Saudi Prime Minister Unveils ‘Esports World Cup’ in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia is climbing up the ranks in the esports and games industry, making huge investments and hosting events that are, quite simply, mind-blowing. It was just months ago that Gamers8 wrapped up in Riyadh, having made history as the largest event of its kind in the history of the esports ecosystem. Now, Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister, HRH Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz has unveiled plans for an annual Esports World Cup event.
It’s going to replace Gamers8, which has only taken place twice but has rapidly grown to become known as one of the most valuable esports events on Earth. In the social media posts that revealed the Esports World Cup in Riyadh, it was stated that it’ll be the ‘world’s largest esports event’ when it takes place for the first time next summer. Many industry personalities and experts have found issues and concerns with Saudi Arabia’s aggressive deep-dive into esports, but there’s no doubting the appeal of these events.
Is Saudi Arabia The New Global Esports Hub?
With a next-generation infrastructure and billions of dollars lining its pockets, the esports ecosystem in Saudi Arabia is skyrocketing in popularity and value. It’s backed by the nation’s Prime Minister and some extremely heavy hitters in the industry, but some have floated the term ‘esportswashing’ around in recent months. There’s a claim that Saudi Arabia is attempting to pour money into the esports industry to rapidly alter the country’s image.
In recent weeks, there have been countless partnerships announced between the Saudi Esports Federation and other organisations around the world. Most recently, the organisation revealed a partnership with British Esports, a move that ignited social circles the world over, particularly because of BE’s very visible support of women and minority groups in gaming.
Reportedly, the Esports World Cup in Riyadh will go hand in hand with ‘a diversified set of activities and events’. It’ll be an indoor tournament that will attempt to bring more visitors to the country at a time when the heat typically forces tourists away to less stifling climates. In a statement, HRH Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said:
‘The Esports World Cup is the natural next step in Saudi Arabia’s journey to become the premier global hub for gaming and esports, offering an unmatched esports experience that pushes the boundaries of the industry. The competition will enhance our progress towards realising the Vision 2030 objectives of diversifying the economy, growing the tourism sector, creating new jobs in various industries, and providing world-class entertainment for citizens, residents, and visitors alike.’
It has already been boasted that the Esports World Cup will feature the largest prize pool in esport history, which means it’ll be at least $50 million.
It’s not all about the money, though – and that’s the point here.
How do you feel about the Esports World Cup?