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ESL and FACEIT Acquired by Saudi Group for $1.5 Billion

ESL Saudi TakeoverESL Saudi takeover: The Saudi Crown-backed firm Savvy Gaming has just bought one of the world’s oldest and biggest esports companies, ESL for $1 Billion. The group also acquired the popular gaming platform Faceit for another $500 million. The company is reportedly planning to merge the two. The surprise move took the gaming world by storm, as ESL was the largest gaming company in 2015, and the oldest still to exist today. The deal was first reported by German site Handelsblatt. However, this is not the first surprise takeover coming this month, as Microsoft earlier announced it will acquire Activision Blizzard in a deal worth over $68 billion. This further enables the point of how huge investors are already planning to capitalize on the growth of the gaming industry in the coming years.

ESL and FACEIT combined are the largest Esports tournaments and events organizers in the world, they both administered leagues for CS: GO, League of Legends, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Seige, Dota 2, and many more in the past. The companies claimed they now want to make a more accessible and flexible gaming platform for the community, and boost growth in both Esports and competitive play.

Why did the Saudi Government takeover ESL/FACEIT?

This is not the first perplexing move made by the Saudi Government, as the Crown Prince has slowly over the years been using Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to make diversified investments and acquisitions over the world across several fields, in order to change the country’s eco-political position from an oil economy to a more diversified one, supposedly to have a more sustainable future.

In 2021 alone the PIF acquired $3.3 Billion in shares of EA, Take-Two, and Activision Blizzard. Additionally, the state also bought 80% of Newcastle United in one of the biggest sporting leagues in the world, in a deal worth over $400 Million. Outside the sporting world too, the country has been busy diversifying its investment portfolio, as it added Uber shares worth $4.4 billion and Live Nation Entertainment shares worth $1 Billion to its shopping list.

Though the move is also being red-flagged by many fans in the gaming community. The  Saudi Public Invest Fund (PIF) is infamous for using transactions just like as tokens of PR to whitewash its image, something which has already been termed as ‘Sportswashing’. As the parties directly involved have an influence on millions of people, it is deals just like this which allow oligarch states to bypass crimes such as brutal totalitarian dictatorships, suppression of human rights, the crackdown on LGBTQ+ and women communities.

Last year Riot backed out from a Similar deal with Saudi Arabia, which would see it promote Saudi’s NEOM project in a LOL tournament, following backlash from the esports community.

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