ESL Pro League expands to 32 teams, introduces new format
ESL Pro League's group stage will be transitioning from a single round-robin to a triple-elimination format with eight additional teams.
ESL has announced a series of changes to ESL Pro League, aiming to 'ensure a more global representation of teams in the core of the tournament while maximizing the importance of each match.' The changes to the event focus on an increased number of teams competing in the group stage, and will abolish the Conference Stage starting in season 18.
Starting with EPL Season 17 there will be a total of 32 teams participating in the group stage, eight more than the previous six seasons where there were 24 squads. All 32 teams will be split into four groups of eight — a double-elimination group plus a last chance bracket. Four teams from each group will then progress to a single-elimination playoff bracket, where they will battle it out for the ESL Pro League trophy.
Season 17 also marks the final time the Conference Stage will take place due to the ESL Pro League group stage's expansion. It will be held on the week of January 16 in an online setting and 11 teams will advance to the group stage in February.
The team allocation starting in Season 18 will comprise the 15 partnered organizations; four teams qualified from the Europe region; three teams qualified through the ESL World Ranking; two each from the North America, South America, Asia, and Oceania regions; and finally two ESL Challenger champions.
ESL Pro League Season 17 will now run on February 22-March 26, one week shorter than what was previously announced, due to the Conference Stage being moved online a month prior. The upcoming event will also feature a particular allocation in contrast with any future seasons. Movistar Riders, Outsiders, and paiN qualified by winning ESL Challenger tournaments; Cloud9, OG and Spirit earned spots through their ESL World Ranking positions; and 11 teams will each book their place by making it through the Conference Stage.
Three teams will make it past the Conference Stage from Europe, while two spots each will be given to the North America, South America, Asia, and Oceania regions. More information such as the exact format and schedule for each regional competition will be released in the upcoming days.
The future ESL Pro League competitions to be held in 2024 are also expected to follow a similar format as the 2023 seasons, and will be announced at a later date.
The teams that will be competing at ESL Pro League Season 17 are:
Ninjas in Pyjamas
The teams playing the online Pro League Conference are: