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ESL, FACEIT sold to Saudi-backed Savvy Gaming Group for $1.5 billion USD [Update]

ESL Gaming, one of the biggest names in esports tournaments, has reportedly been sold for a massive $1 billion figure. (Update: FACEIT has also been sold to the same group.)


Update: The source story from the Sports Business Journal has been updated to add that FACEIT, the London-based esports tournament organization, has also been picked up by the Savvy Gaming Group. FACEIT has featured tournaments for games like CS:GO, League of Legends, Rocket League, and more. The reported combined figure for the ESL and FACEIT purchase is $1.5 billion USD.

Original story: The esports world is experiencing a major shakeup and it's centered around ESL. On Monday, the Modern Times Group sold esports tournament giant ESL to the Savvy Gaming Group for a reported $1 billion USD. The Savvy Gaming Group is led by former Activision Senior Vice President Brian Ward, but it's also financially backed by the Saudia Arabia-backed Public Investment Fund.

The news comes from the Sports Business Journal (via German outlet Handelsblatt). This is the latest move from the Saudi PIF, which is fresh off of its acquisition of the Newcastle United Football Club. The Saudi PIF is currently in talks to acquire additional soccer clubs, including Inter Milan and Marseille. The ESL acquisition would mark the Middle Eastern nation's first investment in esports.

For years, ESL has been one of the premier names in esports tournaments. The organization, which currently has about 600 employees, has distributed millions of dollars in prize money over the past decade. It is primarily recognized for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but has also been at the forefront of tournaments for StarCraft 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Dota 2, Apex Legends, and various fighting games like Mortal Kombat 11 and Tekken 7. ESL has held its own proprietary tournaments at sites like Katowice, Poland and Cologne, Germany. ESL is also the parent company for the Swedish-based DreamHack.

If this acquisition goes through, it's a game-changer for esports. We'll keep an eye on this story at Shacknews as it develops. For more on the esports world, make sure to tune in to the Wide World of Electronic Sports later today at 3:30 p.m. PT/6:30 p.m. ET on the Shacknews Twitch channel.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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