Event guide for the rest of 2016
With the next Major pushed to 2017 and the return of high-tier CS:GO competition upon us, it’s relevant to look ahead for the rest of the year as to what other large scale events could fill the void of a third Major this year.
When we run down the calendar of the various events and tournaments for the remaining months this year most of the bigger events look nicely spaced out overall, though with the recent announcement about the next Major and it's attached qualifier, and the dates for WESG finals yet to be announced, the holiday season could become a bit of a sprint towards the turn of the year.
Alongside these premier LAN's, there are also three tournaments in particular that have quite prolonged qualification stages, keeping a great deal of teams busy with online games, in the form of ESL Pro League Season 4, WESG and ECS Season 2.
The second half of this Counter-Strike year just started up a month ago, and with just two larger international events played out so far, there are a lot of questions about the actual strength of various teams as of writing, as a number of roster moves happened over the break and the potential shift in the meta, with Valve's coaching rule change.
Will SK return to trample the opposition like ESL Cologne was won just yesterday? Can either side of the Swedish shuffle find a winning formula again? Are the Timothy "autimatic" Ta-powered Cloud9 just riding a temporary wave, or can they establish themselves as a dark horse? Will the addition of Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev be able to lift Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács and his gang to new heights?
So without further ado, HLTV brings you a guide to which larger events you should follow and watch for the rest of the calendar year, and why they matter.
|ESL One New York|
|Dates: 30th September-2nd October|
|Prize pool: $250,000|
Marking the first chance to watch Liquid in action since they waved goodbye to s1mple, the new fnatic roster's first appearance on LAN, as well as the return of SK in full force with Fernando "fer" Alvarenga on board, this tournament could have some surprises in store for us.
The American-hosted event will see ESL give the Swiss-system another chance to prove itself as a replacement for the traditional four teams in one group, double elimination format that we see at almost every event nowadays. The Swiss system was tried out at the ESL One Cologne qualifier earlier this year, which a large portion of the players didn't seem to mind.
Return of the King(s)?
|Dates: 17th October-23rd October|
|Prize pool: $500,000|
|Null element||CIS qualifier|
This is a crème de la crème event with just eight teams attending and a impressive prize pool, paying out a hefty $250,000 to the winner. The competition will be fierce with such a compact group of elite teams, so make sure you are able to watch this one.
Notably SK is the only team to represent the Americas region, as the remaining spot is to be filled by a closed CIS qualifier.
If the current event schedule is to be trusted, the teams should also be rested adequately to bring their A-game, ensuring an exciting tournament for spectators.
|ELEAGUE Season 2|
|Dates: 21st October-December 3rd|
|Prize pool: TBA|
|Group A||Group B
|| Echo Fox
Televised Counter-Strike returns for a second outing with a more traditional format and fewer teams, as there will be four groups consisting of four teams each and a double elimination bracket. The top two teams from each group then will advance to the play-offs.
One group will play out over Friday and Saturday each week, with the tournament then going on standby from November 19th to the 29th, as the play-offs will then reignite the competition.
|ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals|
|Dates: 28th-30th October|
|Prize pool: $750,000|
With the exception of Cloud9 we can only speculate as to what other teams will compete in São Paulo, but there should be ample chances for the Brazilian community to watch and support a home team, which would only to serve to heighten the atmosphere. The conclusion of the ESL Pro League is to be held in Brazil, and it has been a long time since a grand event was held in South America.
As qualification through the league is quite arduous we are all but guaranteed that the teams attending will put their heart and soul into winning, as the previous Season 3 finals showed us.
|Dates: 19th-20th November|
|Prize pool: $300,000
|Natus Vincere||mousesports||Invitational qualifier|
12 teams attending will mean a return to the format from IEM Katowice earlier this year, meaning two groups of six each where the teams placing first advances directly to the semi finals, while the second and third placed will move on to play quarter finals.
As is par for the course with the Intel Extreme Masters label, the production value of the tournament should be top-notch and the teams confirmed so far are household names such as SK, Virtus.pro, Liquid, Natus Vincere and NiP.
| Dreamhack ZOWIE Open Winter
|Dates: 24th-27th November
|Prize pool: $100,000|
Both format and teams are yet to be announced, but the event in Jönköping is one of the most recognizable in the eSports scene, notably hosting Majors in both 2013 and 2014. There's a very special atmosphere surrounding the Elmia Centre, at the very least for the Swedish part of the community, as well as the Swedish players.
|ECS Season 2 Finals|
|Dates: 8th-11th December|
|Prize pool: TBA|
The conclusion of Season 1 unfolded with somewhat unexpected results and being scheduled so close to ESL Cologne potentially had a hand in that matter. This time around there should be no such circumstances to steal focus though, and while the tournament brand may be in the early stages, it's the seasoned FACEIT media group that are behind ECS, so don't expect any less than a grade-A event.
The main league in which the teams will start up on the 7th October and as the prize pool for the first season was $765,000 this second outing is expected to be similar in size.
|ELEAGUE Major Main Qualifier|
|Dates: 15th-18th December|
|Prize pool: N/A (Sticker Money)|
Take a look at the following eight teams:
You could certainly make a case for at least 5-6 of those names being worthy of a solid LAN on their own, much like the recent Dreamhack Bucharest event. And then you add the likes of fnatic, Cloud9, TYLOO, Immortals and Heroic that all have to qualify through the regional Minors first and this qualifier for the Major in January will likely be tough-as-nails.
Is this third time the charm for Immortals? Can you imagine a Major without either NiP or Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer's attendance? Strange times indeed, as we also have to imagine a Major qualifier without FlipSid3. Yegor "markeloff" Markelov and Co. will be waiting in Atlanta in the meantime.
Olof's long road back to the top begins
|Prize pool: $1,500,000|
A very ambitious project, this is going to represent CS:GO from all corners of the world, as the regional qualifiers hails from the following regions:
|Africa & Middle East|
|Europe & CIS|
|North & South America|
Space Soldiers, Bravado and DarkPassage have taken the spots from the first mentioned region and though the event does not allow multi-national lineups, there still a good number of high-profile teams that are going to take part, such as Virtus.pro, GODSENT, Envy and Astralis.
Players from the likes of FaZe, mousesports Natus Vincere and Liquid will have come up with alternatives if they want in on the action and (Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad and Håvard "rain" Nygaard have in fact formed an all-norwergian lineup with Ruben "RUBINO" Villarroel, Pål "Polly" Kammen and Bjoern "Skurk" Maaren) for this reason, while Philip "aizy" Aistrup rejoins dignitas temporarily.
So those are the events that we recommend you pay extra attention to until 2017 rolls around, but there will of course also be a variety of smaller LAN's over the year, a couple of which will act as qualifiers for the larger events, for example iBUYPOWER Masters being a qualifier for IEM Oakland. To get the complete overview, head over to the upcoming events page.