IHC, Sprout secure ESL Pro League Season 17 Conference spots*
The Mongolian side simply needed to reach the final of ESL Challenger League, whilst the Germans qualified through ESL Meisterschaft.
Update 22:00 : BIG Academy not eligible to participate in ESL Pro League Conference
ESL have informed HLTV that Sprout will replace BIG Academy in ESL Pro League Season 17 Conference due to the ineligibility of the latter.
Two more teams secured their place in ESL Pro League Season 17 Conference on Sunday, with IHC earning theirs through a top-two finish in the ESL Challenger League Season 43, and BIG Academy grabbing one by virtue of winning ESL Meisterschaft.
Over in Asia, IHC were defeated by Lynn Vision in the grand final of the Challenger League, with the latter securing back-to-back titles. Lynn Vision were pushed all the way by their Mongolian counterparts despite heading into the best-of-five with a one map advantage, losing Ancient (5-16) and Inferno (11-16), before coming alive to take Overpass (16-9) and Nuke (16-11).
The Chinese side had already bagged themselves a Conference berth with their success in Challenger League Season 42, and so despite finishing in second place IHC still managed to ensure their presence as well.
Lynn Vision were imperious in their run to the grand final, confidently sweeping strong Asian sides like Rare Atom and NKT along the way. They did not drop a map in the playoffs before the final, and Rare Atom were the only team to even reach a double digit round score against them. The final itself was a stiffer test as they had to recover from a 1-2 deficit in the series, and even overcame a meagre 5-10 CT side on the final map of Nuke.
IHC had to navigate a tougher path, having been knocked down to the lower bracket by NKT 2-0 in the opening round of the playoffs. They did so with aplomb, besting teams like ARAVT, Rare Atom and Wings Up, before bagging revenge against NKT to lock in a spot both in the final and in ESL Pro League Season 17 Conference.
In the other tournament that had a spot in the Conference on the line, BIG Academy took down Sprout in the ESL Meisterschaft, dropping the opener of Inferno (11-16) before taking Vertigo (16-12) and Overpass (19-17). No doubt the academy side were driven on by surprisingly vocal support from the BIG fan organisation Roaring Bears, but they were also aided by the fact Sprout were playing with their coach Danny "BERRY" Krüger on top of two further stand-ins.
Sprout had already announced prior to the offline finals in Hannover that this would be their final season participating in the ESL Meisterschaft. Their shift to an international lineup forces them to use stand-ins to compete in the national tournament; and for this season of Meisterschaft, Christoph "red" Hinrichs and Patrick "P4TriCK" Zaremba had been brought into the squad. They detailed their full reasoning for ending their participation in a statement released on their website.
BIG as an organization will need to determine what to do with the Conference spot as their academy team are not eligible to compete in ESL Pro League alongside their primary team. Either the academy team will need to be sold to another organization, or BIG Academy will need to forfeit their spot.
The ESL Pro League Season 17 Conference team list is as follows: