Saudi Arabia to host annual Esports World Cup in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for an annual Esports World Cup to be held in Riyadh, with the inaugural event set to kick off next year. The announcement came from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The Esports World Cup is poised to become a prominent fixture in the esports calendar, featuring multiple tournaments encompassing leading esports titles across various genres. While specifics of the tournament line-up were not disclosed, Prince bin Salman emphasised that it would offer the largest prize pool in esports history, though the exact prize money amount remains undisclosed.
The tournament will be organised by the newly established Esports World Cup Foundation, a non-profit entity established by the Saudi government. This foundation aims to foster collaboration among esports stakeholders and enhance the sector’s sustainability. This event will replace Gamers8, the Saudi Esports Federation’s existing esports festival in Riyadh.
The Crown Prince underlined that the Esports World Cup aligns with the broader objectives of the country’s National Gaming and Esports Strategy, which is itself a component of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Vision 2030 outlines the nation’s ambitions to diversify its economy, promote tourism, and create employment opportunities.
In addition to the esports competitions, the event will feature a range of complementary activities and attractions aimed at drawing tourists to the city. The decision to host the indoor tournament in the summer is strategic, as it seeks to bolster tourism during a season when the hot weather typically leads to a decline in visitors.
“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,” Prince bin Salman 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 launch of the Esports World Cup is part of the Saudi government’s broader commitment to the esports industry. This includes establishing the tournament organiser conglomerate ESL Faceit Group, organising the Gamers8 esports festival, investing in Chinese tournament operator and esports company VSPO, and acquiring stakes in various game developers. In September 2022, the government-owned Savvy Games Group announced a significant $38 billion investment in esports and gaming.