The organizers of the Gamers8 esports and gaming festival have announced a record $45 million prize purse for the 2023 edition.
The event will kick off on July 6 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and will span over eight weeks, with music concerts, festival activities, and the Next World Forum conference held alongside esports tournaments.
The $45 million prize pool is triple the amount on offer in the 2022 edition and is the largest in esports history, according to the event’s organizers.
The names of the esports titles that will be played at the Gamers8 festival have not yet been disclosed. Last year’s event featured some of the best teams and players in Rocket League, Dota 2, Fortnite, Rainbow Six and PUBG Mobile.
According to veteran esports journalist Richard Lewis, ESL has proposed combining its Dota 2 properties, DreamLeague and ESL One, and Gamers8’s Dota 2 tournament, called Riyadh Masters, into “one global circuit” to complement Valve’s Dota Pro Circuit and The International. The 2022 Riyadh Masters had a $4 million prize pool, with PSG.LGD claiming the top prize of $1.5 million.
The Gamers8 festival is sponsored by the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF), the nation’s main esports association. In a January statement, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of the federation, said that the goal was to build on what was achieved with the 2022 event. “To be frank, when we mean bigger and better this summer – we truly mean it,” he said.
The announcement of the Gamers8 festival comes at a time when the esports industry is witnessing a flood of Saudi money. This has been met with intense criticism because of the country’s record of human rights violations.
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Last year, the Savvy Games Group, which is fully owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, acquired ESL and FACEIT for a combined $1.5 billion.
In February, the Savvy Games Group announced a $265 million investment in VSPO, a Chinese tournament operator specialized in mobile esports. And last week, the ESL FACEIT Group acquired esports technology and infrastructure company Vindex, with broadcast production service Esports Engine included in the deal.
Mikhail Klimentov, a former reporter for The Washington Post, revealed on March 6 that Brian Ward, CEO of Savvy Games Group, outlined his vision to build a gaming and esports company “bigger than Tencent” during a town hall meeting of Vindex employees.