The Rainbow Six Pro League saw some of its biggest roster moves in 2019. From longtime professionals retiring to teams dropping staple players, 2019 saw some drastic shifts within each division of the Pro League.
The right roster move can make or break a squad, and with so many notable moves this year, 2020 is shaping up to be an interesting one for the Pro League. With all of the uncertainty swirling around the newest versions of each roster, let’s take a look at two teams to watch from each division heading into 2020.
The REC Pack are one of the more underrated teams that North America has to offer. After just narrowly missing out on the season nine Pro League Finals in Milan, Reciprocity came back in season 10 to grab a seed in the Tokoname, Japan Finals. While they failed to capitalize on a great start in their semifinals matchup with Natus Vincere, the potential is most certainly still there.
After the finals, Reciprocity announced that it would be parting ways with both Alexander “Skys” Magor and Mark “MarkTheShark” Arismendez. The initial blow of these roster moves was subsequently padded by the announcement that ex-DarkZero member Zachary “Nyx” Thomas and ex-Rogue mainstay Franklyn “VerctL” Cordero would be joining.
Reciprocity seems set to blow up even bigger in 2020. Boasting three solid staple members and two veteran additions to the roster, there seems to be a lot going for Reciprocity on paper. If the newest additions to the roster gel well enough, then the rest of the division will be in trouble.
After narrowly falling to Team Empire in the season nine Milan Finals, Evil Geniuses have hit a few snags in the Pro League. Looking back on EG’s trajectory, the squad has a hard time pulling out the win in any given tournament. It’s a case of always the bridesmaid and never the bride, but it looks like the org is tired of playing second best and has made some interesting roster and staff moves ahead of season 11.
EG fans will recognize new roster member Aaron “Gotcha” Chung as the former coach of the squad before leaving to join TSM, where he transitioned from coach to player. Gotcha has had an interesting run within the Pro League. Going from coach to player at seemingly random points in the season has earned Gotcha some negative attention on social media but orgs don’t seem to mind. He’s put up some solid numbers in the past while filling in for Emilio “Geoometrics” Leynez Cuevas on EG, so the ceiling here looks pretty high.
The organization has also picked up former Rogue coach Tristan “Ranger” Pehrson. Ranger had been with Rogue for about two years before departing from the organization. While his results as a coach have varied over the years, there’s no denying that Ranger knows the game.
BDS Esport may have just recently made it into the Pro League, but they’ve got some serious veteran talent on their squad.
Perhaps the most-known player on the squad is Stéphane “Shaiiko” Lebleu, who was banned from ESL play for illegal use of macros during a Pro League match. It’s unknown what the macros did but Shaiiko has undergone the necessary steps to recover and rejoin competitive play.
The fact that Shaiiko has returned to the Pro League is only half of the intrigue here. BDS have shown themselves to be the dominant squad within the European Challenger League and have also upstaged some of the best teams in the Pro League before even officially making it into the league.
BDS had an impressive showing at the DreamHack Montreal 2019 where they eliminated both G2 Esports and DarkZero Esports before losing to TSM. Despite taking a loss to G2 during the OGA PIT qualifiers, the team is still one of the more interesting squads to keep tabs on heading into 2020.
Being one of the world’s best competitive Rainbow Six teams is a heavy crown to carry and it seems to have weighed on G2 the past two seasons. The champion squad has seen a fair amount of changes in the past two seasons of the Pro League and while some fans have decried these changes, the organization has its sights set on getting back on top.
The close of season nine saw the org let go of long-time member Joonas “jNSzki” Savolainen to pickup Aleksi “UUNO” Työppönen. While results were mixed at first, UUNO and the rest of the squad adjusted accordingly to nearly make the Tokoname, Japan Finals. It was impressive to see but ultimately wasn’t what the org was looking for in the end and more changes were needed.
G2 most recently parted ways with Daniel “Goga” Mazorra Romero, who was also a roster mainstay. This change is perhaps the more interesting of the two roster moves. Goga is often hailed as being one of the best planters in the scene. Fans tend to underestimate the importance of being able to get a defuser down, and Goga should probably be teaching a master class on the subject. The road ahead looks to be an interesting one but fans may want to think twice before underestimating the newest version of G2.
There are two clear frontrunners in the Latin American division of the Pro League and FaZe Clan are one of them. The LATAM squad have proven that they have what it takes to make the finals and while they haven’t had much luck in the finals the past two seasons, they continue to look strong during the regular season.
The season 10 Tokoname, Japan Finals dealt FaZe a bad hand when they were forced to play without one of their core roster members due to visa issues. The squad should look just as dangerous in season 11 but the thing that makes FaZe one of the top teams to watch heading into 2020 is the fact that they can be a bit inconsistent. FaZe looked rough in the first half of season nine before bouncing back to make a finals run. Season 10 saw the team draw more and win less, despite making it into the finals.
There haven’t been any notable roster moves to speak of but that’s also a point of interest. Seeing as other teams like Team Reciprocity had stuck it through season nine and 10, it looks like FaZe believes it has a winning roster on its hands. After fighting with one hand behind their backs at the Tokoname, Japan Finals the team should be hungry to have a fair shot in season 11.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Perhaps even more criminal than FaZe’s visa woes, NiP suffered heavily with two players not being able to make the finals. NiP had an outstanding season 10 record of 10-3-1, so the issues the team faced getting players to Japan for the finals were all the more heartbreaking for NiP fans. The team has proven to be a dominant force and looked primed to take it all at the season 10 finals.
After losing out to Team Reciprocity in the first round of the season 10 finals, NiP should be hungry for a win in the upcoming season of the Pro League. There’s really not too much else to say on the matter other than it’ll be exciting for NiP fans to watch Murilo Muzi continue to frag out alongside Gustavo “Psycho” Rigal in season 11 of the Pro League.
Fnatic’s loss to Aerowolf in the season 10 APAC finals was a bit of a shock for Fnatic fans but for Aerowolf it was the beginning of a journey that would take the team to the Tokoname, Japan Finals. The Southeast Asian squad went on to best Wildcard Gaming during the APAC Finals and that momentum carried through to the Pro League Finals.
Aerowolf saw mild success in the Japan Finals when they won out over Europe’s Giants Gaming in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, DarkZero Esports was a bit too mighty for the APAC underdogs. Following the finals, Aerowolf parted ways with Patrick “MentalistC” Fan, a top-earner for his team during the finals. After garnering so much attention during the finals, Aerowolf is undoubtedly on everyone’s radar for 2020.
The APAC division of the Rainbow Six Pro League doesn’t get as much love as it should but most fans will recognize Fnatic. After a ridiculous matchup against fellow APAC finalists NORA-Rengo in the season nine Finals, Fnatic were eliminated by Team Empire. The loss stung for APAC fans, especially considering that APAC representation was going to be cut in half no matter which team moved on from the quarterfinals matchup.
Aerowolf took Fnatic out of the running during the APAC Finals, so the team was not in attendance the season 10 Pro League Finals. What makes Fnatic a bit more interesting to watch this season is that they picked up MentalistC, who had some showstopping plays during the Tokoname, Japan Finals. The former Aerowolf player’s addition to the Fnatic roster following Ethan “RizRaz” Wombwell’s retirement could usher in a new era for the APAC giant. Combine MetalistC’s presence with the squad propensity for winning and Fnatic are looking rowdy ahead of 2020.
The Rainbow Six Pro League returns for season 11 on January 6, 2020.