ESL 2021 tournament calendar features a packed schedule!

ESL and Dreamhack tournaments have long since been fixtures on any esports fans calendar – and after the struggle that was the 2020 competitive season, 2021 sees a slow return towards what we were used to. That’s right: At least some of the ESL’s tournaments this year will be held as in-person events.

They still won’t have a live audience, but even a safe studio environment will be quite a change from the entirely remote competitions we’ve been watching. According to a recent press release, ESL is aiming to go back to live audiences by November this year, though that will likely depend on a number of factors out of their control, such as local legislation and infection numbers at the time.

They have promised to evaluate each individual tournament beforehand to make sure that no guidelines are violated, and everything goes down as safely as possible.

The tournament schedule for CS:GO

For the time being, the Intel® Extreme Masters: Katowice & ESL Pro League Season 13 will all be held remotely, with the EPL having their playoffs live in a studio in Malta. The ESL One Cologne will be a live event with an audience – as their flagship event, they’ve said they don’t want to close the arena to the public. Once again, they’ve said they will evaluate this again later in the year.

The DreamHack Masters Spring 2021 will be held in a Studio, as will the IEM Summer 2021. Various other IEM events will also take place in a studio, with only the IEM Winter 2021 in Asia potentially being a full Live Event. Here is the full list of the events with their dates, prize pools, and the number of teams participating:

  • EM Katowice 2021 – 16 – 28 Feb – $1,000,000 – 24 Teams
  • EPL: Season 13 Malta – 08 Mar – 11 Apr – $750,000 – 24 Teams
  • DreamHack Masters Spring 2021 – 29 Apr – May 9 – $250,000 – 16 Teams
  • IEM Summer 2021 – 03 – 13 June – $250,000 – 16 Teams
  • ESL One Cologne 2021 – 06 – 18 Jul – $1,000,000 – 24 Teams
  • EPL: Season 14 Malta- 08 Sep – 10 Oct – $750,000 – 24 Teams
  • IEM Fall 2021 – 14 – 24 Oct* – $250,000 – 16 Teams
  • IEM Winter 2021 – 02 – 12 Dec – $250,000 – 16 Teams

For those tournaments that aren’t online-only, ESL is following their ‘Return to LAN’ guidelines – they include testing before travel and arrival at the event, a controlled environment, and accommodation for participants and staff to make sure contact to others is limited as much as possible, and of course prepared (though unnamed) plans for what to do if someone tests positively after their arrival, or during their stay. These guidelines also cover the participants’ return home.

Those who’ve bought tickets for the events above can request either deferral or refunds – even for the events that are happening in person, such as the ESL One Rio. ESL has said that if ticket holders prefer a refund, they should contact Eventbrite for this.

Other Events

The two ESL One events for Dota have yet to be assigned dates – they are expected to take place as LAN events though, with the ESL One Winter potentially even having a live audience. Ticketholders to the ESL One Birmingham will receive a refund.

EPT StarCraft II and Warcraft III tournament schedules are as follows:

  • WC3 Open: Summer – 17 Apr – May 30 – $25,000
  • DH SC2 Masters: Summer – May 19 – Jul 4 – $170,000
  • WC3 Open: Fall – 10 Jul – Aug 22 – $25,000
  • DH SC2 Masters: Fall – Jul 28 – Sep 12 – $170,000
  • WC3 Open: Winter – 18 Sep – Oct 31 – $25,000
  • DH SC2 Masters: Winter – Sep 29 – Oct 17 – $170,000
  • DreamHack WC3 Championship 2021 – December – $130,000
  • DH SC2 Masters: Last Chance – Jan 13 – Jan 16 – $40,000
  • IEM Katowice 2022 – Feb, Mar – $500,000

Dose of optimism

The recent announcement is a god-sent for all the tipsters worrying about competitive integrity and were reluctant to jump into esports betting due to online play. Finally, plenty of events will be in-person, and the subtle anxiety over match integrity is going to dissipate.

Expect a lot of our power rankings to change once tournaments return to a LAN environment as well. Plenty organizations that excelled during the online-only era of 2020 are going to face severe difficulties once play returns in-person.

We are only a few months away before everything returns back to normal.

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