Esports tournament organiser ESL FACEIT Group is reportedly looking to create a Dota 2 esports circuit that will streamline its existing properties and introduce a new event called The Riyadh Masters.
As first reported by esports journalist Richard Lewis via Substack, who obtained a document detailing the plans, ESL’s new circuit will avoid clashes with the Dota Pro Circuit and Valve’s Majors by taking place in between these schedules.
The proposal will look to combine DreamLeague, ESL One and The Riyadh Masters in one global circuit.
When Esports Insider reached out to ESL FACEIT Group for a comment on the topic, the company stated: “We look forward to an exciting Dota 2 year ahead. Stay tuned as the full details will be revealed soon.”
According to Lewis’ report, DreamLeague is being slated as the main way in which teams can qualify for The Riyadh Masters. All in all, 16 teams will be invited into DreamLeague and will compete online for $1m (£844,800) in prize money. ESL One will also feature a $1m prize pool, with the offline event slated to take place in Thailand.
Finally, the Riyadh Masters will reportedly take place at the Gamers8 Festival, which recently announced that it will feature a $45m (~£37.96m) prize pool across multiple games for its second edition in July 2023.
Hosting an international CS:GO event in Saudi Arabia seemed like only a matter of time, especially considering ESL FACEIT Group was purchased by Saudi-government-backed Savvy Games Group (SGG) in 2021. Moreover, SGG announced a SAR 142bn (~£34.5bn; $37.9bn) investment strategy last year as the company looks to establish itself as a major player in esports and gaming.
The Saudi government’s continued push into esports — which includes the launch of Gamers8 — has been criticised as a form of ‘esportswashing’, in an attempt to distract from the country’s record of human rights abuses. In 2020, both BLAST and Riot Games faced criticism after signing a partnership with NEOM, a Saudi Arabian futuristic city development project. The deals were later terminated following community backlash from fans and talent.