MIBR returns to ESL Pro League, Flashpoint exclusivity uncertain
During an ESL Pro League Season 11 matchup between Natus Vincere and forZe, host Tres "stunna" Saranthus announced that MIBR will join group C along with Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, Swole Patrol, Evil Geniuses, and FURIA.
An official announcement came on Twitter as MIBR informed its fans of the decision to compete in ESL was made so the team could have a chance to qualify for ESL One Cologne 2020. MIBR cited the current COVID-19 quarantines as the reason for its return to EPL after splitting from tournament organizer earlier this year. MIBR's parent company, Immortals, joined a number of other organizations including Cloud9 in forming a rival league, Flashpoint
Originally planned as LAN leagues, Flashpoint and the new ESL Pro League seemed to deliberately overlap their schedules in order to guarantee exclusivity from competing teams. MiBR possibly defecting carries significant ramifications.
Flashpoint could be in trouble if MIBR leaves
Between MIBR's return and FunPlus Phoenix's possible withdrawal from Counter-Strike, ESL clearly has the inside track over its competitor. MIBR, a founding member of Flashpoint, splitting off to compete in a rival league undermines the league's hold on its teams. It also calls into question whether the attempted exclusivity between these leagues has gone away.
Regardless, MIBR made it clear that the team still has issues when it comes to the ESL Pro Tour and how it impacts the overall Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ecosystem. The organization slammed ESL for its integrated tournament circuit that invites teams based on how it places over several ESL events during the calendar year.
In what would have been unthinkable just two years ago, the Gabriel "FalleN" Toldeo-led squad might be one of the worst teams in the group. MIBR has gone 46.2% win rate over the past three months.
It is currently unknown if MIBR's deal with ESL has any caveats that require the team to cease participation in Flashpoint. Now that COVID-19 has forced both leagues into using an online format, scheduling might be flexible enough that both ESL and Flashpoint can bury the hatchet after almost five months of one-upmanship.
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