Esports Premier League ropes in Infinix Mobile as title sponsor
New Delhi, June 8, 2021: The Esports Premier League (ESPL), India’s first-ever franchise-based Esports league, has teamed up with smartphone maker Infinix Mobile as the title sponsor for its debut edition with an objective to revolutionise Esports in the nation and popularize it through a countrywide tournament. The tournament is looking forward to tapping into the growing landscape of esports in India to help the competitive gaming community. This segment got a major boost in the last year as an increasing number of users are using smartphones for gaming.
In order to give the Indian Esports ecosystem a complete makeover and increase Esports and gaming in the Indian market with the forthcoming top-class tournament, India Today Group, is all set to roll out Season 1 of the tournament from June 16. The league will feature a massive total prize pool worth Rs 25 lakhs. It has partnered with Garena to build an exclusive gaming platform for Free Fire—the most famous battle royale game currently played by gaming enthusiasts and gamers in the nation. The league will enable players from all over the country to showcase their talent on this national platform for the first time. ESPL will be streamed on several platforms including OTT giant Disney+ Hotstar along with the official YouTube and Facebook channels of India Today and Aaj Tak and their websites.
ESPL intends to be the biggest stage to find and nurture new gaming talent across the country. ESPL will provide all the 8 teams and their players' comprehensive media coverage across various media platforms including digital, print, TV, etc as part of the endeavor to bring gaming to the mainstream and will help upcoming esports professionals get fame and stardom on par with other conventional sports.
While talking about the launch of Esports Premier League (ESPL) and its association with Infinix Mobile, India Today Group Vice Chairperson, Kalli Purie said: “This pandemic and the resultant lockdown have contributed to propelling the esports industry into mainstream entertainment. India Today’s Gaming and Esports platform will provide a thrilling experience to its users through a wide range of games, online tournaments, and an opportunity to win exciting prizes. These are very exciting times as smartphone usage continues to grow exponentially and I believe the partnership with Infinix Mobile will help us intensify our mission of taking Esports to the next level in India.”
Due to the current pandemic and lockdown, ESPL will be contested as a virtual tournament in its inaugural edition and feature more than 700 online games with about 300 plus hours of streaming.
“The Indian online gaming industry is growing at a rate of almost 27% per annum and is estimated to reach $2.8B by 2022. The current pandemic situation has further fuelled the growth of the gaming industry in India. At Infinix, we are part of this revolution by making devices for the mid-range segment that is feature-rich and enhance the users gaming experience, to further amplify the gaming capability of a user our R&D has developed a technology called Darlink which optimizes and improves the performance of a device on several parameters. Our partnership with India Today for the Esports Premier League is just another step towards achieving the same goal. We look forward to a fruitful association and intend to encourage budding talent in this field,” Mr. Anish Kapoor, CEO of Infinix Mobile said while announcing the association in a press release.
The tournament, which will be held over a period of two and a half months, will consist of initial two levels to screen the best eight teams which advance into the grand finale representing eight cities across India including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Punjab, and Rajasthan.
India's maiden tri-nation invitational Valorant Championship 'Rise of Legends 2021' to begin on Thursday
New Delhi, Jun 2 India's first-ever tri-nation Invitational Valorant Championship -- 'Rise of Legends 2021' that also features teams from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- will begin on Thursday.
Hosted by the country's leading game streaming and eSports platform Rooter, the eight-day tournament will see participation from 16 top teams from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Released globally in June last year, Valorant is a free-to-play multiplayer tactical first-person shooter developed and published by Riot Games, California.
Players play as one of a set of agents having unique abilities, characters designed based on several countries and cultures around the world.
In the main game mode, players are assigned to either the attacking or defending team with each team having five players on it. New source PTI
NRAI working with MPL to launch virtual shooting game
New Delhi, May 18The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has collaborated with online gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) to develop a mobile version of a shooting game, hoping that it evokes interest among masses for the real sport outside the virtual world.
The game is slated to be released on August 15. It is a simulator style, non-violent shooting game with International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) style trap and skeet formats.
The NRAI will also organize, COVID-19 pandemic permitting, hybrid tournaments around Independence Day where the best virtual shooters will be selected for training by prominent shooting champions in India.
