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Saudi Arabia’s Savvy Games Group has invested $265 million in VSPO, a Chinese esports startup specializing in tournaments, venues and production.
VSPO said that Savvy, owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, will now become VSPO’s single largest equity holder.
The companies said the deal symbolizes a landmark commercial partnership between China, the world’s biggest esports market, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it implements Vision 2030 to become a
leading global hub for gaming and esports.
The investment will raise some eyebrows as many consider the money from Saudi Arabia to be tainted by the country’s human rights issues, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
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The companies said this investment will support VSPO (formerly VSPN) to develop the rapidly growing global esports sector for the benefit of the global esports community. The goal is to position Savvy as a key enabler along the games value chain, creating more opportunities for participation and progression across gender, geography, means and ability.
HRH Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, vice chairman of Savvy Games Group, said in a statement, “We envision a thriving global esports sector with a vibrant, talented and dynamic community
at its core, and we appreciate the immense opportunities for this industry, especially here in the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with such a young population of approximately 23 million enthusiasts. This
investment is one part of the ambitious plan that will enable and support the esports ecosystem in
Saudi Arabia. Attracting international companies to Saudi Arabia through investments and
partnerships will contribute to providing skills, knowledge transfer and building capabilities in the
Extending Savvy’s reach
In 2022, Savvy acquired ESL, its subsidiary DreamHack and FACEIT, three of the largest tournament operators in the West. Its acquisition of VSPO will allow Savvy to extend the reach of its events into China and other growing markets like Malaysia.
Savvy’s long-term investment will help VSPO continue to deliver on its global strategy and accelerate the growth of mobile esports with a particular focus on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a market with 23.5 million gamers. VSPO will also use this funding to invest in new technology to further enhance the fan experience.
Brian Ward, CEO of Savvy Games Group, said in a statement, “This is a significant strategic investment for
Savvy in one of Asia’s pre-eminent esports organizations. The transaction marks the biggest cash
investment ever made in an esports organization and shows our confidence in the potential of this
fast-growing sector. Through Savvy’s investments, we are seeking to play a significant role in the
sustainable growth and development of the global gaming industry, which will enable technology
innovators like VSPO to facilitate broader, more equitable access to the dynamic esports market.”
He added, “This is a significant transaction for Savvy, and gives us a major foothold in the important Asia
region. We are looking forward to diversifying our geographic footprint alongside VSPO, a leading
player in the world’s biggest esports market. This investment is part of our long-term commitment to
growing a thriving global esports community and further position the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a
leading global hub for games and esports.”
The transaction is expected to close in the coming months, subject to the receipt of required regulatory clearances and approvals and the satisfaction of other closing conditions.
Dino Ying, CEO and Founder of VSPO said in a statement, “This is an exciting time in the global esports
industry, and we are delighted to be working with Savvy to grow the sector worldwide. We believe
we can take this industry to the next level and deliver our aligned vision; bringing communities
together through esports. This historic investment will strengthen our ambitious global strategy, with
a particular focus on Asia and the Middle East where we will support Savvy’s vision to grow esports
throughout this incredibly dynamic and young region.”
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