EPL Season 15 Conference set to begin
The three best teams from the Conference tournament will secure spots at the group stage of ESL Pro League Season 15.
The ESL Pro League Season 15 Conference is set to start on Tuesday, November 23, marking the beginning of a new qualifying stage for the event that features 16 teams. The tournament will last through the 28th, and the attending teams earned their spots through a multitude of different ESL events.
The champions of DreamHack tournaments in June, September, and November, the 2nd (or next highest placing) teams from ESEA Premier Season 38, and the winners of eight different ESL National Championships were all awarded spots in the stage that is reminiscent of the Play-Ins that were added for IEM Katowice and Cologne.
For the Season 15 version of the Conference, only three of the 16 teams will advance to the main stage of ESL Pro League, but starting in Season 16, six teams will be able to snag spots in the 24-team group stage. The teams will compete in a double elimination bracket, which will see two teams advance from the upper bracket and one from the lower bracket.
Here is a list of the teams set to compete at the EPL Conference along with how they qualified:
GODSENT (DH Sep)
Renegades (DH Sep)
Anonymo (Premier S38)
ORDER (ANZ Champs)
Movistar Riders (España)
Eternal Fire (Türkiye)
In the case of MAD Lions, they were awarded the spot despite placing third at DreamHack November due to first and second place being occupied by EPL Partner teams fnatic and BIG. For RBG, they received the spot for ESEA Premier Season 38 North America despite placing third as a result of the second place team, Extra Salt, already having a spot at the Conference.
Overall, most of the teams who will play at the Conference are fairly well known within the tier two levels of Counter-Strike. The two teams which are likely the least known at the top level are RBG and EC Brugge. The North American side have been competing within Premier for a couple of seasons now, and have featured in many a closed qualifier for larger events.
EC Brugge have quite an interesting composition, as along with their two standard Belgian players, the team features Richard "ritchiEE" Mestdagh instead of Italian Alex "FUSiON" Dincof to meet the Benelux requirements, as well as two Poles, including the Valve-banned Mateusz "matty" Kołodziejczyk.
Here are the initial matchups for the bracket:
The event actually has a quite strong parity among teams, with no massive names who are locked to advance nor any teams you can completely count out. The three highest ranked teams playing on Tuesday are Movistar Riders, MAD Lions, and GODSENT, with Extra Salt and Renegades also falling within the global Top 30. These teams serve as the primary favorites, as, aside from Anonymo, all other teams don't even break the Top 50.
There is still a strong potential for upsets, especially from the likes of Sprout, who recently added Kamil "KEi" Pietkun, Anonymo who picked up Michał "snatchie" Rudzki and Karol "rallen" Rodowicz, or Sharks, who have been consistently at the top in South America.
Aside from the three slots that will be decided via Conference, four more are left to be filled at ESL Pro League Season 15, all of which will be awarded to teams based on the ESL World Ranking. Heroic and Gambit are favorites to claim two of them, leaving few spots for teams outside of EPL S15 Conference to qualify for the tournament organizer's premier competition.
The ESL Pro League Season 15 team list looks as follows: