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ESL breaks the silence

Amidst the outpour of disappointed comments from the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community, ESL had yet to release a statement in regards to recent EPL changes. On Monday, Senior Vice President Ulrich Schulze apologized on behalf of the organization for their mishandling of league announcements:

“On Friday, we announced large changes to ESL Pro League for 2020 and beyond. As part of it, a number of teams were informed that they would not have a slot in the upcoming season. We apologize that we have not conducted the process up to the desired standards.”

The controversy stemmed from a lack of communication between the organization and affected teams. 24 professional-level teams relegated to their respective MDL regions, and none of them knew until the announcement. Moreover, ESL disclosed the 24 teams invited to compete. Specifics as to how ESL chose the invited teams were not included in their report. Schulze acknowledged that ESL made a mistake in how they chose to handle communication.

“We got it wrong by not letting affected teams know further in advance that significant changes were coming, including the number of teams playing. While several important elements that the league’s structure were unknown until last week, the teams were not given enough notice.”

It would be angering to any professional to wake up one day and learn via social media that your livelihood is suddenly unstable.

Addressing EPL and MDL players

ESL’s announcement meant MDL teams who may have qualified for EPL through relegation no longer had the opportunity. Besides that, teams felt as if competing against relegated EPL teams threatened their chance for recognition. A popular talking point in community forums revolved around the skill gap between EPL and MDL, as well as the difference in resources. Many found facing relegated squads discouraging, primarily because EPL teams have access to coaches, analysts, and funding. Their goal of becoming professional CSGO players seemed further away than ever.

In Schulze’s apology, he addressed the notion that professional competition outshined mid-low tier teams. He also emphasized the growth of semi-professional CSGO as something that ESL plans to sustain. However, he didn’t explain any proposed activities.

“ESL Pro League and MDL are core elements of ESL Pro Tour, and it is our clear intent to make sure that MDL remains and grows as a stable environment for teams to compete in below EPL. All teams affected by the format change have the option to compete there in the coming season.”

The initial press release was short and didn’t include in-depth league details. This probably added to the confusion and spread of misinformation amongst the community. Schulze commented on this aspect:

“We were not specific enough about how teams can get back to EPL in the future. We are still working on final details in consultation with CSPPA, but any of the teams will be able to make it back in S12 – not only through MDL and in a way that ensures regional representation.”

Schulze did not mention further details as to how ESL intends to address the issues brought up by the community. However, according to Schulze, more information about the upcoming season and logistics are coming soon.

Read Ulrich Schulze’s full apology here.

Related: Breaking down ESL drama: inside sources in the CSGO community speak.