UAE: World’s best esports players battle it out for $500,000 prize – News

For the second year in a row, the Blast Premier World Final took place in Abu Dhabi, accompanied by an array of off-stage entertainments and activities

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Published: Mon 18 Dec 2023, 4:05 PM

Last updated: Mon 18 Dec 2023, 4:28 PM

The Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi was alive and buzzing during the Blast Premier World Final – a major Tier One global esports competition with a $1 million prize money on offer.

Supporters were treated to exciting Counter-Strike gameplay from the best gaming teams in the world. Team Vitality from France, outplayed Faze Clan from the USA to win the grand prize of $500,000.

“The atmosphere at the Etihad Arena was simply amazing. It was nice to see the crowd enjoy the show,” said Team Vitality’s captain, Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire, as the arena at Yas Island was filled to the brim with fans.

The final took place in Abu Dhabi for the second year running and was bigger this time, with a host of activities and entertainment happening off-stage.

Madesclaire added that Abu Dhabi was the perfect choice to host the esports final this winter.

“In Europe, the temperature is at freezing point right now. So, being here is certainly a delight. Here, we can wear flip-flops, shorts, and T-shirts, which is something we can’t do back home. Everything here has been wonderful. We really enjoyed our time here,” he stated briefly after Team Vitality emerged victorious from an exciting year-end clash to become the world’s top Counter-Strike team.

This win marks Team Vitality’s second consecutive title, the first being their triumph at the Spring Fall competition in Copenhagen.

“We delivered an excellent performance in Counter-Strike. We will continue to do so in the New Year,” he adds.

India’s True Rippers Esports emerged victorious in the Showmatch contest against Pakistan’s Team WahWah. Each team included two elite esports Blast Premier gamers. “This was a fulfilling experience. Playing with professional players was like a dream come true,” said Hamad Chowdhury of True Rippers.

The tournament was organized by Blast, a leading global esports tournament organizer, in collaboration with AD Gaming, a gaming initiative of the Abu Dhabi Government. It brought together the top eight teams globally for the five-day event.

The event also had a Blast Zone which hosted competitions where amateurs could participate and compete for a total prize money of Dh40,000. The platform gave visitors a chance to learn more about the burgeoning gaming industry expected to grow to $5 billion by 2025 in the MENA region. According to a study by Statista, nearly half of the esports gamers in the UAE last year were aged between 25 to 34 years, and 91 per cent of UAE residents between the ages of 18 and 64 agreed to playing games at least on an occasional basis.

The programme director of the Blast Premier World Final, Andrew Haworth, expressed delight at the phenomenal success of this edition of the tournament.

“It was great to see a diverse crowd including adults and children of different nationalities, students and families coming together to experience the excitement esports and the gaming world can offer.”

This was the first edition of the final since AD Gaming merged with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism. AD Gaming has promoted the growth of the region’s gaming industry, creating career opportunities for aspiring talents and generating international standard content in the emirate.

James Hartt, the gaming and digital development department director of AD Gaming stated, “The Blast Final represents the culmination of the Counter-Strike season.”

He added: “Abu Dhabi was the right choice for hosting it again. It is an event everybody looks forward to every year. Here at AD Gaming, we are working hard at the grassroots level to take esports to the next level. We are attracting more teams, creating opportunities for local and international teams and adding value at the community level.”

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