It was recently revealed that the ‘Gamers8’ tournament that takes place in Riyadh will be rebranded going forward, appearing now as the ‘Esports World Cup’. It’s part of the ongoing initiative of the Saudi Arabian government to become a thriving hub of the esports industry, pumping billions of dollars into the gaming ecosystem at large. In a recent showing of support, some of the biggest names and brands in gaming and esports took to a stage alongside the Saudi Prime Minister to ‘define the future of gaming’.
There are few examples of such a powerhouse meeting having taken place in the history of esports and gaming. It was a who’s-who of some of the most valuable organisations on Earth, and the list of attendees just kept on going as more people took to the stage. At one point, even the legendary footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo, made an appearance.
One of the Most Prestigious Meetings Ever
Dubbed the ‘New Global Sports Conference’, this coming together of industry experts and personalities featured one of the biggest and brightest guest lists anyone has ever seen. Here’s the breakdown of who was in attendance:
- Ralf Reichert, Chairman of ESL FACEIT Group and now the CEO of the Esports World Cup Foundation
- HRH Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia
- Gianni Infantino, President of FIFA
- Alejandro Aga, Founder of Formula E
- John Robinson, CEO of 100 Thieves
- Alban Dechelotte, CEO of G2 Esports
- Nicolas Maurer, CEO of Team Vitality
- Hicham Chahine, Co-CEO of Ninjas in Pyjamas
- Brian Ward, CEO of Savvy Games Group
- Toshimoto Mitomo, CSO of Sony Group
- Michael Worosz, CSO of Take-Two Interactive
- Steven Ma, SVP at Tencent
- Jen Michel Detoc, CMO at Ubisoft
- Shuji Utsumi, COO at Sega of America
- Sean Sohn, CEO of KRAFTON India
- Songyee Y. Yoon, President at NCSOFT
It was a remarkable event, that’s for sure. During the showcase, it was revealed that a 17,000-seat esports arena is currently under construction in Riyadh, and it’s expected that this will house at least part of the Esports World Cup that’ll take place next summer.
What’s the End Goal?
It’s an effort to sculpt the future of the ‘global esports and esports ecosystems’, and there’s a strong desire to have Saudi Arabia at the heart of that mission. In recent weeks, the Saudi Esports Federation has signed partnerships with several organisations and brands around the world, even if those deals have been met with opposition from many esports and gaming fans. It’s a revolution that isn’t without its issues, but one can’t doubt the value of what’s being done in Riyadh.
It was said that the Esports World Cup will boast the biggest prize pool in the history of the industry. While it might be an attempt to sway people in favour of the country’s new image or to bolster Saudi Arabia’s weaker summertime tourist scene, it can’t be said that this isn’t something special.