Not all Counter Strike: Global Offensive teams reach the heights of, say, FaZe Clan, SK Gaming, or Gambit Esports. Many struggle against such elite company, but that doesn’t mean they will forever. New teams need a proving ground to show they are worthy of challenging the biggest names in CS:GO.
There are a number of events that cater to second-tier squads. One of the biggest started this past weekend, as the three geographical qualifiers of the ESEA Season 26 kicked off.
What is ESEA Season 26?
As you can tell by this competition’s age, the ESEA is a tradition for teams looking to establish themselves in the CS:GO esports industry.
The tournament itself is not a single event but a number of tournaments taking place across the world in both League and Open (knockout) formats. The main event of the ESEA Season 26 is the Global Challenge. Its three qualifying events began this week:
- EU Premier (Europe)
- NA Premier (North America)
- AU Premier (Australia)
Each of these leagues comprises of a number of CS:GO teams trying to break into the elite ranks.
The North American and European leagues also have two additional feeder leagues. The EU and NA Intermediate Leagues are the lowest, and the EU and NA Main Leagues are below the Premier level. Teams can earn promotion and demotion between the leagues based on their performances in the ESEA events.
The ESEA Season 26 also includes a number of Open events, which take place all over the world. For Season 26, they’re scheduled at the following locations:
- EU Open (Europe)
- NA Open (North America)
- BR Open (Brazil)
- AU Open (Australia)
- Asia Open (Asia-Pacific)
- ZA Open (South Africa)
- FR Open (France)
- DE Open (Germany)
- UK Open (United Kingdom)
- RU Open (Russia)
- LA Open (Latin America)
- TR Open (Turkey)
ESEA Premier Division – Europe
There are a total of 27 teams in this league. They will each play 16 games in total. Each round is played on a predetermined map to ensure all teams have a fair opportunity to progress to the playoffs.
Here’s a full list of the EU Premier competitors:
Virtus.pro, against All Authority, ALTERNATE aTTaX, Epsilon eSports, Flipsid3 Tactics, Fragsters, Gambit Esports, iGame.com, Team Kinguin, Nexus Gaming, North Academy, PENTA Sports, 1337HUANIA, Pride Gaming, Team Singularity, Space Soldiers, Team Spirit, TEAM5, VITALIS, eXtatus, Mortal Kombat, Japaleno, Crown Esports Club, Invictus Aquilas, CHAOS, Team Endpoint, AGO Gaming
The top eight teams in the league will qualify for the playoffs, which is a straight knockout event from the quarterfinals through to the final. The top three teams from the playoffs will qualify for the ESEA Season 26 Global Challenge. The second and third seeds will enter the ESL Pro League Relegation Playoffs. The top team will earn a spot against the top CS:GO pro teams in the ESL Pro League Season 7.
ESEA Premier Division – North America
The setup for North America qualification is similar to Europe, but there is one additional spot in the Global Challenge available for the team that finishes fourth.
Here’s the full list of the 24 NA Premier competitors:
ANTI ECO CLUB, CLG Academy, Denial eSports, FRENCH CANADIANS, Gale Force Esports, Good People, Iceberg Esports, Make War Not Love, Mask Off, Mostly Harmless, Muffin Lightning, Mythic, Naventic, Nitrious Gaming, Rise Nation, subtle, Torqued, SoaR Gaming, Adaptation, Bushido Boyz, LFAO, Morior Invictus Esports, Gorilla Core e-sports, GX
The playoff stage of the North American event is the same as in Europe, as are the places in the Pro League Season 7 and Relegation Playoffs.
ESEA Premier Division – Australia
The Australian Premier Division isn’t as well-established as either the NA or EU divisions. The rewards on offer are different. Indeed, only the top side will make it into the Global Challenge, and there are no places in the ESL Pro League or the ESL Pro League Relegation Playoffs up for grabs.
There are 17 teams competing in the AU Premier this season:
Athletico Esports, Avant Garde, Chiefs eSports Club, Corvidae, Dark Sided, Funkd, Grayhound Gaming, Legacy eSports, MastermindsGC, Sin Gaming, Tainted Minds, Conspiracy Esports, Tyrant Esports Club, Seadoggs, Team Noxide, Kings Gaming Club, SYF Gaming.
There still is the playoff stage for Australian teams to decide which team will make it through to the Global Challenge event later in the year.
All of these events serve as feeder competitions not only to the Global Challenge but also for the ESL Pro League events. These are currently underway in North America and Europe and feature the very best CS:GO teams from around the globe.
Each ESL Pro League features 14 teams playing on two maps for the six available spots in the finals. Teams finishing seventh through 11th are invited to remain in this division for next season, while the 12th and 13th finishers enter the Relegation Playoffs with the EU and NA second- and third-place teams from the Premier. The team finishing 14th is replaced by the team finishing first in the EU and NA Premier events.
Like the ESL Pro, the ESEA Premier competitions will take place over many weeks with no official finish date.