In Massive Esports Deal, ESL Gaming and FACEIT to Merge Under Saudi-Backed Ownership Group

The newly created company instantly becomes a behemoth in esports-production market

In a deal that drastically reshapes the esports-production sector, ESL Gaming and FACEIT have announced plans to merge under the name ESL FACEIT Group. The deal brings two of largest esports tournament/league organizers in the world together under the new ownership of Savvy Gaming Group (SGG). The deal, which is reportedly worth $1.5. billion, is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in Q2 2022.

SGG, which is fully owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, takes over from ESL’s previous owners MTG (Modern Times Group) while FACEIT is a privately owned company. According to a joint announcement, The Saudi-backed PIF was set up in 2021 to help drive the long-term growth and development of the global gaming industry.

ESL and FACEIT, who boast over 30 years combined in the industry, will retain their leadership teams in the new group, with a new structure that would see Craig Levine and Niccolo Maisto as co-CEOs. Ralf Reichert, co-founder of ESL, will move into a non-operational role as Executive Chairman, supporting the leadership team.

The deal will combine ESL’s expertise in building, broadcasting, and commercializing esports ecosystems, including arena and festival events, with FACEIT’s capabilities in developing tools for competitive games and a social network of competitive players.

Together, ESL & FACEIT will deliver an end-to-end solution that supports game publishers and developers to build sustainable competitive gaming communities and esports ecosystems, according to the joint statement. The newly formed company says it can offer gamers, publishers, and partners “a consistent journey from casual competitions to arena events on one platform.” The joint statement also states that ESL FACEIT Group will continue to embrace both companies’ shared values and strategic goals, and promote the creation of engaging, accessible, and socially competitive experiences for gamers around the world.

ESL CEO Craig Levine says: “Our mission remains unchanged: to create a world where everybody can be somebody. Our merger with FACEIT, along with the backing of SGG, will give us more know-how, capabilities, and resources than ever before to deliver on this vision. Whether you are competing or watching, doing so socially or at a professional level, every stage of the pathway will be improved through this merger. For gamers, publishers, and partners, this is a hugely exciting proposition, to be able to take everyone on the journey from your first step into competition to playing on the biggest esports stages globally.”

FACEIT CEO Niccolo Maisto says: “In the past years, ESL and FACEIT had a significant positive impact for the growth of the esports industry, bringing a variety of propositions for players, teams, publishers, and developers. By uniting these complementary capabilities, and with the backing of SGG, we are taking a long-term approach to develop a more robust platform to better support the future of the whole competitive gaming ecosystem and generate more value for all its stakeholders in a sustainable way.”

Brian Ward, CEO of SGG says: “SGG has committed to invest heavily in the games and esports industry and to materially strengthen the global games community. We are delighted to be working with ESL FACEIT Group – a deal that will enable us to actively support the creation of a world-class esports ecosystem. With our investment, ESL FACEIT Group will be able to accelerate their development of an unrivaled experience for players and fans”.

For more on ESL FACEIT Group product team’s plans going forward, check out this community blog post.

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