ESL Announce Women’s CS:GO Tournament Circuit featuring $500,000 prize pool.

As part of ESL’s efforts to make esports inclusive and open for all, the tournament organizer has announced a tournament circuit exclusively for Female Professional Players. Spread over the calendar year, the tournaments will feature a total prize pool of $500,000.

What’s the 2022 “CS: GO Women’s Circuit?

The Circuit’s main events will be the two League seasons. Split over the two main regions, North America and Europe, the tournament will start off with an online league portion. Eight teams in each region will compete over 3 months to determine the top 3 regional representatives.

Global League (Online/LAN)

These top 3 teams from both regions will be joined by qualifier teams from South America and Asia-Pacific. The 8 teams will compete in the Global League Finals to determine the best team of the season. With a Prize Pool of $150k, this will be by far the biggest event for Female Pros ever organized.

Here are the two events which will crown the two champions of the year:

  • DreamHack Dallas (June 3-5).
  • DreamHack Winter Jönköping (November 25-27).
The Tournament Calendar for the Women’s Circuit.

New Standalone events

In addition to the creation of the League, ESL also announced new standalone events that will run parallel to ESL Challenger events. At each Dreamhack, alongside the ESL Challenger events, another $100k event will be conducted exclusively for Female pros. While such a high prize pool is in itself a great step forward for the industry, the fact that the pool is on par with the ESL Challenger event shows that ESL is sticking to its word of equality in gaming.

Each event will feature 8 teams from the 4 regions (NA, SA, EU, APAC). The first event will take place at Dreamhack Valencia (July 1-3).

ESEA Cash Cups for Women Teams

Starting in January 2022, ESEA’s Cash Cup Series will have an additional bi-weekly event for Women’s teams. Each event will feature the same $4000 prize pool for the teams. This will help develop the grassroots side of Women’s CS teams as we’ll see many of the non-contracted teams participate and likely earn their livings through these events.

Improving over the IEM Challenge/Dreamhack Showdown Model

Historically, the Women’s Only circuit was headlined by the IEM Challenge and Dreamhack Showdowns. IEM Challenge was an 8 team side-event to the legendary IEM Katowice featuring a 50k prize pool. Dreamhack Showdowns on the other hand were the larger events, each offering a total prize pool of $100k. These events that started in 2019, occurred 3 times over 2019 and 2020, before discontinuing in 2021.

The new model completely overhauls the old system and brings a much-needed prize pool boost to the whole circuit, along with creating an exciting product that will be easy to follow for fans. With all the main events being on LAN, we can expect high-quality games, while the 3 month-long league seasons will give teams a continuous stage of the competition.

Why create this system in 2022?

While ESL is announcing this as part of their GG4ALL campaign to promote equality and inclusiveness, there is another aspect behind this decision. Valorant and the VCT Game Changers Circuit is pushing the Women’s Esports side to new heights and with some of the most accomplished Female pros like Juliano moving over to Valorant, the fire was under the CS:GO Tournament Organizers to create a competitor in CS before everyone else was forced to switch.

King_T Discussing the VCT Game Changers’ Impact on CS

Recently, community analyst and content creator King_T, who had recently cast Underdog’s League, the latest Female only event, discussed a Women’s event circuit in his live show, All Chat. On the show, he and his correspondents including myself agreed on the need to create an event circuit to compete with the Game Changers but with ESL’s history of being set in their ways, we discussed Valve or smaller organizers like WePlay maybe stepping up.

The elephant in the room is the conspicuous absence of an ESL Pro League Conference Slot. By creating this league, ESL will be crowning the best Women’s team every 6 months. EPL Conference, the qualification system for ESL Pro League, also takes place every 6 months. This should clearly set up the Global League Finals champion to directly qualify for Conference.

This would help develop the Women’s scene even further as they will get a possible path to one of the biggest events of the year in ESL Pro League, and would create a clear progression structure. It is possible that ESL is using 2022 as a pilot year for the program and might create this progression structure in 2023.

Top Pros React

Esports.GG reached out to some of the best Female CS Pros, to get their reactions to the announcement.

This is a big relief to know that this is not over yet, it has been kinda scary feeling to leave this year behind basically blindfolded not knowing at all what’s gonna happen. Feeling really blessed and can’t wait to get back to the grind!

Godsent FE Miila, Runner’s Up at Underdog’s League

I think it is very good news and a great initiative from ESL that I hope will have a positive impact on the female scene which have been struggling for some time now.

Personally I also hope that this will be an opportunity to play against female teams outside of the EU, like CLG, who I have a lot of respect for.

It is obviously a great opportunity for female teams and I hope it will attract some organizations to support more female teams in CS:GO so it isn’t only the Valorant girls that are getting some love.

AGR, IGL of Mighty Ducks.

“I think it’s fantastic that esl announced this new tournament circuit. It can only get better from here and I am super excited about the future. This year will be a great year for women in gaming!”

Aurora, Godsent FE

Overall this circuit was a much-needed addition to CS’s competitive landscape and will rejuvenate the Female CS Scene even after many top pros left the game for Valorant. Now teams will have a proper structure to compete in and ways to show their skill and earn a solid living. With LANs coming back and the impending roster shuffle, this news adds to the promise of a better 2022 after 2 years of pandemic-affected events.

Stay tuned to esports.gg for the latest CS: GO news and updates.

Arnav Shukla - Writer of the Month: July

Arnav Shukla

Writer of the Month: July | Twitter: @xL_csgo

I am a hardcore Counter-Strike fan who loves to watch and write about CSGO. A student of the game's history and a bad player in game.