Prominent global esports organisations, ESL Gaming and Faceit, have been acquired by a holding company of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) for over $1 billion. The acquisition move brings together two of the world’s largest esports organisations, and the combined ESL-Faceit Group will offer both global broadcasting reach and a platform for competitive esports tournaments around the world.
According to a joint company statement, the newly formed ESL-Faceit Group will be co-led by the existing chiefs of the respective companies. The group seeks to take esports up from casual competitions to stadium-level events, with large prize pools and increasing audiences. One title that the companies are already heavily invested in is Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:Go), which is now set to receive a bigger boost.
According to a joint statement by ESL-Faceit, the body will seek to turn the online CS:Go playing environment into a global ecosystem — with more professional tournaments, better infrastructure support in the form of competitive gaming rigs and other requisites, and larger prize pools.
Faceit has also offered white-label anti-cheating technologies to esports tournament organisers and promoters around the world, and its expertise will rope in to the newly formed entity as well in some manner. The combined entity will also offer a $100,000 fund for small esports organisers to apply for from around the world — in order to build interest in competitive gaming in non-markets.
The acquiring entity, Savvy Gaming Group, is designated by the Saudi PIF to lead its investments in the gaming space. The company is presently headed by its chief executive Brian Ward, who has previously headed the game studios at Microsoft and Electronic Arts, and also led Activision’s acquisition of Blizzard in 2008.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see if ESL-Faceit will focus on tournaments beyond its existing titles of expertise — CS:Go and DotA:2. The merger clearly reflects on how competitive gaming and esports tournaments have been on the rise.
One of the first competitive titles to be hosted after the formation of the ESL-Faceit Group is Intel Extreme Masters 2022, to be hosted in Katowice, Poland. The tournament will feature a global broadcast tenure as well as live audience, and will be broadcasted in India as well.