J Balvin and Amr Diab to perform at opening ceremony of Saudi Arabia's Gamers8 festival

The eight-week event will feature the world's leading esports teams competing for a share of $15 million

J Balvin will be in Riyadh to perform at Gamers8 on July 14. AP
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Pop stars J Balvin and Amr Diab are some of the big music acts scheduled to perform at the opening ceremony of the Gamers8 esports festival in Riyadh.

They will join DJs Sebastian Ingrosso from Swedish House Mafia and Salvatore Ganacci at Boulevard Riyadh City on July 14 as part of celebrations kicking off the eight-week event.

Tickets will be made available soon from the official website.

Running under the theme “Your Portal to the Next World”, Gamers8 is described as “the biggest esports and gaming event worldwide”, with tournaments being played alongside various entertainment and cultural offerings.

According to its organiser, the Saudi Esports Federation, more than 1,000 activities, from concerts to comedy and magic shows, are planned as part of the programme.

On the sporting front, Gamers8 invites some of the world’s best players and teams to compete across popular titles, such as Rocket League, Dota 2, Fortnite, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and PUBG Mobile.

The total prize pool on offer is $15 million, one of the biggest in any esports competition.

Elite esports teams confirmed to take part include Furia from Brazil and FaZe Clan from the US. They will be battling it out against a number of Saudi teams, including Team Falcons.

The tournaments will be broadcast live on the festival’s social media channels in more than eight languages, including Arabic and English.

“The opening ceremony of Gamers8 will be a spectacular occasion, befitting a city of the imagination and ambition of Riyadh,” said Ahmed Al Bishri, chief operations officer of the Saudi Esports Federation.

“The goal of Gamers8 is to bring the virtual world of esports and gaming out into the physical realm of Riyadh while merging a plethora of other fun and futuristic events and attractions.

“We look forward to revealing even more artists of the quality of the opening night as the summer progresses — so watch this space.”

A booming industry

The scale of Gamers8 reflects the growth of gaming in the kingdom.

In January, a report by Boston Consulting Group stated that gaming consumption in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest economy, is projected to reach $6.8 billion by 2030.

The consultancy also highlighted that, along with esports, the sector is poised to generate substantial revenue, high-quality jobs and various reputational benefits in the kingdom, where consumption is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 22 per cent through 2030 from $959 million in 2020.

Gamers8 follows the success of Gamers Without Borders, an annual esports charity tournament that has raised more than $20m in charity since launching in 2020, according to the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sport.

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Updated: June 27, 2022, 7:38 AM