There have been quite a lot of huge mergers and acquisitions announcements across the esports world recently.
First came the news that technology heavyweight Microsoft was acquiring Activision Blizzard in a $68 billion transaction. Gamers are hopeful that this will be good news for beloved franchises such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft. Employees are hopeful that there will be an improvement in their work culture.
Today’s announcement about the merger between ESL and Faceit is another one that promises to change the esports landscape. The combined group will be owned by Savvy Gaming Group which is a fully owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund (PIF). The reported transaction is estimated to be in the $1.5 Billion range.
The PIF sovereign wealth fund purchased Newcastle United in the English Premier League last year. The fund also has approximately $3 Billion invested in other esports and gaming companies such as Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, and Activision Blizzard. The announcement of this latest merger & acquisition reads as follows:
ESL Gaming, the world’s leading independent esports company, and FACEIT, the leading digital destination for competitive gamers, are joining forces to shape the future of competitive gaming under the name ESL FACEIT Group. The new company will create the ultimate platform for competitive gaming with an unmatched proposition for players, fans, teams, publishers, developers, and partners, no matter where they are on their competitive gaming journey.
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.ESL CEO Craig Levine said
The ESL FACEIT Group will now come under the new ownership of Savvy Gaming Group (SGG), taking over from previous owners MTG. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in Q2 2022.
ESL and FACEIT have both been fundamental to the incredible growth of esports and competitive gaming globally, with over thirty years combined in the industry. Together, they will form a new driving force in the fast-growing but fragmented esports landscape at a critical time in the evolution of the industry. For the first time, gamers, publishers, and partners will have a consistent journey that could take them from casual competitions to arena events on one platform.
The deal will combine ESL’s expertise in building, broadcasting, and commercializing premium esports ecosystems, including arena and festival events, with FACEIT’s capabilities in developing best-in-class tools for competitive games and a leading social network of competitive players. Together, ESL & FACEIT deliver an end-to-end solution that supports game publishers and developers to build sustainable competitive gaming communities and esports ecosystems.
ESL and FACEIT 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. 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 said: “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 said: “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.”
ESL FACEIT Group will be owned by Savvy Gaming Group (SGG). SGG is fully owned by PIF, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and was set up in 2021 to help drive the long-term growth and development of the global gaming industry.
Brian Ward, CEO of SGG said: “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”.