Rainbow Six's main South Korean tournament, South Korea League 2023, started its second stage of 2023 today. The league features eight local teams battling for two direct spots at the Six Major Atlanta. Here's what to expect from one of the game's developing regions.
The champions of the Summer Cup enter this return to the South Korea League with a lot of confidence, as it seems that the team is becoming increasingly cohesive. After the arrival of Park "Mephi" Ju-wan, a lot of expectations were placed on SANDBOX, considering they were bringing on board a player who had been a thorn in the side of all the top teams in South Korea while playing for Spear, despite the team's collective performances not being the best. However, the expectations haven't entirely been met regarding results, with the team's elimination in the early stages of the Six Major Copenhagen. But with the authority and title they secured in the offseason, there's hope that the team might achieve new positions in the Six Major this time.
The expectation is for a qualification for the Six Major Atlanta still through the South Korea League.
The organization enters its first top-tier tournament in the South Korean league, replacing the Spear Gaming organization. The team comes with a lineup without players known to the global community, but history has shown that this is not a problem in various instances. For example, the South Korean team DAMWON, now Dplus, entered Rainbow Six: Siege in 2021 and, in their first international tournament secured a playoff spot by eliminating both Ninjas in Pyjamas and G2.
However, the team didn't find much success in the Summer Cup. Despite securing a significant victory against Talon and Beyond Stratos, teams they are likely to face during the South Korea League, and with solid performances from "Kupe," the team was eliminated in the group stage, finishing in fifth place, just two points behind the last qualifier.
Based on what we know about the team, the expectation is that the team won't secure a spot for Six Major Atlanta, even with the possibility of the Last Chance Qualifier.
Despite not yet solidifying themselves on the international stage, Talon remains one of the prominent organizations in South Korea. In recent seasons, they have rarely missed the top four, consistently vying for opportunities and challenging the two leading teams in the region: SANDBOX and Dplus. Notably, they were back-to-back Korean Open-Autumn champions in 2021 and 2022.
Last season, the team was eliminated after a comeback during the semifinals against SANDBOX. The expectation was to secure qualification through the Last Chance Qualifier, but they lost to Beyond Stratos Gaming, once again missing out on an international tournament. However, this season, the team comes with changes in the starting lineup, as Lee "Kanos" Seong-beom and Yun "Marb1e" Seok-hyun departed and were replaced by Kim "JLT" Sang-woo and Jeong "Rider" Hyun-seok, a duo already familiar with each other from their time together on PANTHERA.
The Summer Cup has heightened expectations for the team this season. They secured first place in the group stage with a remarkable +28 round difference but were eliminated in a close match against SANDBOX. Nevertheless, the team is expected to contend for a direct spot in the South Korea League.
The last qualified team for the Six Major Copenhagen from the previous season arrives with a change in the lineup, as Kwak "Marine" Han-gyeol departs and Park "Shu" Se-ha joins the team, coming directly from PANTHERA. The team performed well in the Summer Cup during the initial phase, securing five victories and suffering only two defeats, earning a playoff spot in second place. However, the outcome was negative in the first match against BlossoM, losing by two maps to zero. It's worth noting that Park "Guard" Sung-woo could not play, and the team had to use a substitute "PeaceMaker" in his place.
The expectation is that the team will once again require the Last Chance Qualifier to contend for their spot in Six Major Atlanta.
Beyond Stratos Gaming
Since entering the competitive scene, the team has had few compelling results. However, their best performance almost secured a spot in Six Major Copenhagen when the team lost in the Last Chance Qualifer final to LAVEGA. The team has undergone changes in their roster, now consisting of six players: Lee "retaddress" Sang-min and Park "Kira-Miki" Do-hyeon departed, and Choi "CrazyBoy" Min-ho, Jung "Nero" Ju-young and Kang "Vamos" Sang-eun joined the team. During the Summer Cup, the absent player was "Nero," the team secured their playoff spot in the last possible position, taking fourth place. However, in an example of clear superiority, BSG was eliminated by Talon.
The team has a chance to qualify for Six Major Atlanta through the league or Last Chance Qualifier, but the expectation is that they won’t succeed.
With only two changes in the roster, the team underwent a complete transformation, going from a season well below expectations as a Tier 1 team to becoming the finalist of the off-season tournament. BlossoM had a genuinely challenging season, playing four matches, five maps, and not winning one across the South Korea League and the Last Chance Qualifier. In terms of rounds, they managed to win 13 rounds while losing 35. It was a performance to forget, and it was indeed forgotten.
With the arrival of Kira-Miki and Marine in place of Heo "GodGimbap" Min-jae and Jeong "Napz" Tae-yeon, the team experienced a breath of fresh air that was enough to change their stance. With dedicated training and focus during the offseason, the team surprised the entire South Korean community in the Summer Cup. Despite securing a third-place finish in the initial phase, the team showcased remarkable performance in the playoffs, eliminating two of the three qualifiers from the previous Six Major, LAVEGA and Dplus. However, just as they won convincingly, they lost with equal authority in the final against SANDBOX, securing only seven rounds across three maps.
The expectation after this improvement is for the team to be capable of genuinely contending for a spot through the Last Chance Qualifier.
DPLUS enters the second stage aiming to secure their qualification for another Six Major and get closer to securing a spot in the Six Invitational. With no changes in the starting lineup, the team is expected to maintain their level of performance or even improve, given that we're talking about a squad brimming with skill and international experience.
During the offseason, they used their time for training and team growth, but this wasn't reflected in the Summer Cup tournament. This is because both Dplus and SANDBOX were directly qualified for the semifinals. In the case of Dplus, they faced BlossoM, a team that finished last in the season's first stage. Despite this, Dplus lost to BlossoM 2-0 in maps. Consequently, Dplus only played one match during the offseason, a BO3 match that ended in defeat against a team that wasn't performing well then. This already signals that securing a spot through the South Korea League for the Six Major Atlanta won't be easy.
Before & After
The team enters the competition for its first South Korean tournament, marking the players' inaugural participation in an official BLAST event, as none of them were part of the Last Chance Qualifier in the first stage. With that in mind, the only reference point for the team comes from the Summer Cup, which didn't deliver promising results in terms of expectations for the South Korea League Stage 2. With three wins, two of which were without losing a single round, it seemed promising. Still, both wins were against teams that qualified through the open qualifiers, and the other victory was against WEBL, a newcomer to the scene as well.
Most concerning are the losses the team suffered in the remaining games. In the other four matches, the team only secured 9 rounds in total while conceding 28 rounds against potential opponents in the upcoming stage.
The expectation is that the team won’t secure their spot for Six Major Atlanta.