Rainbow 6 Siege has been a phenomenal success for Ubisoft. That success has been parlayed into an enormous esports venture and one that Australia and New Zealand are very much a part of. However, Australian esports remains in its infancy, despite being an active scene and community for many years.
Being so far removed, geographically, from the rest of the world, puts Australian esports at a disadvantage in some regards. Professional players in this region have a far more difficult time playing against the best of the best, simply because of ping and internet speeds.
This is slowly but surely changing as Australia’s infrastructure improves, but speed isn’t the only barrier. For esports to thrive, a healthy community of fans and supporters needs to exist. While there’s long been a dedicated group of fans for many esports titles, it’s only recently that esports has moved from the bedroom to the stadium.
The rise of events such as IEM, Melbourne Esports Open and leagues like Gfinity Elite Series Australia and the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League has let fans show their support and helped push esports into the mainstream.
Rainbow 6 Siege Esports
The Rainbow Six Siege Pro League is a huge success story for the local esports scene and now, Ubisoft is preparing to host the Six Oceanic Cup in March. This event will see the “8 best teams in Australia and New Zealand battle off in a gritty Single Elimination bracket for the chance to be crowned as Oceanic champions!”
To prepare for this event we’ve spoken with Oddity, FNATIC, DarkSided, Orgless and OTG about the event and esports in Australia. And when it comes to esports in Australia and especially Rainbow 6 Siege, the feedback consistently praises both Ubisoft and the game for expanding esports in the region.
Raven of Oddity Esports told us, “R6 Siege has increased the depth and exposure of esports in Australia. Obviously, before R6 was around we still had big games, like Dota, LoL etc. that would bring attention, but this brings in a whole new kind of audience and just overall increases that awareness of esports within Australia.”
Orgless and DarkSided also mention how Siege takes the established base of existing esports titles — DOTA 2, LoL and CS:GO — and expands upon it. The teams all agree that Ubisoft is responsible for making Siege such a success in the Australian esports scene.
R6 is steadily growing, meaning that at the same time the epsorts scene within Australia can grow with it. We’re seeing that with events like MEO and AO, and I’m sure that soon we will see R6 represented at these kinds of events – Raven, Oddity
Siege is definitely growing thanks to the efforts of Ubisoft Australia, enabling teams like ours to play in more tournaments – Orgless
The great thing about Siege here in Australia is the support from Ubisoft themselves in conjunction with ESL. For a long time all we had were community cups and the dedication from the community got our scene noticed enough to be provided a Pro League through ESL – OTG
Ubisoft Australia’s Support
Without the support of Ubisoft Australia, the local Rainbow 6 Siege esports community wouldn’t be anywhere near as big and important as it currently is. According to OTG, the dedication of the community attracted the attention of Ubisoft who worked with ESL to create a local Pro League. Once that happened, “the original Mindfreak [came] over from Xbox to dedicate their time to PC and the existing teams being supported by other great Australian esports organisations.
“Their [Mindfreak’s] dedication and attendance at three Six Invitationals is why Fnatic (a powerhouse of esports) picked them[Mindfreak] up which has grown the fan base again”
With such dedicated players, teams and organisations involved, Ubisoft Australia has been able to create a truly engaging and important local Pro League. Thus, this year, Ubisoft and ESL launched both the Rainbow Six Siege Summer Series and Six Oceanic Cup 2019.
Announced in early January, the Summer Series saw 16 of ANZ’s best teams face off over four gruelling weeks. The top four teams in the Summer Series gained automatic entry into the Six Oceanic Cup which will see Eight teams fighting for glory over two weeks in a single elimination, best-of-3 tournament.
Orgless, winners of the Summer Series, told us how important these Pro League tournaments are. “Any tournament with money involved is a tournament that we aim to win, especially since some of us left our jobs and/or university to make a career out of Siege.
“Tournaments like the Six Oceanic Cup and Summer Series allows a team like ours to focus on getting results to live on until we find an org that will support us to an adequate level.”
