In a move reminiscent of the recent acquisition of English Premier League football club Newcastle United, Savvy Gaming Group, a holding company owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has purchased esports event organiser ESL Gaming alongside the tournament platform, FACEIT.
According to Sports Business Journal, the price for both companies was $1.5bn. As part of the acquisition, the two companies will become the ESL FACEIT Group, and plan join forces to “create the ultimate platform for competitive gaming.”
Based in Germany, ESL hosts leading CS:GO, Dota 2 and other esports tournaments. FACEIT is a competitive gaming platform that provides anti-cheat, matchmaking and tournaments for players. The new group will be jointly led by current ESL CEO Craig Levine and his FACEIT counterpart, Niccolo Maisto.
In a statement, the goal of the ESL FACEIT Group was described as taking “games and players from casual competitions to arena events on one platform.” The company also revealed plans dug into its plans for Counter-Strike, promising to promote more stability for the North American CS:GO esports scene by increasing the number of competitions, creating more incentives for professional teams and improving the available infrastructure, establishing “accessible, well-connected competitive circuits.”
Savvy Gaming Group was formed in 2021 with the goal of driving “long-term growth and development of the games and esports industry worldwide,” and is fully owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which controls at least $500bn of the country’s wealth and is overseen by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Day-to-day, Savvy Gaming Group is led by CEO Brian Ward, a former Activision executive who helped lead the integration of Blizzard during the 2008 merger that created Activision Blizzard.