ESL Gaming, one of the largest esports tournament organizers in the world, has reportedly been sold for 1 billion dollars by Swedish-owned Modern Times Group to the Savvy Gaming Group, which is backed by the Saudi sovereign Public Investment Fund. Under the new deal, ESL will merge with FACEIT, who was reportedly purchased for 500 million, under the new name ESL FACEIT Group. According to the official announcement, the deal is expected to close in Q2 of this year.
"The deal will combine ESL’s expertise in building, broadcasting, and commercializing premium esports ecosystems, including arena and festival events, with FACEIT’s capabilities in developing best-in-class tools for competitive games and a leading social network of competitive players," ESL FACEIT Group stated in a press release. "Together, ESL & FACEIT deliver an end-to-end solution that supports game publishers and developers to build sustainable competitive gaming communities and esports ecosystems."
Under the new organization, ESL and FACEIT will retain their leadership teams with Craig Levine and Niccolo Maisto serving as co-CEOs. Ralf Reichert, co-founder of ESL, is moving to an Executive Chairman role, away from operational responsibilities.
The ESL is a German-based company known for its CS:GO and DOTA 2 tournaments, among other competitive esports events. ESL One events have been featured as Valve-sponsored majors in CS:GO since 2014, hosting six of the total fourteen CS:GO majors. ESL is also known for its Intel Extreme Masters series, which is one of the worlds-longest-running global esports tournament series.
“SGG has committed to invest heavily in the games and esports industry and to materially strengthen the global games community," stated Savvy Gaming Group CEO Brian Ward. "We are delighted to be working with ESL FACEIT Group – a deal that will enable us to actively support the creation of a world-class esports ecosystem. With our investment, ESL FACEIT Group will be able to accelerate their development of an unrivaled experience for players and fans”
The total 1.5 billion dollar purchase from Savvy Gaming Group in partnership with the Saudi Arabian government wealth fund follows the wealth fun's 2021 purchase of Newcastle United football club, which is all part of the Saudi government's efforts to expand into the technology, gaming, and entertainment sector as part of their economic diversification plan. Saudi Arabia also hosts the Saudia Arabia Grand Prix F1 race every year, one of the largest motor racing events in the world.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.