Sources: ESL Awarded First CS:GO Major of 2019

Valve has awarded German based company ESL the next Counter-Strike Major, which will take place at the beginning of next year, according to multiple sources with knowledge of Valve's decision.

Exact dates and location of the Major have not yet been confirmed, but the Major is intended to begin in February and possibly extend into March, according to multiple sources. A few sources have named Katowice as a likely location for the Major -- though that has not been confirmed -- because the aforementioned time frame falls in line with ESL's annual IEM Katowice event, which is one of the biggest in ​CS:GO. Separately, IEM Katowice is as of now excluded from ESL's exclusive agreement to stream ESL One events on Facebook.

Should the event begin toward the end of February, that would mean a five month break following the FACEIT London Major. in September. This would be a decrease from the eight months that will have transpired between the ELEAGUE Boston Major in January and the aforementioned FACEIT London. ESL has not hosted a Major since ESL One Cologne 2016, which was its fifth Major since the inception of the Valve-sponsored tournaments.

Majors are the most coveted and revered events in all of Counter-Strike because of the support from Valve, in-game stickers, and large prize pool (which became $1 million starting with MLG Columbus in 2016). Valve ​wrote in May about its plans to announce Majors farther in advance to give tournament organizers more time to prepare and teams the chance to make sure all players can attain proper visas. If an announcement from Valve comes before the FACEIT Major in September, it would be the first time a future Major has been announced before the start of the nearest one.

For those that aren’t familiar with the Major format, the top eight teams from the previous Major playoffs are automatically invited to the next event and are called “Legends.” Those eight teams are then joined by eight teams that advance from the “New Challengers” stage, which contains 16 teams.

ESL declined comment.