The past weekend was once again jam-packed with events across the esports world. In the League of Legends European Championship, Misfits Gaming and Schalke 04 could both lay claim to being big winners as they each beat European titans G2 Esports. Cloud9 continued to dominate the competition in the League of Legends Championship Series. Elsewhere in North America, the Philadelphia Fusion hosted Overwatch League's second weekend of the season. The long holiday weekend ended Monday with big news out of South Korea, as it was announced that Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok would become part-owner of T1. The biggest winner this weekend, however, came out of Montreal.
Winner: Rainbow 6 Siege
After two weeks of competition, Rainbow Six Siege's world championship, the Six Invitational, came to a close on Sunday evening as North America's Spacestation Gaming won the grand prize of $1,000,000. In front of a packed crowd at Place Bell in Montreal, the home of the game's developer Ubisoft, SSG, fueled by the hometown crowd, completed a comeback from a 1-2 deficit in the best-of-five final to break North America's Siege title drought and lift The Hammer, Siege's aptly named championship trophy.
Throughout the weekend, Ubisoft and Siege talent put on a crisp production, the sleek and stylish main stage an upgrade from years prior at the same venue. While there were a few technical issues, the legion of fans who filled the arena and the energy from the on-air personalities made up for the small hiccups in the action. Viewership was positive outside of the venue as well, with peak viewership registering at just over 274,000 to watch the finale between the best from Brazil and North America.
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Beyond the world championship itself, Ubisoft announced the future plans for Rainbow 6 Siege as an esport, taking the necessary next steps to bring the game into contention with the leaders in the space like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends. While announcing various major tournaments for the next campaign year, including a return to Montreal for the 2021 Six Invitational, Ubisoft also announced the prioritization of four regional leagues across the world, including a 10-team LAN-based North American competition.
"After SI, and as we wrap up NA Pro League Season XI with the Brazilian finals in Sao Paulo, we will be focused on pushing NA teams to excel by transitioning to an offline LAN system for all of our future U.S. division matches in North America," Che Chou, the senior director of esports at Ubisoft, told ESPN. "I truly believe this will have a huge positive impact on teams becoming accustomed to playing with all of the pressures and dynamics of playing offline at LAN events like R6 Majors and the SI."
The Siege scene is set up for success in 2020 and for years to come with the LAN system and the increase of prize pools. A tactical shooter, framed around the beauty of what makes Counter-Strike great along with specific classes and preparation phases, which gives the game a chess-like feel, Siege has had a steady growth since its release in December 2015.
On Sunday, Siege put on one of the best esports world championship grand finals in recent memory and laid out a future roadmap that points to only more resources allocated to the scene as a whole. With the beginning of offline domestic competition following its fourth world championship, it feels like the right time for the game to take its next step.
Unlike other game companies that have pulled the trigger too fast or went all-in too early trying to make the most revenue possible, the timing for Siege to grow its domestic leagues and possibly invest in new regions feels right. Ubisoft has created a loyal, diehard fan base across multiple regions and has established Siege as one of the more international-friendly esports in the world today. Fans from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro annually converge on Montreal to enjoy what has become the pinnacle of the game they love in the backyard of the company that created it.
Congratulations, Rainbow Six Siege, you won the weekend in esports. And just like Spacestation Gaming, the sky's the limit.
-- Tyler Erzberger
Read more: After conquering Europe, G2 Esports is coming to America.
Honorable Mention: Misfits Gaming (League of Legends)
Last offseason, the Misfits Gaming League of Legends lineup was a star-studded list of veterans who were, on paper, predicted to contend for the top of the League of Legends European Championship. That roster ended the spring split in eighth place and dropped down to ninth in summer.
More: This week's League of Legends power rankings
This offseason, anyone in the Western community who wasn't paying much attention to the European regional leagues (myself definitely included) had little idea of who was on the Misfits roster outside of mid laner Fabian "Febiven" Diepstraten and maybe bot laner Joo "Bvoy" Yeong-hoon. Febiven was on the previous Misfits roster that had struggled in 2019, and previously he had been a part of a Clutch Gaming lineup that had achieved mediocre placement in North America's League of Legends Championship Series. Bvoy had played a bit in China's League of Legends Development League before not looking great on JD Gaming and then spent a split with Furious Gaming in Latin America. This was, by all accounts, a budget roster that would achieve very little.
Fast forward a month and a half later and Misfits are tied for first place in the LEC with G2 Esports and Origen. They're fresh off of a fairly convincing win over G2, in which rookie jungler Iván "Razork" Martín Díaz popped off on his jungle Ekko and took advantage of multiple holes in G2's early game. In the previous week, they beat Origen, and currently hold a winning record over both of the teams that they're tied with atop the LEC. Europe is one of the best regions at developing its domestic talent, and the Misfits roster is an interesting mix of up-and-coming talent and established veterans. Here's to Misfits for defying expectations yet again.
-- Emily Rand