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


The 2023 edition of Gamers8 is fast approaching, 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 will return in 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, festival activities, 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 upcoming Gamers8 festival. This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Gamers8 2023: Schedule

The 2023 edition of Gamers8 will kick off on July 6 and last over eight weeks, coming to a close in September (no official end date has been provided). The festival will take 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.

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Gamers8 2023: Esports tournaments and prize

Gamers8 has so far announced nine esports tournaments for the 2023 edition with a combined $26.5 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 and Tekken 7 will be played for the first time.

In announcing the Tekken 7 tournament, Gamers8 said that it is “the first fighting game featured” at the event, which could mean that there will be FGC titles at the festival.

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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 Dota 2 tournament’s MVP.

The organizers have not yet disclosed the exact number of esports tournaments that will be held throughout the festival.

The following esports tournaments will be played at Gamers8:

  • July 6-9: Fortnite ($2 million)
  • July 6-9: Tekken 7 ($1 million)
  • July 11-16: PUBG Mobile ($3 million)
  • July 13-16: Rainbow Six Siege ($2 million)
  • July 17-30: Dota 2 ($15 million)
  • August 3-6: StarCraft: Remastered and StarCraft II ($500,000 combined)
  • August 14-20: 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

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