Nick J. March 23, 2020
Valve and ESL have announced that the ESL One Rio Major has been moved to November. ESL sent out a press release confirming the news.
The release cited COVID-19 as the reason for the move. According to the release, ESL will host ESL One Rio in the timeslot reserved for CSGO's second major of the year, and that the two Majors have effectively combined their prize pools.
ESL One Rio will feature a $2 million dollar prize pool, making it the largest tournament Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has ever seen. It tops the former record holder, WESG 2016, by $500,000.
The tournament organizer also announced that all tickets already purchased for Rio would be honored for the event's new dates, set for November 19-22. It also laid the groundwork for a new event to fill the gap in the CSGO calendar left in May.
"Stay tuned for updates on how participants for the Major are determined and content for the May Major / Minor time frame as ESL and Valve are working through them," ESL said in the release.
Odds are that ESL will replace Rio with some sort of online tournament. This will also be the first year since 2013 that only featured a single Major tournament on the Counter-Strike calender. The first year of Valve's sponsored CSGO events in 2013 saw its first and only single-Major year with DreamHack Winter.
Teams will probably have to requalify for the ESL One Rio Major
Though ESL One Rio's Minors had been slated to begin soon, those have been canceled altogether. Around the same time the release went live, vice president of Pro Gaming at ESL Michal Blicharz made the same announcement on Reddit and stuck around to answer some questions from Redditors. His answers almost confirmed that teams will have to requalify for the Major, either through a brand new process starting with the open qualifiers, or a similar system.
"Qualification and invitations for the November Major need be considered afresh – there’s currently no official information on who is qualified and who is not, and how all that will work. Those details, and others like content for the May Minor / Major time frame, are currently being worked through by Valve and ESL, " Blicharz said.
Rio change was Valve's call, ESL One Cologne might be moved as well
Blicharz stressed that he wasn't speaking for Valve, but relaying what Valve had told ESL. It's an important distinction to make, as Valve typically prefers to be hands-off when it comes to the CSGO pro scene. Valve stepping in like this is an unusual move for the publisher, though this is also a unique circumstance.
When WIN.gg reported on the possibility of ESL One Rio's move in early March, ESL provided a statement on the matter.
"We are preparing alternate scenarios should they be required but we have no indication at this time that we will need to alter the event. We will provide updates proactively as we have them," said ESL.
WIN.gg also asked ESL who had the final call on whether or not ESL One Rio was moved or canceled, but ESL declined to answer. Win.gg also reached out to ESL on March 18 regarding the growing number of cases in Brazil but never received a reply.