In a decisive and impactful move from Ubisoft, the 2021 Rainbow Six Siege Invitational event has been indefinitely postponed, with Ubisoft citing safety and integrity concerns as the driving factors behind the decision. The Six Invitational is undoubtedly the biggest and most lucrative event in the Rainbow Six Siege competitive calendar, and the absence of this year’s iteration leaves a gaping hole in the schedule.
Following a relocation from Montreal, owing to similar circumstances, Paris was set to be the new stage for the Invitational. However, France continues to be heavily impacted by the ongoing pandemic, and events like these are often the first to face the wrath of preventative restrictions.
Ultimately, Ubisoft highlighted that their decision wasn’t an easy one, but they were simply bound to comply with strict measures imposed by the French government. Reportedly, Ubisoft fought to obtain an exemption to the travel-ban ruling, but the regulatory authorities were steadfast in the enforcement of their anti-pandemic measures.
The various teams featured on the roster were quick to take to social media to voice their disappointment and frustration at the news.
— Team Empire (@team_empire) February 4, 2021
Ubisoft’s apologetic and explanatory statement confirmed that they were opposed to hosting the event on a digital scale, stating that the vast global playing field would make for an unfair platform overall. In their official release, Ubisoft stated:
“We have all been looking forward to a clash of the regions and the conclusion of the race towards the Six Invitational that all pro teams have engaged in since the launch of Season 2020 in each region.
Due to server locations, and to ensure the utmost competitive integrity, such a competition can only happen if we gather all participating teams in the same physical location.”
A season cut short
While the run-up to the Six Invitational consisted of local qualifiers, the broad geographical spectrum of a worldwide digital event prevents obvious issues. This will likely open a door for Siege fans to follow an alternative event instead, such as the increasingly popular Call of Duty League, which starts on the 11th of February and runs until mid-August.
Although the Call of Duty League has been presented with similar issues, Activision was able to perfect the remote competition format last year as it adapted to the pandemic. However, there was a slight imbalance present between EU and NA competitors during the Kick-Off Classic event in January.
At present, the Siege schedule now stands dramatically bare, with Ubisoft issuing a promise:
“We will have more details on the exact impact of this decision for rosters and Season 2021 soon.”
Unfortunately, this certainly isn’t the first event impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s unlikely to be the last. As travel restrictions tighten and more tournaments are taken online-only, the landscape will likely shift and evolve as the year unravels.