Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) is back again, with ESL announcing the locations for season 11. The circuit will head to Shanghai, China; Oakland, the United States; Goyang, South Korea; and will conclude in Katowice, Poland.
The number of locations announced is a drop from the previous season. IEM toured four cities last year—Cologne, San Jose, Shenzhen, and Taipei—before cumulating in Katowice for the IEM World Championship. But this season, it appears that ESL is focusing more on quality rather than quantity as the circuit is set to be held in three stadiums across the globe.
“It’s a big deal for us to be doing a three-stadium IEM season,” said Michal Blicharz, VP of Pro Gaming at ESL, in a press release. “Adding one in Korea of all places is historic and will make Season 11 more special than any other before.”
The lack of a Cologne event is sure to be missed and many have wondered why the city has been omitted from the new season. A plausible explanation is that the ESL One Major, which will be held in the city in June, will divert ESL’s focus during the summer.
Three games have so far been announced for season 11, League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Starcraft 2. The circuit will feature a combined prize pool of over $1 million dollars. Last year’s World Championships drew in over 34 million viewers, making it ESL’s largest event ever. The company will be hoping for an even more successful season this year as it aims to sell out three stadiums and return to Korea.
“Season 11 will provide fans and players new and larger locations to become a part of the experience,” The press release said. “IEM will return to the birthplace of esports for the first time in eight years as the hype train rolls into a stadium event in Goyang, Korea, as well as a boat ride up the San Francisco Bay when it moves from San Jose to Oakland and a larger venue.”
The season will kick off in Shanghai in July at the ChinaJoy entertainment expo and conference, before heading to Oakland’s Oracle Arena in November. Then it’ll move to Goyang in December, and wrap up in Katowice next year.