Every one of these teams is extremely well known in their own sub-regions and leagues (most notably the Benelux, Premiership, Italia and Masters leagues) meaning that despite the fact they are small teams, they’ll bring with them an awful lot of fans to heat up the competition this season even further.

While you may not recognise some of the organisations, many of these teams or players have a rich history in international R6; such as the ex-Pro League champion of pannari who’s playing for ex-NYYRIKKI; Trust Gaming, which defeated Team Liquid during DreamHack Winter; the ex-Pro League lineup of EnD Gaming from back in Season 1 and, finally; MnM Gaming, the previous roster of Team Secret’s newest member, fonkers. Each of these teams has made a big name for themselves some way or another both nationally and internationally, and now will all aim to represent their team on the big stage and finally qualify for the Pro League.

EnD Gaming lifting the ESL Italia Summer 2018 Championship trophy via @EnDGamingIT

 

North America

Elephant Gang: Avian, Neptunez, supr, Goddess, and GhxsT
Looking For Org: Spades, EvlWaffle, breezy, and Splek (their coach)
ex-SiNister: HolidayNOG, PiXeL, Rich, Prophet, ZThunder
Organised Chaos: Prodigy, Fultz, Merc, Art, Oasis, and Brycer (their coach)
Our Bad: RaV, toughy, Cali, Euphoria, and Karnageb
Scilla’s Guerrillas: Mex, NotLoading, Abunai, Nuggs, and Eravonia
Tune 6quad: Rainbow, Talon, AFactor, Glitch, and Chef
Vicious Gaming: Drip, awD, Hyena, Rexen, and KenZ (their coach)

Initially with games every Saturday night as well as Wednesday nights from Week 5 onwards, the North American Challenger League contains a number of promising but untested rosters all trying to beat out the much more experienced favourites of Elephant Gang to win that automatic qualification spot into Pro League. The eGang team was formed prior to Season 8 and has undergone a number of roster changes since but now with a complete roster of ex-Pro League names led by the ex-Rogue player of supr, they look set to dominate this season and re-enter the big leagues once again.

One of the big names last season to possibly challenge eGang was Disrupt Gaming, now known as LFO, but with Modigga, Remorce and Gotcha all leaving the squad since, and with only three listed players less than a week before the season begins, the future is starting to look gloomy for this roster as it looks severely unlikely they’ll be able to repeat their performance from last season, let alone beat it and make it into the Pro League.

On the upswing, however, come two fairly promising rosters in Organised Chaos and Vicious Gaming. Vicious, previously known as 92' Dream Team, is probably best known for their Six Invitational qualifier run in which they ended in joint-seventh place after defeating Elephant Gang and losing against DarkZero to the soundtrack of a hilarious cast by Interro, Flynn, supr, Slashug, Gotcha and Easilyy. Meanwhile, Organised Chaos come in after a dominating run in both the CL and CCS qualifiers which included 2-0 stomps over Tune 6quad in both tournaments so far.

With the disband of Obey Alliance last season and the virtual collapse of ex-Disrupt Gaming over the last few months, the North American Challenger League has really opened up, with a huge number of unknown players likely to make the playoffs in what will be a huge deal for the teams and league in general. While no official channels have been announced of yet, the games will likely be cast once again by Stoax and Sternab as they were last season.

 

Latin America

No Pelo e-Sports: ninexT, slasH-, Norden, Sn4rFx, and Sm4ll
Guidance Gaming: Alpha, Miracle, h1ghs, PluuSh, rdz, and Hybrid (their coach)
Lowkey Esports: p0PStarr, senk4i, Sn3epyy, cainho, KDS, and Raz0r (their substitute)
SG e-Sports: Eclypse, Phelps, W44LK, iDrooPz, German, and LyT (their coach)
MADZETES: Lipezord, DoDo, Mad, mgN, and Caab
Team oNe eSports: reduct, Faallz, SKaDinha, LuKid, rhZ, and Budega (their coach)
WP Gaming: KinG, TuK, jNNN, Ryug4, miGz, and Yankkz (their coach)
YeaH Gaming: freeezao, pdr1n, ScorpioN, Guiilherme1, and destiny

Unlike the other two regions, each team in the Latin American Challenger League plays against the same team twice in two separate best-of-ones, rather than against two different teams. This is both simpler for the viewer and teams as well for they only need to prepare against a single opponent rather than for two back-to-back. This is identical to how APAC runs its Pro League. Just like NA, however, these games will also be played every Saturday evening, likely causing a crossover in coverage and meaning that for the first time in competitive R6, there will be regular online weekend content for fans to watch.

One of the most anticipated teams coming into the season was Furious Gaming who, with five Chileans and one Argentine, was the first non-Brazilian lineup to play in the Latin American Pro or Challenger League for over a year. Their underdog dream, however, was cut short as they were disqualified last night due to PretzL playing the qualifiers while underaged -- although just by 12 days. Replacing them comes the ex-Bootkamp Gaming player Lipezord’s new lineup, MADZETES, who, despite being the lowest seeded team to make the main event, comes in as a fairly promising team as one of only three rosters with recent ex-pro players.

“We were disqualified without any prior notice. However, none of this will discourage us, we will train harder than ever to qualify again.”

Other than Furious Gaming, the main interest within LATAM Challenger League comes primarily from the organisations involved with it. This includes Guidance Gaming, best known for their ESL Benelux and Premiership rosters, Lowkey Esports best known for their ANZ Pro and Challenger League rosters, and both Team oNe and YeaH Gaming who, unlike the majority of NA or EU organisations, rejoined the scene as soon as their previous Pro League roster had been bought out. This will clearly cause confusion to many fans but means that this upcoming season to be completely unpredictable for everyone involved.

The favourites in the league are incredibly hard to predict due to the number of new faces and the lack of streamed games, but the ex-Black Dragons roster of No Pelo e-Sports, and the previously mentioned Guidance Gaming lineups must be confident thanks to the Pro League experience they both have. While no official streams have been announced yet, it is likely that, unlike in previous seasons, most of the games will be streamed, which will be great to watch the rarely seen underbelly of the LATAM region duke it out.

 

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Catch all these games when the Challenger League begins tomorrow and be sure to keep an eye out here at SiegeGG for more coverage of this league over the coming months.  Keep track of upcoming matches and results here at SiegeGG!