ESL has confirmed that it is expanding the Pro League into the Asia-Pacific region, with online qualifiers leading to a regional event.
For Season 7, this expansion will encompass three sub-regions - Southeast Asia, China and Australia/New Zealand -, but ESL has guaranteed that it plans to "further expand the program into additional territories within the region, as well as create a full league system in the future."
Open qualifiers will be held from March 18-25 in all three sub-regions, followed by season matches, which will determine the eight teams who will compete at the Pro League APAC regional finals, which will be held at the ESL studios in Sydney, from April 20-22.
Australia/New Zealand and China will have three spots apiece at the regional event, while Southeast Asia will have just two. The top two sides coming out of this event will earn spots at the Pro League Finals, which will be held in Dallas, Texas, from May 14-20.
"This is an incredibly important step on our way to establishing a truly global playing field for all professional Counter-Strike players in the world," said Ulrich Schulze, Senior Vice President of Product at ESL.
"The APAC region has waited long enough for a proper inclusion in a global gaming circuit. We’re excited to see how expanding Pro League to this region will further significantly strengthen and develop the professional scene."
The announcement follows ESL's decision to expand the Pro League Finals from 12 to 16 teams as part of the company's plan to standardize the format used in its big CS:GO competitions.
With the APAC region taking up just two spots, this could mean that Pro League will expand into at least one more region, unless ESL decides to increase the number of qualifying slots allocated to Europe and North America.