The ESL Pro League was originally known as the ESL ESEA Pro League. It's a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or CS:GO esports tournament that has been held every year since May 2015. The league is primarily based in four regions, namely Asia, America, Europe and Oceania. Every year around 24 teams participate, out of which there are 12 permanent partner teams. This is one of the most popular and widely renowned esports leagues worldwide.
ESL Pro League
The birth of the ESL Pro League
German esports production company ESL announced it was launching the ESL Pro League back in November 2014. On April 28, 2015, ESL partnered with North America's E-Sports Entertainment Association (ESEA). Together they came up with the idea of offering a prize pool of $500,000 for this league. At that time, the league was only played in North America and Europe.
The ESL Pro League Playing format
The league's first season included 12 teams from two continents. During the initial three seasons, the top 4 teams were given tickets to the final offline tournament. The tournament followed a GSL group or duel-elimination format. However, in Season 4, ESL increased the number of participants to 28. This allowed for 14 teams in each of two leagues. This in turn meant that six teams from each region qualified for the finals. ESL also introduced the Asia-Pacific and South America divisions during season 7. From season 13, the final matches had 12 teams and followed the single elimination bracket system.
Summary of every ESL Pro League season so far
The first season consisted of 2 leagues — the European and the North American. Both started on May 4, 2015. The European season ended on June 24, 2015. The first and final matches were between the same two teams — Team Dignitas and Titan. Dignitas beat Titan both times. The North American league saw Method losing to Luminosity Gaming in the opening match, and beating mouseSpaz in the last match. The much-awaited finals were held in Europe from 2nd July to 5th July 2015.
The 2nd season of the ESL Pro League started on September 9, 2015. While Team EnVyUs defeated MOUZ in the final game in Europe, Team Liquid bagged a victory against NME in North America. The finals were held in California, where Fnatic defeated Natus Vincere to win for the second year running.
The Season 3 finals took place in London, UK. They lasted from May 11, 2016, to May 15, 2016. Europe's league ended with team Ninjas in Pyjamas beating G2 Esports, while Team Liquid took the lead in North America's last match. In the finals, Luminosity Gaming defeated G2 Esports and emerged as the ultimate winner.
Winner: Luminosity Gaming
The prize money for the 4th season of the ESL PRO League was increased to $750,000. The finals took place in South America this time. They lasted from 28th October 2016 to 30th October 2016. A total of 28 teams from Europe and North America competed in two 14-team leagues and attempted to reach the finals.
The prize money for the fifth season was increased to $1,000,000. The final tournament lasted from May 30 to June 4 2017. It was held in the Verizon Theatre in Dallas, Texas. Cloud9 and Fnatic topped the North Americas and European leagues, respectively. However, G2 Esports took the top prize home.
Winner: G2 Esports
The finals for the sixth season took place in Denmark in December 2017. SK Gaming finally managed to bag the winning title this time. They defeated FaZe Clan 3-1 in a fierce competition in the finals.
Winner: SK gaming
The seventh season's final tournament took place in Dallas. The format underwent a major change at this time. An Asia-Pacific division was created. This included teams from three regions — China, Australia and New Zealand, and the Southeast Asia region. Astralis bagged their first win this season.
Season 8 witnessed the participation of five continents — Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, and South America. A total of 54 teams participated. The finals took place in Odense, Denmark and lasted from December 4 to December 9, 2018.
The regular season ran from April 12 to June 2019. The finals occurred in Montpellier, France. The format once again underwent a minor change this season. Instead of five leagues, only four were conducted. They included Europe, Asia, America and Oceania.
Winner: Team Liquid
The 10th season ESL Pro League finals lasted from 3rd December to 8th December 2019. Matches took place in Odense, Denmark. The prize money was reduced to USD 600,000 this season. FaZe Clan exhibited quite a disappointing performance this season.
This season was supposed to be held in Malta in 2020, but it was moved to an online format due to the onset of the pandemic. A system of permanent-partner teams was introduced in this season's league. Fnatic emerged as the winning team this season.
Season 12 of ESL Pro League was held online as well due to the continuation of the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. The prize money was reduced again this time to around USD 450,000. The season started on 1st September and continued till 6th October 2020.
The 13th season was very exciting with some power-packed performances. It lasted from 8th March to 11th April 2021. Once again, it had to be held online. Besides the eventual winner, Heroic, Gambit Esports was also in amazing form this season.
This season started on 16th August 2021 and concluded on 12th September 2021. Teams Heroic, OG, NaVi and Gambit Esports were in exceptional form this season. However, it was NaVi that managed to bag the prize money. Vitality was declared the runner-up.
Winner: Natus Vincere
ESL Pro League Records and Stats
- Astralis and Fnatic have each won the tournament three times
- Natus Vincere is the team that has participated most, always managing a top ten position.
The ESL Pro League completely changed the face of esports gaming globally. This is one of the most famous and important esports leagues. You can stream the upcoming Season 15 starting from March 9 through to April 10, 2022.