ESL Pro League
|Current season, competition or edition:|
ESL Pro League Season 9
|Game||Counter-Strike: Global Offensive|
|Founded||May 4, 2015|
|Owner(s)||Electronic Sports League |
|No. of teams||48|
| Team Liquid|
|Most titles|| Fnatic|
|Official website||EPL English website|
The ESL Pro League (formerly ESL ESEA Pro League; shortened as EPL) is a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) professional esports league. It is based on four regions: Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania, and currently comprises up to 48 teams: 16 in Europe, 16 in the Americas, 8 in Asia, and 8 in Oceania. The ESL Pro League is considered to be the premier professional CS:GO league in the world (along with FACEIT's Esports Championship Series) and is one of the major professional leagues in esports. The ESL Pro League began as a venture between the Electronic Sports League (ESL) and E-Sports Entertainment Association League (ESEA). Its inaugural season started on May 4, 2015.
In early November 2014, the German-based Electronic Sports League announced the creation of the ESL Pro League as the European ESL league. On April 28th, 2015, ESL announced a joint venture with the North American-based E-Sports Entertainment Association League to provide a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league with 500,000 USD in total prize money in the first season between two continents. Since then, it has expanded to fourteen teams per region and raised its prize pool to 1,000,000 USD and has two season per year. ESL rose the prize pool once more by making the teams fight for $1,000,000 in the Finals, raising the season prize pool by $250,000. In addition, the number of teams in the finals rose to sixteen, with more teams from regions other than North American and Europe participating in the Finals.
The first season featured twelve teams from each continent that were invited by ESL to participate in its inaugural season that started on May 4, 2015 with Team Dignitas defeating Titan. In the first three seasons, the EPL gave the top four teams in each league a ticket to the finals on an offline (LAN) tournament. Starting with Season 4, ESL decided to expand the Pro League to 28 teams, so that there would be fourteen teams per league. This also meant that six teams from each region would qualify for the offline finals. For each regular season, teams would play every team twice in its respective league, so that each team played twenty-two games for the first three seasons and twenty-four games from season four to season seven. However, in Season 7, two teams – Counter Logic Gaming and Misfits – dropped their rosters and forfeited their Pro League licenses, reducing the number of North American teams to twelve. Also in season 7, ESL decided to expand geographically by creating the Asia-Pacific and LA LEAGUE (South America) divisions, bumping the number of teams up from 24 to 40. This was later for season 9 changed to four regions as North America and South America were integrated into one region. In addition, the Europe and Americas region features offline group play. Season 9 featured eight teams from Europe, six teams from the Americas, one team from Asia, and one team from the Oceania region.
The first three offline finals had eight teams, in which teams were split up into two groups of four in a double-elimination, GSL group format and two teams from each group qualified for the playoffs. The playoffs featured four teams, with the semifinals being a best of three and the finals being a best of five. Starting from season four to season six, teams were split up into two groups of six and each team would play every team in its group once for the group stage. Three teams from each group qualified for the playoffs. The round of 6 and the semifinals are best of three series and the finals area best of five, with the exception of season four, in which the finals were a best of three. In season seven, with the EPL expansion, the number of teams went up to sixteen.
ESL Pro League also features a promotion and relegation stage, in which the worst performing team in each league after each season is relegated to ESEA's Premier Division (Mountain Dew League) while the best team from the Premier Division is promoted to the Pro League. In addition, the next two worst performing teams by the end of the Pro League Season and the next two best teams in the Premier Division play out a double elimination bracket to fight for two spots in the following season's Pro League while the other two would play in the Premier Division.
Unlike the Valve-sponsored CS:GO Major Championships, in which team slots are given based on the player rosters, ESL awards spots to the organization. For instance, Valve would consider SK Gaming to have won two Major Championships, as the players (FalleN, fer, coldzera, fnx, TACO) won one at MLG Columbus 2016 while under contract with Luminosity Gaming and won another at ESL One Cologne 2016 while under contract with SK Gaming. In addition, if the majority of the roster transfers to another team, Valve would give take away the spot from the old team and give it to the team that the core of the roster headed to. At ESL One Katowice 2015, PENTA Sports made it to the top eight at the tournament, giving the players a guaranteed spot at the next major, ESL One Cologne 2015; however, players denis, Spiidi, and nex were bought out by mousesports, thus giving mousesports PENTA Sports's spot at Cologne 2015 as the majority of PENTA moved to the mousesports team. EPL would consider Luminosity Gaming, which won Season 3, to have one title and SK Gaming, which won Season 6, to also have just one title. However, a team is allowed to sell or simply give its Pro League license to another organization, as in the case of Tempo Storm transferring its roster to the Immortals organization for Season 4.
