Saudi Arabia-backed esports festival Gamers8 has featured countless international tournaments since it commenced in July, including leading games like CS:GO, Dota 2, PUBG and Rocket League. However, viewership performance has varied greatly across esports titles.
The second edition of Gamers8’s festival, called ‘Land of Heroes’, is taking place from July 6th – August 27th in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh. Notably, the festival offers the biggest prize pool in the history of esports at $45m (~£33.74m).
Gamers8 and Saudi Arabia’s wider increasing investment in esports is, however, the subject of criticism due to the government’s human rights record, including on LGBTQ+ matters. Gamers8 is organised by the state-run Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports, which is chaired by Saudi Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan.
With Gamers8 2023 over, Esports Insider takes a look at the event’s viewership performance.
All viewership statistics have been sourced from viewership data analytics platform Esports Charts.
Gamers8 2023 Fortnite
Gamers8 2023 kicked off with one of its most popular competitions. Across four days, 44 Fortnite duos battled for a total prize pool of $2m (~£1.57m). Gamers8 2023 Fortnite was organised by ESL Gaming and the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFFEIS).
Just over 105,000 peak viewers tuned into Gamers8’s 2023 Fortnite competition. Although the tournament has the highest Fortnite prize pool in 2023 thus far, it only places 10th in terms of peak viewership this year for Fortnite events. In comparison, the Fortnite event with the highest peak viewership this year was the Rubius MadCup, with over 327,000 peak viewers, organised by notable Spanish streamer Rubius.
Gamers8 Tekken 7
Gamers8’s Tekken 7 tournament also took place from July 6th-9th. In total, 16 national teams competed for its $1m (~£785,000) total prize pool. Organised by the same entities, the Tekken 7 series attracted less than half the peak viewers of the Fortnite event, with around 44,000 peak viewers. Moreover, it could not compete with fighting game tournament EVO 2023, where a Tekken 7 event saw 241,000 peak viewers.
Within the fighting game niche, its peak viewership figure made Gamers8 Tekken 7 the fifth most-popular Tekken tournament of the year.
PUBG Mobile World Invitational 2023
For the PUBG Mobile World Invitational 2023, Gamers8 collaborated with PUBG Mobile developer KRAFTON and its publisher, Level Infinite. With a total prize pool of $3m (~£2.36), the invitational saw 18 teams, including FaZe Clan and Team Falcons, participate from July 11th-16th.
The PMWI 2023 is currently the second-most popular Gamers8 2023 event in terms of peak viewers (517,000) and the second-most viewed in terms of watch hours (9.65m). Similarly, it is the third-most watched PUBG Mobile competition of the year, behind the PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2023 and the 32nd SEA Games.
Gamers8 2023 Rainbow Six Siege
The $2m (~£1.57m) Gamers8 2023 Rainbow Six Siege tournament was organised by ESL and SAFFEIS. Eight teams, including G2 Esports and Ninjas in Pyjamas, were invited to compete from July 13th-16th.
The event performed moderately in terms of viewership both within the Gamers8 and the Rainbow Six Siege calendar. Among all 2023 R6 competitions, Gamers8 2023 R6 has the fifth-highest peak viewership with 33,900. However, this is significantly lower the leading event, Six Invitational 2023, attracted 232,000 peak viewers.
FIFAe Finals 2023
The FIFAe Finals 2023, organised by FIFA and EA and hosted by Gamers8, consisted of three tournaments: the FIFAe Club World Cup 2023, the FIFAe Nations Cup 2023, and the FIFAe World Cup 2023. Each featured a prize pool of $1m (~£785,000).
While viewership data on the Nations Cup is currently unavailable on Esports Charts, the two remaining FIFA events garnered respectable viewership numbers compared to other FIFA competitions in 2023. Of the three, the FIFAe World Cup attracted the most fans, with 55,100 peak viewers, making it the second-most watched FIFA competition of the year.
Riyadh Masters 2023
The Riyadh Master 2023 from July 19th-20th, a Dota 2 event organised by the Saudi Esports Federation, was one of the largest tournaments of the Gamers8 festival. It featured a total prize pool of $15m (~£11.8m) and 12 notable teams in the Dota 2 scene, including OG and Team Liquid.
With almost 588,000 peak viewers, the Riyadh Masters 2023 saw the highest peak viewership of all Dota 2 competitions in 2023 so far. In terms of hours watched, it takes second place after The Lima Major 2023. However, it should be noted that Dota 2’s biggest tournament of the year, The International 2023, is yet to take place.
Gamers8 2023 Rennsport
The young sim racing title Rennsport received a $1m (~£785,000) tournament at Gamers8. Racing league ESL R1’s 12 partnered teams, which include FURIA Esports and MOUZ, participated in the event from July 27th-30th. Gamers8 Rennsport was sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Oil Group.
Despite low popularity compared to some of the larger esports franchises featured at Gamers8, the sim racing tournament was popular in its niche. With 14,000 peak viewers, it was the most-watched Rennsport event of all time.
Gamers8 2023 StarCraft 2
Gamers8 StarCraft 2 was a multi-stage event taking place between August 3rd-6th organised by ESL and SAFFEIS. A total of 16 players competed across the SC2 Groupstage, SC2 Playoffs, SC: Remastered Legends and SC2 Legends for a combined prize pool of $500,000 (~£392,000).
The SC2 Playoffs attracted the most fans, reaching 54,300 peak viewers. SC2 Playoffs and SC2 Legends rank second and third in terms of viewership among 2023 SC2 tournaments, respectively, below only IEM Katowice 2023, with 73,200 peak viewers.
Gamers8 2023 Street Fighter 6
Coming hot off the heels of the highly anticipated release of the title among the fighting game community, ESL and SAFFEIS organised a $1m (~£785,000) tournament for Street Fighter 6. The event saw 32 players participate in Gamers8 2023 Street Fighter 6 from August 10th-13th.
Despite its relatively large prize pool compared to other Street Fighter tournaments, more established competitions from the franchise outshined the Gamers8 event. For instance, with 105,000 peak viewers, Gamers8 2023 Street Fighter 6 garnered significantly fewer viewers than EVO 2023 Street Fighter 6 (442,000).
PUBG Global Series 2023 Phase 2
Gamers8’s PUBG event was organised in collaboration with PUBG Collaboration as part of the PUBG Global Series 2023. From August 10th-20th, 24 of the best PUBG teams, including Gen.G and NAVI, competed for a prize pool of $2m (~£1.57m).
With 163,400 peak viewers tuning in for a total of 4.23m watch hours, the PUBG Global Series 2023 Phase 2 is now the most-watched PUBG tournament of the year and the fifth-most popular in the history of the esport.
Gamers8 2023 CS:GO
Featuring a $1m (~£785,000) prize pool, Gamers8 2023 CS:GO ran from August 16th-20th. Organisers ESL and Saudi Esports Federation invited 16 of the top CS:GO teams, such as the likes of ENCE and Team Vitality.
It is likely to be one of the last CS:GO competitions before the eventual release of Counter-Strike 2. Gamers8 CS:GO attracted only 429,000 peak viewers, which ranks eighth compared to all 2023 CS:GO tournaments so far. This is far less than BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023’s peak viewership of 1.53m, however, this was a Major-tiered event. The most popular non-Major CS:GO tournament was IEM Cologne 2023 (727,400 peak viewers).
Gamers8 2023 Rocket League
The final major esports event of Gamers8 was its $2m (~£1.6m) Rocket League tournament. Running from August 24th – 27th, the event recorded disappointing viewership figures given the title’s huge prize pool. In 2023, it is the 14th highest peak-viewed event (83,819) recording lower viewership than some 2022/23 RLCS Regional events.
The tournament was ultimately won by North American esports organisation Version1, with the highest-viewed match-up taking place in the group stage (FaZe Clan vs Karmine Corp). Gamers8 Rocket League also recorded 1.2m hours watched, the lowest of the game’s 2023 international esports events.
Gamers8 2023 as a whole
Ultimately, Gamers8 2023 concludes with millions of total hours watched, having featured a diverse range of esports titles. However, some of these titles have failed to attract similar audiences compared to its other international events.
Despite criticisms towards the influence of Saudi Arabia in esports, the country continues to increase its stake in the industry. This includes Gamers8 securing several notable partnerships for its 2023 festival, such as PepsiCo, Razer, adidas and Aramco, among others.
This article was originally published on August 23rd. Updated: September 5th.