ESL and ESEA have teamed up to form the ESL ESEA Pro League, the biggest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in the history of the game. The league will consist of two divisions, one in North America and one in Europe, with 12 invited teams per division battling for their share of a $1 million prize pool.
“ESL started out with Counter-Strike more than fifteen years ago," ESL Managing Director Ralf Reichert said. "Now, many years later, we are extremely excited to be in a position where we can take the industry to the next level with the first regular US$500,000 Counter-Strike league together with ESEA."
Pro league seasons will be scheduled around Valve-supported majors, with weekly online matches that "aim to consolidate the Counter-Strike market by providing consistent high quality content to the global esports audience." Full travel support will also be extended to teams taking part in the four-day offline finals that will be held in Burbank, California, and Cologne, Germany
The North American lineup has not yet been announced, but the European division will consist of the following teams:
Ninjas In Pyjamas
It's not known how this jibes with reports from earlier this month that the ESL was negotiating with Twitch to create a new CS:GO league independent of Valve. No mention of Twitch was made in the announcement, and while it's a reasonable bet that this is somehow related to those talks—especially given the intent to "schedule around" Valve-sponsored events—it may also be a sort of "Plan B" instead. Whatever the case, Ulrich Schulze, ESL's managing director of pro gaming, made it clear that the new league is not exclusive.
"There is no exclusivity attached to ESL ESEA Pro League," he wrote on Twitter. "Teams can play whatever tournaments they want on the side."
ESL ESEA Pro League action will begin on May 4. Details are up at pro.eslgaming.com.