Little time has passed since the Dota 2 Riyadh masters concluded, and the organizers are already preparing for the next event of the Gamers8 series, this time in Fortnite. The $2 million tournament is set to take place between July 28-31 and will feature 44 Fortnite duos in a battle for a chunk of the hefty prize pool.
The venue of the event remains unchanged, as all events of the Gamers8 Festival are being held at the Boulevard Riyadh City complex in the capital of Saudi Arabia.
Fortnite is finally back on LAN. Join us for Gamers8 Featuring Fortnite!
🏆44 top duos competing in Riyadh
💰 $2,000,000 USD total prize pool
🗓 28-31 July pic.twitter.com/ytoHmPuALk
— Gamers8 Esports (@Gamers8GG) July 25, 2022
Format and schedule
The format of the LAN event will be split into two divisions — Zero Build and Battle Royale — each with a $1 million prize pool. The 88 participating players will include some of the top Fortnite pros, as well as content creators and qualified duos. Similarly to FNCS, each division consists of 12 set lobby matches with a points-based system. One of the most exciting parts of the event is the fact that the tournament will see players from different regions teaming up for the first time ever.
While the Zero Build competition will run from July 28-29, the classic Battle Royale mode will take place afterwards, between July 30-31. Each competition day will start at 6 pm CEST. The event will be broadcast on the official Gamers8 Twitch channel, featuring known Fornite talent such as Shayan “ShyoWager” Shehryar.
4 days of Fortnite action 🤩
2 different tournament formats 👀
2 million USD up for grabs 💰 pic.twitter.com/y0YWd0Fwq3
— Gamers8 Esports (@Gamers8GG) July 26, 2022
Gamers8 Festival esports distribution
The Gamers8 Festival runs for eight weeks and is set to conclude on September 8. Its prize pool of $15 million will be distributed among six esports disciplines as follows:
- Rocket League (Winner: FURIA Esports) — $2m
- Dota 2 (Winner: PSG.LGD) — $4m
- Fortnite (July 28-31) – $2m
- Rainbow Six Siege (August 4-7) – $2m
- PUBG MOBILE #1 (August 11-13) TBA
- PUBG MOBILE #2 (August 18-20) TBA
The controversy around Saudi involvement in esports
Gamers8 Festival is yet another attempt by the Saudi Arabian government to get more involved with the esports industry. Some people argue that the promotion of esports in the country is tantamount to money laundering through esports and an attempt to divert attention from the human rights situation in the country.
Back in 2020, both BLAST and Riot Games faced strong fan backlash when they announced partnerships with NEOM, a controversial $500 million project that has been linked to Saudi government support. However, this has not dampened the Saudi government’s interest in esports.
In December 2021, the Saudi Esports Federation appointed Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud as its Vice President. Shortly thereafter, Savvy Gaming Group, backed by the Saudi Arabian government, bought two of the biggest tournament organizers in the industry — ESL Gaming and FACEIT — for $1.5 billion. In addition, the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund acquired a 5% stake in Nintendo for $500 billion.
In terms of organization, the ongoing Gamers8 Festival seems to be well supported. The organizers arranged all-inclusive business class flights and other nuances in a “rich manner” for players. On the other hand, they’ve been also criticized by the community for inadequate tournament management and lack of transparency and communication. Furthermore, some teams and talent refused to participate in Gamers8 events due to the poor human rights record of the hosting nation.
While the controversy persists, the event has every chance of becoming an opportunity for the Saudi government to demonstrate its financial strength not only for the development of esports but also for tourism in the country.