Classic Counter-Strike Organizer StarLadder Making a Massive Comeback With 4 New Season for CS2 in 2025-2026


The esports scene in Counter-Strike is about to witness a significant resurgence with the return of a classic tournament organizer, StarLadder.

After a hiatus of several years, StarLadder has announced its plans to host multiple seasons of Counter-Strike 2 tournaments in 2025 and 2026, capitalizing on the changes introduced by Valve’s new CS2 licensing rules.

Why is this Return Significant?

StarLadder has been a prominent name in the Counter-Strike esports community, having organized and hosted numerous tournaments across various games, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO).

From 2012 to 2019, StarLadder hosted 18 seasons of its renowned i-League and StarSeries tournaments, which featured some of the best teams and players in the CS: GO scene.

The return of StarLadder is particularly noteworthy because it marks the end of the monopolization of the Counter-Strike scene by ESL and BLAST.

With Valve’s new CS2 licensing rules, organizers will no longer be allowed to have exclusive relationships with participating teams, and invitations must be based on Valve’s ranking system or open qualifiers.

What are the New Valve Rules in the CS2 Scene?

Valve’s new rules for CS2 tournaments aim to create an “open ecosystem” where a team’s success is primarily determined by their ability rather than business relationships. The key aspects of these rules are:

  • No Conflicts of Interest: Tournament organizers cannot have “unique business relationships or other conflicts of interest” with teams participating in their tournaments.
  • Fair Invitations: Invitations to tournaments must use Valve’s ranking system or have open qualifiers.
  • Transition Period: Valve has given tournament organizers until 2025 to honor existing long-term commitments before the new rules take effect.

These changes will require significant overhauls to the semi-franchised models used by ESL Pro League and BLAST Premier in their current formats.

StarLadder’s Comeback Schedule

StarLadder has announced a schedule for its comeback, featuring two seasons in 2025 and two more in 2026:

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

According to StarLadder, they “consider a significant increase in the number of professional teams as the criterion for entering a new era,” and the large number of tournaments, combined with the new CS2 licensing rules, should contribute to this goal.

Other Tournament Organizers Joining the Fray

StarLadder isn’t the only company that has announced its return to the CS2 scene. PGL, the organizer of the first CS2 Major in Copenhagen, has also revealed its plans for 2025 and 2026, including 11 events.

Additionally, BLAST has announced its revamped CS2 schedule and format for the upcoming years.

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