WePlay announces $100,000 academy league
The competing teams must feature at least four players between the ages of 16 and 20.
WePlay has announced the creation of an academy league in partnership with eight top organisations, with the event featuring a $100,000 prize pool and an offline playoff stage. Included among the invited teams are NAVI Junior, mouz NXT, and Young Ninjas, as well as Fnatic Rising, whose roster will be announced in short order, HLTV.org has learned.
WePlay Academy League Season 1 will solely feature teams that have at least four players between the ages of 16-20, and kick off with an online round-robin group stage on July 19, from which the top three teams will advance directly to the double-elimination playoffs.
The bottom-placed team from the group stage will be eliminated, while the remaining four will enter a gauntlet stage for the final spot in the playoffs. The bracket stage will take place at the WePlay Esports Arena in Kyiv from August 27-29, with the winner walking home with the lion's share of the prize pool.
“The league provides an excellent platform for the young prodigies to show themselves, competing against their counterparts from other clubs," NAVI's COO Aleksey Kucherov states in the announcement. "There’s also the process of getting ready to play against certain opponents and the long-term planning of roster changes for playing certain roles.
"There will be media days and interviews, the players will develop as individuals. In general, there will be everything that’s already present in Tier 1 CS:GO, everything you need to get used to at the very early stages of your career as a pro gamer."
The eight teams who will take part in the inaugural season WePlay's academy league are:
The emergence of the league comes in the wake of a number of top organisations creating academy rosters to pull players from, most notably with NIP promoting both Erik "ztr" Gustafsson and Linus "LNZ" Holtäng from Young Ninjas, as well as Natus Vincere adding Valeriy "B1T" Vakhovskiy from NAVI Junior.
The academy teams offer organisations the chance to educate talent from a young age in the mould of a professional player while offering an alternative to buying out players from other organisations. The league will allow for further development in the shape of formal tournament appearances and interviews, giving players an early experience of attending more professional events.