Image: Ubisoft/Kirill B.
Eight teams travelled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last week to compete in a $2,150,000 prize pool event. Team BDS, TSM FTX, Team Liquid, and DWG KIA were invited, while Spacestation Gaming, MIBR, Team Falcons, and WYLDE qualified for the tournament.
This event also marked the first non-showmatch international game for a Saudi team, while DWG were the only Berlin Major-qualified team in attendance.
Team BDS were untouchable throughout the tournament, winning nine maps in a row to claim the eventual title. This included a 7-3, 7-1 win over TSM, and an 8-6, 8-6 result against Liquid.
Joining BDS in the grand final were Team Falcons, the Saudi representatives. After initially losing to BDS, this team then beat MIBR, TSM, and WYLDE in stunning fashion. This last match was particularly close; the GSA League roster, which includes Lukas "korey" Zwingmann and Maurice "AceeZ" Erkelenz, took Falcons to map three, where they fell 8-6.
While BDS ended the final in three straight maps, only a few rounds separated the two teams in the 8-7, 8-7, 7-5 outcome.
In Group A, the team to watch were DWG KIA. While the Koreans would have had the Berlin Major on their mind, APAC’s top-seeded roster struggled here, going out in two straight games to teams who failed to make it to Berlin, including a 1-2 loss against an SSG that was trialling a new player.
Overall, the tournament was likely a success for those involved, as many of the players won more money than others will at the Berlin Major. The Saudi Arabian government also got to run their event with minimal backlash from the wider community.
This comes after the planned UAE Major was moved to Berlin due to fan backlash over the location due to LGBT and women's rights and fan safety concerns. Now, an explicitly Saudi Arabian government-funded tournament -- a nation in which all the concerns over a UAE event are still present -- has gone ahead as the country becomes deeper entrenched in esports in general, following their buyout and merger of ESL and FACEIT earlier this year.