Esports tournament organizer ESL has released the its 2021 Pro Tour schedule while unveiling a brand new LAN studio.
A tweet from ESL’s official Twitter account announced the schedule for the second year of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event organizer’s ESL Pro Tour. The schedule includes some of CSGO’s most popular events such as ESL One Cologne and next year’s version of the rescheduled 2020 IEM Melbourne. ESL also revealed its new LAN studio as well as a newly separate group stage for its events that will spread its tournaments across two weeks instead of the traditional single-week format.
Better for players, better for fans – this is our vision for #ESLProTour 2021 🙌
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) September 22, 2020
The organizer claims that by spreading its tournaments out over two weeks while playing the initial group stage in its new Pro Tour studio, professional CSGO teams will have to spend less time traveling, a common complaint from CSGO’s elite. But while ESL’s plans may require less from the world’s top teams, ESL has effectively doubled the amount of space the organizer takes up on CSGO’s calendar. So while CSGO’s top teams might have to travel less, the stretched out tournaments may leave less room for other tournament organizers such as FLASHPOINT and BLAST Premier for their own events and productions.
The schedule’s release was accompanied by dates for all of the main ESL Pro Tour events, and ESL’s “Official CSGO Calendar” makes it clear that there will be little time between its tournaments for teams to attend other tournaments.
The schedule doesn’t include the upcoming CSGO Major that was rescheduled out of 2020. ESL is expected to host that Major tournament, so at least one more event will be added to ESL’s list for 2021. Most expect a return to CSGO’s usual Major schedule of two per year next year, so while ESL’s reworking might ultimately benefit teams that signed partnership agreements with the organizer last year, it may also force teams that refused to sign to make some tough decisions when it comes to which tournaments they compete in.
IEM Katowice is ESL’s first scheduled tournament of 2021 and is officially set for February 16 through the 28. It will carry one of the highest prize pools of the season at $1,000,000.