ESL introduces offline Pro League group matches in EU, NA
ESL and WESA revealed the format for the upcoming season of ESL Pro League, with the biggest change being that all of the American and European matches will be played on LAN.
The new format after a very stacked 2018 online season, which saw teams playing a multitude of online matches in ESL Pro League and ECS in a short span of time. To combat the issue of too many online matches, ESL Pro League in Americas and Europe will now exclusively be played on LAN, in a studio environment.
To accommodate for that, a number of other changes have been made as well. The Americas and Europe competition will feature 16 teams placed into four groups. The winner of each group will proceed to the classic LAN Finals, with the second and third-placed teams securing a place in the "round 2" group stage.
In Europe, the two best teams from each "round 2" group will also secure a spot at the Finals, while in Americas, only the winners of the "round 2" groups will earn a spot at the Finals.
The group stage matches in Europe will be played in ESL's studio in Leicester, UK, while the American part of the competition will take place at a yet unspecified studio in the United States
The APAC region will still be played online, but with the format changing to be similar to the ones used in Americas and Europe. Australia and New Zealand will feature eight teams split into two groups, with Greater China and Southeast Asia having four teams, one group each. In the end, the two best teams from the APAC region will qualify for the Finals.
The new season will kick off on April 12th, with the finalists set to be decided after a maximum of four weeks in order to allow teams to "focus on the CS:GO Pro League for a shorter time frame within the vivid CS:GO ecosystem", ESL stated in the announcement.
ESL Pro League S9 breakdown:
Europe: 16 teams, 8 Finals LAN spots
Americas: 16 teams, 6 Finals LAN spots
APAC: 16 teams, 2 Finals LAN spots