The History of UK Rainbow Six Siege Esports

Navi UK Rainbow Six Siege players win RB6 Pro League 2019

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In this special series of in-depth articles, Esports News UK, in collaboration with the betting partner GGBET UK, delves into the stories, moments, and personalities that have left a lasting impression on the past, present, and future of the UK esports scene.
From title wins at every tier, a talent line-up that’s become the voice of the game, and the world’s greatest-ever coach, the UK has always been one of the leaders in Siege esports. Now, with its debut Six Major event currently ongoing in Manchester, and with more Brits involved in the scene than ever before, it’s a perfect time for Haydar Ali to explore the history of the UK within Rainbow Six Siege esports.

What Could’ve Been in Year 1

After Siege released in December 2015, the first ESL Pro League season of R6 esports began in March 2016 with a PC and Xbox tournament supported.

From Season 1, a fully British team was already playing with the best in the world, with Team Infused reaching the Xbox Global Finals in Boston. There, they finished joint-third while two other British teams competed in the regional portion of the season.

On the PC side of the esport it took longer to get established, with the first British success coming from Matthew “meepeY” Sharples a few months later on the Aera eSport line-up.

After winning Rainbow Six Siege’s first-ever third-party LAN event at DreamHack Tours 2016, Aera qualified for the Pro League through the relegation system. From here they finished in third during Season 2, where a single point meant they didn’t attend the PC Finals at the ESL Studios in Leicester (won by the French line-up of Yunktis).

The following season, they did one better, as second place in Europe sent them to the Pro League Finals in Katowice, Poland, making meepeY the first Brit to do so on PC. 

The line-up now known as Playing Ducks treated audiences to one of the most thrilling finals in Siege history, fighting tooth and nail for rounds starting in the semi-final. Here meepeY earned a quadruple kill in a 2v5 situation on the tie-breaker round to reach the grand final, before eventually losing the title in a tiebreaker round 1v1. It’s the only time in Siege’s eight-and-a-half-year history a final has come so close. 

This heartbreak combined with French domination in the Xbox scene meant the inaugural Siege World Championship included no British players. Furthermore, Ubisoft’s support for Xbox tournaments ended with Year 1 while meepeY’s Playing Ducks were forced to requalify for the Pro League after several of his teammates spun off to create their own team. 

Luckily, British success remained strong in Year 2 thanks to a new star, Thomas “Shas[O]Udas” Lee.

The Shas Dynasty

Shas joined the Penta Sports roster – later known as G2 Esports – as their coach in March 2017 to kickstart what is undeniably the greatest dynasty in Siege history.

As the first real coaching figure in the esport, he is seen as a key reason why his team went on to win back-to-back Six Invitationals, the 2018 Six Major, three Pro League Finals, and a Six Minor over two years.

This run included losing just three matches in all competitions from March 2017 to July 2018 and winning both the Season 5 and Season 8 Finals of the Pro League without dropping a single map. 

While the Penta and G2 Esports line-ups didn’t include a British player until much later, Shas was also at times supported by several British analysts including Jack “Fresh” Allen and Daniel “Ferral” Rotheram.

Throughout these two years, Shas’ only real weak event came at DreamHack Valencia 2018 where the world saw the return of meepeY.

i don’t know Had All the Answers

After having to requalify for the Pro League in Season 4 after the French members of meepeY’s Playing Duck team split off to make a fully francophone line-up, this situation happened yet again a year later.

After finishing one place shy of a Pro League Finals spot in Season 6, the Swedish players on his new Playing Ducks squad formed an all-Swedish team under the Chaos Esports Club banner, leaving meepeY yet again team-less and out of the Pro League as a new year began.

Eager to not repeat this mistake for a third time, meepeY created what would be Siege’s first British-majority PC team to compete at the very top of the game under the joke name, “i don’t know”.

“Joined by two additional British players, Ryan “Lacky” Stapley and Leon “LeonGids” Giddens, as well as Ferral before his time on G2 as an analyst, this team won Season 7 of the Challenger League without dropping a map to make their professional debut on June 28th, 2018 against none other than Chaos Esports Club, meepeY’s old teammates.”

A 6-4 win in this match kickstarted a whirlwind few months for the team. A week afterwards idk qualified for the debut Six Major event set to take place in Paris, before the following weekend they self-funded their way to Valencia for the second Six Minor of the calendar year, DreamHack Valencia 2018. 

After defeating a French line-up that included meepeY’s ex-teammates from Year 1 to escape the group stage, idk came back against Rogue off-stream before knocking Penta Sports out in the semi-final and clinching the title in a clean 2-0 scoreline.

As well as being the first title ever for a British majority team they did it by beating Penta at their peak in a match that in 2021 LeonGids would claim was “the most memorable game of his career”.

A month later idk was signed by Team Secret and reached the semi-finals of the Paris Major being eliminated by Shas’ G2 Esports, who went on to win the event. 

A year later, history repeated itself, as Team Secret (which now saw Ferral compete as a player rather than analyst) once again won a Six Minor event – the Allied Esports Vegas Minor – before losing to the eventual Six Major Raleigh champions in the semi-final. 

Two titles and two semi-final finishes meant it seemed inevitable that Team Secret would be the ones to win the UK their first Pro League title, however, as great as i don’t know’s underdog run seemed, another one was about to explode out of the lower tiers of Siege esports.

The UK Rainbow Six Siege National Scene

rb6 siege esl prem new season 1

While all this action saw Brits take on the elite of the Rainbow Six world, a thriving national scene with regular LAN Finals developed the next generation of UK talent. 

Initially known as the ESL Premiership Series and later the UK & Ireland Nationals, this national tournament eventually acted as a feeder tournament into the Challenger League and included effectively every British professional player prior to 2020. 

The first PC season was won by Team Secret, with the Siege finals in the ESL Studio in Leicester, the same venue as Season 2 of the Pro League. Subsequent seasons travelled twice to the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester, where the upcoming Six Major final is due to take place, and back to Leicester at De Montfort University.

These latter three seasons were won by the same team initially known as MNM Gaming, with them beating Team Secret in the final twice running, as a new challenger rose from the UK community.

In later years as Ubisoft’s partnership with ESL ended, the ESL Premiership was replaced with the UKIN event, which became a purely online event with no LAN Finals. The most recent season ended in 2023, with Team 86 lifting the title with no dedicated national tournaments being run since. However, other off-season tournaments featuring UK talent have included the R6 North Rainbow Rumble (won by Irish org Wylde), R6 South Breach (won by French side Team Valor) and R6 Central Combine (won by now-shuttered UK org MNM).

Navi’s Ultimate Underdog Run

Two seasons after idk won the Challenger League, this MNM Gaming roster did the same during Season 9. This team which included Ben “CTZN” McMillan, Jack “Doki” Robertson, and Luke “Kendrew” Kendrew as players and Ellis “GiG” Hindle as staff, was then signed less than a month later by Natus Vincere (aka Navi) ahead of Pro League Season 10. 

In a dream run, NAvi won 10 of their 14 matches to become the top-seeded European team at the Season 10 Finals in Tokoname, Japan. Disaster struck just before the event as their star entry fragger, Doki, was banned for six months by Ubisoft for “severe toxicity” in-game just before the event, forcing Ellis “Pie” Pyart, a player with no prior Pro League history, to play instead.

“Despite their opening match in Japan coming down to a final decider round on map three, Navi went on to beat DarkZero 2-0 in the final to win the UK’s first Pro League title, six months to the day after they won the Challenger League title.”

You can see the team lifting the trophy at the top of this article, and watch the best of Navi at the Pro League Season 10 finals here.

After this great high for the scene, the COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions changed a lot in Siege esports. National events effectively ended around the world, several global events were canceled, and Brazil’s dominance of Rainbow Six began. 

After four years of almost complete shutouts by various European teams, three different Brazilian teams won all three events in 2021 followed by two American teams winning the first two of 2022. Throughout this time, however, the voices behind the action consistently retained British accents. 

The Voices of Siege

While host Matt Andrews and caster Christopher “Panky” Pankhurst became fan-favourite names during the first few years of R6, last year’s world championship event, the 2023 Six Invitational, saw seven different Brits work as a host, analyst, or commentator.

Perhaps best known out of these seven is the casting duo of Tim “AceOfPyrite” Leaver and Derry “Dezachu” Holt with them having commentated over the biggest game of the 2021 R6 calendar, the Six Invitational grand final.

Additionally, Iain Chambers has been the main host of the last eight global events running, while ex-G2 Esports analyst, Fresh, and Emi “CaptainFluke” Donaldson have rarely missed an event over the last three years.

aceofpyrite fluke dezachu casters
Well-known British Siege broadcast talent (left to right): AceOfPyrite, Fluke and Dezachu

meepeY’s Redemption

As the amount of UK talent increased, so did the number of UK players across several rosters. As Natus Vincere made roster changes they acted as a route for many up-and-coming British players to take the step up into Pro League. At the same time, the MNM Gaming organisation had another UK-majority line-up win promotion to the Pro League, increasing the number of Brits in the tournament further. 

By Stage 2 of the 2022 Season, the United Kingdom was the best-represented nation in the European League with 13 players and five staff members across six teams meaning the majority of the 10-team league had British members. 

Furthermore, the teams were playing well with three of four European representatives at that stage’s Berlin Major event including British players. G2 Esports had Shas coaching alongside the ex-Navi players CTZN, and Doki, MNM Gaming had three newly promoted players, Josh “Yuzus” Pritchard, Luke “Tyrant” Casey, and Callum “Neonical” Humphreys, and Rogue had LeonGids, meepeY as a coach, and Tristan “Saethus” Savage as an analyst. 

After semi-final exits under the Team Secret banner at both the Paris 2018 and Raleigh 2019 Majors, LeonGids and meepeY also finished in the semi-finals nine months prior at the 2021 Sweden Major. Now at their fourth Six Major, they defeated Shas, CTZN, and Doki’s G2 Esports in the quarter-final and the Brazilian-majority North American League roster of XSET in the semis to finally reach another grand final.

The longest grand final in Rainbow Six history saw history repeat itself as for the first time since meepeY’s Season 3 grand final loss, the game came down to a final decider round on the final map.

In a 7-8, 7-4, 7-8, 7-5, 8-7 scoreline match cast by Dezachu and AceOfPyrite, meepeY and LeonGids finally got their title making them the first British Siege Major winners at the 2022 Six Berlin Major. See the winning moment here.

G2 Back for One More Title

With two Minor titles won by Team Secret, a Pro League title taken by Natus Vincere, and now a Six Major won by Rogue, there remained just one title left to be won by British players, the Six Invitational, and a newly remade G2 Esports had it in their sights. 

While Shas had retired from professional coaching and CTZN left G2 to move to the North American scene, the new G2 had recruited globally bringing in the best from APAC and LATAM to the European League. Virtue came over from Australia, Alem4o from Brazil, and Benjamaster from Denmark to join the British duo of Doki and Byron “Blurr” Murray. Behind the team, two-time Swedish world champion Fabian stepped in to replace his old coach Shas, and another Brit, William “Titan” Davie, worked as an analyst.

Rainbow Six Siege

This global team saw its last pieces come together less than two months before the 2023 Six Invitational leaving many to speculate their lack of time together will hurt their performance. Despite this during the group stage they dropped just a single game in a map 3 decider round loss to Brazil’s w7m before losing in two more 7-8 maps against Wolves in the first round of the playoffs to put them in the lower bracket.

From here they faced a true gauntlet, with seven wins in a row needed to complete a lower bracket run and they did just that. 

In the following five days, G2 knocked out four North American representatives to keep the team’s six-year-long undefeated record against NA going and came from behind to eliminate both FaZe Clan and Wolves Esports to reach a rematch against w7m esports in the grand final. While in the year since w7m have won back-to-back-to-back titles in one of the most impressive displays to date, in Montreal it was G2 that stood a head above the rest closing out the match in four maps. G2 Esports had won the Six Invitational 2023.

Doki said following his SI win: “I’ve dreamed of this moment for so long. Everyone here has played this game for seven years, dedicated their full lives to this just for the chance to be on this stage to compete against the best teams in the world and today I guess, we are the best team in the world.”

Watch more from G2’s Six Invitational win and voice comms here.

Elsewhere, later in 2023, the MNM Gaming Siege team won the R6 Central Combine and Japan Invitational 2023. However, the roster left the organisation over a lack of payments last November, and the British Chinese esports organisation MNM Gaming entered administration earlier this year.

The Siege Manchester Major 2024

G2 Esports and British Siege were back at the very top, a position that will be cherished by the whole of the European scene as in the three global events since – SI24 and the Copenhagen and Atlanta Majors – we have seen nothing but all-Brazilian grand-finals.

As Rainbow Six finally returns to the UK for the first time since 2016, the hosts will be hoping to change that. British players are represented in five teams including British-majority Into The Breach and in two North American representatives, M80 and DarkZero Esports. 

Read more: Siege Manchester Major talent and teams confirmed, Into the Breach reveal limited edition jersey after qualifying

The event began with the play-in stage on May 16th and will conclude with a three-day live finale this coming weekend, May 24-26th, at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre, a place many across the British Siege community will know well.

While the UK has had stars in all games, in Rainbow Six Siege the history of the UK scene is truly the history of the whole esport as Brits have been at the top at every step of the way.

As we play through Year 9 and beyond, it is only a matter of time before yet another British team reaches the elite of Siege once again.

Stay tuned for more articles powered by GGBET UK soon. See more UK esports history content here:

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