Zero prospective ESL "member" teams signed formal agreements to join the ESL Pro League before ESL's Friday afternoon announcement, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations.
ESL announced Friday changes to ESL Pro League that include a reduction from 48 to 24 teams and a list of organizations invited to participate in Season 11. Of the 24 teams, at least 13 will be "member teams," the specific organizations with whom ESL intends to form long-term partnerships. That list includes, but is not limited to, the following teams.
- Evil Geniuses
- FaZe Clan
- 100 Thieves
- Natus Vincere
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
- Team Liquid
- G2 Esports
- Team Vitality
None of the above teams signed formal agreements to join ESL Pro League at the time of ESL's announcement, according to sources. None of the them had signed more than a non-binding letter of intent. It is unclear if those teams, or any of the other 11 teams listed in ESL's announcement, have signed agreements since then. (UPDATE: Since this article's publication, Ninjas in Pyjamas has tweeted they will join ESL Pro League).
ESL's announcement led many in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community to believe the agreements with 24 teams were final because of the use of the word "invited." The common use of that term within the professional CS:GO tournament landscape -- one that is often used by ESL itself when announcing event participants -- is that the teams are confirmed to attend the event. Although all teams listed could end up participating in Season 11 of ESL Pro League, the actual list of teams has not been finalized.
Non-member teams include the following teams, which include two changes compared to information reported by DBLTAP yesterday, due to Cloud9 and MIBR declining to participate in the upcoming season:
All teams not included in this report, including teams who had expected to play relegation or had participated in ESL Pro League Season 10, will now play Mountain Dew League Season 33 that begins in just three days. They will compete for spots in ESL Pro League Season 12 as well as an additional $75,000 in prize money. ESL plans to announce more information in the coming weeks.
ESL declined comment.