Only a few days before the eighth season of ESL Pro League is set to culminate a the Finals LAN in Odense, Denmark, the tournament organiser has revealed that it intends to expand the European league to "focus more on on player demands and viewer preferences".
The two new spots for Season 9 will be given to NiP and fnatic, who ended the current season just below the relegation line, with the Swedish teams set to play relegation at the MDL Global Challenge LAN next week.
Additionally, the change means that OpTic will get a chance to play relegation and qualify for EPL Season 9. This is due to a complicated situation, in which Epsilon, who placed fourth in ESEA MDL Season 29 were first offered the spot, but replied that they are not able to compete at the LAN.
ESL state on their website that "followingly, the next team in line receives the vacant spot. Given #5-#8 aren't played out and there is no time to do so, the same rule as as for the MDL relegation applies," which means that the team with the best "seasonal placement is invited" - this team being the Danes in OpTic, who play in MDL because of the decision to move the team to Europe.
With these changes, the winner of 3DMAX vs. Virtus.pro at the MDL Global Challenge qualfies directly to ESL Pro League Season 9 Europe, while the loser will play AGO, Kinguin for the two remaining slots. All matches will play out in a best-of-three double-elimination bracket.