As ESL Pro League heads into its 11th season of play this year, a large change in format is expected to take place that includes combining four regions into one 24-team league, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the format.
Echoing a report last week by Richard Lewis, 24 teams who previously had a spot in ESL's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league will no longer have one due to the previous total of 48 teams getting cut in half. ESL must decide which 24 teams are being withheld for the upcoming season and which 24 teams will no longer hold a spot. According to multiple sources, the teams expected to have a spot in Season 11 -- should they choose to participate -- are as follows:
- Evil Geniuses
- Team Liquid
- G2 Esports
- Natus Vincere
- FaZe Clan
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
- 100 Thieves
- Team Vitality
It is unclear at this time exactly how the spots were chosen by ESL, but multiple sources explained that it involved a combination of those who agree to the Lanxess Agreement, finalists from the playoffs of Season 10, won the previous Mountain Dew League season, and ESL World Ranking. Should a team who previously had a spot in ESL Pro League not make the cut, they would be granted a spot in the future season of MDL. According to multiple sources, there has been no official communication from ESL to the respective teams from Season 10 about this change prior to publishing.
With at least Cloud9 and MIBR having already committed to the upcoming “B Site” league that clashes with ESL Pro League’s schedule, further adjustment will be necessary to decide which teams will make the final cut of 24. With the Season 11 set to begin on March 9 and the upcoming MDL Season set to begin in just over a week, not much time remains.
The uncertainty about which leagues teams choose comes as ESL concludes a three-day summit Thursday with many of the teams listed above, an event designed to lay out ESL's vision in hopes of getting commitments from orgs.
ESL declined comment.