The postponement of the Six Invitational has been devastating to the Rainbow Six Siege community.
In spirit and in function, SI is a full community event. Yes, it crowns a Rainbow Six world champion, but it’s more of a celebration of R6 as a game than a traditional esports tournament. New content gets shown off, roadmaps for the next year are announced, and massive changes to the esports structure are relayed to the millions of rabid R6 fans.
The reactions to the postponement of the Invitational ranged from relief that no one would get COVID-19 to frustration that the event could come as late as October. In its wake, the Six “Memevitational,” a community-generated event spearheaded by professional caster Derry “Dezachu” Holt and former analyst for Chaos and G2’s R6 squads Jack “Fresh” Allen, was born in a Discord group in early February. And since the postponement of SI, it’s become a reality and has blossomed into a community event that even the most pessimistic R6 fans are looking forward to.
“We (Dezachu, Fresh, and Stefan “Omerta” Saltalamacchia) floated the idea internally around doing some kind of fun tournament to give Siege kind of another aspect,” Fresh told Dot Esports. “Not just using the traditional maps, traditional game modes, an idea that it was more about the fun and the memes. The day after the announcement, I don’t remember exactly when, I was like, ‘Dez, we’ve got a chance to kind of galvanize the community here.'”
The Memevitational event has taken off in terms of community involvement. A tournament structure has been revealed, players have been announced, and a make-shift production team has been working feverishly to get the event ready to go before Feb. 20, when it’s expected to start.
“This whole spirit of being community-first is saying it’s not just for the pro community, it’s for the casual community, as well as for anyone who sits in the middle,” Dezachu said. “It’s for the devs, who you know, love seeing a year’s worth of work really being celebrated and loved by people at SI. This is just a really good chance, I think to get that appreciation out across the whole community.”
The format of the event will be similar to traditional Rainbow Six, but it’ll have some key differences. It won’t be locked to the competitive map pool and won’t be locked to Bomb as a game mode. Teams could feasibly play on the new Stadium map or play Hostage—or any combination they desire.
“Yeah, the real beauty I think is that not probably an hour or two ago now I think it was Ubi put out their post saying on the 21st there’s gonna be a Logic Bomb special podcast episode, there’s a community match so creators getting together, and there’s the dev panel, all the things that people love seeing at SI every year is more, I guess, ‘air quotes’ towards the casual audience, right,” Dezachu said. “Those are things they’ll tune in for, creators and new reveal, so on and so forth, new features. One of them that’s missing to me, at least to make it a complete SI, is the esports competitive element.”
The teams won’t exactly be on the levels of BDS, TSM, Cloud9, or Spacestation Gaming, and the games will be far from traditional competitive Siege, but it’ll still be a fun time. There won’t be anywhere else to see G2 superstar entry Ben “CTZN” McMillan match up against a BikiniBodhi Clash.
Running an international event across dozens of time zones is difficult. But Dezachu and Fresh said the process has been relatively simple thanks to the work that’s being put in behind the scenes.
Rob Walker, the founder of Cyberathlete Championship Series (CCS) Esports who’s helping to organize the production, is familiar with normal production difficulties. He acknowledged, though, that there are unique challenges to putting on the Memevitational.
“It depends on the participants,” Walker said. “Having this meme Invitational with specific criteria for what the makeup of the teams are, it actually cuts out a lot of production staff, there’s a lot of big-name casters we would have loved to use, there are a lot of content creators we would have loved to do some spin-offs with.”
The CCS is the most prestigious R6 amateur competitive league. Before Jason “Beaulo” Doty became an international Rainbow Six star, for example, you could watch him compete for future NAL team Disrupt Gaming in the CCS. A successful CCS run can springboard careers and the league itself is held in high regard in the R6 competitive community.
“We reached out to Dez and Fresh asking if there’d be any way that CCS could help,” Walker said. “I feel like when it comes to community-based events or the community in general, whether it’s giving new casters platforms, giving new production staff, even like young players that eventually end up being pros, we like serving the community. So we asked, ‘Hey, there’s going to be some games that probably aren’t going to be on stream, we could provide a second stream for you, you can use our Teamspeak services for that we already have set up so you don’t have to send any more money away.'”
The level of effort the Rainbow Six community has put in has made Dezachu and Fresh feel “lucky” they don’t have more to do.
“It’s like a train that’s going 200 miles an hour,” Dezachu said. “And like, if you even wanted to get off, you couldn’t because opening that door means certain death, right? It’s kind of moving at such a pace where I can go to bed the night before, wake up in the morning, and all the team logos are done. I can go to work for the day, finish at five o’clock, check what’s going on, and all the player rosters are suddenly finalized.”
Having something to fill the gap caused by the postponement of the Invitational will be crucial for a metric ton of disappointed Rainbow Six fans. Many took time off work, planning to wake up or stay up until the witching hour or dawn to watch the event. Now, they’re putting some of that energy toward the Memevitational.
“I’ve been refraining every single day from literally just like posting tweets and sending soppy messages to everybody on the team,” Fresh said. “The amount of people that are lending the time expertise, there’s people behind the scenes that are spending a little bit of their own money just to make it that extra special. The amount of people that are doing that to create something for the community is kind of a testament to the community and the people within it.”
“I mean, assuming the team doesn’t grow too ridiculous, I’ll probably be the one slamming the door open and going ‘Beers on me, everyone,'” Dezachu said.
The mountains that have been moved for this event to happen have been nothing but miraculous, according to Walker. “On paper, this probably shouldn’t work in this short of time, but it just came together perfectly,” he said.
If the postponement of the Invitational was a dark time for the R6 community, then the construction of the Memevitational has been one of its shining moments. In a matter of days, an online international tournament that should, theoretically, function has been constructed on little-to-no infrastructure and organized with no pre-existing model to work off of. There won’t be a Rainbow Six world champion in February, but there will be a tournament and that’s arguably a bigger achievement.
The Memevitational will be held on Feb. 20 and 21. It will segway into a Community and Siege Celebration livestream from Ubisoft, just like the Invitational would have.