Just days before the start of ESL Pro League Season 11, the organization announced the separation of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams into regions. The reformatting comes as a result of ESL’s efforts to limit international travel amid health safety concerns. The 24 teams have split into three European regions and one North American region.
Besides the region split, three teams have withdrawn from the league. Renegades have decided to not engage in international travel to compete. Therefore, they’ve been replaced by the North American MDL team Swole Patrol. Likewise, Sharks, who were already in Europe at the time, feel it’s more beneficial for their team to travel back home to Brazil. Their replacement has not yet been confirmed. In regards to Sharks, ESL states:
“Similar to Renegades, they are not disqualified from Pro League, so we will see them back next season.”
Furthermore, Heroic was unable to find a viable lineup for season 11 after FunPlus Phoenix acquired its Danish roster. BIG has been invited to take their spot now that the squad has withdrawn from Flashpoint season 1.
ESL Pro League’s regional divisions and new seeding
According to ESL, a major contributor to the decision was the United States’ government’s ruling to ban international travel between the US and Europe.
Following the announcement that Season 11 of #ESLProLeague would be played online, we are instituting some necessary changes to ensure that the tournament will run smoothly.
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) March 13, 2020
The new groups are as follows:
- Natus Vincere
- Evil Geniuses
- 100 Thieves
- Swole Patrol
Updated playoffs and season finals
As previously announced, the ESL Pro League Season 11 finals will no longer take place in Denver. Instead, the finals will be run entirely online. Due to the regional divisions, Europe and North America will each have their own champions.
The three group winners in the European division will move to a second group stage. Second and third place seeds from each group will battle for the three remaining playoff spots. Then, the final six teams will compete and the group winner moves directly into the EU Championship. The winner between the second and third place seed will face off against the main group winner in a best-of-five series.
Across the sea in North America, ESL will host a four-team double-elimination series. After the lower bracket finals, the victor will meet the winner of the upper bracket final.