One of the premier online CS:GO leagues will make the switch to studio-hosted games. ESL Pro League’s (EPL) ninth season will introduce a LAN element to its Europe and Americas group stages, the company announced Tuesday. ESL and WESA are also introducing several changes to the format, in order to make it more accommodating to players’ busy schedules.
“After talks with the World Esports Association (WESA) at ESL One Cologne 2018, the teams and ESL have decided to change the current format of ESL Pro League in order to work against some of the current issues of the product as well as the CS:GO ecosystem — oversaturation of events and Pro League being online as well as time consuming,” ESL wrote.
ESL Pro League’s new format
EPL Season 9 will consolidate its previous five regions into just three: Europe, Americas and Asia-Pacific. Each region will feature 16 teams, divided into four groups. This will eliminate the massive single round-robin groups, introduce more relevance to the individual matches, and even expand the number of teams allowed to participate. The EU and AM regions will be played offline in a studio environment, while APAC will remain online for the time being.
The qualification for the 16-team grand finals will also be different. In each of the three regions, the groups will be played in two stages, ultimately qualifying eight EU, six AM and two APAC teams to the grand finals.
This is a big step for the Counter-Strike scene and EPL in particular. Previously, the league’s round robin’s would spread a month and a half, requiring continuous commitment from all teams involved. Now spread across multiple, smaller groups, it means competition is quicker and with higher stakes and as a result — more interesting to the viewer.
EPL Season 9 will begin Apr. 12, 2019 and will be part of the second season of the Intel Grand Slam $1 million race.