Released by Valve way back in 2012, the fourth entry in the Counter-Strike series continues to attract millions of players around the world. With several global and regional tournaments, and prize pools reaching the million-dollar count, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive remains one of the most important games in the esports industry.
Now that the IEM Cologne 2021 is through, with Natus Vincere sweeping G2 Esports to claim the title, ESL Pro League is finally back with Season 14 and some of the best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams from around the world battling for a massive prize pool.
Featuring 24 teams and a $750 thousand prize pool, the ESL Pro League Season 14 brings back the CS:GO action after Season 13 in April, when Heroic defeated Gambit Esports to claim the title and take home a $200 thousand prize. The Season 14 tournament takes place in Malta, but fans are still unable to attend the event due to COVID-19 protocols.
The group stage started on August 16, with Group A matches running through August 20, Group B matches from August 21 to August 26, Group C being played between August 27 and August 31, and Group D closing the stage from September 1 through September 5. The Playoffs are scheduled to start on September 6, with the Grand Finals set to be played on September 12.
As always, the twelve teams that are permanent partners – Astralis, Complexity, ENCE, Evil Geniuses, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, G2 Esports, mousesports, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Liquid, and Team Vitality – are joined by twelve squads that qualified through the ESL World Rankings – Gambit Esports, Heroic, Virtus.pro, BIG, FURIA Esports, Team Spirit, OG, Entropiq, Sinners Esports, Bad News Bears, Team One, and forZe – to form four groups of six teams each.
In each group, all teams will face each other in a series of best-of-three matches, in a single round-robin format. The top three teams from each group make the playoffs, however, for ESL Pro League Season 14, the Play-In stage prior to the playoffs was removed. Therefore, the winning teams advance directly into the quarterfinals, and the second and third placed teams of each group proceed to the Round of 12.
The playoffs will be played in a single-elimination bracket, with all rounds being played on a best-of-three format. The Grand Finals, however, will feature a best-of-five match.
The total prize pool for the competition is $750,000, with the champions raking in $175,000, the runners-up taking $60,000, third and fourth places taking $30,000, fifth to sixth places bringing home $15,000, 7th and 8th places with $12,000, and 9th to 12th with $10,000. The champions will be awarded 1,300 points in the ESL World Ranking, the runners-up 1,000 points, and third to fourth places 775 points. Fifth to sixth places will be awarded 575 points, 7th to 8th 400 points, and 9th to 12th 250 points. Apart from that, every team will be awarded a $5,000 bonus for each group stage win.
Group A was seeded with Heroic, Astralis, Team Vitality, Team Spirit, ENCE, and Bad News Bears. Heroic and Team Vitality entered the stage as the favorites to win the group, and they lived to the expectation. Heroic topped the group with 15 points, followed by Team Vitality with 12, and ENCE with 9 points.
In Group B, G2 Esports, Virtus.pro, Complexity, OG, forZe, and Sinners Esports battled for the top of the table. G2 and Virtus.pro were the favorites to win the group, but it was OG who came out on top, with 15 points in 5 matches. Behind them, forZe finished in second place with 12 points, and Complexity with 9 points.
Natus Vincere, FaZe Clan, BIG, mousesports, Evil Geniuses, and Fnatic were seeded into Group C, with NaVi as the odds-on favorites not only to win the group, but also the tournament. FaZe Clan and Fnatic also rise as challengers in Group C.
Finally, in Group D, Gambit Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, FURIA Esports, Team Liquid, Entropiq, and Team One battle for a spot in the playoffs. Gambit, currently one of the best teams in the world, and Ninjas in Pyjamas, who made significant improvements to its roster, are the overwhelming favorites to top the group.