ESL & FACEIT sold in shock $1.5 billion Saudi takeover

Alan Bernal

ESL has reportedly sold for $1 billion to Savvy Gaming Group (SGG), a firm funded by the Saudi Arabian government’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). Aside from ESL, the group also purchased the FACEIT platform for $500 million, sources close to the deal confirmed to Dexerto.

The sovereign fund from Saudi Arabia is set to acquire one of the most recognizable tournament organizers in esports from The Modern Times Group, first reported by Handelsblatt then SBJ.

ESL is known for ESL One events in CSGO and Dota 2, as well as the ESL Pro Tour and the Intel Extreme Masters tourney series.

The deal was first reported on January 24, 2022, and is set to be finalized in Q2 2022.

esl cologne

PIF also purchased FACEIT, the London-based esports platform, for $500 million. The competitive gaming service hosts community-driven events for CS:GO, Dota2, League of Legends, and more.

The company partnered with Valve in 2018 to put on the $1 million FACEIT London Major. It was the United Kingdom’s first Major and played host to the likes of Astralis, Natus Vincere (NAVI), Team Liquid, and more.

The deal marks another landmark acquisition for Public Investment Fund’s (PIF) after buying Premier League football club Newcastle United in December 2021.

Savvy acquisitions merge into ESL FACEIT Group

esl faceit csgo merger
ESL and FACEIT have merged following SGG’s $1.5 billion acquisition deal.

At the onset of SGG’s newest acquisitions, ESL and FACEIT announced they would merge into one entity: ESL FACEIT Group.

The idea is to give teams, players, and publishers “a consistent journey that could take them from casual competitions to arena events on one platform,” the company said.

Brands like FACEIT, DreamHack, ESL, ESEA, and Badlion are expected to continue separate operations that span from casual online events to major esports tournaments.

SGG is fully owned by PIF and will manage ESL FACEIT to create “a world-class esports ecosystem… to accelerate [development] of an unrivaled experience for players and fans.”

CSGO reacts to ESL FACEIT purchase

Esports fans from CSGO and other prominent titles expressed concerns with the SGG’s acquisition and merger of ESL and FACEIT.

The Saudi-funded purchase has divided opinions on the $1.5 billion deal that’s going to reshape leading esports tournament organizers.

“So ESL, FaceIt and Dreamhack are all one company now?” asked esports host and caster Goldenboy. “That seems weird… right?”

“I’m interested in the possibilities of the FACEIT/ESL merger for what it can bring to the gaming space,” Rainbow 6 caster CaliberJacob tweeted.

“But if that advancement means esports then starts regressing LGBTQ+ inclusivity because Saudi values don’t line up with Western ones, then it’s absolutely not worth it.”

esl faceit merger

Whether it’s the heavy ties to money from Saudi Arabia or that major esport entities are now under one roof, fan trepidation spans everything from questions on inclusion to anti-trust concerns.

After being acquired, ESL FACEIT Group are now planning the next phases of its development with upcoming tourneys like IEM Katowice and DreamHack events.