Saudi Arabia will host an annual Esports World Cup starting in Summer 2024 that will “push the boundaries of the industry.”
Following the $30 million Gamers8 last summer, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced Saudi Arabia is launching an annual Esports World Cup, which will begin in summer 2024.
The Esports World Cup was announced during the New Global Sport Conference held in Riyadh, co-hosted by the Saudi Esports Federation and the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Sport. The news comes just two months after the conclusion of the Gamers8 event.
Gamers8, held in Riyadh last summer, featured a $30 million prize pool across 10 different esports titles including Fortnite, Rocket League, Dota 2, PUBG, and Rainbow Six Siege. The event was even promoted by Cristiano Ronaldo, whose newest team Al-Nassr FC has close ties to the country's royal family.
Gamers8 and the announcement of the Esports World Cup are part of Saudi Arabia's National Gaming & Esports Strategy to become the world hub for esports events and to "take a bigger role in the international esports federations to ensure the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a seat at the table."
This is part of a wider national initiative known as Vision 2030, a transformative plan to diversify the nation's economy.
"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."
Esports World Cup part of Saudi Arabia's plan to become a gaming hub
The Esports World Cup would be organized by Saudi Arabia's Savvy Games Group, who acquired ESL and FACEIT to form the ESL FACEIT Group (EFG) in January 2022. EFG later acquired Vindex in March 2023, the company behind tournament production company Esports Engine. This has resulted in the Savvy Games Group having quite a stronghold on the tournament landscape in the esports scene.
The Savvy Gaming Group is owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. The PIF founded in 1971 by Royal Decree, finances projects of strategic importance to the Saudi Arabian Economy.
The owner of the PIF is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who spoke about their plans for the Esports World Cup.
"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," he said.
"The competition will enhance our progress towards realizing 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."
The PIF has made massive investments not just in esports so far, but also in traditional sports such as soccer, golf, boxing, tennis, and wrestling. The PIF also recently purchased an 80% stake in the Premier League club known as Newcastle United.
The sudden surge of interest triggered allegations of "sportswashing," however, the crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said these allegations would not affect their plans.
The Esports World Cup will take place in summer 2024 in Riyadh, with more details to be shared in early 2024.