Israeli gamers take part in an esports competition in Tel Aviv, April 2, 2018. (Photo: Gili Yaari/Flash90)
The State of Israel is expected to host the first-ever Abraham Accords “Esports Peace Games” competition in Tel Aviv in January, with organizers planning to involve as many as 10 additional nations in the games.
The United States Embassy in Israel announced the digital video-gaming championship, booking Tel Aviv’s Shlomo Group Arena for the Jan. 26-28 competition. Production costs are projected to top $1.5 million for competitions, which are expected to draw thousands of spectators from all over the country.
Competitors are expected from Israel, the United States and Abraham Accords members – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. In addition, “special guests and leading gamers” will compete for the $82,000 prize fund that is to be divided among the winners, whether competing individually or as teams.
The competitions are expected to attract mass sponsorship and global attention and include high-stakes prizes.
Esports Peace Games is being organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, along with Israeli-Jewish philanthropist Sylvan Adams, the Israeli Esports Association and LionTree, a global investment and merchant bank with expertise in the gaming sector.
Adams, who co-chairs the planning committee along with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, said Israel will “witness the power of sports to bring people together in friendship in this new Middle East.”
In a statement announcing the games, Adams wrote, “The Abraham Accords are a game changer for our region, with our new diplomatic relations fostering business, educational and scientific exchanges. But for this to endure, to weave the warm peace that we will seek in the region, we must have people-to-people exchanges – sporting, cultural and, especially, tourism with our neighbors. … Esports introduces a whole new cohort to Israel.”
Also endorsing the games is Jerusalem’s Museum of Tolerance, which works to promote the values of tolerance and co-existence between Jews, Muslims and Christians, especially within the framework of the Abraham Accords.
As co-chairman of the games, Nides cited the Abraham Accords as “critical to the region’s stability and prosperity.”
“The Biden administration sees its job as taking the Accords from a start-up to a real operation,” the ambassador said. “And one of the most important mechanisms to accomplish that is building people-to-people connections – the more people understand one another, the easier it is to resolve issues. Especially among young people. This Esports tournament – the first of its kind – is one of many joint cultural activities being organized around the Accords, connecting with the region’s youth to make sure the Accords are sustainable.”
Esports is an international industry that is expected to reach a value of $1.8 billion USD by 2025. It’s a growing global phenomenon that attracts an audience of as many as 400 million people worldwide.
“Israeli gamers have long enjoyed playing online with all peoples, fellow gamers, from all over the world, including the Middle East. To be able to welcome them to Israel is a true honor and a sign of how we share so much more than divides us,” said Ido Brosh, president of the Israeli Esports Association. “I am so grateful to our partners at the MFA, Ambassador Nides, Israel’s unofficial ‘Ambassador at Large’ Sylvan Adams, and the team at LionTree for their dedication to launching this initiative and to building peace through Esports and bringing people together.”