The ESL’s CS:GO Pro League has been around for a fair bit – it’s about to head into its 14th season, its 7th year. As part of that, the League is looking for a new member to join their ranks and participate as of the start of the next season. Of course, not just anyone will do – not when the 12 existing members are names like Astralis, Complexity Gaming, ENCE, Evil Geniuses, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, G2 Esports, mousesports, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Liquid, and Team Vitality.
The existing partnerships were all signed in February last year, and they were given to teams who are large stakeholders in the ESL Pro League. Of course, it’s not as easy as just buying your way in – it just so happened that the 13 teams that signed on also brought that to the table.
That’s right, 13 – 100Thieves was also part of the original agreement, but since they’ve decided to withdraw from CS:GO esports, well, the ESL Pro League needs a replacement. There is plenty of potential – after all, five of the top ten CS:GO teams in the world aren’t currently in the ESL Pro League.
Most notably among them are Cloud9, Virtus.Pro, and Gambit. According to official sources, some 15+ organisations have expressed interest, and as such, the ESL is hosting a formal selection process. They’ll evaluate aspects like competitive performance, brand vision, personnel and infrastructure setups, legal characteristics, financials and market reach.
To participate, teams need to go through seven selection phases during which they submit their details and undergo various evaluation steps. Overall, some 14-15 weeks will pass before the successful organization takes its spot.
What are the odds?
Naturally, fans are speculating which CS:GO team has the best odds… not of winning, but of winning the open spot. Realistically, there may be a lot of interest, but there are only so many teams that are really in a position to succeed. There are just enough to make things interesting – in the betting world, we might just see a new kind of CS:GO odds popping up, at least until a team is selected for the open spot.
Specific favourites include Cloud9 and Virtus.Pro – they, above most other potentials, have the brand size and stability as well as the financial power to secure the open position… not to mention the fan popularity necessary to boost the ESL to even higher places. Especially coming out of the rather horrendous 2020, a lot of otherwise well-positioned teams are struggling… and the ESL Pro League imposes several pretty lofty minimum guarantees as far as revenue goes.
Where many teams struggled to pay players, the ESL partners actually walked away with six+ figures… on average, some 20% more than the minimum guarantee would have been. It’s far from a guarantee that a new team will be added – as a matter of fact, if somehow no team passes the requirements, then the ESL will by no means accept the ‘least bad’ option – their requirements are firm.
Nicole LaPointe Jameson, CEO of Evil Geniuses said: “While the product that fans have watched on their screens has had to change somewhat due to COVID, we have seen and been involved in a whole new spirit of creativity and coordination in the way this ESL Pro League project, backstage, is evolving. We have a meaningful seat at the table, we have regular member meetings and working group calls, we iterate conditions and we collaborate on commercial projects. The first year has been tricky for obvious reasons but encouraging in many ways. Everyone is now hitting a groove in terms of the best way to work, and I am bullish on what we can do together this year and beyond.”