After a successful Intel Extreme Masters Cologne, action is about to resume in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with ESL Pro League Season 16. The organizers have released the complete schedule and team distribution for the group stage.
Although the location is yet to be announced, the offline event will commence on August 31 and will run through to October 2. The 24 teams that will be participating in the event have also been revealed. While 15 participants are permanent partner teams, the other nine are from the ESL world ranking and the conference stage.
Natus Vincere, the second-ranked CS: GO team in the world, will open the tournament with a best-of-three series against Team Spirit in Group A. The group stage will follow a single round-robin format, with each group having six teams.
Joining NAVI and Spirit in Group A are Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Vitality, Fnatic, and UK-based Endpoint.
Although Group A has shaped up to be arguably the toughest group, hosting three top-10 teams in the global rankings, other groups also have some exciting teams.
FaZe Clan, who have won four international competitions this year, including IEM Katowice, ESL Pro League 15, PGL Major Antwerp, and IEM Cologne, will play in Group B. Although it might not be as close as Group A, FaZe will play against eighth and ninth-placed BIG and G2 Esports amongst others.
Group C also promises to be intriguing, as four teams ranked in the top 15 will slug it out. In Group D, the third- and fourth-ranked teams, Cloud9 and FURIA Esports, will be fighting for the top spot.
Full list of teams in each group:
Ninjas in Pyjamas
The top team in each group will advance to the quarterfinals of the playoffs, while the second and third teams in the standings will proceed to the Round of 12. The bottom three teams in each group will be eliminated from the tournament.
FaZe will be looking to continue their worldwide domination in CS: GO and maintain their position as the best team in the world. They are the reigning Pro League champions after defeating ENCE 3-1 in the Season 15 grand final.
ESL Pro League 16 promises a prize pool of US$835,000, and circuit points to the top eight teams. The winner of the event will also get direct seeding to the 2022 BLAST World Final and the 2023 IEM Katowice.
So far, only NAVI and FAZE have sealed spots in the world final scheduled to be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.