Esports World Cup Founder: ‘Everyone is Welcome’ in Riyadh

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This week, the Esports World Cup in Riyadh kicked off in earnest, with the opening ceremony setting the tone of the prestigious, eight-week-long event. From here, dozens of esports organisations will compete across 21 games in search of their cut of the $60 million prize pool.

In the months leading up to the event, more publishers, organisers, and teams got involved, despite many concerns in the gaming community regarding the Saudi Arabian setting of the Esports World Cup and the source of the money bankrolling the event. However, speaking candidly, the founder of the Esports World Cup, Ralf Reichert, has assured fans that ‘everyone is welcome’ in Saudi Arabia.

‘Everyone Can Participate’

Speaking recently to the BBC, Ralf Reichert, who has been one of the most prolific personalities promoting the Esports World Cup on social platforms in recent weeks, said:

Everyone is welcome. Everyone can participate in the competition and no-one will be discriminated against. That’s a promise we can give. In every country in the world, there are different local habits and cultural norms, which you need to adhere to. So what we’re telling everyone is, don’t be explicit. Act locally to respect the local culture. And I think that’s fair. It’s something that happens all over the world.

With that being said, it’s fair to assume that Reichert is suggesting anyone can make their way to Saudi Arabia to enjoy the festivities, but those that fall within certain categories shouldn’t shout their allegiances from the rooftops. I am of course referring to those who represent the LGBTQ+ community – this is where the biggest concerns lie with the Esports World Cup being held in Riyadh.

That hasn’t stopped some organisations from flexing their support for the LGBTQ+ community. On the opening day of the event, Team Liquid took to the stage wearing Pride-themed jerseys. The CEO of the organisation, Steve Arhancet, is a gay man, and he spoke at length to the BBC about the difficulties they faced in deciding whether or not to attend the EWC.

The Esports World Cup is the most ambitious event in the industry’s history. It’s bringing together more players and fans than ever before, and almost every competitive title in the business right now is on display. It takes place over a two-month-long window, and it’ll lead some organisations to earn millions of dollars, changing their fortunes forever. With recent deals bringing the competition to platforms like DAZN, there are countless eyes on the unfolding super-sized showcase.

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