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Qatar Foundation to host Education City Open esports tournament

Esports - Players competing in a League of Legends tournament, tags: qatar foundation education city open - CC BY-SA

Hosted by Qatar Foundation (QF), the first Education City Open esports tournament will take place from September 9-10 at Education City Student Centre, Al-Rayyan, Qatar. The competition is free to enter for all participants and will feature a prize of QR 20,000 ($5,493). Participants can compete in two popular video games, FIFA 22 and Super Smash Brothers.

The Education City Open esports is the third tournament held by QF and Qatar-based venture Project Infinite this year. As esports grows its significance in the MENA region, QF and Project Infinite saw the need to tap into and leverage the market.

As in the previous two circuits, which were conducted in July and August, the September tournament will be hosted on Project Infinite’s new social gaming platform, Showdown.

Showdown is a social gaming platform where gamers can register in tournaments and manage their profiles as they progress in their esports careers. One of its goals is to increase the participation of university students in digital sports.

“Our aim is for university students to be involved in esports and transform their skills and hobbies into possible future careers,” QF manager of Engagement and Activation Alexandru Rosca said.

“We believe there are numerous professional paths for e-gamers in Qatar, including game designers, engineers, and influencers. At QF, we set standards for the excellence of each student in both physical and digital sports by encouraging them to participate so they can enhance their critical thinking, teamwork, strategy, and leadership skills.”

Leveraging esports in MENA region

MENA is an emerging region forecasted for massive growth in the coming years. Video games and market analytics Newzoo predicted the region would have an annual growth rate of 15.1 percent through 2024. All is due to its mostly young and tech-savvy demographics in its three major countries—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt—which are under 30, as per WIRED’s Boyd Farrow.

Major gaming companies, such as Riot Games, Tencent, and Ubisoft, have previously conducted some of their prestigious international esports tournaments in the region.

QF and Project Infinite then came in to leverage the market further. QF has supported the gaming venture with funding since it was founded in 2018.

Project Infinite co-founder and chief technology officer Deeb Mahmoud said the venture acknowledged how lucrative the esports market could be. He said its initiatives were carried out in the hopes that Qatar may “earn a place on the esports map”.

“We realised that the esports market could not really be scaled up without solutions being found to some of the challenges it faced, and we set out to solve them,” Mahmoud explained.

“The magnitude of the esports boom in recent years is huge, and in this field, there are many potential players and pioneers in the MENA region. If esports athletes in Qatar and the region can be connected with each other and with sponsors, and the local and regional market is promoted in a systemic way, we believe Qatar can really earn a place on the esports map.”

Registration for the Education City Open esports tournament is open until September 8.