ESL Pro League Season 9 to Bring New Format and More LAN Events

ESL Pro League Season 9 will bring a new format and more LAN events to the Americas and Europe, ESL announced Tuesday.

The ninth season of ESL's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition will begin April 12. The series will now be divided into three discrete regions: the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Teams in the Americas and Europe will play all of their matches, from the season's start to its conclusion, at LAN studios.

Each region will feature four groups of four teams each, with seeding based on ESL's world rankings. The Americas region will host three groups filled with North American teams and one group of Latin American teams. Top performers in each group will proceed directly to the season finals, while second and third place teams will compete in a second round of groups. The top two teams in those groups will also attend the finals for a total of six American teams.

Europe's system is fairly similar but features more spots for finals qualification. Group winners in round one will head directly to the finals. Second and third place finishers will proceed to round two, where two groups of four will compete. Group winners and runners up in round two will qualify for the finals, for a total of eight European teams.

Asia-Pacific will send the fewest teams to the finals. The region's initial round of four groups of four teams will include two groups of Australian and New Zealander teams, one group of Chinese teams, and one group of SEA teams.

The top two teams from each group will advance to round two, with one group of four teams for Australia and New Zealand and another group of four teams for China and SEA. Winners in those two groups will head to the finals for a total of two teams.

The shift in format is expected to make more matches over the course of the season have an impact on how finals shape up.

The previous ESL Pro League Finals concluded Dec. 9 in an Astralis victory.