"We are pleased to be developing a non-violent Olympic-style shooting game with MPL. We will use this shooting simulator game to create interest, educate and train an audience of millions of internet users about the physical sport of shooting," said NRAI president Raninder Singh.
"We will also be hosting tournaments where the best virtual shooters get a chance to compete and participate in physical shooting. Online engagement will feed into offline interest, which in turn will open the doors of our sport to many more Indians," he added.
The NRAI also welcomed the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) recent esports push to bridge the gap between physical and virtual sports.
The recent announcement by the IOC to partner with five international sports federations and game publishers to launch the inaugural Olympic Virtual Series (OVS) is being seen as a welcome move for the Indian Esports industry.
This will be the first e-shooting game where the virtual game will adhere to the rules and principles set by the IOC and the ISSF.
To be held ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, the OVS will begin on May 13 and end on June 23.
The OVS will mobilise esports enthusiasts from all around the world to reach a new Olympic audience.
"We welcome the IOC's move to introduce virtual esport versions of real world physical sport in the inaugural Olympic Virtual Series. We are sure this will encourage people to take up these sports virtually and potentially chart a way for them to emerge as champions in the physical sport," said Raninder.
NRAI believes that virtual versions of Olympic-style shooting sports will help evoke interest among the masses and could serve as a gateway to people looking to enter the real sport.
Olympic medallist shooter Gagan Narang said, "India has never had a dearth of talent in shooting, and the recently concluded World Cup is a strong validation of the potential.
"As I have realised, technology is increasingly playing an important role in improving player performances, and amplifying the experience.
"Initiatives as envisioned by NRAI and ably supported by MPL will not only enhance player engagement, but critically increase fan awareness about competitive sports. India needs many more such interventions across sports," he added.
Industry data shows that there is a lot of appetite for target shooting games in India, especially for a mobile-first audience. On MPL alone, since November 2020, over 17 million gameplays were recorded for MPL's target shooting titles, with 13 million alone coming from its archery game.
Sai Srinivas, co-founder and CEO of MPL, which aims to take esports to the masses via mobile, said, "This is a monumental step taken by IOC to introduce the first ever Olympic-licensed virtual series.
"NRAI was already a first mover in recognising the potential for e-shooting. Esports has witnessed a meteoric rise in India over the past few years and is recognised as a proper sporting career path in many regions of the world.
"An IOC-approved tournament announced before the Olympics will certainly help Esports get its due and encourage people to consider it as a professional option." News Source : PTI
Pre Registration of Battlegrounds Mobile India begins today
As per the recent announcement by Krafton, the Pre Registration of the Battlegrounds Mobile India Game, also known as PUBG has started today.
In regards to their announcement, Mr. Abhishek Aggarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Trinity Gaming, commented: "The formation of a strong foundation of the Indian gaming industry has begun. After waiting for so long the countdown for pre-registrations finally comes to an end and a new countdown for the game launch begins.
Team Trinity is all ready and excited to witness the record-breaking number of pre-registrations, Looking at the love and support of Indian gamers towards the game."
Adii Sawant aka Dynamo Gaming, the famous content creator and YouTuber who also proudly owns the title of 'World’s biggest PUBG mobile player' said: "Finally the day for the launch of the most awaited game Battlegrounds Mobile India is near. We are really excited as pre-registration for the game has started.
New challenges, new content, new gamers, and new hope for the Indian gaming industry is awaiting. We will provide our audience with the best gaming experience with the upcoming game. We are all set for the amazing journey ahead. Waiting for budding creators to step in the world of gaming with Battlegrounds Mobile India."
Tarun Gupta, Founder, Ultimate Battle, India’s first-ever one-stop online esports platform: "This is big! The whole gaming community was anticipating that it would soon happen and here we are with the pre-registrations open inviting all the gamers out there. We are also preparing ourselves and gearing up for the best ever matches to come as Ultimate Battle will include Battlegrounds Mobile India in our All India Esports League and we hope it will shoot up among the players. This announcement is wholeheartedly welcomed and we hope to soon get our hands on it"
Mr. Lokesh Suji, Director, Esports Federation of India & Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF): With no live sports taking place, this launch has come at an opportune time. The wave of excitement in the Indian esports market is palatable and the excitement levels have gone up by notches ensuring the gamers will be soon able to enjoy the familiar adrenaline rush again with Battlegrounds Mobile India. All thanks to Krafton Inc. as they took the initiative to curate a game that was missed by the Indian gamers. This development surely ensures to boost the Indian Esports ecosystem and will fuel our ambition to become the Esports powerhouse.
