Tournament organiser ESL has announced the launch of ESL Academy, a path to pro circuit with a $240,000 (£186,694.80) prize pool.

The Dota 2 grassroots circuit will see delivery service DHL act as founding and presenting partner, and has also launched in partnership with platform Dotabuff.

ESL Academy aims to develop talent in Europe and North America, with four former Dota 2 professionals drafting teams from the best 40 budding players from each region – as selected by the Dotabuff Reach leaderboard. Each coach will train the players that they chose for one month, before making them compete in online and offline tournaments. The best competitors of ESL Academy will get the chance to play on stage during ESL One tournaments.

The players who want to participate in the ESL Academy will have to sign up to the Dotabuff Reach leaderboard and compete against each other to climb the ladder and hope to reach the Top 40 before mid-January 2020.

Ulrich Schulze, SVP Product at ESL commented on the initiative in a release: “Building the path from zero to hero lies in our DNA, and in order to fulfill ESL’s brand purpose, we needed to derive an open system for Dota 2. We want ambitious players at home to see a clear path forward and to gain experience in playing in professional esports environments. In DHL, we found a strong partner with the same values to develop a new way for players on the verge of going pro to get noticed, and make it to masters level tournaments like ESL One.”

Fans can interact with the academy by voting for their favourite unsigned mid, support, offlane, and carry players of the season. DHL will aid ESL Academy by providing facilities for teams to bootcamp before the tournaments.

Arjan Sissing, Head of Group Brand Marketing at DHL added: “We entered the world of esports less than two years ago and today we are founding the ESL Academy in support of young talents on their way to become professionals. At DHL we are proud to be part of this exciting journey and we are looking forward to deliver the Academy and its bootcamps. At DHL we ensure highest standards in our logistics services and it is the same approach we will apply in providing professional training conditions for the teams.”


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