Banner image: Ubisoft / Kiril B.
North America's last success in Rainbow Six Siege was DarkZero Esports' victory at the Six Charlotte Major, on May 22, 2022. In front of their home crowd, the region sent three teams to the semifinals, with Team Liquid being the only international side remaining.
Since then, only two North American organizations have finished among the best four lineups of a Six Major, with XSET reaching the Six Berlin Major Top 4 and Soniqs featuring in the semifinals of the Six Jönköping Major and the BLAST R6 Major Copenhagen. Meanwhile, in February, Oxygen Esports was the third-best team at the Six Invitational 2023.
Plain and simple despite North America's strong start to 2022, the region's trophy drought lasts for 524 days and counting, with them standing behind Europe (254) and Brazil (174). Heading to Atlanta, the Six Charlotte Major champions will try to change North America's luck.
Led by Troy "Canadian" Jaroslawski, the purple squad was sent home from Copenhagen by the eventual grand finalists, Team Liquid. After losing to M80 in the GWB North America Grand Final, the roster could only compete in minor off-season tournaments until the return of the North America League in September.
However, the team was forced to make a change in July as the Six Invitational 2021 champion Matthew "Achieved" Solomon announced his retirement. One month after the news, DarkZero Esports competed in the Breaking Point alongside Jason "Ryce" Ngo.
According to the Vietnamese player in a written interview with SiegeGG, DarkZero Esports reached him and other players for some trials. "Over the course of several scrims, they chose me to play with them for Breaking Point."
"What we saw to give us a chance at the North American League is that we knew we had a great amount of talent on the team and knew that once we worked on our synergy and play style, we could definitely make it far into the NAL," Ryce explained.
Eventually, the former Spacestation Gaming Academy player was confirmed to compete in the North America League. Despite starting with a 3-7 defeat against M80, the purple squad finished in the Top 2 of the North America League Group Stage with five wins, two overtime defeats, and one loss.
While Ryce admitted being "a bit nervous," the player explained that his debut match was very important in his future performances. "What I learned going into the next games is that I just needed to relax and just play the game and trust that the team and I will pull through."
Regarding the player's adaptation to Rainbow Six Siege's top-flight, the DarkZero Esport member believes he has "adapted well" mostly thanks to the "team environment."
"Everyone on this team is hungry and motivated every day to become a better version of themselves as well as helping their teammates improve too," Ryce admitted.
Part of this mentality is also seen in the team's IGL, Canadian. The Six Invitational 2017 champion's advice helped Ryce get used to the top-flight level of exigence. "You have to put in the extra work and be productive with your time to make it to the top. Things aren’t going to come without you making the difference.
Following the team's second-place finish in the North America League group stage, DarkZero Esports moved to the Deciders' semifinals. There, the organization was one match away from Atlanta's Phase 2. Unfortunately, Soniqs took the win after defeating the purple squad by 2-1.
Despite winning Soniqs' pick and enjoying a rock-solid attacking start on Consulate, Ryce and his teammates couldn't close the series. According to the Vietnamese player, the team "started to crumble when we lost defenses where we got stumped on some parts."
After losing Map 2, the player explained they "started to get frustrated with ourselves." Heading to Map 3, Ryce admitted it "was too late to claw the game back." "All credit goes to Soniqs for being resilient throughout the series and capitalizing on us."
Eventually, DarkZero Esports qualified for the BLAST R6 Major Atlanta after the team's victory against Wildcard Gaming, including a maximum overtime win on Bank.
DarkZero Esports' debut in Atlanta will be against Knights, a team they have faced multiple times in scrimmages. Defeating the LATAM roster would possibly confirm the North Americans' participation in the Six Invitational 2024, which will take place in Brazil.
"I’m super excited about the prospect of the team going to Brazil and competing at the biggest tournament of the year. Especially going into a country with lots of passion for the game, it’s very exciting just thinking about playing against the best teams around the world with a highly passionate crowd," Ryce concluded.
First, though, the Americans must survive to Phase 1's Group C, which also includes G2 Esports and FURY. Although the Europeans are the favorites to follow the North American roster, both FURY and Knights have the potential to upset the group favorites. Will we see a surprise next week?
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