The organizers of the Gamers8 festival have announced CS:GO as its second esports title for this year’s event, with $1 million on offer.
The tournament will take place from August 14-20 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as part of Gamers8, a gaming and esports festival that will span over eight weeks. The event will offer a total of $45 million – triple the amount that was up for grabs at last year’s festival – in prize money.
CS:GO is the second esports title confirmed for the festival after Dota 2. Valve’s MOBA will have a $15 million tournament with 20 teams called the Riyadh Masters, which will be the crowning moment of the first season of the ESL Pro Tour Dota2.
It remains unclear at this point how teams will qualify for this tournament and whether it will have any connection to ESL Pro Tour CS:GO – the open ecosystem that ties all ESL competitions.
The $45 million prize pool is “the largest in esports history”, according to Gamers8, which is sponsored by the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF). In addition to esports tournaments, the festival will include concerts, workshops, gaming activations and the Next World Forum conference.
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Gamers8 is seen as a crucial part of Saudi Arabia’s aspirations to become a major power within the gaming and esports ecosystem by the end of the decade. Last year, the Savvy Games Group, which is an offshoot of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), outlined a SAR 142 billion (~$38 billion) investment plan that is aimed at turning the kingdom into a global gaming hub.
In January 2022, the Savvy Games Group acquired ESL and FACEIT for a combined $1.5 billion. The deal has come under criticism due to Saudi Arabia’s record of human rights violations.
But despite the backlash, Saudi money keeps pouring into the industry. Only last month, the Savvy Games Group announced a $265 million investment in VSPO, a Chinese tournament operator.
And on March 1, the ESL FACEIT Group acquired Vindex, an esports technology and infrastructure company, for an undisclosed fee. As part of the deal, Esports Engine and Vindex Intelligence Platform have come under the ownership of the ESL FACEIT Group.