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Cristiano Ronaldo and Saudi prince announce annual Esports World Cup with huge prize pool

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia said on Monday it was launching an annual Esports World Cup, which will include the most popular games in the world and have the largest prize pool in esports history.

The competition will be held annually in Riyadh starting summer 2024, a statement from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

Clubs will compete across games from various genres to become the ultimate Esports World Cup champion, the statement said. 

International star Cristiano Ronaldo was on hand to announce the Esports World Cup and discuss the future of esports with Prince Mohammed bin Salman.   

Sports, esports and gaming have been part of the crown prince's transformation plan, known as Vision 2030, in which the government is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars to diversify the kingdom's economy and reduce its reliance on oil.

Saudi Arabia's Savvy Games Group, owned by sovereign wealth fund PIF, said last year it will invest 142 billion riyals ($37.8 billion) in initiatives aimed at making Saudi Arabia a global hub for gaming. 

Under the plan, the kingdom aims to set up 250 games companies locally, which will create 39,000 jobs, and raise the sector's contribution to Saudi GDP to 50 billion riyals by 2030.

"The Esports World Cup is the natural next step in Saudi Arabia's journey to become the premier global hub for gaming and esports, offering an unmatched esports experience that pushes the boundaries of the industry," the crown prince was quoted in the statement as saying. 

The competition will help achieving Vision 2030 objectives by boosting tourism, creating jobs and providing entertainment for residents and visitors, he added.

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