Rainbow Six Siege
ESL in 2020:
20-second META?

ESL Pro League scene in Rainbow Six Siege has seen a lot of different META since its inception.
This is not really surprising as the game has been constantly altered, enhanced and expanded by Ubisoft. Every new season brings a multitude of changes.
R6 Siege seasons come with new operators. New maps are being added by the developer or, as more common nowadays, old maps are reworked. But that’s not all!
Balance in the game is also continuously tweaked by new patches. Developers observe how the game is being played and then buffs, nerfs and alters certain aspects of operators and gameplay.
The way the Rainbow Six Siege is played now in Year 5 is significantly different than it was back in 2018, not to mention 2016.
As the game evolves, so do players and such implication is right for both amateurs & professionals.


META is a common word thrown here and there in regards to online gaming, but what does it actually mean in terms of computer games?
As a word, meta comes from greek where it is a prefix that means “beyond” or “after”. Nowadays in the competitive gaming industry, meta stands for Most Effective Tactic Available and is used to describe an optimal and effective method of playing the game. Such tactics are considered to bring the most efficiency to the game’s world, with its current rules and mechanics.
Meta is common in competitive games like League of Legends, CS: GO, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six Siege is not an exception.

Is META always the best strategy? 

No, not necessarily.
Any meta may indeed be the best method known to the best players, at the moment. However, it does not necessarily mean that such tactics are the best ones available.
If you think “R6 Professional players are the best in what they do, hence they must have thought about all possibilities” then consider for a moment the case with chess.
Chess has been around since the 6th century and is probably one of (if not THE) most studied and perfected games.
You would think that every possible move and strategy is known by now, right?
Well, then check out the story of a match between Stockfish vs. AlphaZero.
Machine learning (AlphaZero) without chess knowledge could learn in 4 hours to beat another program that contained all the data in history about moves made by chess masters (Stockfish).
How? Stockfish was limited by human creativity, while AlphaZero was not.
Nowadays, the creativity of moves and strategy is an indication for suspicion of AI involvement in chess matches.

To sum up:

My point is that we like to think we know all there is to be known. We forget about our limitations and cognitive biases, which restrain our capacity to see alternative and better options.
We become better by admitting our ignorance and seeking improvements to existing ways, not by blindly accepting the status quo as the best solution.

What's the Rainbow Six Siege
ESL 2020 Meta?

As of Season XI of Rainbow Six Siege Pro League, the prevalent strategy revolves heavily around “20-second META“.
Such a tactic means that attackers spend the first 2:30 minutes of the round by taking control of the map and clearing defensive utility.
This last part of “clearing utility” is the most controversial topic regarding the current R6 Siege Pro League situation and the flow of the match.
With introductions of Goyo and Wamai to the matches, defenders have a staggering number of gadgets that require attackers to sink their utility.
Just look at that tweet from Pojoman:
Of course, Pojoman exaggerated with mentioning utility of 7 operators, but you get the point.
Just a single Goyo shield aided by ADS and Mag-nets can burn tons of projectiles.
As a result, the pace tends to slow due to offensive teams going through the laborious process of scouting, adjusting and then dealing with defensive utility.
The below match between TSM and Tempo Storm was a good showcase of 20-second meta (even though Goyo was banned):

Is Rainbow Six Siege
20-second meta bad?

Let us be honest here – we do not find current meta very attractive to watch in Pro League matches.

Watching 2 minutes of meticulous utility clearing is rather boring part of the experience.

Of course, the utility should be an important aspect of the game, and round time is indeed one of the biggest assets defensive squads have.
However, R6 Siege has always been an FPS with the addition of utility to spice things up.
The balance between gun and gadget play, combined with environmental destruction and teamwork is what makes Rainbow Six Siege so damn good game to play, and even to watch!
As it currently stands in Season XI (Y5S1), clearing defensive utility takes too much of round time and slows down the dynamic of the round too heavily for our liking.
Please note that we do not advocate for the run’n’gun style to dominate our beloved game. Extremes on either side are inferior to striking a sweet balance. Though the balance is hard to achieve in any area, and Rainbow Six Siege is not an exception here!

What could Ubisoft do
to change the meta?

There are a few ways developers could probably improve the current situation.
One of the ways could be a reduction of utility available to defenders. Obviously, such action could have hard to foresee consequences, especially on the non-competitive side of Rainbow Six Siege. Too harsh nerf to an operator(s) could deem them redundant – yes, we all remember what happened to Glaz.
As per the TTS update, Ubisoft considers lowering the potential of Goyo’s utility by reducing his total Volcan shields count to 2 (from 3).
That might be a good start, but let’s see how it plays out when changes come to live servers.
Since Jager seems to be resistant to any nerfs thus far, perhaps lowering his ADS count to 2, instead of 3, could be a solution to utility sinks?
Furthermore, we liked the idea suggested in Get_Flanked’s tweet:
However, we like this idea online if it is implemented for Rainbow Six Siege ESL Pro Leauge.
Ranked is a significantly different animal than what pros experience.
What do you think Ubisoft could do?
Do you like current ESL meta?
Let us know in the comments below!

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