19 Dec 2022
G2 Esports was crowned champions of the BLAST Premier World Final as the largest and most high-profile Counter Strike esports tournament to be held in the Middle East came to an end at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena.
In front of a vibrant crowd that included passionate esports and gaming fans and those witnessing an esports event for the first time, G2 Esports rose to the occasion, defeating Team Liquid in the final of the prestigious global, season-ending tournament.
The five-day tournament, staged in the UAE capital following a landmark three-year partnership between BLAST and AD Gaming, a government initiative pioneering gaming and esports in Abu Dhabi, attracted eight of the world’s best esports organisations and had a prize pool of USD $1 million.
The event also included an on-stage show-match for some of the best local teams including Team Falcons and Nasr Esports as Abu Dhabi raised the bar for esports in the Middle East. It was a landmark moment as it was the first time an elite global tournament was held in Abu Dhabi with the staging of the BLAST Premier World Final.
In the final, Justin Savage (jks) gave a powerhouse performance to lead the G2 team to victory in the thrilling encounter, ending the year as Counter Strike World champions.
He said: “It's a great feeling to win the World Final. We were all in a positive mindset this week and everyone played out of their minds and are happy to have won. The crowd was really good today and the Etihad Arena was really cool. All the fans really made a lot of noise which created a vibrant atmosphere for this match.”
Besides the matches on the main stage, the event also attracted some of the leading gaming stars, influencers and content creators in the Middle East’s gaming landscape. Saudi Arabia’s top content creator BanderitaX, who has a following of 12 million, and Galaxy Racer’s Fortnite players “Souriano” and “g1ntl” were among those present at the tournament and were joined by other leading players in the region where they signed autographs and took pictures with the fans.
As part of BLAST’s on-going efforts to help accelerate the growth of the esports ecosystem in the region and attract new audiences, a Gaming Fan Zone was set up to provide an opportunity for spectators to understand more about the thriving gaming industry that is expected to grow to USD $5 billion by 2025 in the MENA region.
It included exhibitors from technology and educational organisations, and regional teams including Team Falcons, Nasr Esports and Nigma Galaxy to showcase the benefits of gaming and esports and the opportunities it creates.
Charlotte Kenny, Managing Director of BLAST Premier, said: “The BLAST Premier World Final has established itself as one of the most prestigious tournaments on the esports calendar and by staging it for the first time in Abu Dhabi, we delivered a spectacle that showcased the very best of esports.
“It was amazing to see so many people of different ages witness the pinnacle of gaming with the world’s best players in action, while also gaining an insight on how exciting the industry is thanks to the expertise of our collaborations with education and gaming partners at the Gaming Fan Zone.
“There’s no doubt that there’s a bright future for esports, especially in this region. We hope people have been inspired by what they’ve seen at the Etihad Arena and take an interest in gaming or pursue a career in this exciting and thriving industry.”
The event aligned with AD Gaming’s wider strategy and commitment to aggregate Abu Dhabi’s drive to build a thriving gaming and esports ecosystem and continue to promote the city as a global gaming hub.
James Hartt, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Business Development at AD Gaming, said: “The BLAST Premier World Final delivered live, arena scale, esports excitement on a level not seen before in the region. The passionate gaming community and esports fans were left blown away by the scale of production and intense competition. Congratulations to the entire BLAST team for putting on such a spectacle and a big thank you goes to the fans, teams and organisers for making this event such an outstanding success.”