ESL has today announced that all forms of domestic competition it currently operates in Counter-Strike—including our very own ESL ANZ Champs—will be closed in favour of an international qualifier-based ecosystem as the organiser prepares for Counter-Strike 2.
In a September 15 press release, ESL announced the changes were happening across all divisions of their national CS championships. While Australia & New Zealand, Brazil, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom & Ireland will continue until the end of this season, national championships for Benelux, France, Spain, and Turkey have ended, effective immediately.
While this brings an end to Oceania’s most prestigious domestic event in CS:GO, ESL Australia states that they are “excited for the future of Counter-Strike in the region, both in the ESL ecosystem and surrounds. We hope to be able to share more details about new products in the near future”, bringing hope of the possibility of new events soon.
The news is a big blow for domestic pathways into high-level CS across the world, but Oceanic CS in particular, as not only does this eliminate ESL ANZ Champs, but also its tier-two compatriot and feeder-league ESL ANZ Main, which was up to its fourth season and provided a direct and stable pathway of development.
With IEM Sydney around the corner—which ESL Australia points out will feature ESL ANZ Champs alumni—the news comes as a bit of a surprise to the Australian CS community, as both tournaments in recent seasons have had format and broadcast adjustments and improvements, seemingly trying to make it a more important part of their international pathway ecosystem.
This removal leaves a big hole in the local CS calendar, as aside from open qualifiers, Let’s Play Live’s partnership with European organiser CCT is currently the only tournament with international spots on the line heading into CS2. It was also one of the few remaining tournaments in Oceania with a season-style structure.
Both final seasons of ESL ANZ Champs and ESL ANZ Main are currently in progress, with the winner of ESL ANZ Champs qualifying for ESL Pro League Season 19, held in Malta, where Rooster and Grayhound have recently returned from playing in Season 18 of ESL Pro League.