With ESL One Cologne already on the cards, it's hardly a surprise that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's best-endowed league is also returning for 2016. Last year, we streamed 30 million hours of the ESL One Pro League, and it looks as if ESL is planning to push the event from 'large' to 'ludicrous' starting February 9 and coming to a head in May.
The prize pool has increased 50% to $1.5 million, and live, in-person viewership will be heavily promoted, but it's a snippet from Vice President of Pro Gaming Ulrich Schulze that has my attention:
"It’s not just offline audiences we’re aiming for: television broadcasts, a higher standard of online production, a continued emphasis on competitive integrity—these are just some of the things you will see this year.”
The statement reads as an acknowledgment of the pitfalls esports has skirted in 2015 and a major boast: yes, there's been trouble, but look, we're on telly! Despite being altogether more inconvenient than streaming, television is still treated as the Grail of acceptance and respectability for esports. I'm intrigued to see how and where CS:GO will be broadcast, and who that televisual CS:GO-watching demographic consists of.
The full rundown and schedule of the 24 teams taking part will soon be available on the ESL Pro League website.