Are you curious about the recent increase in Dota 2 coverage and attention in the MENA region? We have your back.
The aim of the Around the World series is to examine Dota 2 in different parts of the world. It strives to emphasize the distinctiveness of each region’s history, present situation, difficulties, and advancement.
Previously on the Around the World Tour, the popularity of Dota 2 in South America, Korea, and Japan was showcased. The MENA region is the next country in the Around the World tour.
The Greater Middle East is represented by the term MENA, which stands for the Middle East and North African areas. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Syria, and Palestine are typically included in this list. Just to be clear, due to boundaries, it often does NOT include Pakistan, Turkey, or Afghanistan
MENA and esports
The potential of the MENA area as a whole in the gaming sector is still largely unrealized despite it having one of the world’s fastest-growing esports ecosystems with about 100 million gamers by 2020.
In the Middle East, the transition from recreational gaming to virtual reality games and competitive esports is happening swiftly, according to a recent YouGov study. Based on awareness and engagement, the United Arab Emirates is in the top 10 global markets for YouTube Gaming, ranking higher than some European nations.
Companies, brands, and organizations in MENA are starting to recognize the potential of the esports sector, especially the benefits it offers to their overall marketing and brand strategies.
The largest esports, content, and lifestyle company in the Middle East, North Africa, and South-East Asia, Galaxy Racer, was the first to hold an inter-school esports competition with the Ministry of Education’s blessing in Dubai. The $70,000 prize fund for the FIFA 2020 competition was distributed as scholarships to the winners.
“By introducing these tournaments to the youth of Dubai, we are opening doors that could set up exciting futures. The esports and gaming industry is the future of sports and entertainment.”
– Paul Roy, Founder and CEO of Galaxy Racer
The GIRLGAMER Festival World Finals, which were held in Dubai in 2020 and offered a $100,000 prize pool, were organized by Galaxy Racer.
The MENA Region and Dota 2
But up until lately, Dota 2 seemed to treat the MENA region as an afterthought.
Players from the area frequently gravitated towards one or the other for pubs and professional careers because they were sandwiched between Europe and Asia. Aside from the talented Mira “Ephey” Riad and a small group of players (24 to be exact in Tier 1 and 2), as well as the TI7 championship roster consisting of Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi, Maroun “GH” Merhej, and Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, there were few to no top-tier events and little representation on a larger scale in the competitive scene.
But some of it is shifting, and recently, the area has started to become more noticeable on the Dota 2 map.
This area had its own server for ranked matches, which was based in Dubai, for a very brief time. However, because there weren’t many high-ranking players in line, it would frequently take forever to locate a match, and the same few guys would typically be playing every time. Then it was taken away.
MENA has a bad image for its bigotry and strict regulations for those in the LGBTQ+ groups, in addition to the ping and server problems.
After receiving criticism from the general community, fans, players, and teams, both BLAST and the LEC canceled their collaboration with NEOM, a Saudi Arabian state-sponsored city development, mere hours after it was revealed.
Even if the disputes do not yet appear to have an impact on Dota 2 competitions or teams traveling to the area to compete, the situation nevertheless poses a risk of igniting investor and Valve worries.
Be the change that you wish to see.
The team developed an initiative to acknowledge and support the MENA region because 4/5 (at the time of the decision) of Team Nigma had roots there. They joined forces with Galaxy Racer after officially relocating to Abu Dhabi and forming a relationship with Abu Dhabi Gaming (AD Gaming) (remember the brand earlier mentioned).
Previously, Team Nigma’s manager and co-founder Mohammed Morad remarked:
“(…)this merger is a major boost to the region and the potential future for aspiring players and recognition.”
“We are thrilled to announce our merger with Galaxy Racer. Galaxy Racer has a brilliant understanding of the entertainment business and together we share a mutual passion for supporting and nurturing talent within the MENA region. There is also a lot of natural synergy between our brands with Nigma meaning “star” in Arabic. Before this merger, Nigma was a single star. By becoming the Nigma Galaxy, we will have a Galaxy full of stars.”
But since narrowing their attention to the MENA region, this team has done more than that.
Nigma Galaxy held their own competition in March of this past year. With a $10,000 prize pool invested in fostering local talent, “Rising Stars” demonstrated their desire to support the competitive scene while promoting Dota 2 in the MENA region.
Ivan Borislavov “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov hopes for the region’s advancement in the Dota 2 competitive environment, while Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi would adore and push for the region to be included in the DPC, as stated in a content piece by Nigma Galaxy. He said that he thinks this is important because South America also expanded in a similar way and now has several top-tier clubs as a result.
GAMERS GALAXY: Dubai 2022 Invitational Series
A historic occasion for Dubai was the GAMERS GALAXY Invitational Series, which took place in March 2022. The relationship with UAE Nation Brand, a project the United Arab Emirates launched to communicate its inspiring tale of growth and success, was intended to help promote the nation as a burgeoning center for international esports.
“Hosting international digital events in the UAE boosts digital economic transformation opportunities and instills a culture of programming to reach the 100,000 coders within the country’s workforce, an objective outlined under the Projects of the 50. This also contributes to the achievement of the objectives of the UAE Centennial 2071, including enhancing economic pillars through diversification, innovation, and continuous exploration of opportunities.”
“Today, many international cities organize tournaments and large-scale events for e-sports, which hundreds of millions of varying age groups play daily, whether on their smartphones, tablets, or computers. Gamers are so widespread, to the extent that global social media companies announced plans to offer unprecedented virtual technology that opens new areas for users to create communities in the digital, virtual, and augmented worlds. These concepts have limitless capabilities and will distinguish future opportunities in new technology- and innovation-based economies.”
– Alia Al Hammadi, Director of the UAE Nation Brand Office
“Today, we are seeing continued growth of the gaming and esports audience and the organization of specialized events and tournaments, as well as an expansion in the applications and coding of game design and development. Our support of the international tournament that Dubai is hosting enhances creative industries in the UAE.”
“Gamification technologies are now used across several sectors, including virtual and digital education, simulation training, fitness, robotic surgeries, and telemedicine. Events related to electronic games and sports have become global in nature, with millions around the world tuning in to watch. Our support of the DOTA 2 Invitational Series Dubai 2022 is in line with New Media Academy’s focus to empower the new generation of digital content creators.”
– Rashid Al Awadhi, CEO of New Media Academy
One can only hope that Valve would take note and consider ways to promote and expand the competitive scene given the possibility for more funding and the vested interest of the government and businesses in MENA to showcase the region. ways that will respect everyone’s safety and rights.