Lion is turning the Rainbow Six Siege meta on its head

Of the stuff added and changed in Operation Chimera two weeks ago, the introduction of Lion is having the biggest impact on the Rainbow Six Siege meta. Following last month's championship, year three of the Rainbow Six Pro League kicked off last week with matches that demonstrated how teams are reconsidering their defenses and attack compositions with Lion in the mix, who saw a near-100 percent pick rate throughout.

Teams have figured out creative ways to combo his scan with other tracking operators.

Lion, a two speed and two armor attacker, is seeing so much action thanks to his unique drone, the EE-ONE-D. Three times per round, Lion can scan the entire map for enemy movement. If an enemy moves during the four second duration of the scan, their identity and full body outline is broadcasted to Lion and his entire team.

On paper, it might seem like Siege's best players would have no problem dealing with Lion, whose ability can be countered by simply standing still for a few seconds. But teams have figured out creative ways to combo his scan with other tracking operators. Jackal’s ability to see enemy footprints and scan them to reveal a snapshot of an enemy’s location pairs perfectly with Lion’s scan. When both are in play, the enemy can’t escape being seen for at least a few moments—either they stay still and get revealed by Jackal, or move and be spotted by Lion. This combo is the surest counter to roamers we've ever seen in Siege.

Roaming has always been an important part of defense in Siege, as playing away from the objective forces attackers to spend time and resources dealing with lurkers before tackling the hostage or bomb site. But now that Lion can punish roaming so directly, teams are still feeling out how best to counter him. Some are relying on Mute, as his signal jammers can cancel out Lion’s scan if you’re near one. Others are even playing Caviera, a stealthy defender who usually sees zero use in Pro League, but has the distinct ability to hide her footprints from Jackal.

Last week’s match against Spacestation Gaming and Era Eternity saw another unexpected use of Lion, as his scan was timed alongside Fuze’s cluster of grenades to great effect. As seen above, Fuze readies his cluster charge while Lion coordinates with his scan to force the enemies below to stay still amid nearby explosions. This is particularly interesting as Fuze is typically one of the least picked operators in the scene.  

Lion’s scan has also seen use alongside the newly-buffed Blitz, who now moves faster when sprinting, to allow him to quickly close the distance on defenders and take the advantage in a fight. See this in action in the clip below—Valkyrie is forced to stay put while Blitz rushes in and takes her down.

Of course, incorporating these new operator combinations with Lion also means many teams are rethinking previously dominant attack compositions. Last season saw the rise of the Ying and Glaz meta that focused on filling the objective room with smoke and flash grenades while Ying planted the defuser and Glaz kept watch. Last week, this strategy was almost entirely unseen. The Lion's usefulness is forcing teams to give up traditionally no-brainer operators like Hibana, Buck, or even Ash.

Right now it feels like every part of the typical meta has been touched by Lion, as he is even useful for planting the defuser and preventing its disarming. Pausing enemy movement creates opportunities for an ally to plant, and subsequent Lion scans further discourage the defenders from challenging the defuser once it’s already ticking down.

Lion’s prevalence comes as little surprise to anyone who played him on the Technical Test Server before Operation Chimera’s release. The test server’s subreddit was ablaze for weeks with players in unrest over Lion and Finka’s abilities, calling them overpowered and against the spirit of the game. Ubisoft slightly adjusted Finka heading into final release by nerfing the resistance to stun grenades when using her Adrenal Surge ability , but Lion saw no change at all. The response post-release has been much more muted as players have gotten used to the new operators, though many still argue that they need a nerf.

The Pro League has historically been the place where operators are fully exploited, and Lion has so far proven to be an invaluable asset in every facet of an attack—be it hunting down roamers, launching a coordinated push on the defenders, or planting the defuser.

Moving forward, it'll be interesting to see how Pro League teams continue to react. Defenses will likely shift their focus to knocking him out of play early on or, as we saw last week, pulling back the roamers and staying safer on the objective. A potential mid-season patch could also mix up the status quo if Ubisoft decides that Lion has grown too powerful. 

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.