ESL and DreamHack have unveiled their plans to hold eight ESL Pro Tour tournaments on LAN in 2021, the tournament organizers announced today.
The number of events has decreased by two for what ESL and DreamHack had planned for 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic started around the globe. The changes will allow the tournament organizers to focus on storytelling and will also give the teams more time to prepare for the matches, according to ESL and DreamHack.
The ESL Pro Tour 2021 calendar will kick off with IEM Katowice in February, one of the ESL Pro Tour's Master events, and will end with an IEM tournament in Asia in December. The tournament organizers will keep monitoring the coronavirus situation and will make changes if needed.
In recent years, the over $250,000 ESL and DreamHack tournaments took place over the course of one week, generally from Tuesday through Sunday. In 2021, however, these tournaments will be held over two weeks with a break period between the group stage and playoffs.
The tournament organizers think this change will benefit the players, who will have a "lower density" of matches, giving them more time to prepare—and they'll also spend less time away from home, according to ESL and DreamHack. "For our tournaments it means we will now have much more time to be able to create premium content, tactical analysis, hype trailers and really focus on the storylines of Counter-Strike," the tournament organizers said.
There will be a new ESL Pro Tour studio for 2021, which will have a complete infrastructure for the teams and talent members and will also follow the "highest possible COVID-19 safety measures." The central hub will host all the group stage matches and may be used as the playoff stage if the arena can't be used due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The tournament organizers said the new format will take up 24 weeks of the 2021 calendar. The ESL Pro Tour events and the player break will leave 21 weeks open to other tournament organizers, which can decrease to 15 in case there are two CS:GO Majors next year.
Other tournament organizers are expected to react to ESL and DreamHack's announcement soon, according to HLTV. Thorin, Flashpoint's creative director, called the schedule "beyond a joke" in a Twitter post.
Here are all of the ESL Pro Tour event dates for 2021.
- IEM Katowice - Feb. 16 to 28
- ESL Pro League season 13 - March 10 to April 18
- DreamHack Masters - June 3 to 13
- ESL One Cologne - July 6 to 18
- IEM Melbourne - Aug. 17 to 22
- ESL Pro League season 14 - Sept. 1 to Oct. 10
- IEM tournament - Oct. 14 to 24
- IEM tournament - Dec. 2 to 12