Sources: Altiora has ‘accepted’ NAL license offer from Ubisoft, ‘in the process of forming’ new roster

They're between a rock and a hard place.

Image via Ubisoft

On Dec. 20, Altiora was on top of the world. The Canadian Division team had just bested beastcoast 3-2 to qualify for the lucrative Six Invitational, Rainbow Six Siege‘s biggest tournament every year. They celebrated, they cheered, they yelled, and Keagen “P3NGU1N” Smith’s parents ran into his room live on Twitch.

The moment skyrocketed the underdog roster into cult popularity among competitive Rainbow Six fans. But the Invitational will be Zachary “SpiriTz” Dionne, Brandon “Euphoria” Sathongnhot, Xavier “Eskaa” Avoine, Logan “Sonar” Parker and P3NGU1N’s last competition under the Altiora banner, according to multiple sources and documents reviewed by Dot Esports.

The devil is in the details and the fate of Altiora’s roster is bound to a strict timeline. The initial meetings about a merger between the U.S. Division and the Canadian Division began on Jan. 5, according to documents reviewed by Dot Esports and statements from Altiora owner Joe Guaneri. Ubisoft initiated the meetings and followed up with the individual teams from Jan. 11 to 15.

“Altiora has accepted the NAL license offered by Ubisoft on Jan 5. and is in the process of forming a new team,” Guaneri told Dot Esports. “Due to the transfer window beginning on Feb. 22., the new team is not yet finalized. Unless Altiora encounters any other stipulations from Ubisoft, this should be set in stone.”

The Six Invitational begins on Feb. 9 in Paris and the group stage will end on Feb. 14. The playoff stage will run from Feb. 17 to 21. The day after, on Feb. 22, the official transfer window will open up. Sixteen of the 20 invited teams will make the playoff stage.

North American Rainbow Six is set to begin the LAN league announced in February 2020 on March 22, 2021, according to documents reviewed by Dot Esports. There will be a quarantine period beginning on March 8, at which time all organizations with NA licenses are required to have their players in Las Vegas in a state of quarantine.

The Altiora roster simply won’t have enough time to gather visas or quarantine for the required amount of time after an international trip to Paris before making it to the NA LAN bubble beginning on March 8.

It takes at least 15 days to acquire a P1 visa and current health guidelines require a two-week quarantine before crossing from Canada to the U.S. The Altiora roster will return from Paris on Feb. 22, according to Guaneri, leaving not enough time for a single misstep in the visa process. This initially gave Ubisoft cold feet about issuing Altiora a license, according to Guaneri. If any P1 visa was denied, the entire roster and organization would have to forfeit their license for missing the March 8 deadline for making the LAN bubble.

If a Canadian Division organization can’t financially make the move, Ubisoft will buy back the license for $50,000, according to documents reviewed by Dot Esports. The team will be sent to the CA Challenger league.

Guaneri said the organization’s base in New York and the decision to drop its roster and pick up a new U.S.-based lineup factored into the licensing decision.

This timeline is quick and unforgiving. Guaneri claims he was left with a no-win situation: either take the gamble on his current roster and maybe not make it into the NAL or start from scratch, a move that could prove wildly unpopular with Rainbow Six fans—many of whom are already upset with the turbulent NA R6 scene.