ESL and Intel have announced a partnership that will bring the CS:GO competition Intel Extreme Masters to Chicago. The two companies will collaborate with the United Center and the Wintrust Arena and plan to keep the new location for the next three years.
Sixteen top teams and a $250,000 prize pool
The Intel Extreme Masters, the longest-running global pro circuit, will have 16 of the best CS:GO teams compete for a prize pool of $250,000. Prior to this Chicago move, the North American iteration of the event was held in Oakland. The 2018 tournament will take place at the Wintrust Arena, which opened last year and can host a little over 10,000 fans.
“We are very happy to have found a brand-new long-term home for Intel Extreme Masters in North America,” said ESL VP Pro Gaming Michal Blicharz. “Chicago, with its strong worldwide reputation and sports history is a perfect fit for what we are aiming to build with IEM in the years to come.”
In 2019 and 2020, the newly announced event will move to the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks. The multi-purpose arena is the seventh-largest indoor arena in the world with a capacity of over 23,000 seats.
“Chicago is known for fierce competition, innovative thinking and world-class events, so bringing Intel Extreme Masters to the city was an easy choice and a testament to the global appeal of esports,” said Intel VP of the VR, Gaming and Esports Group John Bonini. “There are more than 1.3 billion PC gamers on the planet and that number just keeps growing, making this one of the most exciting times we’ve seen in the PC industry.”
IEM Chicago 2018 will be the fifth time the event is taking place in the NA region as a standalone tournament. The competition first took place in North America in 2014 as IEM San Jose.
Battling starts Nov. 10
The CS:GO event will run Nov. 10 and 11 and will be the third stop in the global tour of the circuit. While IEM Sydney and IEM Shanghai have already taken place, IEM Katowice will follow IEM Chicago in February next year.
As in other events, 10 teams will receive a direct invite for the group stages. Six will have to make it through European, Asian, and American qualifiers. The four remaining from the group stage will then head off to the main event held at the Wintrust Arena, which is owned by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.
“We are thrilled to be the site of the first Intel Extreme Masters Chicago,” said Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority CEO Lori T. Healey. “Chicago is an innovative, visionary city, so it is only natural that we welcome esports to our city.”
The CS:GO competition in Chicago will also be part of the Intel Grand Slam, a side competition awarding $1,000,000 bonus prize to the first team winning four of the last ten major CS:GO events organized by ESL and DreamHack.
Currently, FaZe Clan is the team to watch. They already have three Grand Slam wins under their belts.
Editorial credit: Kevin Dooley / Creative Commons / Flickr.com