UAE ups gaming ambitions with $1 million prize for e-sports tourney

Abu Dhabi initiative seeks to make the capital into an exciting hub
UAE ups gaming ambitions with $1 million prize for e-sports tourney
Creating more opportunities for local talent in e-sports and gaming

Abu Dhabi is rapidly becoming the go-to destination for gamers and e-sports in the UAE and the wider region. Its AD Gaming initiative has been raising the UAE capital’s profile in the world of e-sports.

Launched in 2021, this government-led effort is not just honing talent but also creating career opportunities and hosting prestigious events. One of the most prominent events it supported was the Blast Premier World Final 2022 with a $1-million prize pool.

AD Gaming initiative

James Hartt, director for AD Gaming, emphasized the transformative impact of the Blast Premier World Finals. As the first stadium-filling e-sports event in the region, it set the stage for the industry’s flourishing growth. Moreover, it showcased the excitement and energy in live competitive gaming.

As the e-sports industry in the region grows, local talent is making waves on the global stage. Team Nigma Galaxy, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, achieved remarkable success winning the world championship. Moreover, Abu Dhabi-based Nasr e-Sports saw Amjad ‘AngryBird’ Alshalabi become the first-ever Arab street fighter champion at the EVO World Championship.

Moreover, gaming giant My.Games, a leading publisher and developer, established a regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi, showcasing the emirate’s potential. The relocation of over a thousand employees to Abu Dhabi marks a significant step change for the local industry. It paves the way for a promising e-sports future in the region.

Rise of tournament platforms 

The e-sports landscape in the UAE has witnessed a surge in tournament platforms, creating more opportunities for local talent. Initiatives like e&’s Arena Challenge provide access to mobile gaming tournaments on various games. Meanwhile, ‘Route to Pro’ programs and collaborations with regional e-sports organizers aim to expand avenues for gamers globally.

Next month, the 2023 edition of the Blast finals will take place at the Etihad Arena and it promises to be a spectacle.  It will host some of the world’s best Counter-Strike teams competing for a $1-million prize pool. Following the success of the 2022 final, Andrew Haworth, Blast Premier program director, aims to elevate the in-arena viewing experience  through industry-leading lighting, staging, and sound techniques.

The successful Blast Premier World Final in 2022 was a crucial step in the UAE’s e-sports journey. Andrew Haworth highlights the importance of engagement with local e-sports fans, grassroots organizations, and educational institutions. The feedback received underscores the need for more e-sports events, organizations, and opportunities in the UAE and the Middle East.

Read: Esports is becoming a major economic enabler

Paving the way for growth

AD Gaming’s work in Abu Dhabi provides a crucial framework to meet the growing demand for e-sports in the region. The region’s largest e-sports event will be returning to the Etihad Arena in December for a second year. Therefore, this reflects the UAE’s commitment to supporting the gaming and e-sports community.

Hartt expresses the anticipation building for the December event. He promised a gaming festival at the Etihad Arena that will build upon the successes of 2022.

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