For the first time in three years Rainbow 6 crowned a new champion at the Six Invitational after Niclas ‘Pengu’ Mouritzen’s G2 Esports fell in 7-8th place, and the star player has explained how the “fear of failure” caused them to slip up.
Pengu is used to the bright lights on the Montreal stage. He's used to hoisting the hammer high above his head in jubilation after another victory at the Six Invitational. However, 2020 marked a new page in G2's reign on Rainbow 6.
It was his first time in three years not being centre-stage on the final day, instead watching the action from the rafters.
The two-time world champions were knocked out early in the elimination phase with straight-set losses to APAC hopefuls Fnatic and eventual finalists Ninjas in Pyjamas, not even getting the chance to play in front of thousands of adoring fans in Montreal.
However, G2 were also one invite away from not making it to the big stage after years of dominance. The European squad had failed to qualify throughout the year — finishing runners-up at the Raleigh Major, third in Pro League Season 10, and then 5-8th in the OGA PIT Season 3 minor and the last-ditch European Qualifier.
They were saved by an invite from Ubisoft, and while it was a blessing in disguise, Pengu felt like they had robbed a better team of a spot.
“It’s great to get it, but I don’t think we should have been invited,” he said in an interview with Dexerto. “Everyone should deserve to be here by competition and by qualifying, but I also think that despite our terrible situation, we did okay.
“Technically speaking, we were the worst team here. We failed [to qualify] the most times and we also lost to every team that is here. We made it through [to knockouts] over half the teams, and in that direction I’m happy, but if I could choose, there should never be an invite.”
There were a number of setbacks the team had faced along the way in 2019. After taking home the crown over Team Empire in Montreal this time last year, the unstoppable force of Rainbow 6 globally had slowed down.
They had made roster changes for the first time since joining the organization in an attempt to kickstart their campaign. They brought in Aleksi ‘UUNO’ Tyopponen for Joonas ‘jNSzki’ Savolainen in June, before shuffling through Daniel ‘Goga’ Mazorra Romero, Pascal ‘Cryn’ Alouane, and Ferenc ‘SirBoss’ Meresz in a matter of weeks before the Six Invitational.
The lack of stability was the first time Pengu had ever felt threatened in his illustrious career, although it was a necessity to at least remain competitive at the top.
“We’ve always had a very stable core, and then from kicking Goga, picking up Cryn, kicking Cryn, picking up SirBoss in a matter of weeks,” he said. “I feel like it’s not ideal but it’s also one of the reasons behind why we did so well.
“We did better with SirBoss than we would have done with Cryn despite SirBoss being so new. It’s like our ‘honeymoon phase’ — things just work, everyone’s positive, everyone’s engaged, and it worked out for us.”
However, there was a seed of doubt in the back of his mind. After so much failure throughout the year, only making it to Montreal on a special concession, the pressure to live up to their lofty standards was immense.
“We had a fear of failure, not so much doubt but more like ‘oh no, we’ve done so good, but now we’ve gotta do it again and can we do it,'" he said. "It was very apparent in the first two games that we were very comfortable and confident, and when we came to Fnatic in the knockout stage we thought we had to step it up.
“That’s where the fear of failure kicked in. We lost against Fnatic and then we thought ‘okay, last shot’ against Ninjas in Pyjamas and we completely sh*t the bed.”
Pengu is optimistic, though. His skills are still up to par, and the team is already looking towards their next Six Invitational campaign come February 2021.
“We have a plan in motion. We have something that we want to execute on, and we are localizing to Berlin very soon to help us do that,” he said.
“It’s the first team house environment for all of us, and it’s scary. We are moving from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, England — to Berlin. Kanto, for example, has never lived by himself, so he’s scared sh*tless. Overall though, it’s going to be really good.”
Spacestation Gaming ended up taking home the grand prize at the Six Invitational, beating Ninjas in Pyjamas 3-2 in the grand final.