Gamers8 2023: Schedule, esports tournaments, prize and controversy explained

Luís Mira
Gamers8

The 2023 edition of Gamers8 is officially underway, with more prize money and esports tournaments than last year. Here is everything you need to know about the Saudi festival.

After a first edition in 2022, Saudi Arabian gaming and esports festival Gamers8 is back 2023 with an event dubbed ‘The Land of Heroes’. Organized by the Saudi Esports Federation, the festival will take place over eight weeks and will include esports tournaments, music concerts and the Next World Forum conference.

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In 2023, Gamers8 aims to be “bigger in every way”, from the number of esports tournaments to the amount of money on the line. To that end, the festival will offer $45 million – the “largest prize pool” in esports history, according to the organizers.

Despite its sizeable prize pool, the Gamers8 festival has been the target of much criticism in the esports community because of its ties to the Saudi government and the country’s record of human rights violations.

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Below is everything you need to know about the Gamers8 festival.

Gamers8 2023: Schedule

The 2023 edition of Gamers8 kicked off on July 6 and will last over eight weeks, coming to a close on August 31 with the Gamers8 Club Awards. The festival takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital.

The event is expected to take place at the NXT LVL Arena, a custom-built venue in Riyadh Boulevard City that was unveiled ahead of the 2022 festival.

Gamers8 2023: Esports tournaments and prize

Gamers8 has announced 12 esports titles for the 2023 edition with a combined $33.5 million prize pool. Dota 2, Fortnite, Rocket League, Rainbow Six Siege and PUBG Mobile all return to the festival, while CS:GO, StarCraft: Remastered, Starcraft II, Tekken 7, Street Fighter 6, PUBG, R1 and FIFA will be played for the first time.

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On July 1, the Gamers8 organizers added FIFA 23 to the list of titles that will be played at the event. The FIFAe Finals 2023 will take place at the Saudi festival from July 6-19 and will consist of three tournaments: the FIFAe Club World Cup 2023, the FIFAe Nations Cup 2023, and the FIFAe World Cup 2023. These three competitions will have a combined prize pool of $3 million.

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It is likely that, like last year, there will also be individual prizes for the top players. Former PSG.LGD player Zhang ‘Faith_bian’ Ruida, for example, won $100,000 for being the 2022 Dota 2 tournament’s MVP.

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On June 12, Gamers8 revealed that $5 million will be handed out to the eight best-performing esports organizations at the festival. High placements in every esports tournament will lead to ranking points, with the top club at the end of the event earning $1.5 million.

The following esports tournaments will be played at Gamers8:

  • July 6-9: Fortnite ($2 million)
  • July 6-9: Tekken 7 ($1 million)
  • July 6-19: FIFA 23 ($3 million)
  • July 11-23: PUBG Mobile ($3.1 million)
  • July 13-16: Rainbow Six Siege ($2 million)
  • July 17-30: Dota 2 ($15 million)
  • July 27-30: ESL R1 ($1 million)
  • August 3-6: StarCraft: Remastered and StarCraft II ($500,000 combined)
  • August 10-13: Street Fighter 6 ($1 million)
  • August 10-20: PUBG ($2 million)
  • August 16-20: CS:GO ($1 million)
  • August 21-27: Rocket League ($2 million)

Gamers8 2023: Controversy explained

Gamers8’s whopping prize pool may be lauded by many, but that hasn’t stopped the festival from drawing criticism from several quarters. The Saudi government has been accused of taking its sportswashing formula to gaming and esports in an attempt to overshadow its human rights abuses.

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Last year, Moist Esports, the organization founded by popular streamer Charles ‘MoistCritikal’ White, refused an invite to Gamers8’s Rocket League tournament. “I will not be associating with a country that does not recognize LGBTQ+ people as human beings,” Moist manager Noah Hinder said at the time. “I think it’s important to put my morals and beliefs over money.”

Gamers8 will take place amid concerns about the growing influence of Saudi Arabian money in esports. The Savvy Games Group (SGG), which is fully owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, recently announced a SAR 142 billion (~$37.9 billion) investment strategy as it aims to turn the kingdom into a global hub for gaming and esports by the end of the decade as part of the Vision 2023 project.

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Last year, SGG acquired ESL and FACEIT in a deal worth $1.5 billion. ESL will serve as the production company for the Gamers8 festival, according to HLTV.org.

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About The Author

Luís was formerly Dexerto's Esports editor. Luís Mira graduated from ESCS in 2012 with a degree in journalism. A former reporter for HLTV.org, Goal and SkySports, he brought more than a decade of experience covering esports and traditional sports to Dexerto's editorial team.