The best and brightest of the professional Counter-Strike world are converging upon ESL’s Malta studio to test their mettle against each other in the biggest league-based competition of the CS:GO scene. With interesting format adjustments and a constant evolution of the scene, there is always something exciting to follow. Here’s everything you need to know about ESL Pro League Season 17.
The seventeenth season of ESL Pro League will feature the greatest teams in the esports scene. ESL’s franchising deal – also known as the Louvre Agreement – offers fifteen permanent partner slots in an ever-expanding competition, with teams from the company’s lower-level tournaments and leagues able to qualify for the event by winning qualifiers, designated LANs or by ranking high enough on the ESL-calculated world leaderboard.
The tournament takes place in ESL’s Malta studios over an extended period of play: between February 22 and March 26. This is part of the big revamp they did for the competition, extending it to 32 teams and redesigning the previous round robin group stage. The participants are fighting it out for their share of the $850 000 prize pool, with the winner taking home $200 000 and a guaranteed qualification spot for IEM Cologne 2023 (and BLAST’s World Final 2023 event as an unrelated cherry on top).
The permanent partner team positions are subject to review on a performance basis, though you have to really drop the ball to fall that far – and even then, there is no obligation for ESL to remove the org. Evil Geniuses had such odious performances over and over again in recent seasons of the Pro League that they triggered this automatic review, but there was no indication that the storied North American organization would be booted from the franchise deal. Once again, they finished dead last in their group without a single game won.
Here is the full list of teams in ESL Pro League Season 17:
The new format for the ESL Pro League features a triple-elimination bracket instead of the round-robin matches of the recent seasons. This clarifies the stakes for each series for viewers and players alike – no more complicated calculations about potential tiebreakers!
The deal is much simpler this time: win three series and you qualify for the playoffs. Do it through the upper bracket, and you get directly seeded into the quarterfinals. Finish as the runner-up, you also make it through, but you will have to start your playoff journey from the Round of 12, albeit with a seeding advantage. The team qualifying through the mid bracket is the third-place finisher in each group: they get a higher seed in the round of 16, meeting the lower bracket qualifiers (the lower seeds) in the round. This way, 16 of the 32 participants make it to the single-elimination knockout bracket.
All upsets are hard-fought here as every single match in the competition is a best-of-three affair, with the exception of the grand final, which is a best-of-five marathon with guaranteed potential to become an instant classic.
The tournament is also notable for a more laid-back, casual commentary style by the usually buttoned-up crew, offering fans interesting insights and a new angle on their personalities and thoughts. There’s more banter and fun, with players and other participants sometimes also hopping in for some casting duties. It’s all very Beyond the Summit-like (may they rest in peace), and an interesting way to make the event stand out in the circuit. It remains to be seen how well this experiment goes over time.
At the time of writing, the CS:GO matches played out so far resolved the outcomes of Group A and Group B of the ESL Pro League’s seventeenth season. Here’s how it all went down and what you should look forward to during the rest of the event:
The playoffs will take place between March 20 and March 22.