We are keen on experiencing and exploring it furthermore."
Krafton, in order to add to the excitement of PUBG lovers and gamers also announced that it will be offering special rewards to those who pre-register themselves for the game.
The Indian version of PUBG Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India has been successful in creating hype among gamers and is expected to be a big hit among the gaming community.
Patience and perseverance is key to a successful esports career - Siddharth Nayyar, Co-Founder and Director of AFK Gaming
With people confined to their homes, the esports industry is booming like never before. Gaming has never been more accessible especially for the youth with no requirements of a high end ultra expensive PC or the next generation of video game consoles. A simple smartphone with an internet connection will do the trick to compete with your friends or people from all over the world!
We’re delving into the world of esports with Siddharth Nayyar, Co-Founder and Director of AFK Gaming who speaks about the growth of the esports industry, streaming platforms, Indian game developers, Battlegrounds Mobile India and much more in this exclusive interview with SPOGO.
How has the Indian/Asian esports content grown and developed over the years, especially during the pandemic?
I think the one trend worth highlighting in the Asian region over the last couple of years is the growth of content consumption for mobile gaming titles, both written and video. This is also empirically proven by the increasing number of content creators on platforms like YouTube, and the growth in viewership of each of these creators. The pandemic really acted as a catalyst for an already rapidly growing gaming and gaming content industry.
In Asia, which countries are the largest consumers of esports content and occupy the largest share of the market?
I believe the answer to this is not 1 country. It’s very title specific. India is the largest consumer of PUBG Mobile content, while Philippines is big on Dota 2 and Mobile Legends. Indonesia and India have thriving FreeFire audiences. In general, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore lead the esports content consumption charts in Asia for different titles.
What is your view about streaming platforms such as Twitch, Smashcast, Gosu Gamers and Afreeca TV?
I think in India, YouTube is miles ahead of other streaming platforms. Twitch recently launched India servers and Facebook has been running campaigns to gain esports content creators and viewers, but it isn’t enough to get people to make the switch. In my opinion, to be able to succeed as a livestream and VOD content platform in India, organizations will have to spend quite a lot and incentivize the users (with good, unique content and engagement campaigns) to make them give up their loyalty to YouTube and switch. Loco did it very well! As for others, I honestly had to look up Smashcast and AfreecaTV to be able to answer this question. I keep track of gaming content in general but these 2 platforms missed my radar. I don’t think they are very popular in India.
What do Indian esports developers need to do to enhance their engagement amongst fans?
I assume this question relates to game developers and studios working on esports titles. First of all, they need to exist. I can’t think of any Indian game studio working on an esports title (pardon my misinformation in case I’m wrong). Indian studios usually just serve certain functions of game development for larger studios. Although we do have Nodding Heads, Nazara, Dhruva, and others working on some kickass AAA titles.
According to you, which is the most popular esports game in India and why?
For mobile, without a doubt it was PUBG Mobile before its ban. In its absence over the last few months, FreeFire took the mantle, but I’m sure BMI installs will surge as soon as it launches. On the PC, I believe CS:GO and Valorant are doing well. If you notice, the one thing that’s common in all these games is that they are gun games, and require to be played in teams. I guess India is just generally fond of playing shooting games with friends.
How much of a boost is it to have PUBG Mobile reintroduced to India in the form of Battlegrounds Mobile India?
It’s really hard to say, honestly, since there are too many things that make a successful esports ecosystem. Will Krafton invest in building a competitive platform like Tencent did? Will player organization that had let go of their squads re-acquire teams? How will the India competitive circuit interact with the international circuit, since technically the games are different? Will PUBGM content creators who switched to other games want to do BMI content? I’m confident players in India will instantly reinstall the new version and start playing (including me, I’m dying to play it again with friends), but a lot more needs to be done before it gets to where it used to be. Guess we’ll know soon
Are there any upcoming games that Indian audiences can look forward to in 2021?
