ESL updates event calendar, with Cologne as the first LAN tournament
The showpiece competition is now set to be held in a studio environment with no audience.
ESL One Cologne will be ESL's first in-person Counter-Strike tournament of 2021, the organisers announced on Thursday in a calendar update. The event will be played in a studio from July 6-18 and will no longer culminate in a playoff stage held at the LANXESS Arena.
ESL's next two international competitions, DreamHack Masters Spring and IEM Summer, have been moved to an online-only format, "with the safety of the teams, crews and the esports community being paramount." Both events were originally planned as in-person events in a studio environment.
The organisers note that ESL One Cologne's status as an in-person event is dependent on the "continued evaluation" of the travel and global health situation because of the coronavirus pandemic. They added that plans to host LAN tournaments with an on-site audience are being put on hold at least until November.
"The past year has forced many changes to events and tournament formats, all of which will make the return of fans in future all the more sweet, but the response from the esports community has been incredible," ESL says.
"The online formats have brought record broadcast numbers with ESL collaborating with teams and partners to bring the best possible viewing experience to fans around the world. While current plans entail all events after ESL One Cologne will be played out as in-person studio competition, ESL is also working hard and exploring all available options to bring back live events in November.
"Further quarterly updates will be given so that the esports community can be kept up to speed on all upcoming tournaments across ESL’s gaming titles."
ESL's revised 2021 calendar currently looks as follows:
DreamHack Masters Spring 2021: 29 Apr - May 9 / $250,000 / 16 Teams / Online
IEM Summer 2021: 03 - 13 June / $250,000 / 16 Teams / Online
ESL One Cologne 2021: 06 - 18 Jul / $1,000,000 / 24 Teams / Studio
EPL: Season 14 Malta: 08 Sep - 10 Oct / $750,000 / 24 Teams / Studio
IEM Fall 2021: 14 - 24 Oct* / $250,000 / 16 Teams / Studio
IEM Winter 2021: / 02 - 12 Dec / $250,000 / 16 Teams / Live Event Asia
*ESL has acknowledged that IEM Fall overlaps with the recent announcement of the PGL Major. It is working on solutions to adjust and will update in due course.
All tickets purchased for ESL One Cologne remain valid for next year's event, which will culminate in the playoffs at the LANXESS Arena from July 15-17. Fans can also ask for a refund by contacting their ticket providers.