This is a fascinating response and frankly not one we were expecting. That Pro League play in ANZ is at such a level that players can (and do) live solely from the proceeds is incredible and yet another testament to the community and Ubisoft. As Raven from Oddity puts it;
We want to get the word our there that R6 has a solid community in Australia and that’s backed by Ubisoft Australia by the introduction of these and more tournaments.
These tournaments are also a chance for the U18 teams in Australia to have their opportunities against the top teams, which will help them stay hungry and keep the grass roots of R6 interested in progressing through to Pro League, once they turn 18.
For DarkSided, being able to have regular tournaments and competition is key, which is what Ubisoft Australia provides with Siege. “There is never truly a down period when it comes to competitive Siege and as it continues to produce matches for our players to participate in, accompanied by high-grade broadcasting for viewers to watch, there is always great value in being involved in these tournaments.”
Winner Takes Most
Of course, when it comes to esports, participating is one thing and winning is another. For some teams, Orgless for example, winning means putting food on the table. For others, it’s about the prestige those wins come with. “If we win the Oceanic cup or the Summer series it would mean that we’ve cemented our position as one of the best up and coming teams in the APAC region and it will give us a big confidence boost going into the Challenger league qualifiers,” OTG told us.
“Winning either of these tournaments brings further prowess to our roster as well as put championships under the Dark Sided banner,” according to DarkSided. “It is important to us to that we maintain a high performing team by winning these tournaments in order to hold a strong association of premiere talent with the Dark Sided brand.”
Regardless of the reasons, winning is an important part of any esports competition, much like it is for regular sports. Being invited to compete is a huge deal for some of the teams that play, but when they start winning, all new doors start to open.
Take Mindfreak/FNATIC for example. After their performance in 2018, Mindfreak was acquired by FNATIC. Now, they’re playing a whole new game at a whole new level.
One of the biggest changes having been signed with Fnatic is the pressure to succeed. Last Invitational we had no real expectations on us, so we were very relaxed. But being signed by such a well-renowned organisation such as Fnatic can sometimes come with the pressure to live up to it.
This does, however, come with a lot of support and help from Fnatic to ensure we can; such as the boot camp we are currently on. The preparation is a lot more thorough and we want to live up to the expectations.
Success begets success in the world of competitive esports and those teams who’ve yet to reach such heights as FNATIC can look to them as an example of a career path moving forward. In fact, FNATIC’s acquisition of Mindfreak has created ripples throughout the APAC region as other organisation also start to pay attention and notice the talent here.
“Fnatic joining the scene has shown that we are a region worth looking at. This has allowed other players the potential to approach organisations and show them that there is an opportunity here and demand more support in the form of salary and the likes,” FNATIC’s coach Jayden ‘Dizzle’ Saunders told us. “We have especially found a lot of support in Japan, as Fnatic is a very popular organisation, so hopefully we can make a significant impact on the growing APAC region also.”
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie
Following in the footsteps of Mindfreak is clearly what team’s within the ANZ Pro League are hoping to achieve. “Making the global stage has always been our goal from the day we started consistently making regional qualifier LANs mid last year,” says Orgless and DarkSided echo those sentiments saying, “Competing on an international stage is always a goal we hope to one day set for our roster.”
It’s not as easy as just wanting it though. Teams need to be consistently good enough to qualify and compete against the best in the world. It’s especially difficult for APAC as Jayden ‘Dizzle’ Saunders explains;
The top of APAC is still perceived as weaker than mid tier of the other regions, I think this will change over the next year or two as we continue to improve in results and placings and receive more support to professionalise our region in a competitive format and strengthen us globally.
Orgless, while champions at the Summer Series, failed to qualify for the Six Invitational 2019. “We failed to qualify for the 2019 Six Invitational after a tough series against Mantis, who ended up qualifying for the trip to Montreal to play against the world’s best.” DarkSided believes that any team hoping to compete at the Six Invitational needs to first step up to FNATIC and prove that they can stand with the big boys of the scene;
There has been a clear division of dominance set by the Fnatic roster for quite some time and I believe it is important to first close this gap before opening up the prospects of international play.
