Hakim Abu Nahel, Competitive Experience Professional MENA at Riot Games speaks with Games MEA about how Intel Arabian Cup (IAC) tournament has grown over the years and today with a prize pool of $130,000, it has become the perfect platform for players to exhibit their talent and move to next level
With the biggest prize fund in the history of Intel Arabian Cup (IAC) so far, worth $130,000 of prize funds, how do you think that the Intel Arabian Cup 2022 tournament will help create and find the best talents from the MENA region?
A key factor is the introduction of the IAC Playground initiative which caters to amateur players that enjoy a competitive experience, leading the way for them to compete at a higher level. In other words, it has been created specifically to be a stepping stone for players to show off their skills and test their limits for a chance to qualify to higher tier competitions such as the IAC Prestige Division and VRL.
We also believe this is a massive opportunity for players to be recruited into professional or semi-pro teams and establish a healthy competitive ecosystem.
Could you tell us more about the IAC Playground amateur tournament and how it will encourage gamers and small teams to aim for the IAC Prestige tournament?
The IAC Playground is an initiative that we have put in place for everyone who wants to compete and is not able to compete in the professional leagues. We understand that there are many talented players that are yet to be found or do not have teams and this is a great way for us to discover them and more importantly for established organizations to find them and potentially sign them in the future. Previously, we have seen teams come out of the amateur leagues and surprise us all with their talent and abilities.
Compared to the previous IAC tournament that witnessed over 6.1 million views for the entire duration, do you think that the audience will significantly expand for the upcoming IAC 2022 tournament?
The IAC has been a pillar in the community for around three years now. We have seen our communities rally around social media in anticipation of 22 announcements. Throughout these 3 years, the MENA region, players, teams and brands have embraced the rise of competitive play. Having said that, we are also seeing loyalty being formed around those teams with proper fandom unleashed. We are positive that our audience is expanding at a rapid pace and this year will give us another clearer indication on that.
Do you think that the inclusion of Riot’s three best competitive games: League of Legends, VALORANT, and League of Legends: Wild Rift will draw more audience and also encourage more professional/amateur teams to attend the IAC Qualifiers matches?
As a leading global publisher, we always put our players’ experience first. In the past we have prioritised our League of Legends title for the IAC but with the rapid growth of VALORANT and the demand from our Wild Rift players, it only makes sense for us to extend the same offering to our other two games. It gives them the chance to test themselves against other players in the MENA region and be part of a competitive environment.
Does Riot Games and Intel plan to bring the IAC tournament to the UAE?
The IAC tournament is currently being held virtually and operating across 15 countries in the MENA region with the UAE being one of them. While it has been a success so far, we are open to the idea of the finals or the play-offs being staged offline at a physical venue in front of a live audience. This can help attract new people to gaming while creating a vibrant atmosphere for those that are taking part.
But for this to happen, it requires a lot of collaboration and more importantly all the stakeholders should be aligned to make it a success.
With Intel recently announcing the new ARC series discrete graphics platform, can we expect to see a showcase of the upcoming ARC desktop GPU performance during the Intel Arabian Cup 2022? And will the new systems used in the tournament be equipped with the Intel ARC GPUs?
Due to the nature of the tournament, we do not impose system requirements from our players. Players can play our games on their preferred rigs however once we reach the final stage of the IAC and if we decide to take this event to the big stage or offline then it is most likely that we will collaborate with Intel to showcase the ARC desktop GPU.