Yeah so many! Other than Battlegrounds Mobile India (obviously), Apex Legends Mobile, Valorant Mobile, Battlefield. I would suggest the readers to stay tuned to afkgaming.com and our social channels for info on when these games release, and also for good quality content about these games.
What is your advice to aspiring gamers who wish to take up esports professionally?
I think getting into the gaming and esports industry is the easiest now than it has ever been. There are so many roles to choose from and so many organizations looking for talented people. If you don’t know what you’re good at, try everything, and pursue what seems to strike your interest. It’ll take patience and perseverance to make a successful career though, so give it time. If you’re in school or college right now, get a degree before you get adventurous.
Simultaneous events featuring Anand raise USD 50,000 for COVID relief
Chennai, May 14 A series of simultaneous online exhibition matches featuring, among others, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand to support COVID relief in India raised USD 50,000 (approximately INR 37 lakh).
The event was held on Chess.com with top Indian players and proceeds would go to Red Cross India and the Checkmate COVID initiative of the All India Chess Federation (AICF), officials of Chess.com said.
On Thursday, Grandmaster Anand, as well as GMs Koneru Humpy, Harika Dronavalli, Nihal Sarin, and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu played simultaneous games on Chess.com against a total of 105 players.
Any player with a Chess.com blitz or FIDE standard rating of under 2000 could play with former world champion Anand by donating USD 150 and with the other four GMs by paying USD 25 as registration amount.
The time control for the games was 30 minutes with a 30-second increment, with the grandmasters having 15 extra minutes on their clock. The GMs won with high scores but only Praggnanandhaa managed to win all of his games.
"We are facing a kind of national struggle. It varies from state to state but it's extremely critical right now. I hope this will be a resource for the chess community. Some of us have had Covid and now hopefully they at least have someone to call and reach out," Anand was quoted as saying by chess.com.
India is currently reeling under a devastating second wave of COVID-19 pandemic with more than three lakh fresh cases and over 3,000 deaths being reported daily. News Source : PTI
How Technology, both radical and incremental determines the growth of the esports industry
Over the years the esports industry has seen tremendous growth in terms of its reach and viewership. Once considered as a subset of sports culture, esports is now evolving into a full-fledged industry. Advancements in technologies have played a very important role in keeping this industry vertical interesting and is one of the key drivers that has led to this growth.
The Mobile gaming market may hit a CAGR of 14% during 2020-2025. Experts are citing reasons such as growing smartphone penetration and increasing adoption of advanced technologies for developing games behind this rise. Futuristic technological trends like location-based games, cloud gaming, and AR/VR-powered games are also fueling the demand for esports gaming.
Technological changes over time that fueled esports growth:
Listed below are some technological adoptions that pushed the overall growth of esports worldwide.
The technological evolution of hardware spans across specialized hardware devices including processors, monitors, input devices, audio systems, mobile phones, streaming equipment etc. The growth of hardware has enhanced the overall gaming experience and taken it to the next level making gameplay more engaging and real.
High-speed internet connections:
Among many driving factors that have been accelerating esports growth is access to high-speed internet. Access to high-speed Internet connection over 3G/4G spectrum and broadband has impacted the overall gaming experience. In the past, a normal internet connection was not adequate and gamers witnessed lags during gameplay. But now fast-paced internet connections are ensuring seamless gameplay.
Easy access to blazing-fast internet helps to develop a larger gaming community of highly targeted esports audience. India has got its smartphone population covered with a high speed 4G network and the launching of 5G is underway which will further strengthen the building blocks of online esports.
Easy accessibility to smartphones:
Growing uses of smartphones have brought the esports phenomenon to a whole new level. Mobile gaming comprises 80% gamers in India. The only reason behind this growth is access to affordable smartphones.
