Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is set to make a resounding impact on the esports world with the announcement of the Esports World Cup, an annual gaming showcase slated to commence in the summer of 2024. The grand tournament will not only claim the title of the world’s largest esports event but will also serve as a powerful catalyst for realising Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 objectives.
The Esports World Cup, organised by the newly established Esports World Cup Foundation, aims to redefine the boundaries of esports. While the exact prize pool remains a well-guarded secret, the anticipation surrounding this announcement is palpable. The tournament is expected to feature a diverse selection of titles encompassing all major esports genres, promising an unparalleled experience for players and fans alike.
This event comes as a replacement for Gamers8, the Saudi Esports Federation’s $45 million esports festival in Riyadh. The decision to retire Gamers8 in favour of the Esports World Cup demonstrates Saudi Arabia’s unwavering commitment to the gaming industry’s growth and development. As the titles to be included have not been officially unveiled, fans worldwide are eager to discover which games will take centre stage.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision for the Esports World Cup extends beyond mere entertainment. It’s a strategic step in the country’s National Gaming and Esports Strategy, introduced in September 2022, aimed at nurturing the local esports industry. The Crown Prince asserts that this ambitious competition will accelerate the objectives of Vision 2030, which include diversifying the Saudi economy, boosting tourism, and generating new employment opportunities.
In an official statement, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated, “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. The competition will enhance our progress towards realising 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 Esports World Cup is not merely about the tournaments. The event promises to be a multi-faceted experience, featuring a diverse array of activities and events that will draw tourists and visitors to Riyadh. The indoor tournament is set to counter the seasonal drop in tourism-related spending experienced during the hot summer months, cementing Saudi Arabia’s position as a year-round tourist destination.
Saudi Arabia’s recent foray into the esports world has been nothing short of spectacular. The government’s substantial investments in the sector, including the formation of the ESL FACEIT Group, the $45 million esports festival, and stake acquisitions in major game development companies, have set the stage for the Esports World Cup’s grand entrance. Additionally, Savvy Games Group’s announcement of a staggering $38 billion investment plan in esports and gaming in September 2022 has further solidified Saudi Arabia’s commitment to this burgeoning industry.
The Saudi Esports Federation and the Ministry of Sport hosted the New Global Sport Conference, a B2B esports networking event, where they announced the Esports World Cup. As the esports world looks ahead to 2024, all eyes are on Riyadh, where the inaugural Esports World Cup will undoubtedly take the gaming experience to unprecedented heights, leaving a lasting mark on the global esports landscape. Saudi Arabia is determined to be at the forefront of esports, and the world is taking notice.