Saudi-backed group makes $265m investment in Chinese esports company VSPO


Saudi Arabian games and esports company Savvy Games Group has announced that it has invested $265 million into VSPO, a Chinese tournament operator.

The deal, which remains subject to “required regulatory clearances and approvals and the satisfaction of other closing conditions”, will see Savvy Games Group become the largest equity holder in VSPO.

According to a press release, the investment will help VSPO deliver on its global strategy and increase the scale of its mobile esports operations, “with a particular focus on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.

The announcement is in line with Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plan to become a global hub for gaming and esports by the end of the decade as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 project. In September 2022, the Savvy Games Group, which is fully owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, outlined a SAR 142 billion (~$37.9 billion) strategy that includes the acquisition of a leading game publisher and investment in key companies within the esports sector.

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“This is a significant strategic investment for Savvy in one of Asia’s pre-eminent esports organizations,” said Brian Ward, CEO of Savvy Games Group. “The transaction marks the biggest cash investment ever made in an esports organization and shows our confidence in the potential of this fast-growing sector.

“Through Savvy’s investments, we are seeking to play a significant role in the sustainable growth and development of the global gaming industry, which will enable technology innovators like VSPO to facilitate broader, more equitable access to the dynamic esports market.

“This is a significant transaction for Savvy, and gives us a major foothold in the important Asia region. We are looking forward to diversifying our geographic footprint alongside VSPO, a leading player in the world’s biggest esports market. This investment is part of our long-term commitment to growing a thriving global esports community and further positioning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a leading global hub for games and esports.”

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Last year, Savvy Games Group acquired ESL and FACEIT for a combined $1.5 billion. The deal has come under intense scrutiny and criticism due to Saudi Arabia’s record of human rights violations.

Who is VSPO?

Founded in 2016, VSPO is one of Asia’s biggest tournament operators. It was known as VSPN until earlier this month, when it rebranded to differentiate itself from ESPN.

Over the past decade, VSPO has struck partnerships with several developers in the region, including Tencent, Garena, and Krafton.

The company has hosted tournaments in multiple esports titles, including Arena of Valor, PUBG Mobile and CrossFire, and has venues in Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu, and Seoul.

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“This is an exciting time in the global esports industry and we are delighted to be working with Savvy to grow the sector worldwide,” said Dino Ying, VSPO CEO and founder. “We believe we can take this industry to the next level and deliver our aligned vision; bringing communities together through esports.

“This historic investment will strengthen our ambitious global strategy, with a particular focus on Asia and the Middle East where we will support Savvy’s vision to grow esports throughout this incredibly dynamic and young region.”