Availability of affordable smartphones and reduced data cost fueled mobile gaming penetration further. Now gamers have a choice to buy high-end gaming mobiles under their budget without compromising the camera, display quality, and other gaming-specific features. Smartphone makers such as ASUS ROG, Xiaomi, and ZTE have started producing smartphones optimized for mobile gaming and pro-gamers. It’s expected that due to the steep rise in the quality of smartphones under budget, the total number of online mobile gamers in India will cross 510 million by FY 2022.
AR / VR Gaming:
AR and VR have set out to bring radical change to the esports industry with top-notch innovations for engrossing and enthralling gaming experiences. These new technological innovations helped in bringing 3D effects to gaming. With Augmented reality, game developers connected the digital characters with the real world in an imaginary reality environment. AR-powered games blend real and virtual environments for the captive experience.
AR and VR have changed the dimensions of gaming at scale. They help to create an imaginary setting during the gameplay, which stimulates a gamer’s physical presence. It creates a complete virtual world for the gamers. This is just the beginning as a lot more advancements are slated to come over time.
People would have never thought that AI would be integral to the gaming industry. This cutting-edge technology is now gradually making its presence felt. Artificial intelligence powered tools are making it possible to watch and analyze esports tournaments for making data-driven decisions.
Teams and players are now using AI tools to find ways to improve their gaming strategy. For instance, FalconAI introduced AI-powered tools to help esports players improve their skills in various games such as League of Legends and Valorant, etc.
Cloud Based Gaming:
Cloud gaming is all set to revolutionize the way games are played. It will reduce the dependency on local hardware for playing games. Tech giants are working on developing Cloud gaming platforms like Google Stadia to allow gamers to play games on their low-end devices with only requirement being a fast internet connection. No more expensive hardware and lengthy downloads. In cloud gaming storage and processing is done in Cloud data centers while gamers can stream graphics on their devices.
The growing penetration of technological innovations in esports has intensified the thrill and joy of playing games. Technologies like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and gesture control are shaping the future of esports globally. We are hoping to see more high-end sophisticated technology adoptions in the esports industry. They will completely change the way we play games and consume gaming content.
About the author
Mr. Tarun Gupta is the Founder and CEO of BrainPulse Technologies, a renowned digital marketing and product development company with global footprints.
With Core Experience of over 20 years in Digital Marketing, Product Designing and Technology Mr.Gupta has carved a name for himself. He is an avid eSports enthusiast and co-founder of Ultimate Battle, a leading esports platform designed to serve the fast-growing Esports community.
Ultimate Battle provides gamers a unique platform where Esports teams and professionals can compete across a number of different game titles.
Checkmate COVID: Anand and 4 other GMs to play exhibition matches to raise COVID relief fund
New Delhi, May 11 Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand and four other Indian Grandmasters will play simultaneous online exhibition matches against other chess players on Thursday to raise funds for COVID-19 relief work in the country.
Any player who has a Chess.com blitz or FIDE standard rating of under 2000 can play with former world champion Anand by donating USD 150 and with the other four GMs by paying USD 25 as registration amount.
Donations will also be accepted during the exhibition matches to be broadcast on Chess.com at 19:30 IST.
The website said it will match all donations up to a total of USD 10,000.
All the proceeds from the simultaneous exhibitions involving Anand, Koneru Humpy, Dronavalli Harika, Nihal Sarin and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu will go to RedCross India and the Checkmate COVID initiative of the All India Chess Federation (AICF).
"We all know India is struggling hard against COVID-19. At this time, we all have been affected in some way. I don’t think there is a single person young or old who has not been affected by this," Anand said in a video message posted on Chess.com.
"Let us support COVID relief in India. You can play some of India's finest grandmasters, and have Chess.com match your donations. Please sign up to participate in Checkmate COVID this Thursday. This is a little contribution from our chess fraternity.
"I look forward to being there and hope we raise money and spirits!" International Master Danny Rensch and Samay Raina will host the livestream on Chess.com/tv.
"With over one hundred games running concurrently across all simuls, a time control of 30 minutes with a 30-second increment will be used for all games," a statement from Chess.com said.
