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ESL FACEIT to support development of Qiddiya gaming district

Featured image credit: Populous

Featured image credit: Populous

Esports company ESL FACEIT Group has partnered with Qiddiya City to develop experiences for the latter’s planned gaming and esports district.

Qiddiya, one of Saudi Arabia’s ‘giga-projects’ under the country’s Vision 2030 masterplan, unveiled plans for what it claims will be a pioneering new gaming and esports district in December last year.

Qiddiya City will house the world’s first mixed-use gaming and esports district, which aims to attract gamers from around the world and cement Saudi Arabia as the “global epicentre” of the sector. The district will feature four dedicated esports venues and aim to host a year-round calendar of some of the biggest events.

ESL FACEIT was formed in 2022 after Savvy Gaming Group, which is owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, acquired ESL Gaming from Modern Times Group.

ESL FACEIT said its five-year deal with Qiddiya will invite its fans to help “shape the future” at the new district. ESL FACEIT will use creative technology to develop immersive experiences, in-game missions, and stage takeovers during its circuit of global events.

Gamers and fans will have exclusive access to new developments in the district during DreamHack festivals, ESL and IEM competitions, and on the company’s digital esports platform, FACEIT. This will include top-tier and amateur circuits across ESL Counter-Strike Pro Tour, ESL Challenger, ESL Impact, ESL Dota 2 Pro Tour, DreamHack festivals, and more.

Qiddiya’s gaming and esports district will have a combined peak tournament capacity of 73,000 across the destination.

Abdullah Aldawood, managing director of Qiddiya Investment Company, said: “As a global Capital of Play, Qiddiya City will host a critical component of Saudi Arabia’s national gaming and esports strategy, and help power the next generation of esports.

“Our partnership with ESL FACEIT Group ensures that players, fans, and creators worldwide will play a central role in building this unprecedented hub of entertainment and innovation. We will be setting a new benchmark for fan experiences in parallel with athlete and talent development.”

Craig Levine, co-chief executive of ESL FACEIT Group, added: “Qiddiya is a city built for and inspired by the global esports and gaming community in one of the industry’s fastest-growing markets.

“As a pioneering global destination for gaming and esports, Qiddiya City will grow and develop in collaboration with the community, an important cornerstone for a more sustainable future. We’re confident and honoured that EFG’s decades of experience will create value for the city’s scalable, fan-first vision.”

Qiddiya will also feature the 45,000-seat Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium, a multi-purpose venue that will be located on the 200-metre-high Tuwaiq cliff near the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

When announcing plans for the stadium in January, Qiddiya said the “futuristic” venue would be capable of hosting some of Saudi Arabia’s biggest sports, entertainment and cultural events.

Last month, Qiddiya announced more details of its planned Speed Track motorsport facility, which is set to become the future home of Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The track will be located in the heart of Qiddiya and will be capable of hosting the “largest motorsport events in the world”. The facility has been designed by German racetrack designer Hermann Tilke, who has been responsible for a host of F1 facilities, and former F1 driver Alex Wurz.