|FaZe Clan||eUnited||5Power Gaming||Athletico Esports|
|Fnatic||Ghost Gaming||ALPHA Red||Avant Gaming|
|G2 Esports||Infinity Esports||B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape||Breakaway Esports|
|HellRaisers||INTZ eSports||Entity Gaming||Chiefs Esports Club|
|Heroic||Isurus Gaming||Lucid Dream||Grayhound Gaming|
|mousesports||Lazarus Gaming||MVP PK||Ground Zero Gaming|
|Natus Vincere||Luminosity Gaming||TyLoo||ORDER|
|Ninjas in Pyjamas||MIBR||ViCi Gaming||Paradox Gaming|
|OpTic Gaming||NRG Esports / Evil Geniuses|
|Windigo Gaming||Team Liquid|
Notable former teams
Former teams that are noteworthy are listed below. The country beside the team name was the nationality of the last players fielded by the team before being out of Pro League. "Inactive" indicates the team is not active in the Counter-Strike scene, but the team is active in other eSports. "Defunct" indicates the team shut down operations due to any reason, such as financial issues. "Premier Division," also known as the Mountain Dew League, means that the team is in the division under the Pro League. FlipSid3 Tactics became the first team that took part in an EPL season to be demoted to the Main Division, which is the division under the Premier Division.
|Team SoloMid||Season 2||Inactive|
|FlipSid3 Tactics||Season 3||Main Division|
|PENTA Sports||Season 4||Inactive|
|Echo Fox||Season 5||Inactive|
|Selfless Gaming||Season 5||Defunct|
|Virtus.pro||Season 5||Premier Division|
|Counter Logic Gaming||Season 6||Inactive|
|SK Gaming||Season 7||Inactive|
The list of seasons and the top two teams in each season are in shown below. The number next to the teams shows what positions they placed during the regular season in their respective leagues.
|1||Cologne||Fnatic (EU 1)||Cloud9 (NA 1)||3-1|||
|2||Burbank||Fnatic (EU 2)||Natus Vincere (EU 3)||3-2|||
|3||London||Luminosity Gaming (NA 1)||G2 Esports (EU 4)||3-2|||
|4||São Paulo||Cloud9 (NA 1)||SK Gaming (NA 3)||2-1|||
|5||Dallas||G2 Esports (EU 2)||North (EU 1)||3-1|||
|6||Odense||SK Gaming (NA 2)||FaZe Clan (EU 3)||3-1|||
|7||Dallas||Astralis (EU 6)||Team Liquid (NA 1)||3-1|||
|8||Odense||Astralis (EU 1)||Team Liquid (NA 3)||3-1|||
|9||Montpellier||Team Liquid||G2 Esports||3-1|||
ESL also has two other leagues outside of Counter-Strike. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege is currently in its ninth season with its finals taking place in Milan, Italy. G2 Esports has the most titles with four as the team won the Year 1 Season 1, Year 2 Season 1, Year 2 Season 2, and Season 8 titles. In addition to the Rainbow Six Siege league, ESL also has a Halo league. However, the two leagues are much less prominent than the Counter-Strike league as Rainbow Six only has a $248,000 prize pool compared to CS:GO's $1,000,000 prize pool.
- "ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "World's largest Counter-Strike league to be hosted by ESL and ESEA". ESL Gaming. April 2, 2015. Archived from the original on May 2, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
- Mira, Luis (February 20, 2018). "ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals expanded to 16 teams". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
- Steiner, Dustin (February 20, 2018). "ESL Pro League Returns to Dallas for $1 Million Finals". Unikrn. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
- Schulze, Ulrich (February 20, 2018). "Ulrich Schulze on Twitter: The expansion to 16 teams for #ESLProLeague finals comes with geographical expansion. More details on that soon". Twitter. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
- "Titan vs. Dignitas". HLTV.org. May 4, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- Villanueva, Jamie (February 11, 2018). "Misfits and CLG back out of the ESL Pro League". Dot eSports. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- Burazin, Zvonimir (December 18, 2018). "ESL INTRODUCES OFFLINE PRO LEAGUE GROUP MATCHES IN EU, NA". HLTV.org. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
- "ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 Finals overview". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals overview". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals overview". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals overview". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals overview". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals overview". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals overview". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals overview". HLTV.org. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals overview". HLTV.org. Retrieved June 23, 2019.