Conference is dead, long live Pro League

Among the most dramatic changes this season is the removal of the Conference LAN prior to Pro League, moving it all online.

In an announcement this morning, ESL detailed a new format and a new future for ESL Pro League Conference. Starting with ESL Pro League S18, the Conference stage will no longer exist, with five weeks of competition taking place instead of six. However, with the removal of the league, there will be 32 spots in ESL Pro League and double-elimination groups with a last-chance bracket. The planned team allocation for the Season 18 Group Stage will be as follows:

  • 15 Louvre Partner Teams;

  • Three teams qualifying via their ESL World Ranking;

  • Two teams qualifying by winning an ESL Challenger competition;

  • Four teams qualifying from the European (EU) region;

  • Two teams qualifying from the North American (NA) region;

  • Two teams qualifying from the South American (SA) region;

  • Two teams qualifying from the Asian (AS) region;

  • Two teams qualifying from the Oceania (OCE) region.

The four best teams from each Group Stage group proceed to the Playoffs with a round-of-16 Single Elimination bracket:

ESL Pro League, starting in 2024, are expected to follow that format with a similar team allocation, which is set be announced by ESL later in 2023.

Changes to ESL Pro League Season 17

The upcoming season of ESL Pro League now has a new schedule, beginning February 22nd and ending March 26, 2023. The new schedule sees the expected time of Pro League ending one week earlier than previously.

In contrast with other future seasons, the Group Stage of ESL Pro League Season 17 will have a unique team allocation:

  • The 15 Louvre Partner Teams (Astralis, BIG, Complexity, ENCE, Evil Geniuses, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, FURIA, G2, Heroic, MOUZ, NAVI, NIP, Team Liquid, and Vitality);

  • The three teams that qualified by winning an ESL Challenger competition (Riders, Outsiders, and paiN);

  • The three teams that qualified based on their position in the ESL World Ranking (Cloud9, OG Esports, and Spirit);

  • Eleven teams that will qualify after competing in the ESL Pro League Conference Stage.

Currently, 23 teams have earned berths to the Conference Stage with an eye on the Group Stage for ESL Pro League 17. However, compared to years past when ESL would have each team compete on LAN against one another for spots, they will now be regionalized and played out online with automatic berths per region. The dramatic move is in stark contrast in years past, but also serves as a more beneficial way for more marginalized regions to face off in the later stages of competition.

The 23 teams that competed across the second half of 2022 in ESL Challenger League, ESL National Championships, and partnered National Competitions are positioned as follows:

Europe - Three teams advance to the Group Stage

  • ECL S41: Team Falcons

  • ECL S42: 9INE

  • ECL S43: forZe

  • ESL NC TR: Eternal Fire

  • ESL NC UK: Endpoint CeX

  • ESL NC DE: Sprout

  • ESL NC PL: Permitta Esports

  • ESL NC ES: Case Esports


  • ESL NC BNL: KRC Genk

  • ESL NC CH: Babos

  • RES Adriatic League: Partizan

  • Master League Portugal: SAW

North America - Two teams advance to the Group Stage

  • ECL S41: ATK

  • ECL S42: Nouns

  • ECL S43: MIBR

South America - Two teams advance to the Group Stage

  • EC Melbourne 2nd: Imperial Sportsbet


  • SA Qualifier: TBD

Asia - Two teams advance to the Group Stage

  • ECL S41: Rare Atom

  • ECL S42: Lynn Vision

  • 1ECL S43: IHC Esports

Oceania - Two teams advance to the Group Stage

  • ANZ Champs S2 1st: Grayhound

  • ANZ Champs S2 2nd: Rooster

  • Oceania Qualifier: TBD

Speaking about the change, Shaun Clark, Senior Director of Game Ecosystems – CS:GO said;

Our mission is to serve the community, and every discussion and decision taken keeps this in mind. Throughout 2022 we've been assessing the state of the ESL Pro League and striving to make positive changes to the product. The three priorities we set were to add more meaningful matches, to accommodate a larger and more global representation of teams, and to improve the broadcast experience. We believe the changes we've started to roll out, with more to come, are putting us on the right track moving forward.”

More details regarding the change will be made available in the coming days.

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#1(With 0 replies)
December 21, 2022 11:56AM
i liked the old format, but if more teams have more chances, then so be it
#2(With 2 replies)
December 21, 2022 03:12PM
How did Nouns get a spot? And what happened to paiN?
#4(With 1 replies)
December 21, 2022 07:48PM
Pain is in pro league no more middle man qualifer for dreamhack
#5(With 0 replies)
December 23, 2022 08:04PM
Ohhhh, I skipped right over that. Thanks!
#3(With 0 replies)
December 21, 2022 07:47PM
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