ESL announces new playoff format, removes play-ins for Season 14
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ESL announced Tuesday that it will remove play-ins from Season 14 of the ESL Pro League. This is a significant change to the playoff format and will effect how the rest of the bracket unfolds.

ESL playoff format changed, play-ins removed

ESL made this move “based on feedback gathered from the community and in agreement with the teams and players prior to Season 14 of ESL Pro League,” the organization said in a release. Previously, the play-in stage had each of the four group winners square off in two separate head-to-head match-ups. Both play-in winners would then get a bye all the way to the semifinals. The two play-in losers would get a bye to the quarterfinals.

The remaining eight teams would then battle it out in the round of 12. The losers were eliminated and the winners faced off again in the round of 8. At that point, the teams that survived both the first two round faced off against the play-in losers in the quarterfinals.

ESL Pro League playoffs
The old and new playoff formats for the ESL Pro League. | Photo provided by ESL.

Based on the previous format, a second or third place team in the group stages would have to win five series to be crowned champions. The group winners only had to win three series for the same goal.

The new format changes things significantly with the removal of the play-in matches. Now, the four group winners each only get a bye to the quarterfinals and have to battle their way through the bracket against the winners of the round of 12. With the new bracket, group winners still need to win just three series for the championship but the second and third seed teams only need to win four series, down from the original five.

The new ESL playoff format looks more like a traditional tournament where a group-winner first seed will not have to encounter another first seed team until the semifinals at the earliest.

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