Speaking to the teams, they’re all keen to improve, hungry for wins and want to represent Australia on the world’s stage. There’s no denying that at some point, they’ll likely have their chance. While playing internationally may be the overall goal for these teams, the future of esports in Australia seems bright and they all generally see the same one.
Australian Esports Future
When asked about the future of esports in Australia many of the teams point to the recent Fortnite Summer Smash event at the Australia Open as an example of how esports is breaking into the mainstream.
They also agree that the future of esports in Australia means growth, partnerships, media coverage and more visibility for the public. DarkSided had the most to say and were certainly the most articulate, telling us that “At this stage of development, there still is a necessity of having a wider base in Australia as contrasted to other regions such as NA, EU and Asia.
“This involves a consistently large viewership across titles, professionally operated businesses and business practices (team organisations in particular) and large scale events to bring in outside attention and revenue.”
The teams agree that events like IEM and the Melbourne Esports Open are a massive step in the right direction, but that more action is needed to truly take esports to the next level. OTG believes “The future of esports here in Australia within the next 10 years is looking to be where North America is now. This will mean that we can have full-time athletes competing and kicking it with the rest of the world.”
OTG also believes that Australian players are good enough to compete internationally and that they deserve to be given the same treatment. Especially given that esports has already begun to cross over into the mainstream.
Esports athletes such as Mitch Robinson also really help bring together the mainstream sports audience and esports, and hopefully more and more we see big Sports names within Australia – Raven, Oddity
Orgless notes that as esports crosses more and more into the mainstream, prize pools and viewership grows exponentially. “The infrastructure for Pro Leagues across many games enables it to reach such high viewership, and as time goes by, Esports is only going to become bigger and better.” DarkSided also sees esports as having crossed over again citing the IEM and MEO as examples of major mainstream success. A success that DarkSided hopes can roll into major Rainbow Six Siege events locally.
Esports For All
At the end of the day, esports is a huge part of life for many gamers and even more so for the pros who play. We asked them what the most important thing for an esports organisation is and we wanted to share those as we received them.
“The single most important thing for an esports organisation is to ensure you are supporting your teams/players/staff adequately.
“We want everyone to be happy to be a part of the organisation and to have that family vibe. To ensure we have that support, we look to increase our exposure as much as possible, to bring on partners that are also happy to be a part of that family and really love and support our teams/players/staff. ”
“We believe it’s very important for the members of an Esports organisation and it’s competitive teams to strive for absolute success in competition and be able to consistently provide the results that reflect the prestige of the organisation.
“Other than that, promoting an organisation’s brand and values and what they want to convey to the community, ensuring the players and teams reflect those values as well, we believe holds great importance. Whether it be through social media, content creation or general behaviour; online and in person.”
“There are a lot of things that make a good esports organisation. A good fan base that supports the player base and a good team that performs are prime examples that help an esports organisation grow which results in more exposure to help grow and provide more opportunities for the players and the organisation itself.
“However, I think the most important thing for an organisation is good management, without the staff the organisation wouldn’t exist and they make everything tick on a day to day basis.”
“Nothing which you see here from DarkSided, and I’m sure for many other organisations, can start without the passion that has been instilled in us years ago.
“As once professional players, we first hope to provide the support to players which many of us dreamed of having when we competed; at least that’s all I can say in the case for Matt [Westphal, CEO] and I.”
Rainbow Six Siege has gone from strength to strength in Australia and its position at the forefront of Australian esports becomes more cemented at each event, with each new viewer and as more Australian teams enjoy local and international success.
The Six Oceanic Cup begins March 23, 2019, and will take place at ESL Studios in Sydney. You can purchase tickets here.
Thanks to Ubisoft Australia and all the teams for their time.