Good Mourning, Rainbow Six Siege
It is an inevitability in any esport that at some point things change. Whether it’s because the game changes, or the esport itself, or the players rotate in and out through the never-ending churning of promotions and relegations. Players comprise the pieces of the new permutations of teams, forever trying to find the perfect fit to create something great. The thing is, when something great is made, we never want to see it end.
The retirement of Pengu came as a shock to many people within the scene. Anecdotally known as the greatest player of all time, the prospect of no longer seeing him in the lobby or on stage was a brutal blow. The historic domination of G2 Esports was an undeniable truism, and now the very final leaf from that tree had fallen, and the entire original roster was but a page in a history book.
However, you don’t typically expect to be faced with two major losses in two weeks. On the other side of the Atlantic, the closest thing to Pengu’s counterpart has now also announced the same thing: Canadian will be stepping down from professional Rainbow Six as well.
Both 2x World Champions, yet both have wildly different stories in the scene. Where Pengu (and more importantly, his team)’s reputation remained hermetic in its prestige and veneration, Canadian as a figure represented the value of perseverance and resolve; beyond the slipping expectations of Evil Geniuses, he still saw through the 1106 days to lift the hammer for the second time.
The thing is, the most important things Pengu and Canadian represent aren’t the chips and the hammers and the 1st place finishes across their Liquipedia pages. It’s not who went to the most LANs or who could shoot straighter. It’s that they represent the sheer level of what could be achieved in Rainbow Six when it was deemed worth fighting for. This game that, all the way back in 2015, was underestimated and overlooked. That needed full seasons to fix problems that turned others away. That didn’t boast the magnificence that a wealthier scene like CS:GO or League of Legends had. Pengu, who played in the very first EU GO4 Weekly in 2016, and Canadian, who did the same in North America, were simply two guys who liked a game enough to push it to its very limits. And it took them to a combined thirteen countries, with a total of forty-eight first-place finishes between them. They demarcated not only themselves, but their teams, from the competition. And they proved that Rainbow Six Siege was a game that deserved the deference and respect of the world.
For those who have come up through the growth of Siege since 2015, the unfolding stories of these players would have played out in real time in front of you. And to look back and see them as not only full chapters, but indeed legends, of the game you’ve followed, comes with a sense of extreme bittersweetness and maudlin. For those who have jumped on the train at various points between then and now, your attachment to these players will be defined by where they were at the time. Maybe PENTA had just won SI 2018, your era defined by ‘They’re often known as the best team in the world.’ Maybe Evil Geniuses had just fallen to G2 at the Paris Major. Maybe Canadian had just joined SSG for DreamHack Montreal 2019. Maybe G2 had just failed to qualify for the Six Invitational 2020.
Whatever it was, it was relevant. It was important. You couldn’t step too far into the scene without knowing who these players were, and what they meant. You couldn’t go long without rooting either for or against them. Whatever happened, you were always going to be impressed, affected, and invigorated by their performance. The simple fact is that Pengu and Canadian were simply too integral to Rainbow Six to ignore. To have one without the other would be ludicrous — they’d helped build Siege, and Siege had helped build them.
When they each announced their respective retirements, the reason it hurt so much was not just because they were fun to watch or were good at their jobs. It was because Rainbow Six Siege has never existed with out them and their pervasive storylines. The Siege we know today wouldn’t exist without them, and whatever dynasties grow and develop in the future of this esport will do so on the shoulders of the legacies they have left behind. This scene that began in such a small huddle of dedicated fans has exploded into something bigger than anyone expected. No longer is Siege an enthusiasts’ club, but it is inescapably and unignorably on the map. And so many of those people who have found a home here over the years have done so because of Pengu and Canadian. Fans, talent, coaches and players. There isn’t a corner of this community they have not influenced in some way.
Pengu and Canadian have not only shown an untouchable level of eruditeness for Rainbow Six, but they have also shown the merit of determination, commitment, and resilience. They have become amazing representatives of the scene, as not only decorated players but also just as wonderful people. It has been an insane joy to have been around to witness their tenure in the present, and despite their retirement from pro play, there are no doubts that they will continue on as celebrated and beloved members of the Rainbow Six scene.
There’s a lot of heartbreak in this game right now. For Siege, it’s a time of collective mourning. But it’s also a time of celebration. After all, what would Rainbow Six Siege be, if not for Pengu and Canadian?