ESL is the apex of esports, with gamers worldwide competing in over 40 tournaments in 2023 alone. The ESL Pro Tour for CS: GO is the largest ecosystem for the popular game title.
ESL entered an agreement with GamingMalta that offers a magnificent setting for the worldwide esports community. ‘’Malta is a progressive country with its finger on the digital pulse of esports and a beautiful Mediterranean ambience,” stated Ralf Reichert, CEO of ESL, “We couldn’t be more excited for this partnership to bring the growth of esports and beauty even more together.” He continued to explain that the collaboration will establish Malta as “the new home for esports businesses and professionals from all around the globe’’.
Malta’s esports ecosystem
ESL and GamingMalta, an independent non-profit foundation set up by the Government of Malta and the Malta Gaming Authority, have set the pace to establish Malta as the new home for professional esports globally. Ivan Filletti, Chief Operations Officer at GamingMalta, describes the collaboration with ESL as a milestone. He proudly added that Malta is a superb esports destination and this will be instrumental in achieving the mutual goal to foster sustainable growth of the local esports ecosystem”.
Esports has become incredibly popular in Malta according to esports trainer and sector specialist Kevin Spiteri. In an interview with SiGMa News Spiteri explained that he has been offering esports professional coaching and mentoring at the esports academy which he launched at the beginning of the pandemic and it has since grown from strength to strength – just in a matter of a few years. He highlighted the fact that local players have become more sophisticated and particular in what they are looking for, knowing at the same time what they wish to achieve. And for that reason he invested in state-of-the-art equipment and built a supportive community network to support gamers at all levels of competency.
The expansion strategy for esports in Malta is ambitious with CS:GO competitive pyramid tiers backed by a robust ecosystem and stakeholders from more than 40 tournaments taking place around the globe this year. “This is why the programmes at the Academy are designed to cater to the needs of every type of esports athletes, from beginning to advanced,” remarked Kevin Spiteri. “We provide a number of industry-related courses that target various professions from content creation to video game development and tournament operations.” Malta is a vibrant hub for the global esports community he adds, and “from our side we are committed to promoting the growth and development of esports in Malta and beyond”.
New digital economic niches
The Government of Malta has welcomed this significant collaboration as it is also an opportunity to showcase Malta’s dynamism and commitment to develop new digital economic niches that will foster synonymous and sustainable growth.
Brian Krämer, General Manager, CS:GO at ESL Gaming said, “Together with GamingMalta, we are not only offering the perfect environment for the best teams in the world, but we continue to underline our core principle of creating a world where everybody can become somebody through activations for aspiring CS: GO players in the region.”
The extended agreement runs until the end of 2024. It will focus on a strategic expansion of the local esports ecosystem through the organisation of local tournaments and conferences. This will establish the structures needed to offer aspiring players and teams from Malta the opportunity to “go pro”.
During his visit to the ESL tournament, Minister Silvio Schembri also expressed delight and welcomed the partnership.
Our vision to position Malta as an esports hub is bearing fruit, and this continued partnership with ESL will continue to showcase Malta’s gaming ecosystem as the Home of Gaming Excellence, welcoming top esports athletes to our island for years to come.” Silvio Schembri – Minister of the Economy, European Funds and Lands for the Government of Malta
The FaZe Clan Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) team made history in St Julian’s, Malta this month by winning the ESL Pro League Season 17, completing the Intel Grand Slam. The team gained a place in esports history by walking away with US $1million in gold ingots.
Speaking with SiGMA News, Kevin Spiteri commented that FaZe Clan‘s recent win at the ESL Pro League has now set the team’s name in stone within esports history by becoming the fourth team to win the Intel Grand Slam, one of the most prestigious titles in CS:GO. “Seeing this unfold before our very eyes in Malta was a sight to behold and a viewing experience that we will never forget.”
Spiteri was impressed with FaZe Clan’s performance throughout the tournament describing the team as “nothing short of exceptional.” The team overcame some of the CS:GO greats including last year’s Intel Grand Slam winners NAVI in the semi-finals. “It was an absolute display of power” continued Spiteri with enthusiasm. “FaZe Clan showed incredible skill, teamwork and strategic thinking that was unmatched particularly during the play-offs.”
Going forward for FaZe Clan
Spiteri wonders what will happen with the imminent launch of CS:GO 2 that will introduce new elements into the game. Spiteri says that a large part of most esports including CS:GO is about constant adaptation and changes to various aspects of the game. He is confident that FaZe will hold their place among the greats of esports considering the ability that the team has shown in overcoming the challenges that this year has brought to them. The team will be “going forward and beyond” he reassures.
Top notch facilities and infrastructure
I strongly believe that Malta is an excellent venue for ESL championships, and has the potential to become a leading destination for hosting more esports events. The country’s strategic location, along with its top-notch facilities and infrastructure, make it a perfect location for organizing international tournaments. Additionally, with support from Government entities such as GamingMalta, who have played a significant role in bringing top industry players to Malta, I am confident that the country will continue to flourish and cement its position as a hub for esports. Malta is well on its way to becoming the home of gaming excellence.” Kevin Spiteri, Co-founder – Level Academy
Ivan Filletti, CEO of the GamingMalta Foundation, sums the importance of this strategic partnership. He says that growing the esports sector locally is a vital part of the country’s strategic efforts to ensure a strong esports structure. “Our partnership with ESL ensures that not only do we host international ESL tournaments in Malta but build on the zero-to-hero concept whereby local esports athletes participate in localized ESL events, thought leadership sessions, and a sustainable esports business environment.”
SiGMA News spoke with esports expert Kevin Spiteri, co-founder and director at Level Academy, an esports training facility located in Malta that offers specialized training programmes for individuals who want to improve their skills and knowledge in competitive gaming.