ESL sold to Saudi-backed group for reported $1B

The Modern Times Group has sold off its esports tournament organization arm, ESL, for a reported $1B to Savvy Gaming Group, which is being backed financially by the Saudi Arabian government’s Public Investment Fund. ESL, founded by Ralf Reichert, is one of the largest esports tournament organizers in the world with over 600 employees, and it has given out millions in prize money. Savvy Gaming Group is led by CEO Brian Ward, a former Activision Senior VP. He works alongside Jerry Gamez, CEO for Savvy’s infrastructure company, and Kadri Harma, CEO for Savvy’s ecosystem company.

ESL hosts large-scale tournaments for games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. It also operates one of CS:GO’s top competitions, the ESL Pro League.

The Saudi PIF has made a few moves in sports business recently. The fund is in talks to take over Series A club Inter Milan for more than $1B, and is reportedly in talks for Ligue 1 club Marseille. The PIF late last year also acquired EPL club Newcastle. It also is behind the Greg Norman-led LIV Golf venture.

Savvy Gaming Group (SGG)

Savvy Gaming Group (SGG) is a games and esports company, formed with a mission to drive the long-term growth and development of esports and the wider games industry worldwide.

The games industry is one of the most exciting and buoyant sectors globally, with games the world’s fastest growing form of entertainment and esports the world’s fastest growing sport. Through games we see people of all backgrounds, ages, nationalities, gender and abilities connect, play, learn, compete and triumph together.

We believe that games and esports are fast becoming key enablers for better entertainment, health, and education, and we want to create and support more opportunities for people to benefit from and progress within the industry. 

Our company is dedicated to driving the growth of the sector globally, leading global games investment, enabling more game developers and technology innovators and facilitating broader, more equitable access to this fast-growing, dynamic sector.

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