Sweden Six Major, growth and the future : Chatting Rainbow Six Siege esports with François-Xavier Dénièle
We caught up with Ubisoft's EMEA esports director to talk about the Six Sweden Major and what the future holds for Siege esports.
The Six Sweden Major has just kicked off earlier today, bringing the best Rainbow Six: Siege teams from around the globe together to compete in the final Major ahead of the next Six Invitational, which is slated to take place in Montreal, Canada in February 2022. To get an insight into what it took to bring a Siege Major to Gävle, a town just north of Stockholm in Sweden, we recently caught up with François-Xavier Dénièle, esports director for Ubisoft EMEA, to chat all things present and future for the Siege competitive scene.
Gamereactor: What led to the decision of choosing Sweden to be the host city for the Sweden Six Major?
Dénièle: Since we kicked off our esports activities on Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege 6 years ago, we have been strongly rooted in local scenes. The philosophy behind the locations of the Six Majors is to bring the action closer to our fans, celebrating our different local Rainbow Six communities and bringing more visibility to our local ecosystems. By coming to Sweden for this event, and for the first time in Rainbow Six Esports history, we hope to highlight the Rainbow Six Swedish community as well as all the fans of the game in the Nordics at large. In Gävle, we found a venue with its own unique identity, and we built upon the site and national storylines to create our event. It will be a fresh take on what our community has experienced until now, and we hope the fans will like it as much as we enjoyed designing it.
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Gamereactor: If you had to pick a team you think will win the Sweden Six Major, who would it be and why?
Dénièle: The teams qualified for the Six Sweden Major are some of the strongest in the world today. At the last Six Major in Mexico, a Brazilian team won and I'm excited to see if the LATAM region will keep their title, or if another region will rise to challenge them. If I have a bias, it's always a bias for a great tournament story and an epic Grand Final. May the best team win!
Gamereactor: The Rainbow Six esports scene is bigger than it ever has been, but are you still seeing continued growth year-after-year?
Dénièle: Since we began our esports activities on Rainbow Six Siege, we have been working to develop a mature and virtuous environment. We have adapted our competitive format with regionalization, onboarded key partners, and invested in our broadcast and events experience to continuously grow and professionalize our esports scene. Year after year, we've been happy to welcome to Rainbow Six Esports top esports organizations, such as Fnatic, G2 Esports, T1 or Team Liquid, and through our robust revenue sharing program, R6 Share, we collaborate with the organizations involved in our leagues on a daily basis to continue building a sustainable esports program for all parties involved.
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As part of our desire to stay close to the community, it's also important for us to constantly monitor our communities' activities around the world to identify new opportunities. As an example, we've also been developing esports programs recently for our fans in the MENA region, who have been eager for more competitive Siege.
If the challenges of the past couple of years have taught us something, it's to be agile and we're dedicated to keep on iterating, to finetune and consolidate our scenes and, ultimately, to offer our fans, pro players and organizations, the most competitive, sustainable, and exciting esports ecosystem we can.
Gamereactor: With esports and competitive play being such a big part of Rainbow Six Siege's identity, are you part of discussions with the development/balance team over upcoming updates to the game?
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Dénièle: Both the game and the esports scene impact each other and the esports department works closely with the production team on the development. This is essential because as soon as you change the meta of the game, it impacts the way pro players and teams tackle gameplay and each map. The way the game evolves over time is very exciting and it can also go the other way around, wherein the esports side of Siege pushes the game's development in a certain direction. We find that pro teams use unique combinations of Operators for their strategies, which in turn can give the production team inspiration for new Operators sometimes. Though not exclusively, the esports scene is one of the channels that the production teams look at closely when it comes to balancing and testing.
Gamereactor: What has the pandemic taught you about the way esports operates, and do you think the lessons you've learned from continuing to run Rainbow Six esports over the last 18 months will carry forward and influence future events?
Dénièle: With the safety of our teams, players, fans and partners being our top priority, one of the key lessons we drew from this period has been on how to combine the implementation of strict sanitary measures, with the creation of the best experience possible for pro players and fans alike.
We've been adapting the formats of our competitions to keep them running amidst the pandemic, thus providing an opportunity for teams to keep playing, and today we're hard at work bringing back international competitions in LAN, such as the recent Six Invitational and Six Mexico Major, with strict sanitary measures to ensure the safety of all participants. These events are making us stronger and more agile and will forever impact the way we organize events. In parallel, we are maintaining our efforts to help create a mature and virtuous environment for all professional teams involved in R6 Esports with our revenue sharing program, R6 SHARE, which will continue to evolve alongside our esports scene.
Along with our partners, we had to show an unprecedented level of agility, and we're proud of the incredible work and efforts from all the esports teams at Ubisoft. We are continuing to monitor the situation and adapting our events and formats accordingly, with hopes of welcoming fans back to live venues safely, when the situation will allow it.
Gamereactor: How is the planning of the Six Invitational 2022 going? Are you still on track for hosting the tournament in Montreal in February?
Dénièle: Right now, we are focused on the Six Sweden Major, which is the last international event where teams can earn Global Standings points that determine their ranking in the race towards a qualification for the Six Invitational 2022. More information on the Six Invitational will be shared soon.
Gamereactor: Rainbow Six Siege is Ubisoft's premier esports scene, but have you thought about, or rather are you looking into expanding Ubisoft's esports portfolio, perhaps with Riders Republic, or even Tom Clancy's XDefiant or Ghost Recon Frontline when they launch down the line?
We have several esports titles at Ubisoft, including Brawlhalla, Trackmania and Rainbow Six Siege, the latter being our flagship esports title, each with their unique qualities and communities. While we certainly monitor the evolution of the new titles in Ubisoft's portfolio, at the moment, we are focused on developing and supporting our current esports scenes. We're convinced that all kinds of games containing competitive gameplay elements have the potential to blossom into esports, if the communities support them.
Thanks to François-Xavier Dénièle and Ubisoft for chatting with us. You can catch the action of the Six Sweden Major here, with the Group Stages that are currently taking place.