ESL has announced a completely new format for Pro League matches in 2019 in association with WESA, with all matches being played exclusively on LAN in front of an audience.
While the APAC region will still have online matches, the Europe and NA regions of the Pro League will be played completely in a studio environment, with a new format for qualification.
The 3 regions having 16 teams each, will be split up in 4 groups per region. Each group will be divided based on the seedings provided by ESL’s World Ranking. The winner of the group in the European and American regions will directly get a spot in the Grand Finals.
The 2nd and 3rd placed teams will be divided again in 2 groups for filling the remaining spots.
Here is where it gets tricky, though. While Europe has 8 spots for the finals, NA has just 6. Therefore the winners and runners up from both the groups in Europe will qualify for the finals, whereas for the NA region only the winner will move on.
As for APAC, it is a slightly different format. The 4 Groups will comprise of 2 groups from the ANZ region while the other 2 will have teams from the Rest of Asia. Since Asia only has 2 spots, the winners and runners up from each group will move on to Round 2, where the winners of each region will qualify for the Pro League.
The new season of the ESL Pro League will begin April 12, and will span four weeks to determine who goes onto the World Finals.