MONTREAL -- A dynasty was built at the Rainbow Six Siege world championship, the Six Invitational, on Sunday night. G2 Esports, the most dominant team in the game's history, swept the surging rookies from Russia, Team Empire, to win their second straight world title.
After being booed a day earlier in the semifinals and considered the villains of the tournament -- the shadowy obstacle any team needed to overcome to reach the mountaintop -- G2 were instead cheered by the packed Place Bell crowd in Montreal. Ultimately, following two years of unparalleled results, brilliant play and gutsy performances, G2, in the home city of Siege, earned the respect of the crowd.
Even though the fans might have rather seen hometown favorite Evil Geniuses or the wildly energetic Nora-Rengo from Japan lift the championship hammer, they knew they were witnessing history right in front of their eyes. No team in the world can play the game of Siege as well as G2 Esports. Not in the past. Now now. And if G2 continues at the pace they're heading, no team might ever be capable of replicating what they've done in the past two years.
At this moment in time, when it comes to Siege, G2 is not a level above. They're a couple of levels above.
"We really never have the crowd on our side," said G2's Fabian "Fabian" Hallsten, with the championship trophy, a sledgehammer, slung over his shoulder. "No one really likes us in Europe. When we come to [North America], no one really likes us."
Heading into the final, G2 expected to hear more jeers from the crowd. Team Empire were the intriguing challengers, coming all the way from the minor leagues last year to qualify for the European Pro League this season, where they lead everyone in the standings. They were the fabled "Russian machine," plowing through their opponents with raw strength.
On the first map of the best-of-five series, the systematic destruction from the Russian squad was on full display. Whereas G2 would squeak out victories through clutch plays from their star players or steal a round by having more ingenuity, Empire would take a majority of their rounds through pure muscle.
There were countless flawless rounds for Empire, not even losing a single member in their march toward victory. As the first game of the series neared overtime, it felt more like G2 was hanging on by a thread than the dynastic world champions going toe-to-toe with their readied challengers.
Overtime became a war of attrition, with neither side getting the needed two-round lead to close out the map. The teams switched from offense to defense after every round, and each time, the offensive side won out. Empire would stomp their way to victory on the offensive end, but when G2 had to come up big, they did just that, the two teams going back and forth with no end in sight like a world-class tennis final at Wimbledon.
The world champion did overcome, however. G2 Esports put an end to things in the 22nd round, finishing off the longest single game in professional Rainbow Six Siege history. Empire had battered and bruised G2, outscoring them in almost every metric and even preventing their ace, Niclas "Pengu" Mouritzen, from having a substantial impact, yet couldn't put the reigning champions away.
G2 stole a map, and that was it. Over the next two games, Empire would only win five more rounds.
When you come at the king, you best not miss.
"I think after they lost that map, Team Empire, they kind of lost the game," Fabian said. "Mentalitywise, it wasn't good for them to lose that map. They had so much more kills than we did, and every round they won was so overwhelming every single time. And when we won, it was one-on-ones."
From here, it will be up to the rest of the world to catch up to G2. Spacestation Gaming, the team that came closest to upsetting G2 at the Invitational and is Fabian's pick as the team to watch in the coming months, will continue grinding in North America. EG, also in NA, reeling from another wasted opportunity to perform offline as well as they do online, will have to go back to the drawing board and prepare for the rest of Pro League. Nora-Rengo, dancing and delighting the crowd, believe they are the ones destined to usurp G2. Empire will want another chance. The top teams in Brazil believe they can beat G2 on their best day.
"My team, they're my second family," Fabian said. "We've been around so long with each other. We've played together for almost two and a half years now. We have our little family where we are all really good friends, and it feels really good to play with them."
All eyes now will be on Milan, Italy, where the Pro League finals will take place in May. G2, despite being fifth in the European standings at the moment, will be expected to be there. A trophy hoisted in a tournament without G2, after all, would feel hollow to whichever team won it.
In Milan, the world will tune in to see if that is the moment the G2 dynasty meets its end, every team giving it their absolute best to try to be the ones who can say they took down the best to ever play the game.
For Fabian, Pengu, Daniel "Goga" Mazorra Romero, Juhani "Kantoraketti" Toivonen and Joonas "jNSzki" Savolainen, it'll just be another Sunday.