Update 15/9/2023: The article was updated to include a statement by the ESL FACEIT Group.
Esports tournament organiser ESL has announced the closure of several national championships in CS:GO ahead of the game’s transition to Counter-Strike 2.
The company noted that regional and national competitions will not be an “active focus” for the company in the future. As a result, its CS:GO leagues for Benelux, France, Spain, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Germany, Poland, the UK and Ireland will all cease to exist in 2023 or early 2024.
This effectively means that ESL is shutting down a portion of its CS:GO tournament operations. ESL and its holding company, ESL FACEIT Group, have stated that it is open to working with third-party organisers to help support teams that took part in national leagues.
ESL noted in a statement that the company has operated two parallel ecosystems for competitive Counter-Strike: the aforementioned nation-based model — such as ESL Meisterschaft in Germany and ESL Premiership in the UK — and a ‘borderless system’, which features teams from various regions and countries competing in pan-regional tournaments.
According to the company, this resulted in ESL focusing on many tournaments at once, which led to the decision made public today.
ESL shared the following reasoning in a statement: “It ultimately took a toll on our ability to focus and created a number of compatibility issues across different ESL Pro Tour properties. Over time, it became increasingly apparent that the borderless system is a much more dynamic and flexible foundation for the EPT and a better pathway for aspiring teams and players to climb up the ladder.”
In a release, the company noted that some National Championships will not operate their final seasons this year. This includes Benelux, France, Spain and Turkey. Other regional and national competitions will play a final season in 2023 before shutting down in 2024.
The best teams from Germany and Poland will still get the opportunity to compete at the IEM Katowice and IEM Cologne tournaments, and ESL said it has reached out to affected teams to help provide them with “alternative opportunities,” although no information on said opportunities was shared.
The news comes despite the $1.5bn merger between ESL and FACEIT in early 2022, during which the company announced that it aims to “support the development of local scenes and grassroots esports.” It also said that it would “invest heavily in path-to-pro for up-and-coming players.”
With the national and regional competitions gone, smaller regional teams are currently left with fewer chances to compete and qualify for LAN events. It is true that the EFG has a robust system of tournaments that provide a path to pro such as ESEA and FACEIT matchmaking, but it remains to be seen how these existing resources will be adapted to further bolster players and teams.
Esports Insider has reached out to ESL FACEIT Group for comment and clarification on whether the National Championships will be replaced and received the following statement:
“National competitions will no longer be an active focus on ours, but we are open to engaging with third-party tournaments in order to cater to players and teams that were used to and want to continue competing in national leagues. As we continue to create a comprehensive ecosystem with opportunities for players to go from zero to hero, we will continue, and even look to expand, our existing portfolio of pan-regional Tier 2 and 3 competitions, like ESL Challenger League and other ESEA Leagues.
Over the past couple of months, our FACEIT platform has played an increasingly big role in hosting our online tournaments, for example, ESEA League and many qualifiers. It is thereby establishing itself as the first step for players who want to take part in organized play and competitions.”