Ralf Reichert: How the Esports World Cup Foundation can elevate Players

Ralf Reichert stands as a towering figure in the world of esports, a visionary who has been instrumental in sculpting the landscape of competitive gaming as we know it today. Having co-founded the Electronic Sports League (ESL), the largest and one of the most prestigious esports organizations globally, Reichert has played a pivotal role in transforming a niche hobby into a mainstream phenomenon.

His journey in the esports industry spans over two decades, marked by innovation, relentless pursuit of excellence, and an unwavering commitment to the gaming community.

Now, as the CEO of the Saudi-backed Esports World Cup Foundation, Reichert is charting new territories, aiming to further elevate esports on the world stage and integrate it into new cultural and social landscapes. Here’s some of the insights on what he plans to do for the Esports World Cup.

You have a storied career in the world of esports. What inspired you to make the transition from your role at ESL FACEIT Group to becoming the CEO of the Esports World Cup Foundation?

RR: That’s easy. I saw the role at the Esports World Cup Foundation (EWCF) as an opportunity to take esports to the next level. The mission of EWCF is to accelerate the growth of esports; we want to make the players real global stars and help the industry as a whole, which is so aligned with my personal ambitions for our sport.

The fact that the Kingdom is so strongly behind EWCF feels incredible. Not long ago, most governments across the world were still trying to figure out what games and esports were, let alone how to nurture the industry. In Saudi, the leader of the country openly talks about how HRH is playing games and is excited about esports. Esports support goes up to every level of the government and across the local community. It’s amazing!

I love what we have achieved with ESL and EFG over the last almost 25 years. We helped esports to become what it is today: a relevant global sport and a gem for the games industry. More importantly, we enabled thousands of players to make a living from esports and pursue their dreams.

The Esports World Cup (EWC)—the world’s biggest esports event, hosted by EWCF starting Summer 2024—represents the next chapter for players, offering them the means to achieve success far beyond what they thought possible.

What is your vision for the Esports World Cup Foundation, and how do you see it shaping the future of international esports competitions?

The Foundation is here to build the Esports World Cup tournament into a platform that moves the whole industry forward, acting as a lighthouse and a convener for the whole industry. EWC has all of the ingredients to drive impact and growth: the best games, a unique cross-club competition, life-changing prize money, and a huge gaming and esports festival.

Beyond ensuring that the Esports World Cup runs smoothly, the Foundation is dedicated to supporting the sustainable growth of the global esports industry.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing esports today, and how does the Foundation plan to address them?

The biggest challenges in esports always start with the players. EWCF is all about making it possible for more players to chase their dreams and become professional gamers. We're also here to support teams through new financial incentives, rewards, and dedicated programs—we want to amplify the opportunities they have today.

Monetization in esports is still in its early days. Through the Foundation’s work, we want to contribute to the industry’s healthy growth and make sure that as the industry evolves, it will yield maximum benefits for players, fans, and the larger community.

Gamers8 made history with its prize pool. With the high bar already set, what can we expect from the Esports World Cup next year?

The Esports World Cup will indeed be the world's largest esports event. It will have the most games (across every genre), the most players out of any tournament, and span eight weeks packed with non-stop action. We want athletes to become stars, and the world’s best club will be crowned. There’s a lot to look forward to.

In terms of the prize pools…stay tuned! And make sure you come to see the tournament for yourself in Riyadh in Summer 2024!