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Saudi Arabia Hosts Massive Esports World Cup with Astronomical Prizes
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Saudi Arabia Hosts Massive Esports World Cup with Astronomical Prizes

Saudi Arabia announces a colossal Esports World Cup featuring 19 games and a staggering $60 million prize pool, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
April 19, 2024

Saudi Arabia's Esports World Cup: A Monumental Event with a Generous Prize Pool

Saudi Arabia is gearing up to host an Esports World Cup for 19 different games, dedicating a massive amount of money to the prize pool.

Groundbreaking Announcement and Ambitious Plans

Last autumn, the Saudi leadership, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's de facto leader, surprised many by announcing the purchase of the ESWC, or the Electronic Sports World Convention. The intent was to use this legendary brand to establish the largest esports championship in history. Understandably, this involved promising huge sums to make it more appealing to publishers, developers, players, and clubs globally.

The Prize Money Details

A check was recently written in dollars, confirming their previous promises. The magic number starts with a 60 followed by six more zeros, yes, 60 million dollars! This sum is reserved solely for the prize pool.

The Debut Event in Riyadh

This summer, the Esports World Cup's inaugural event will take place in Riyadh, featuring competitions in 19 games including Apex Legends, Counter-Strike 2, Dota 2, and more. The organizers have declared the prize money as life-changing, and it seems they aren't exaggerating. The image above shows that $20 million will be distributed at the club championships alone. Additionally, earlier this year, Saudi Arabia granted substantial scholarships to several popular esports organizations to recruit more players for games featured at the EWC. The largest share of $20 million will go to the club whose players perform best across the most games.

In addition to club prizes, Saudi Arabia is distributing an extra $30 million as individual game prizes for the Esports World Cup. Furthermore, $7.6 million is allocated for qualifiers, with $1.1 million set aside for MVP awards. The most valuable players in the games can earn an additional $50,000 for their performances.

Invitations and Participants

Prominent teams such as MOUZ, FaZe, Virtus.pro, Heroic, FURIA, Complexity, G2, Spirit, Vitality, and NAVI have already been invited to the Esports World Cup. They will be joined by six more organizations in CS2. The League of Legends event in Riyadh will include four teams, though the participants have yet to be determined.

Strategic Acquisitions and Leadership

Over the past two years, through the Public Investment Fund headed by the Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia has acquired ESL, FACEIT, Vindex, and Esports Engine. Last year, a member of the royal family became the president of IESF, bringing this traditionally South Korean-dominated association under Saudi control. Ralf Reichert, co-founder and CEO of ESL, serves as the president of the Esports World Cup Foundation, marking the event as a rebranded multi-gaming event by ESL tailored to Saudi preferences.

Economic Impact and Cultural Influence

Beyond covering up human rights issues through cultural influence in esports (esportwashing), Saudi Arabia plans to create 39,000 new jobs and achieve a GDP growth of $13.3 billion by 2030. Their strategy includes hosting more and increasingly popular international projects, aiming to consolidate every entertainment industry sector within the country. For example, the new world championship event aims to reach the 3 billion gamers worldwide. Additionally, a collaboration has already started between ESL and the still conceptual media city Qiddiya, which could become the future hub of the global esports industry if Saudi aspirations are met.

Conclusion

Saudi Arabia is setting a new standard in the esports world, not just in terms of prize money but also in its strategic use of esports as a tool for global cultural and economic influence.

For Further Reading

Read more about the gaming events and updates at Everything You Need to Know About MSI 2024.

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