Rainbow Six Siege is a very unusual discipline, at least in terms of how the developer builds its competitive scene. In 2023, Siege, like everyone else, encountered problems due to universal quarantine, but Ubisoft, apparently, was ready for this. The company immediately introduced a new format of tournaments, which will operate next season – and this does not seem like a crisis measure, but a conscious step forward for the game. We will talk about how the new “Rainbow” will work in the material.
The game was created with an eye on e-sports
The first official Siege tournaments were held under the auspices of ESL in January 2016 – almost immediately after the release of the game. German TO launched weekly fan leagues, and then began to probe the ground with local competitions with minor prize pools of several thousand euros.
A full-fledged league with the support of developers was launched only in April 2016, a few months after the release of the shooter. This was part of a pre-prepared plan – Ubisoft originally hoped to make Siege a popular eSports game. To do this, the developers even consulted with ESL Vice President David Hiltsher before the release to make the necessary changes to the balance. Then Ubisoft decided to abandon the variety of modes and focus on adding operatives – the company was inspired by the success of Dota 2. But the discipline remained in the shadows for a long time.
The finals of major Rainbow Six Siege tournaments have always shown decent audience performance – the final stage of the tenth season of the ESL Pro League, for example, an average of 60 thousand spectators watched. This is comparable to the Dota 2 minors. And the peak online Six Invitational 2023 amounted to 300 thousand people. With such indicators, Siege could be included in the category of leading e-sports disciplines, but the problem is that the shooter achieves such results only during the largest championships that occur four times a year (and in 2023 – three, all because of the pandemic )
Even in conditions of universal quarantine, which gave an increase in viewers to almost all online channels, the performance of Siege championships remains modest. For example, the final match between Team Empire and the new roster Virtus.pro at the Russian Major League Season 4 was watched at a peak by 6.4 thousand people.
Ubisoft has found a way
In March 2023, Ubisoft and ESL canceled the Pro League Season 11 finals and paused the game season. This allowed the organizers to reconsider the approach to organizing a professional scene, without waiting for the end of the year. As a result, in May, the audience was presented with updated rules of the competitive system.
The changes touched the whole scene: instead of four separate supertournaments between which unpopular leagues took place, Ubisoft introduced a model of a single rating season. Now all the participants of the pro-scene will fight for points all year long, which will allow them to qualify for the slot in the main stage of the largest championship of the year – Six Invitational.
The organizers identified four regions that will receive their own rating leagues: Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia. Teams will fight only with representatives of their region, the most successful will receive slots on majors, where they can compete with competitors from other countries. All disciplines gradually come to a similar model of a single season with a length of a year: Valve has already introduced a similar rating model in Dota 2, and Overwatch competitions were immediately launched in this format. All regions will have dedicated time slots for showing matches every week, which will allow Rainbow Six to form the viewer’s habit of regularly watching e-sports, rather than joining the game a couple of times a season. Now all matches will be important, since even starting meetings can affect the final distribution of slots.