Soniqs Esports won the PUBG Global Series 2 and $600,000 in prize money in Saudi Arabia, with Saudi team Twisted Minds coming in second.
The event marks another strong showing for esports in the Gulf state as the nation grows to become a major hub for sporting events.
Soniqs triumph in Riyadh
Team Soniqs, comprised of American and Australian talent, nicked victory from Twisted Minds on their home turf. Team Question Mark took third place. The three teams shared much of the £2 million prize pool between them with $600,000 for Soniqs Esports, $260,000 for Twisted Minds, and $162,000 for Question Mark.
Soniqs team member Hwinn summed up the fight at Gamers8: The Land of Heroes.
“It feels good. It feels deserved,” said Hwinn. “The win came from confidence and trust — trust in the process and trust in the team. The consistency of getting the late game and just keeping the vibe between games and making sure we were focusing on the next game and not worrying too much about the past was also key.”
Hwinn had positive words for the host nation, describing the event as “the best experience to date” of his gaming career.
“It’s been amazing. This whole thing’s been a grand spectacle,” said Hwinn.
“I’m super excited to be playing in future tournaments here,” he added.
The future of esports
The Soniqs Esports victory marks the conclusion of another successful sporting event in Saudi Arabia as the country seeks to transition to a post-oil economy.
The country is progressing fast as a sporting nation, hosting major events and attracting top-level athletes. For example, global football star Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines worldwide when he signed for Al-Nassr earlier this year. The soccer star is rumored to make $4.1 million weekly at the Saudi Club.
Saudi Arabia has also made major inroads in the golfing world too. It first launched PGA rival LIV Golf just a year and a half ago before merging with the PGA in June. The merger effectively amounts to a coup for LIV Golf.
Esports is another area where the country is making serious inroads. The nation plans to build a $500 million “esports city” in Riyadh to become a global hub for the industry.
‘A wonderful country’
Riding high from his victory on Sunday, August 20, Hwinn expressed his gratitude to the host nation for putting on a successful tournament.
“Saudi Arabia’s a wonderful country,” said Hwinn. “The food’s great, the people are friendly. With Gamers8, the whole thing they’ve built here is just amazing. It’s awesome to see the growth of esports, especially in this country.”
While Hwinn had nothing but positive things to say, the growing dominance of Saudi Arabia in the sporting arena is not being met with universal acclaim. Critics of the nation’s growing dominance point to its history of human rights abuses and its treatment of women and the LGBT community.
But as loud as dissenters may cry foul, Saudi Arabia’s money stacks speak far louder. The Arabianization of sports, including esports, seems inevitable.