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Riyadh is ‘fitting home’ for Esports World Cup, says Prince Faisal

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10 Jul 2024 05:07:44 GMT9
10 Jul 2024 05:07:44 GMT9

Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Sultan

RIYADH: At the official launch press conference of the Esports World Cup on Tuesday, July 2, I described it as “a defining day in esports history.”

As the inaugural event got underway over the past week, we have witnessed not just the players’ exceptional performances but also the adoring, insatiable reception of fans attending both in person and online. All of it has reiterated my belief that the launch of the Esports World Cup was truly a defining day.

Defining because Riyadh is a fitting home for the Esports World Cup, as Saudi Arabia pursues its ambitions of becoming a global hub for esports and gaming.

Defining because the world has fully woken up to the immense potential that this region — with Saudi Arabia very much at the forefront — offers the gaming and esports industry.

And defining because over the past few days I have imagined how my younger self would have felt about being given the opportunity to attend something as prestigious as the Esports World Cup in his home country. The youngsters of today do not have to imagine. It is a reality. Anything they want to do in the field of gaming and esports — professional player, coach, owner, broadcaster, lawyer, anything — is possible. There is an employment path available for any passionate gamer that wishes to pursue a career in the industry.

What child doesn’t grow up wanting to make their passion their career? I certainly did. In Saudi Arabia, now everyone can. And that’s a very powerful thing and a vital indication of not just progression but us building on the ambitions of the National Gaming and Esports Strategy.

The strategy was unveiled two years ago by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — marking the beginning of a new era where the Kingdom becomes a global hub for the gaming industry by 2030.

Importantly, the National Gaming and Esports Strategy also serves Saudi Vision 2030 objectives, which aim to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy, create new job opportunities in different industries and provide world-class entertainment.

The three main objectives of the strategy are: Enhancing quality of life by improving players’ experience, providing new entertainment opportunities, and achieving an economic impact by contributing about SR50 billion — roughly $13 billion — to GDP.

Let’s break that down. That means the creation of 39,000 new job opportunities by 2030. It means the advancement of a global industry and other direct and indirectly related industries. And it means an aim to produce more than 30 competitive games in the Kingdom’s studios — and become one of the top three countries containing the highest number of professional esports players.

With 67 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population identifying as gamers, it gives us added drive to work tirelessly with our partners around the world to make the world of gaming even bigger and better. Quite simply, gamers in Saudi Arabia deserve it.

The Esports World Cup is the next step in that essential journey. Running for eight weeks until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City, it is a global celebration of competitive excellence and esports fandom.

What makes it so magnificent for gamers is that it features a unique cross-game structure pitting the world’s top clubs and athletes against one another across 22 global competitions in 21 leading games. 

With a $60 million prize pool — the largest in esports history — it truly is a competition befitting the name Esports World Cup. After all, the World Cup is the World Cup.

But more than that, the Esports World Cup defines how we want to be seen by the gaming world — it defines our status as a nation where esports is a serious business, with abundant, fulfilling and essential employment opportunities. It defines our ambition for gaming and esports to become synonymous with Saudi Arabia across the globe. And it defines my ambition to remember July 2, 2024 in the years to come as a day pivotal in making all of that happen.

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