Saudi Arabia has announced a yearly Esports World Cup in the kingdom's capital Riyadh that will launch next year.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and prime minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said the Esports World Cup will feature multiple tournaments covering various unspecified leading esports titles and all genres.
He added that the tournament will have the largest prize pool in esports history, however, he did not specify what amount of money this would be.
The new tournament will be run by the newly founded Esports World Cup Foundation, a non-profit organization set up by the Saudi government that claims to aim to drive collaboration between esports stakeholders and improve the sector’s sustainability. It will replace Gamers8, the Saudi Esports Federation’s existing esports festival in Riyadh.
Bin Salman stated that the event was part of a wider scheme to accelerate the country’s National Gaming and Esports Strategy, itself a scheme within the country’s Vision 2030 objectives of diversifying its economy, growing tourism, and creating jobs.
There will also be other unspecified activities and events set up around the tournament geared towards attracting tourists to the city, with the indoor tournament chosen to help boost Saudi tourism in the summer, which is normally when tourism declines due to the hot weather.
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In a statement, Bin Salman said: “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 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 move is part of a wider government investment in esports, which includes forming tournament organizer conglomerate ESL Faceit Group, the aforementioned Gamers8 esports festival, investing in Chinese tournament operator and esports company VSPO, as well as buying stakes in various game developers.
In September 2022, the Saudi government-owned Savvy Games Group announced $38bn investment plans in esports and gaming.