ESL trims down Pro League to 24 teams; reveals preliminary invite list and format
ESL has announced that Pro League will be trimmed down to 24 teams and revealed a preliminary list of teams invited to participate in the 11th season as well as its format.
The news partially confirms Thursday's report released by DBLTAP, which first revealed that the next season of ESL Pro League would feature 24 teams — trimmed down to half from a total of 48 teams who participated in Season 10 across Europe, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region — and presented a list of 24 teams who had a spot in the upcoming season.
The reported list also included Cloud9 and MIBR, who by all accounts are among the teams believed to participate in the North American league currently known as "B Site", which will reportedly run alongside ESL Pro League, thus preventing teams from competing in both.
That information is all but confirmed by Friday's official announcement of the 24 teams to whom the tournament organizer has offered a spot in the 11th season of ESL Pro League, as the aforementioned two names are not part of the list after "either declining or not responding."
The following 24 teams have officially been sent an invitation to ESL Pro League Season 11, with their participation still unconfirmed and pending response at the moment:
The organizers have not revealed the full criteria by which they decided the invited teams other than inviting the top-16 teams from the Season 10 Finals. Their preliminary list does, however, seem in line with the formula reported by DBLTAP, which involves a combination of member organizations that have agreed to the "Lanxess Agreement", ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals participants, latest European and North American MDL winners (forZe and INTZ), and the ESL World Ranking.
The presence of Complexity, who did not play at the latest ESL Pro League Finals and are low on the pecking order when it comes to the organizer's ranking (currently No. 39), in particular heavily supports the notion that some slots are allocated to "member teams" who have signed the aforementioned agreement.
This means that many who took part in the previous ESL Pro League season will not be returning, instead being invited to the next MDL season in the main regions, and those who were originally supposed to have a chance to qualify after placing second or third in the 32nd ESEA MDL season in Europe and North America — HAVU, Spirit, Riot Squad, and Triumph — will miss out on the opportunity to participate. Teams will have a chance to earn direct advancement to the 12th season through MDL and the ESL World Ranking.
ESL has also announced that the league will be divided into four round-robin groups with best-of-three matches all around. Group winners will be seeded into late stages of the playoffs, while the runner-ups and third-placed teams will advance to an earlier stage. When the top-six teams are determined, the tournament will move on to an arena location for a three-day event.