Esports Malta

ESL Pro League S20 – A last hurrah?

ESL Pro League S20

ESL Pro League S20 returns to Malta on September 3rd, featuring GamingMalta as the headline sponsor for the 10th, and likely final, time.

What is the ESL Pro League?

ESL Pro League is one of the most prestigious Counter Strike events during the calendar year, offering a month of top-tier matches for spectators around the world to enjoy. The tournament starts with the group stage, featuring thirty-two teams split across four groups. 

The top four teams from each group will qualify for a single-elimination playoff bracket where they will battle it out until one team emerges victorious as champions, taking home a share of the $750,000 prize pool while earning a direct invite to IEM Katowice 2025 and coming one step closer to completing an ESL Intel Grand Slam.

Event Schedule

The ESL Pro League S20 group stage kicks off on the 3rd of September and the event will run until the grand final, which takes place on the 22nd of September. The playoffs are scheduled for the 20th – 22nd of September and will be played in front of a live audience.

How to get ESL Pro League S20 Ticket

Tickets to the event are on sale now and can be purchased from here.

Storylines to follow

Each team coming into the event will have its own set of trials and challenges, be it a tough group or mid-season roster changes, however, there are a few notable storylines worth highlighting.

MOUZ the reigning champions.

MOUZ, who won ESL Pro League S19 and ESL Pro League S18, will be looking to defend their crown and become the first team to win three iterations of the ESL Pro League back to back. Featuring the second-youngest squad in the tournament, MOUZ have shown glimpses of inconsistent brilliance in the past year, often going flawless in the group stage of a tournament just to lose out in the first round of playoffs. Will they be able to shake off the nerves and continue their Pro Leauge dominance or will they succumb to the playoff pressure?

The era of donk

Team Spirit is currently ranked as the #1 team in the world and will look to solidify their spot on top of the charts with a victory at Pro League. Featuring this year’s breakout star player donk amongst their ranks, Team Spirit will surely be one of the teams to keep your eyes on, both as tournament favourites and also for their great playstyle in general.

The Grand Slam 

As one of ESL’s flagship events, Pro League offers teams a chance to get a step closer to completing the ESL Intel Grand Slam. For those unfamiliar, the Grand Slam is a race to be the first team to win three master-tier events on the ESL Pro Tour circuit and one Championship tournament (Katowice, Cologne or ESL-operated CS Majors) inside a span of ten consecutive events. Faze Clan were the last team to accomplish such a feat, securing their grand slam, and the $1,000,000 prize, at ESL Pro League Season 17. While no team can outright win the Grand Slam at Pro League this team around, everyone will be doing their utmost to move themselves a step ahead in the race.

Final ESL Pro League? How Valve’s incoming ban on partner leagues affects ESL and GamingMalta.

In August 2023, Counter Strike’s developers Valve released a statement highlighting three measures to limit business relationships between tournament organisers and teams as of 2025. ESL is one of these organisers, with fourteen of the thirty-two teams featured in Pro League S20 being partner teams given direct invites to the event.

The rules announced by Valve are:

  • Tournament organizers will no longer have unique business relationships or other conflicts of interest with teams that participate in their events.
  • Invitations to all tournaments will use our ranking system (detailed here), or otherwise be determined by open qualifiers.
  • Any compensation for participating teams—prize pool or otherwise—will be made public and will be driven by objective criteria that can be inspected by the community.

The current agreement between ESL and GamingMalta is set to expire at the end of 2024. Given the uncertain future of Pro League going forward, a renewal of the agreement between the parties is increasingly unlikely. This means that Pro League S20 could be the last tier-one Counter Stike tournament hosted in Malta for the foreseeable future. 

Esport fans around the island will be hoping that this will not be the case but for now, only one thing is certain, Pro League is back and it’s going to be as entertaining as ever!

MIHAJA

MIHAJA

21, Enthusiast on all things esports, especially Counter-Strike! When I'm not busy with university or work, you can find me bottom fragging some Faceit lobbies.

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