ELEAGUE Road to Vegas. © 2016 Turner Broadcasting System

Starcraft was the first true eSport and Blizzard Entertainment’s real-time strategy game developed a cult following in South Korea. Well before the arrival of the ELEAGUE, the best players went head to head in action-packed games for hundreds of thousands of dollars, the world took notice. Counter Strike soon followed and the first-person shooter took eSports to the next level by bringing in millions of other players. The sequels were embraced by both amateurs and professionals, with the latter now playing in the most prominent competitions.

The ELEAGUE is a professional eSports league established in 2016 by Turner and WME | IMG, two global media giants. By combining their resources and experience, they brought together the best Counter Strike Global Offensive players. These will lock horns in high-profile tournaments that will run throughout the year and are expected to catch the eye of millions of fans worldwide.

Which video games does the ELEAGUE cover?

For the time being, the ELEAGUE has a limited scope and will focus exclusively on Counter Strike Global Offensive. There are plenty of highly skilled teams that have already signed up, with many expected to join over the next couple of years. The Counter Strike franchise has been right from the start one of the most competitive first-person shooters and its successful streak spans over more than a decade.

The latest installment is kept up to date by the developers and is widely regarded as one of the most balanced games. The top teams will participate in a season that lasts for a combined 20 weeks and is divided into two equal parts. There will be two Grand Champions crowned in 2016 and all those who are up for the challenge can put their skill to the test by logging in to the Steam Platform.

What is the ELEAGUE schedule?

This is the first edition of the ELEAGUE, but the competition already has a precise schedule and it will make its debut on Tuesday, May 24 2016. The event will be broadcasted live via Twitch over the course of three days, and then on TBS on Friday at 10 PM ET. This is just the opening phase of the tournament and it will mark the beginning of the group stage, with each group containing four teams.

The matches will be played following a round-robin system, with the semifinals scheduled for Thursday and the final taking place on Friday. This competitive format is very likely to be used throughout the entire season as it is also frequently relied upon in other eSports competitions. The opening season of the ELEAGUE is expected to draw even more attention on the video games played at the highest level.

ELEAGUE Regular Season Group Stages. © 2016 Turner Broadcasting System
ELEAGUE Regular Season Group Stages. © 2016 Turner Broadcasting System

The complete schedule for the first three weeks of the group stage has been revealed. Cloud9, Liquid, Luminosity Gaming and Renegades play in the first group during the opening week that concludes on May 30. G2 eSports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Optic and TyLoo will join them shortly after as they comprise the second group, while the latter is made of Astralis, Counter Logic Gaming, NRG and SK Gaming.

Many of these games speak for themselves and those who are even remotely familiar with Counter Strike Global Offensive matches know that they are in for a treat. ELEAGUE enjoys the backing of two massive media brands, so this is very likely to be just the beginning of an impressive string of tournaments.

Which are the top 8 ELEAGUE teams?

Millions of players from all over the world enjoy Counter Strike Global Offensive, but only a handful of them were invited to the ELEAGUE. The open system allows challengers to prove their skills through qualifiers, so future editions are very likely to feature different players.

For the time being, these are some of the best participating teams:

Cloud9 is among the best-known and most appreciated US teams, with an impressive track record against the very best European counterparts. They have a young roaster and a lot of talent, with most of their members being already tested at the highest level in European tournaments.

ELEAGUE Inaugural Season Teams. © 2016 Turner Broadcasting System
ELEAGUE Inaugural Season Teams. © 2016 Turner Broadcasting System

Renegades come from Australia and what makes them truly special is that their members only recently became professional gamers. They took the local gaming community by storm and are now rising fast as some of the best international Counter Strike Global Offensive teams.

Counter Logic Gaming is another North American team with an impressive track record and high placements in major tournaments. It has one of the best rosters, with talented players that can single-handedly win a match for their team.

Astralis is the best Danish team in the world right now, frequently finishing as runners-up in major tournaments. They are still chasing those elusive prizes, but they’ve got what it takes to win the ELEAGUE, or at least make a deep run.

Ninjas in Pyjamas are probably the best-known team in the world and the proud owners of some mind-boggling records in LAN events. The team underwent several changes, but the current rotation is stronger than ever before and will give any team a run for its money.

Mousesports is an all-European Counter Strike Global Offensive team that seeks glory on the other side of the Atlantic as well. They have one of the youngest leaders of all the participating squads, but one that has loads of experience at the highest competitive level.

Luminosity is the only top Brazilian Counter Strike team, enjoying a meteoric rise and trying to confirm its quality on the big stage. Famous for their aggressive play and ability to swarm opponents in a matter of minutes, they are a force to be reckoned with.

SK Gaming are a Counter Strike legend, but they have an equally impressive performance in other games. Their World of Warcraft team won the Arena World at BlizzCon 2015 at the expense of Skill Capped EU and claimed a prize of $120,000. Back in the day, the team used to be comprised almost exclusively from Swedish players, but today they attract the best in the world regardless of nationality.