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Etihad Arena to host esports showpiece

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena has landed its latest major event with the announcement that esports organisation Blast will stage its showpiece tournament, the Blast Premier World Final, at the venue.

Blast has teamed with Abu Dhabi Gaming to bring the World Final for the first time to Abu Dhabi as part of a three-year partnership. Formed last year, AD Gaming is a collaborative initiative which aims to aggregate Abu Dhabi’s drive to build a thriving gaming and esports ecosystem, and continue to promote the city as a global gaming hub.

Abu Dhabi’s inaugural Blast Premier World Final will run from December 14-18 and will feature eight of the world’s biggest esports teams battling for a share of the tournament organiser’s biggest prize pool of the year – $1m (£824,000/€957,000).

The World Final will be the seventh and last event of the Blast Premier tournament series and is the culmination of the 2022 global CS:GO calendar. Split across two seasons, Blast Premier offers a place in the World Final for teams who triumph in the Spring and Fall Seasons, as well as the top four teams on the ‘Race to the World Final Leaderboard’. The line-up will be completed with the winners of ESL Season 16 and the ESL Rio Major.

The appointment of Abu Dhabi comes after Blast in April started the host selection process for its 2023 season, working with The Sports Consultancy agency to identify candidate cities.

Charlotte Kenny, managing director of Blast Premier, said: “As part of our host cities process, we are always on the lookout for leading locations and arenas all around the world, Abu Dhabi is the perfect location to follow on from this month’s highly successful Spring Final in Lisbon and November’s Fall Final in Copenhagen.

“The World Final will follow in the footsteps of popular sports such as UFC, F1 and NBA in hosting major events in Abu Dhabi and the remarkable Etihad Arena provides the perfect stage for our World Final event.

“Esports and the gaming sectors are growing at a rapid pace in the Middle East with hundreds of thousands of people engaged with gaming, as either players or spectators. Blast is committed to bringing our best-in-class shows to all corners of the globe and we are proud to be working with AD Gaming to provide the Blast Premier World Final in Abu Dhabi.”

Built to attract sports and entertainment tourists to Abu Dhabi, Yas Island’s Etihad Arena delivered its first ‘capacity’ event in May, hosting a Maroon 5 concert. Officially completed in January 2021 amidst pandemic-capacity restrictions, the arena’s capacity had yet to be fully experienced before that point.

Etihad Arena will also host two pre-season NBA games between the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks in October, it was announced in May. The games will take place at the 18,000-capacity arena on October 6 and October 8 and will mark the NBA’s first-ever fixtures in the Arabian Gulf.

Taghrid Alsaeed, executive director of group communications and marketing strategy at Miral, Etihad Arena’s owner, said: “Yas Island has become a top destination for events and having this event as well is a testament to achieving our vision of positioning the island as a top global destination for entertainment and leisure. We look forward to welcoming fans to this exciting tournament.”

Image: Kingspan