The battle in esports for the airwaves is hotting up, with veteran organisers ESL announcing plans to extend the televised reach of their tournaments over the next 12 months.
The news was contained in ESL’s plans for this year’s Pro League, which has gotten a 50% increase in the overall prize pool to US$1.5 million. That’s just for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, mind you, and the US$1.5 million is spread over two seasons.
Things kick off in earnest from February 9, with 11 teams already announced for the European and North American regions. There isn’t an Australian team in the North American contingent as of yet, although there’s a chance that Renegades (the American team made up of five Australians) could earn the final wildcard slot.
But where this really gets interesting is in the statements from ESL’s vice president of pro gaming, Ulrich Schulze. “But it’s not just offline audiences we’re aiming for – television broadcasts, a higher standard of online production, a continued emphasis on competitive integrity – these are just some of the things you will see this year,” he said on ESL’s website.
ESL’s efforts will run counter to the televised CS:GO league being broadcast by Turner and global agency WME | IMG, known as ELEAGUE. ELEAGUE plans to broadcast “over 30 hours” of CS:GO weekly in 2016 across two seasons spanning 10 weeks each. Turner’s putting up US$1.2 million for ELEAGUE, which amounts to US$600,000 per season.
The amount of money getting flooded into esports next year is massive, and CS:GO is enjoying a massive brunt of that. It might not have the global player base of Dota 2 or League of Legends, or a prize pool in the tens of millions ala The International, but Valve’s iconic shooter will certainly get its fair share of the limelight in 2016.