NA finalizes Pro League representatives
ESL announced they would be making sweeping changes to ESL Pro League format for Season 17, expanding the league to 32 teams and scrapping the LAN Conference tournament. In its place they put regional Conference tournaments which enabled a more diverse team list for ESL Pro League season 17.
The North American Conference saw ATK (winners of ECL season 41), Nouns ( winners of ECL season 42), MIBR (winners of ECL season 43) face off against each other for the two Pro League spots on offer. Both Nouns and MIBR were at an immediate disadvantage as they would have to win two matches to grab a spot whilst ATK were automatically placed in the upper-bracket final.
Unfortunate timing for ATK left them without South African Rhys "Fadey" Armstrong who was due to have surgery forcing him to return to South Africa. Luckily, for the ATK squad, Ian "motm" Hardy agreed to stand-in for the team despite being recently dropped in favor of Jonathan 'djay' Dallal.
ATK would overcome this hurdle and reverse sweep the MIBR team in the upper bracket final. However, the Brazilian side will soon be joining ATK in Malta as MIBR once again proved to strong for Nouns in the lower bracket final.
ATK and MIBR's qualification means there will be a total of four NA sides as ATK join Liquid, Complexity and EG all of whom are ESL partner teams. Whilst there will be five Brazilian teams as MIBR join countrymen FURIA, Imperial, paiN and 00NATION. Imperial and 00NATION made it to Pro League after they both beat Flamengo in the South American Conference, whilst paiN qualify after their triumph at ESL Challenger Melbourne last year.
ESL Pro League Season 17 kicks off in Malta on February 22nd and will run until March 26th.