ESL has officially announced its plans for hosting esports events throughout 2021. The company is planning to focus on running tournaments with small, controlled in-person audiences.
In its detailed rundown of what events are already on the calendar for 2021, ESL confirmed that it'll be running the “majority of ESL and DreamHack tournaments as in-person competitions from within a controlled studio environment.”
The company isn’t ruling out a return to live audiences in the more traditional sense, but the focus will be on the controlled environments until later in the year.
“In 2021 we want to be more pragmatic and clearer with our decision making,” ESL said. “Our expected return to regular live events with audiences is slated for November, however the general guidance may change depending on how local and global guidelines change throughout the year. Due to the ever changing landscape, we will continue to evaluate each individual tournament in order to ensure we are consistently making the right decisions for our players, crew, and staff and especially for when we welcome back fans to our events.”
As for the actual events, ESL is planning to host two live ESL Majors for Dota 2 this year. They'll be separate from the ongoing 2021 Dota Pro Circuit, which ESL and DreamHack are directly involved with operating in the CIS and European regions, respectively.
These events, ESL One Summer and ESL One Winter, don’t have any dates yet, but both will have $400,000 prize pools. ESL One Summer will take the place of the annual ESL One Birmingham event and run as a studio LAN event, while the TO hopes that the winter event can welcome a full audience.
On the CS:GO side of things, ESL is changing both Intel Extreme Masters: Katowice and ESL Pro League season 13 to strictly online events with the EPL tentatively set to hold a LAN playoff in Malta at the end of the season. ESL One Cologne is still planned to be a fully live event, though the company will be reevaluating its stance on that decision in Q2.
Here's the current schedule for the EPT Masters, with the caveat that ESL is working to find solutions to IEM Fall overlapping with the recently announced PGL Major.
- IEM Katowice 2021: Feb. 16 to 28
- EPL: Season 13 Malta: March 8 to April 11
- DreamHack Masters Spring 2021: April 29 to May 9
- IEM Summer 2021: June 3 to 13
- ESL One Cologne 2021: July 6 to 28
- EPL: Season 14 Malta: Sept. 8 to Oct. 10
- IEM Fall 2021: Oct. 14 to 20 (for now)
- IEM Winter 2021: Dec. 2 to 12
ESL’s Championship competitions for both StarCraft II and Warcraft III will also be moved completely online but will follow the same Pro Tour schedule that was announced on Dec. 15. More updates about various events on the schedule will be given in Q2.