ESL Senior VP apologizes for CSGO Pro League controversy

Andrew Amos

ESL Senior Vice President Ulrich Schulze has apologized to the Counter-Strike community for their handling of the ESL Pro League invites, which saw slots in the franchised league slashed without being communicated to teams.

The veteran tournament organizer found themselves embroiled in controversy after announcing the 24 teams in the ESL Pro League Season 11 on January 24. Originally touted to have 48 slots, numerous teams who had qualified were suddenly left without a spot in the event.

These teams were instead relegated back into the second-tier Mountain Dew League which ESL runs with another chance to qualify for Season 12, but the company had not communicated these changes to teams before the January 24 announcement.

ESL Pro League Season 11 Teams for CS:GO
ESL announced the 24 teams joining Pro League Season 11 on January 24.

After being widely criticized on social media by players, casters, and fans, ESL Senior VP and Managing Director of Pro Gaming Ulrich Schulze apologized on behalf of the company, saying they are looking to address team’s issues to “the best possible extent.”

“On Friday, we announced large changes to ESL Pro League for 2020 and beyond,” he said. “As part of it, a number of teams were informed that they would not have a slot in the upcoming season. We apologize that we have not conducted the process up to the desired standards.

“We got it wrong by not letting affected teams know further in advance that significant changes were coming, including the number of teams playing.”

He clarified that while details regarding the structure of the league were “unknown until last week,” this wasn’t an excuse to not notify teams. They are trying to rectify the problems by making a clear path to promotion, as well as listening to the concerns of teams.

“We weren’t specific enough about how teams can get back to EPL in the future. We are still working on final details in consultation with the CSPPA, but any of the teams [not invited] will be able to make it back in Season 1 ⁠— not only through MDL and in a way that ensures regional representation.

“We didn’t engage with the affected teams enough to understand how we can preserve the value the EPL slot held for them. We have reached out to all teams and are going to speak this week to make sure that we can address their concerns to the best possible extent.”

ESL’s plans for the Pro Tour in 2020 split the system into two tiers, Masters and Challenger. While Pro League teams will have an easier time qualifying for Masters tier events, ESL are making sure that teams that missed out on a slot will still have a chance at making it to the big events.

“In 2020 we have opened up the ESL Pro Tour up with a large number of opportunities for aspiring teams to reach the Masters level, including spots for Challengers teams in Masters tournaments and a mandated percentage of open online qualifiers in our Masters stops.”

They’ve also pledged to communicate further changes with more transparency, stating “we will release more details in the next days and will continue to provide updates and engage with everyone on this topic.”

BIG win Dreamhack Leipzig 2020
BIG took home the first ESL Pro Tour event of 2020 at Dreamhack Leipzig. They will not be playing in ESL Pro League Season 11 despite having initially qualified.

ESL’s Pro League is one of three major CS:GO franchised leagues taking place in 2020. FACEIT has started the B Site League, focusing primarily on North America, and including teams like Cloud9, MIBR, and Dignitas.

BLAST has rebranded their global circuit into BLAST Premier, with 12 of the world’s best CS:GO teams taking part, including Astralis and Team Liquid.

Season 11 will be taking place in the coming months, although a date has not been confirmed for the 24-team league.

About The Author

Hailing from Perth, Andrew was formerly Dexerto's Australian Managing Editor. They love telling stories across all games and esports, but they have a soft spot for League of Legends and Rainbow Six. Oh, and they're also fascinated by the rise of VTubers.