Rainbow 6 Siege interview with Ubisoft’s Will Attwood: ‘With the National Leagues now connected to the European and global scenes, the stakes are now so much higher for everyone’

Will Attwood UK Ireland

Ubisoft UK’s Will Attwood speaks to Esports News UK’s Craig Robinson ahead of the upcoming UK Ireland Nationals, a new Rainbow 6 Siege tournament which this week announced its prize pool, format and production partner.

We discuss what differences this new league has to the outgoing ESL Premiership, Ubisoft’s UK esports plans and what we can expect to see from it.

This is the first iteration of Ubisoft’s new National League system in Europe. What should the UK and Europe, in general, expect to see that is different from the previous ESL national tournaments?

With the National Leagues now connected to the European and global scenes, the stakes are now so much higher for everyone.

We’re aiming to bring some consistency to the tournament to start getting teams back season after season, and see more teams starting at the grassroots level, progressing into our second division, to the UK Ireland Nationals and beyond.

The new £25,000 prize pool is one of the best the UK scene has had. What’s the thinking behind this?

With the increase to £25,000 we’re looking to make the step up from the grassroots level to being a pro or semi-pro player that little bit more manageable.

The intention is to grow this further as we’re able to and make additional revenue streams available for players and organisations as part of the overall scene’s development.

Previous seasons of the ESL Premiership for the UK and Ireland had a studio for the regular season broadcasts. Will the UK Ireland Nationals have the same production value?

The safety of everyone involved with the league is our prime concern. With that in mind, we’ve got a lot of exciting ideas for things we’d like to achieve this season and increasing the production value is a key part of that.

We want to make sure that those who are looking for extra information, whether that’s statistics or player stories, have a way to find out more about the league and the players who play the matches each week. Once the situation permits, we’ll resume studio broadcasts.

What can we expect from UK Ireland finals when COVID-19 no longer affects live events? Are there any back-up plans for the final in case COVID is still an issue by the time the finals come around?

We absolutely want to go bigger and better with the live events once we can guarantee the safety of everyone involved especially after the great success we saw in 2019.

We are monitoring the evolution of COVID-19 closely and will adapt our response as the situation evolves. We’ll be sharing more information on the 2020 finals later on.

The UK Ireland Finals are playing out over two days instead of one. What is the reasoning for this change and what possible improvements will this have on UK Ireland Siege?

Players and fans have been calling out for a two-day final for a while and we’re excited to offer that this season. We’ll be having more games over a longer period so we can bring additional entertainment pieces to the weekend, as well as shortening down what could be a very draining Saturday running for over 10 hours.

Longer term we’ll hopefully be able to bring additional teams to the finals and bring the playoffs to a live audience, so more teams get a chance to play on stage and really share in the excitement of a live Rainbow Six Siege event.

“With the increase to £25,000 we’re looking to make the step up from the grassroots level to being a pro or semi-pro player that little bit more manageable.”

The ESL Premiership had at least two splits a year. Will the UK Ireland League still operate similarly to that? If so, are both splits part of the Challenger League qualification, or is the Summer Split more important because of the qualification to the Autumn/Fall Challenger League?

We’re going to be delivering two splits per year going forward, one in spring and one in late summer.

There will only be a single qualification period up to the European Challenger League after the Summer split each year.

You are bringing Promod on board as a partner. What does their experience offer the UK scene? Will Promod be running both the tournament and the broadcasting of the finals?

We’re bringing Promod on board so we can build on the successes we saw last year and with the Spring Split we saw this year.

They’ve got a wealth of experience with Rainbow Six Siege and understand how to translate that into a successful viewer experience, whether that’s online or offline.

Ubisoft has entered into deals with FACEIT to run various stages of the Rainbow Six esports ecosystem. Are they involved in any way with this?

FACEIT won’t have any direct involvement with the UK and Ireland Nationals. We’re excited to have Promod involved from an early stage and they’ve brought some great ideas to the table.

We’re aiming to make the UK Ireland Nationals a community-focused broadcast and have been working with Promod to make fans a big part of the broadcast.

In the qualifiers for last season’s Challenger League, we saw MnM and Fierce make strong runs throughout the qualifiers, with Fierce falling short at the end. Arguably, the UK can produce several teams worthy of Challenger League. However, the new system only lets one UK team in. What would you say to people that believe this system could in effect bottleneck potential Challenger League teams? 

We’re convinced that having a competitive national scene is one of the most effective way to best prepare our UK teams for the journey ahead and we’re excited that the UK Ireland Nationals is now fuelling the European Challenger League and offers a chance for a successful UK team to potentially make it all the way to the European League.

Teams also have the chance to win the Open Qualifier for the next European Challenger League. With our open system, there are many ways to make it to the upper level, even for the Six Invitational through the Regional Open Qualifier.

The UK Ireland League has previously had big organisations represent in the UK scene (Na’Vi, Team Secret and CR4ZY). However, we do not have these names anymore. The UK Ireland league is one of the few leagues in Europe that does not have a European League team in it. What are your views on this? What is the strategy for creating big new teams as the UK league has done previously?

With the UK Ireland Nationals, we aim to build a highly competitive scene that will nurture talents and prepare them for the regional and international scenes.

The UK Ireland Nationals is growing in terms of investment and prize pool which will help teams and organizations that are investing into our esports.

The line-up of teams for the UK Ireland Nationals will be communicated soon.

Follow Will Attwood and Rainbow 6 Siege UK on Twitter here

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