First I just wanted to mention I'll be casting as much of the NA Final Qualifiers as I can over at https://www.twitch.tv/mzomzo so make sure to tune in starting at 3pm PST!
After 2 weekends of open qualifiers and lots of behind the scenes debates on who would get PL and Qualifier invites, the information is here. Just in time too as the Final Closed Qualifiers start tomorrow (March 4th and 5th) to determine who will move on to Pro League, and who will move on to Challenger League.
First things first, let's take a look at who was invited to Pro League from the ESL announcement here:
NA Invited teams:
EU Invited teams:
Now most of these teams should be pretty familiar. From the NA side, all 4 teams were in Pro League last season and 2 of them (Era, Continuum) were at the invitationals. On the EU side GiFu were in the last season/invitationals. Penta has also been in the Pro League every season and Vitality are a mix of former Playing Ducks and ePunks members. We'll go over these team rosters and histories in more detail before Pro League starts on March 13th (NA)/15th (EU).
Let's move on to discuss the teams playing in the Final Closed Qualifiers for their chance to be a part of the S1Y2 Pro League season.
NA Qualifier Teams
- Eanix (invited)
- Gentleman Gaming (invited)
- Most Wanted (Qualifier #1)
- Vision Gaming (Qualifier #1)
- Ominous (Qualifier #2)
- ElevateGG (Qualifier #2)
- Check Your Six (Qualifier #2)
- Evolution (Qualifier #2)
NA was in the unfortunate situation that the majority of the bottom 4 teams from Pro League S3 had disbanded, with Eanix the only team left to invite! Gentleman Gaming were invited mostly due to a lack of anyone else to invite from the Semi's-Finals of Qualifier #1 that was available and not already qualified, making them a bit of a wildcard. Fear not for the NA scene though as players from some of the disbanded Pro League teams made their way onto the other teams. While this means much of the faces this season will probably be familiar, there's also plenty of new blood coming in on teams like Vision, Elevate and Evolution. NA did have some issues with the first qualifier being a bit messy in deciding who would be playing the finals with Golden actually playing against Most Wanted instead of Vision and then Golden being disqualified after due to an underage player! Check out the Q1 matches anyways!
Let's take a look at some familiar Pro League faces we'll be seeing spread among these teams:
- Remorce (Astral Authority)
- Most Wanted
- Entire team were the Invitationals Xbox winners (with a 10-0!) as Elevate
- Check Your Six
- Bpandaa (Eanix)
As you can see, the competition will be pretty fierce for those 4 Pro League spots!
Here's the bracket to start with:
EU Qualifier Teams
- Playing Ducks (invited)
- Euronics (invited)
- Oops (Qualifier #1)
- Sadboys (Qualifier #1)
- E2 eSports (Qualifier #2)
- Invicta-Gaming (Qualifier #2)
- Barrage eSports (Qualifier #2)
- gBots (Qualifier #2)
EU had a mix of old and new involved much like NA, but with a bit less drama in the process. To start with they invited two great Pro League S3 teams, Playing Ducks and Euronics (who played in the Invitational). Open qualifier #1 saw some new teams with familiar faces in Oops (with Falko and spokeN from Yunktis) and Sadboys (led by A1GA from Penta). Qualifier #2 is where we saw a more familiar team with gBots, having been around since S1. We also saw some new countries bringing diversity in Q2 with E2 being a Russian team, and Invicta a Polish team (and winners of the 2016 Polish Championships)!
We've seen a lot of movement in the EU teams as they organize around speaking similar languages (a problem NA doesn't have to deal with) and this may just open up some chances for these new teams to work their way in this season!
Here's the bracket to start with: