Big changes are on the horizon for the ESL Pro League
ESL have announced a format change to the ESL Pro League before the start of Season 9. The main change, for Europe and the Americas, is that the league is being brought offline to a studio environment with no more online matches.
The changes will see 16 teams take part in all divisions, split into four groups. For the Americas division, North America will make up three groups, 12 teams, with the last group filled by four teams from South America. The Americas will receive six spaces at the ESL Pro League finals, down from last season's combined seven spots, Europe will receive eight, up one, and APAC will remain the same at two, one from Oceania and one for the rest of Asia.
Qualification for the finals will be done in two group stages. The top placing team from each of the four groups will head straight to the LAN event, with the second place and third place teams from each group heading to another group stage. From there, the top placed teams from the two groups in the Americas and APAC divison will secure spots at LAN, where as in Europe qualification can be secured from the top two places. The seeding for the initial group stage will be done based off ESL's world ranking.
The group matches for Europe and Americas are set to be played at the ESL UK Studio in Leicester, UK, and a to be announced additional studio in the USA. Season 9 of the ESL Pro League is set to commence on April 12th, 2019. The venue for the finals is to be announced.
The decision to move offline was part of the announced co-operation between ESL and FACEIT regarding the fixture congestion that their online leagues had been producing. The announcement on ECS's format changes would be expected soon.