This agreement also makes the 13 teams majority stakeholders in the league and will have a role in how it operates. The agreement transforms the ESL Pro League into a 24-team competition (starting on its 11th season in March) with a single global division, moving away from a region-based model. The additional 11 teams must qualify on the basis of their world ranking or through the Mountain Dew League, the ESL Pro League’s gateway series.
Victor Goossens, founder and co-CEO of Team Liquid, said the teams and ESL have been working to plan for sustainable careers and futures for the esport.
“The new entity will utilize our combined strengths to pave the best path forward for everyone,” Goossens said in a prepared statement. “We consider this a monumental agreement and an important step forward for all of esports.”
The signed teams for the ESL Pro League are: Astralis, Complexicity, Evil Geniuses, ENCE, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, G2 Esports, Mousesports, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Liquid, Team Vitality and 100 Thieves.
The agreement means those partner teams are now majority stakeholders with a long-term slot for participation, and will earn a share of revenues from all competitions in the ESL Pro Tour, including IEM Katowice and the ESL One Cologne. The ESL Pro Tour has a total prize pool of $5 million across 20 tournaments and leagues.
“The other remaining 11 slots will be open to teams qualifying on the basis of their world ranking or directly through the Mountain Dew League, the ESL Pro League’s gateway competition,” said Craig Levine, ESL’s chief strategy officer. “This creates the best of both worlds by allowing for stability as well as new and up-and-coming teams to qualify.”
The news of the reconfigured ESL Pro League comes on the heels of a newly announced Counter-Strike league called Flashpoint, operated by FACEIT and funded by a consortium of other esports organizations. Flashpoint’s organizers have said they want to bring more personality and flash to esports, citing the WWE as an inspiration.