New Saudi-Arabian League of Legends Event has $2M in Prizes

The Middle East isn’t exactly the prime area when it comes to esports – where most of the time, the International esports scene is centred around North America and Asia, this isn’t always the case, and this new event is an example of just that.

Over the course of three days, Riot Games will be hosting a total of six competitions with a $2 million prize pool overall. It’s part of a city-wide festival that will also include music and sporting events called the Riyadh Season.

LEague of Legends Saudi Arabian Event

© Riot Games

As they have announced a while back, Riot will also be rolling out a localized version of League of Legends for the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) sometime in early 2020. This version will be functionally identical to the other LoL versions, but will specifically support regional languages, fonts and the like. It’s also a conscious effort to drive interest in esports in these regions – traditionally, not a lot of attention is paid to them in the esports world.

The event

Between the 5th and 7th of December, Riot will be hosting the three esports tournaments. The main one has an $850k prize pool and is called the Nexus Arabia – it’s expected to attract audiences of around 30k people. The five-v-five tournament isn’t the only one though. The second of the three has a $750k prize pool and will feature some of the region’s most well-known gaming and esports influencers. The third and smallest competition will have a shared prize pool of $400k and it will be a 1-v-1 competition in Teamfight Tactics. Part of that prize pool will also be used for some cosplay competitions that will be happening at the event.

If you are hoping to participate, you’re a little late – qualifiers for this event have been running since November, across 13 countries in the MENA region. Players have been selected and the line-ups are complete for a start tomorrow. Here’s what Riot Games METAI GM Onur Tamer had to say about the event:

“The launch of the Nexus festival is just one part of our plan to increase our presence in the MENA region. We are also looking at rolling out Arabic language support for all our products starting next year along with a localized version of League of Legends for all our players.”

The Nexus event as a whole is part of Riyadh Season and was set up by the General Entertainment Authority primarily to promote the region as an attractive tourism destination. While the main focus isn’t gaming, there are a few other gaming events in there too – including a PUBG Mobile tournament. Other, unrelated events include a WWE event, boxing world title match, and even a performance from Korean pop group BTS.

The last in particular will be a milestone for the country – it’s the first-ever stadium-concert by non-Arabic artists in Saudi Arabia. All in all, the Nexus and Riyadh Season are really set to shake up the region – hopefully in favour of a bright future when it comes to esports, at least!

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