Team SoloMid got off to a great start in 2021, securing their second victory in NAL. With a first-place finish in the US Division Finals, they not only ended the season on a career-high, but also positioned themselves well going into the Six Invitational.
Oxygen Esports and Spacestation Gaming were once again down at the bottom, although they both got close to their respective opponents. SSG won decisively on Clubhouse against DarkZero, but after a 2-7 on Coastline, they headed for a third map. Oregon was a much closer affair, but DarkZero managed to clinch a 7-4 victory due to their impressive defense. Tyler “Ecl9pse” McMullin, who we rarely get to see at the top of the scoreboard, secured 28 kills and a 1.29 rating for this Best-of-Three. Troy “Canadian” Jaroslawski continues his weak individual level, only helping his team out with 14 kills.
Oxygen Esports are still cursed with making fourth place. Even though there wasn’t a Lower Bracket for them to really make last place here, they flunked out against TSM once again. Just like during the November Major, this loss took place on two maps, albeit without overtime this time around. Gabriel “LaXInG” Mirelez continues his form as one of NA’s best. Even while losing, he got the most kills and highest rating on the server.
Look at that ? TROPHY ? pic.twitter.com/ZTcSyDiwxQ
— Rainbow Six Esports NA (@R6esportsNA) January 22, 2021
DARKZERO AND TSM ENTER THE GRAND FINALS
Last year, TSM only narrowly took over the lead against their North American colleagues. On the way to the Grand Finals of the November Major, they played out three overtime maps and in the Grand Finals, they won two 7-5 maps. A few rounds not going in their favor would have completely swung the entire bracket around. At the end, however, they secured the 3-1 victory over SSG.
In DarkZero, they faced an opponent whom they already had beaten prior to this event. In the last Major, they defeated them with 7-5 Consulate and 8-6 Villa victories. This 2-0 match was closely contested, which meant that there wasn’t a clear favorite for the US Division Finals either. This time around, TSM clinched the victory again. But it was by no means a dominant showing.
On Theme Park and Consulate, the two teams traded 7-3 wins. This created an equal playing field going into the third map, which TSM only narrowly won on a 7-5 scoreline. On Clubhouse, DarkZero emerged stronger after a great 4-2 offensive half. But TSM narrowly wore their lead down. DZ struggled to finally get those two round wins for map point, after which a triple kill courtesy of Brady “Chala” Davenport led them into overtime. There, DarkZero collapsed entirely and handed away the two rounds required for an 8-6 map and match victory on TSM’s part.
— Rainbow Six Esports NA (@R6esportsNA) January 23, 2021
Usually, we see Jason “Beaulo” Doty and the likes at the top of the scoreboard. While he has actually pulled off a great tournament run, the MVP medal decidedly goes to Chala. With 71 kills, 7 entries, 1.03 kills per round and a 20 bomb in the Grand Finals, he was the top performer for the TSM side.
WHAT ARE NA’S CHANCES HEADING INTO THE SIX INVITATIONAL?
With this victory, TSM have proven yet again to possess this extra spark that helps them stay ahead in their region. But it stands to question whether that will actually help them in their fight against the European teams. G2 Esports and BDS Esport have shown incredible form in the EUL Finals. The North American teams might struggle to keep up. After all, they have only played the same handful of opponents for an entire year, unlike European squads. The Majors, the Winners’ Groups of NAL and the NAL Finals themselves were all fought out between just SSG, TSM, DarkZero and Oxygen. In comparison to that, BDS have had nine top tier opponents to compete with and also took part in their national league.
It’s possible that the constant infighting between these four NA teams has primed them for a very specific playstyle – one which might just not fly on international grounds. At the Six Invitational 2021, we will find out whether this actually is the case. Will the North American teams present themselves as strong as they did at the last SI? Or will G2 and their colleagues absolutely stomp them into the ground?