ESEA increase prize pool and number of seasons for 2021; simplify path to Pro League

Winning any of the four ESEA Premier seasons in the year will secure a team a spot in the following season of ESL Pro League.

ESEA's league system has undergone a massive overhaul ahead of the start of competition in 2021, the company announced on Thursday, with the focus being on improving the state of ESEA Premier (formerly known as MDL) by offering teams more incentives to participate.

One of the key changes is expanding the number of seasons played per year from three to four, and eliminating "training seasons" which didn't offer the promotion to ESL Pro League. From this year onwards, the winner of each ESEA Premier season will be qualified for the next season of ESL Pro League, simplifying the process. Additionally, the prize pool for each season has been increased to $100,000 per season, split between the top eight teams in Europe and North America.

The changes aim to provide a clearer "path to pro"

"We realized and we've heard from a lot of teams, especially in the second tier, that the system that we have been running really isn't good enough," ESL's General Manager of CS:GO Brian Krämer, who oversees all projects related to CS:GO in the ESL - DreamHack - ESEA group, told "A lot of players don't feel incentivized to actually play in MDL (Premier) and don't see their path to becoming a pro, especially after the changes we did to ESL Pro League last year. There was still a path, but it wasn't as 'easy' or good for them as it had been before".

The changes put in place see more, shorter seasons played out in a year, which aims to reduce the downtime between competition, lower the time constraints for playing a season, and allow teams to climb up the divisions quicker.

The four seasons will be played out according to the following tentative schedule, with more details to be announced at a later date:

Season 36: January - April
Season 37: May - July
Season 38: August - October
Season 39: October - December

From each ESEA Premier season played in Europe and North America, one team will qualify for the next ESL Pro League season, ensuring that four teams from Premier will be included in the elite competition every season. Additionally, the best performing teams in ESEA Premier will be handed invites for closed qualifiers for DreamHack Open events, giving them additional avenues to break out and start their path on the ESL Pro Tour. Details regarding ESEA Premier in Australia will be released through a separate announcement soon.

The format of ESEA Premier in Europe and North America has also been overhauled, with the classic 18-team round-robin BO1 group stage replaced with two groups playing a round-robin BO3 format, followed by a BO3 double-elimination playoff bracket. In order to improve the coverage of the competition and allow for "highlight matches" that will be shown on ESL's official Twitch Counter-Strike channel, the scheduling will be more strict than in previous seasons, with teams "able to block out a number of match days (every Tuesday & Wednesday), which they are not able to play on". Matches will be broadcasted from a virtual studio for the groups with a full studio setup planned for the playoffs, should the pandemic allow for it.

With the change to ESEA's league system, the company has underlined that their focus in 2021 is going to be on team-based competition, as all prize money will be removed from Rank S and moved into Cash Cups. The short tournaments will be played in both Europe and North America, but the latter region will get the lion's share of the prize pool, $15,000 in North America compared to $4,000 in Europe, "based on the fact that European teams have many more highly prized cups to compete in".

"Our goal, especially with this change now, is to strengthen the player base and the core of the scene again by offering a clearer path from zero to hero and more incentives to play," Brian Krämer concludes. "That second tier is where we see a lot of break right now, players not trying to get to the next level, but rather going to play Valorant, getting a normal job, or something else. By initiating these changes we hope that they see more incentive to stay. They have more prize money to play for, they have more opportunities to make the breakthrough, they have other chances of being recognized and seen. There is more attention on them."

