ESL changes format of ESL Pro League; expands number of participants
Tournament operator ESL has announced on its official website significant changes to the ESL Pro League format. One of the most important changes to the prestigious league, which will take effect starting from the seventeenth season, will be the expansion of the number of participating teams from 24 to 32.
In the group stage, the participants will be split into four groups of eight teams, where they will compete not in a round-robin, as before, but in a Double Elimination format. This was done in order to get rid of matches that had little to no impact on the development of the tournament. As a result of these changes, ESL Pro League Season 17 will run from February 22 to March 26, a week short of what was originally planned.
Also, starting from the 18th season of the ESL Pro League, ESL will not hold the EPL Conference, the final qualifying event for the EPL. The EPL Season 17 Conference will be the last such tournament and will take place on January 16-21 online, not on LAN.
Due to the EPL Conference being abolished, the team allocation for ESL Pro League Season 18 and subsequent events of the series will be as follows: 15 ESL partner teams, three best teams from the ESL World Ranking, four leaders of ESL's regional ranking for Europe, two best teams each from the Asia, Oceania, North America and South America rankings, as well as two ESL Challenger champions.
The allocation system for ESL Pro League Season 17, which will mark the last tournament before the full introduction of the new rules, will differ from the one described above. Fifteen ESL partners will be joined by the ESL Challenger winners in Movistar Riders, Outsiders and paiN, the best teams on the TO's ranking in Cloud9, OG and Team Spirit and eleven EPL Season 17 Conference winners.
The team list for ESL Pro League Season 17 looks as follows:
+11 EPL Season 17 Conference winners
The team list for EPL Season 17 Conference looks as follows:
Europe (3 slots)
North America (2 slots)
South America (2 slots)
Asia (2 slots)
Oceania (2 slots)