Professional e-gamers in the region have been forced to go abroad because of a lack of infrastructure and opportunities in the Middle East, according to Paul Roy, the CEO of the recently launched Dubai-based Galaxy Racer Esports.
On Tuesday, Dubai announced that it will host the world finals of the third annual Girlgamer e-sports festival at the Meydan Grandstand between December 12 and 14.
The event, which is being hosted with the support of the Dubai Media Office, will see nine five-player teams compete in the games League of Legends and CounterStrike Go, one of which will be local to help promote female gamers in the UAE. Prize money has yet to be announced.
Speaking toArabian Businesson the sidelines of the announcement, Roy – whose Galaxy Esports is the regional partner for the event – said that until recently, talented Middle Eastern gamers have been forced to go abroad to seek opportunities to play competitively.
“There was no infrastructure, no funding and no support,” he said.
As an example of regional players having to go abroad, Roy pointed to Netherlands-based Team Liquid, the former international champions in the game Dota 2.
“If you look at Team Liquid’s make-up, they were Jordanian, Lebanese, and Iranian with a German passport, and an Egyptian manager,” he said. “Obviously, they moved there because Liquid has massive funding, facilities and events happening regularly. That doesn’t exist here.”
To address that gap, Roy recently launched Galaxy Racer eSports, which is to be based at Meydan One.
“I’m not trying to start competing with those guys, or trying to attract talent from other regions,” he added. “For me it’s very simple. We have got quality talent here, let’s start by retaining them first.”
Roy added that Galaxy will focus heavily on talent development – like “any football club” – and hosting events. The UAE team at the Girlgamer event will be a Galaxy team.
“That will be the first of many that we want to put forward,” he said. “The two must be done together. You can’t build a football team unless you’ve got events to participate in.”
Globally, the esports industry is estimated to have revenues of $1.1 billion, with a total audience of 453.8 million, according to statistics cited by Dubai’s government at the announcement of the Girlgamer event.
“The Middle East is a good 8 to 10 percent of that,” Roy said. “It’s not small when you consider that China is 40 percent of it alone. When you exclude China, the rest of the world is in smaller slices.”