Very nice.
2021-01-07 20:47
13 replies
Cyprus Cabendio
2021-01-07 20:49
5 replies
2021-01-07 23:27
4 replies
2021-01-08 00:19
3 replies
2021-01-08 10:41
2 replies
Denmark Paramed1c
2021-01-08 16:38
1 reply
woof woof
2021-01-11 19:09
2021-01-07 20:52
The first change ESEA has made that might actually help the ecosystem. It's nice to see NA getting the large majority because it might bring some people back from Valorant.
2021-01-07 20:53
2 replies
United Kingdom Triturn
“Might” doubt it
2021-01-07 21:29
You mean it might give an incentive for them to stay, once they go to Valorant you can't go back unless you want to play at lower tier than you did before
2021-01-07 22:49
Finland Veeti777
They didnt even mention how they fucked HAVU and Sprout in the ass when they qualified to pro league but they didnt get the spots. Very nice!
2021-01-07 21:34
CSPPA still quiet KEKW
2021-01-07 22:20
very very VERY nice
2021-01-08 11:37
Sangal gogo
2021-01-07 20:48
7 replies
Czech Republic Hap0vecXD
no furi no win
2021-01-07 20:49
6 replies
-Furi +ImoRR -> ESL Turkey win + ESEA MDL spot
2021-01-07 20:58
Imorr is a fucking beast so np
2021-01-07 23:17
Ukraine Mykolkaa
furious is an awful player
2021-01-08 09:13
3 replies
Czech Republic Hap0vecXD
nt mykola
2021-01-08 10:35
2 replies
He is garbage in officials, just look at his rating Regards FURI subscriber since 2019
2021-01-08 12:16
1 reply
Czech Republic Hap0vecXD
give him few years
2021-01-08 13:22
very nice.
2021-01-07 20:47
nice, made me happy made me smile, nice
2021-01-07 20:48
Chile nachooww
let's go
2021-01-07 20:49
2021-01-07 20:49
i don't care
2021-01-07 20:49
2021-01-07 20:49
2021-01-07 20:49
more money for floppy if he goes back to na
2021-01-07 20:50
2021-01-07 20:50
1 reply
Why? It should be over way around
2021-01-08 12:59
more shitfest
2021-01-07 20:50
2021-01-07 20:50
it looked very nice!
2021-01-07 20:50
Riders pro league 2021!!!
2021-01-07 20:50
so we see Sangal smashing top 10 teams earlier than expected
2021-01-07 20:51
1 reply
2021-01-08 14:36
Ez4Insilio Davai Rachel pili kontent
2021-01-07 20:51
iM | 
Romania AlyBu
2021-01-07 20:52
United States B0b3rT
Let’s fucking go high coast to pro league
2021-01-07 20:55
OCEAN to pro league leggo
2021-01-07 20:55
Very nice
2021-01-07 20:58
2021-01-07 21:02
1 reply
name checks out
2021-01-07 21:07
2021-01-07 21:04
2021-01-07 21:06
Really good change for t2
2021-01-07 21:10
Czech Republic poledne
... interesting move now you will have 0good teams in europe and you won over na with have 0 wiever base... gj you lucky you don't need to make profit.
2021-01-07 21:13
1 reply
Yeah but you need less money to buy necessities in Europe
2021-01-07 22:57
Germany NitczkaCS
Considering current situation very good change more teams will have a chance now
2021-01-07 21:15
cadiaN | 
Poland SebL
That's actually a really nice one. GJ ESEA.
2021-01-07 21:25
2021-01-07 21:35
more seasons = more money laundery for criminals
2021-01-07 21:40
Russia Jet1k
awesome but no one cares because duhhhhh t5 player going to t4 team
2021-01-07 21:44
they are trying to save na cs obv
2021-01-07 21:47
1 reply
2021-01-08 14:37
Poland grapeeeee
Easy for Poland
2021-01-07 21:51
1 reply
Canada firtlast
2021-01-07 21:53
very nice esea keep it up!
2021-01-07 21:54
Turkey Kobss
Welcome to pro league sangal :)
2021-01-07 21:56
finally great change, though i believe it is too late, almost all of NA's tier 2 scene and some of tier1 has left for valorant
2021-01-07 21:58
2 replies
United States TearZCS
True but will open opportunities for the up and coming teams. Could be the next era...
2021-01-08 01:51
United States Phamous3k
Would of been cool if they implemented these changes a year or 2 ago. But, that’s what happens when u literally have 0 competition
2021-01-08 04:25
Very good
2021-01-07 22:01
World Beard43
Good stuff ESEA!
2021-01-07 22:35
2021-01-07 22:36
Nice improvements, will certainly help going forward!
2021-01-07 22:36
Spain TJSpain
2021-01-07 22:42
stimulus check just came thru
2021-01-07 22:45
Mostly good changes but having 4 seasons basically running all year seems a bit too much. These lower tier teams barely get a break and ofc they still have more tournaments to play
2021-01-07 23:45
1 reply
2021-01-07 23:58
This does put a smile on my face.
2021-01-07 23:49
2021-01-07 23:50
The region has no teams now, they want to fixed to late imo
2021-01-07 23:57
France cedd
2021-01-08 00:14
Nice change for sure :).
2021-01-08 00:18
MDL i sleep
2021-01-08 00:40
Great for the scenario
2021-01-08 01:17
Finally TeamOne can get into EPL and destroy everyone
2021-01-08 01:59
2021-01-08 02:46
2021-01-08 02:48
NA CS Rebirth arc
2021-01-08 03:33
Hungary szia
Very nice. Very glad about that MDL change. Those "training seasons" were stupid as fuuuck.
2021-01-08 03:52
Brazil parrud0www
2021-01-08 03:59
"getting a normal job" ahahahah
2021-01-08 04:07
Nice nice
2021-01-08 04:59
now the only need people to compete ohh wait NA have none
2021-01-08 06:56
2021-01-08 08:09
please create ESEA tournament in Central Asia.
2021-01-08 08:34
Now also remove the partner teams status and let's go. Ridiculous and completely unfair that certain teams can't relegate...
2021-01-08 09:52
2021-01-08 10:10
2021-01-08 10:42
Nice, that should give back some credit to the competition and allow more teams from the subtop to fight with top teams.
2021-01-08 11:12
How did it work before? I always thought that winning ESEA MDL would get you the esl pro league spot?
2021-01-08 13:19
China VeryXxGuy
more money but still offline? I dont like it
2021-01-08 13:37
so good
2021-01-08 14:57
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