In 2025/26, StarLadder returns to the world of organizing CS tournaments

It seems that the Counter-Strike scene is truly coming back to life, and such news only adds more strength and confidence to the discipline, ensuring a brighter future. The legendary Ukrainian tournament operator, StarLadder, has announced its return as early as next year.

Many thought it was an April Fools’ joke, but no, the news turned out to be completely true, and StarLadder has indeed unveiled its plans for 2025. The company is “getting back in the game” with its familiar and somewhat historic tournament cycle, holding two seasons in 2025 and an additional two in 2026.


  • Season 19: May 26 – June 1, 2025
  • Season 20: September 12 – 21, 2025
  • Season 21: May 25 – 31, 2026
  • Season 22: September 11 – 20, 2026

We believe that a significant increase in the number of professional teams is a criterion for the onset of a new era. A large number of tournaments with new CS2 licensing rules should contribute to this, said StarLadder representatives in their announcement. The return of StarLadder is ultimately the result of the end of ESL and BLAST’s monopoly on the CS2 competitive scene. In case you missed the news, starting in 2025, tournament organizers cannot have any “personal agreements” or “VIP relationships” with participants of their tournaments, and direct invites to such events must be based on Valve rankings. This essentially means that not all top teams will be able to participate in the best Tier-1 events. StarLadder is not the only company announcing its return to the scene. Over the past weekend, when NAVI became champions of the first CS2 Major tournament, PGL also revealed its plans for 2025 and 2026, including a whopping 11 tournaments. CS2 fans are undoubtedly excited about the return of StarLadder and PGL, but the tournament schedule is already causing significant concerns. It is expected that many teams may have to skip certain tournaments due to such a hectic schedule, giving preference to one organizer over another. This could potentially lead to a situation where top teams have to carefully choose which tournaments to participate in, based on their priorities and available resources.

Furthermore, with multiple tournament organizers vying for the participation of top teams, it raises questions about how they will attract and convince these teams to attend their events. Providing competitive prize pools and ensuring a fair and well-organized tournament structure will be crucial factors in attracting the best teams in the CS2 scene. The return of StarLadder and PGL also brings up the issue of potential corruption scandals. With the power and significant financial stakes involved in the tournament landscape, there is always a risk of unethical behavior and favoritism. It will be important for tournament organizers to maintain transparency and integrity, ensuring that teams are selected based on merit and fair competition rather than personal connections or under-the-table arrangements. As the CS2 scene continues to evolve and more tournament organizers enter the picture, it will be interesting to see how the landscape transforms. The increased competition among organizers can lead to innovation and improvements in the overall tournament experience for players, viewers, and sponsors. However, it will also require careful navigation to strike a balance between the quantity of tournaments and the quality of competition. Ultimately, the return of StarLadder and other tournament organizers signifies the growth and vibrancy of the CS2 scene. It demonstrates the increasing popularity and interest in professional CS2 tournaments, as well as the recognition of the discipline as a thriving esport. With the new era on the horizon, CS2 fans can look forward to an exciting and competitive future, filled with thrilling matches and memorable moments.

Do you see the return of StarLadder and other tournament organizers as a positive development for the Counter-Strike 2 scene?
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