In a major blow, Oceanic CS:GO frontrunners Renegades have been forced to withdraw from ESL Pro League Season 14 in Malta, just eight days shy of their opening group match.
Stricter travel restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have been cited as the major issue, with re-entry to Australia not guaranteed following the conclusion of the EPL campaign.
As a result, the team will focus on competing locally at ESEA Premier Season 38 and in the upcoming Oceanic RMR qualifier, which is yet to be announced.
“I know you guys were all expecting to see us [at EPL] and hopefully back up our performance at IEM Cologne, but due to the current situation we can’t attend,” said Renegades captain Joshua “INS” Potter in a statement last night.
Renegades were looking to build upon their form from IEM Cologne in July, where they cracked the main stage of the tournament in their first international event in over a year.
Downing OG in the play-in to qualify, Renegades exceeded expectations at the tier one event, which makes their withdrawal from EPL that much more disappointing.
Renegades are the second major Oceanic team to be impacted by the Australian Government’s COVID travel restrictions in as many weeks, with Rainbow 6: Siege squad Knights unable to attend the Six Mexico Major.
Given the change in restrictions and uncertainty on travel, it isn’t clear when we will see Oceanic teams on the international stage again. In Renegades’ case, they’re hoping conditions will ease in time for the PGL Stockholm Major, currently set to begin in mid-October.
While Renegades have not guaranteed qualification to the Stockholm Major, they currently lead Order and Dire Wolves on RMR qualification points.
With Renegades out, Aussie hopes at ESL Pro League lie with Complexity Gaming’s Justin “jks” Savage and Mousesports’ Chris “Dexter” Nong, playing in Group B and Group C respectively.
Following ESL’s rulebook for team replacement, Russian squad ForZe will take Renegades’ place in Group B, alongside teams such as G2, Complexity and Virtus Pro.