ESL Pro League 14 Moves Online – Gambit favorites again?
The world of Esports has had a rough year with in-person events drastically cut down. This has affected everything from the top fighting games through to popular shooters. It did look like this period was coming to an end, with the return of numerous in-person events. CS GO in particular was shaping up to head back online.
This is a game where connection matters, and playing via LAN makes things considerably more exciting for fans and players. However, this week we’ve got the news that the ESL Pro League 14 will be moving back online. Thanks to new restrictions in Europe, this CSGO tournament is having its organization moved around again. This is what’s changed and what you can expect at the tournament.
ESL Pro League 14
The ESL Pro League is one of the premier events for CSGO. The best CSGO players compete here, hoping to win out world’s top teams. The last season of the ESL Pro League took place online rather than through LAN, and we saw plenty of teams struggling to adapt. EPL 14 was due to be taking place on LAN in Malta, a fresh continuation after a LAN held IEM Cologne.
However, a decision has now been made to move the tournament to an online-only format. The new format is going to be played in much the same way as the 13th version of the League. With a year of online under their belt, organizers are now a lot more experienced in running high-stakes tournaments only online. The tournament is due to run from August 16ththrough to September 12th. It’ll also feature a $750,000 prize pool. This is how it’s going to be played:
- Group Stage – This is the first stage. Groups of 6 compete in best of 3 matches. The top players proceed into the player offs, with the second and third placing teams going into a round of 12
- Play-In – The play-in is going to be played in a single-elimination bracket. All of the matches will be played as best of 3 with the winning teams advancing to the semi-finals and losing teams advancing to the quarter-finals.
- Play-Offs – A single elimination bracket is going to be held with best of 3 matches. The grand final between the top two placing teams will be best of five.
We would have loved to continue on LAN, but due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-related travel restrictions, #ESLProLeague S14 will take place online with all 24 teams competing from their homes and boot camp locations within Europe.
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) July 20, 2021
While the organizers have ironed out the majority of the kinks, the news is still disappointing to fans. You only have to look to the receptions teams have been getting at their first in-person events recently to see how much it has been missed.
Gambit back on top?
The ESL Pro League going to LAN spells good news for at least two teams. Gambit and Heroic have been the kings of the online era after uberclimbing the standings in the past year. As soon as we returned to in-person play, they retained some form, but far from the dominance they had when everything was held online.
Having EPL14 online might put a stop to Natus Vincere and their pursuit of the Intel Grand Slam title. S1mple and the boys only recently went back to the #1 global position, and were looking to seal off a great season with a Pro League trophy and a Grand Slam to boot. Instead, playing online might make Gambit the overall favorites and knock NaVi down to second once again. Not all is lost however, as NaVi still has IEM Fall and IEM Winter to seal the deal.
Heroic is also in a similar position as Gambit. After winning the fully online EPL13, they have struggled to keep momentum and going to LAN didn’t do them any favors either. A return to online play, might be just CadiaN needs to flex that AWP and clutch out a back2back trophy.
It will be interesting to see how the tail end of summer ends up in terms of performance. For future tournaments, the ESL is going to continue to evaluate things on a case-by-case basis. This includes two more LAN tournaments that are currently upcoming; the IEM Fall and IEM Winter. These are big events for CSGO betting, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can manage any more LAN action.