"With a limited number of boards, make sure to register early for this unique and charitable opportunity to play India's best players." India is currently reeling under a devastating second wave of COVID-19 pandemic with more than 3 lakh new cases and above 3000 deaths reported daily. News Source : PTI
Trinity Gaming wants to act as a catalyst to uplift the esports industry
Wouldn’t it be a dream come true to play video games for a living? Streaming content for millions of viewers and getting paid for it? Sounds like a dream job, but how do we go about it? India has some very famous esports players who have represented the country internationally, yet there seems to be a lot of ambiguity to turn this passion into a profession.
In an exclusive interview, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Trinity Gaming Mr. Abhishek Aggarwal spoke to SPOGO about helping gamers pursue esports as a profession, monetizing their craft, their business strategies and plans for the future.
What inspired you to create Trinity Gaming and how important do you think it is to encourage gamers to create content and pursue their passion for gaming as a profession?
I was not always an avid gaming enthusiast. Originally from an engineering background, I got interested in gaming and the ecosystem of its working. I developed a passion to see this industry blooming in future. Therefore, Shivam and I founded Trinity Gaming to make people look at esports as a viable career option. We started Trinity Gaming with a mission, to connect brands, creators and audiences through our talent management program and aimed to guide and manage the booming creators of this industry.
With the rise of gaming and esports in India and around the world during the pandemic, how has Trinity Gaming grown since its inception?
Trinity Gaming has grown a lot; although, we can't judge in exact numbers about your growth percentage. In 2019, 2 boys entered the world of startups with a dream; now in 2021 we have supporting staff members and managing more than 200 creators.
How is Trinity Gaming paving the way for beginners to consider gaming as a concrete career option?
Trinity gaming has a separate talent scouting department which finds the potential newcomers on various platforms, then the team analyzes the type of support they require, if there are brands required, graphical assistance, media assistance etc. Based on your research, most of the newcomers don't pursue their passion for gaming further, due to lack of resources. That’s where Trinity gaming comes to the rescue, so that every new talent gets to explore their future in gaming.
How is Trinity Gaming helping gamers monetize their craft?
We are just the enablers in the ecosystem. Trinity Gaming helps famous creators connect with brands. We also scout potential creators and help them grow by providing media expertise, graphical assistance and also funding based on the potential and the passion of the creator. We show them the path to success, walking on it will lead them to a successful future indeed, which will not only help in monetizing their craft but also lead them to becoming influencers and make a name in the industry.
What are some of the largest channels and brands that Trinity Gaming has been associated with?
Trinity has collaborated with a lot of brands some of which are India Today Group, Network 18, ASUS, Red Bull etc.
What are some of the strategies that Trinity Gaming has helped brands implement using creators and influencers in the gaming ecosystem?
Trinity Gaming makes strategies but all are somewhat different from each other. It totally depends on the creator on what strategies he/she requires, thus providing them a personalized experience. We let the creators grow with us and then connect them with the brands based on the requirements, which not only helps uplift Trinity Gaming but also the creator, the brands, and in the entire whole gaming industry. We have brand managers and graphic designers who help your creators with implementing the strategies.
What does Trinity Gaming envision the future of gaming and esports in India?
Trinity Gaming has seen the potential of young content creators and gamers. If this industry is driven with full guidance and support, the gaming industry can be the profit yielding source for the nation. Gaming industry has full potential to emerge as a young minds driven industry. Trinity just wants to act as a catalyst in uplifting the industry.
Exploring the journey of esports athlete Simar Sethi
Delhi based gamer Simar Sethi, a.k.a ‘Psy’ is a prominent figure in the growing esports industry in India. At 22, he has already represented India at the International stage and is setting his sights higher to achieve more with a combination of grit, talent, hard work and passion.
We reached out to Simar to know more about his journey so far and get his insights about the esports industry that is constantly evolving in India and around the world.
How did your gaming career begin? Did you ever think you could make a career from your passion?
I used to play a lot of counter-strike 1.6 and then I switched to CS:GO. I started watching a lot of professional players of the time which made me question that if i was putting so many hours in, why not become a professional myself and definitely gaming is not a small part of my life it's my passion and what better way to live than waking up every morning and doing what you love so passionately.
What made you interested in Counter Strike: Global Offensive?
I used to watch top players in India who were getting opportunities to represent India internationally on so many platforms, my competitiveness and not gonna lie skins :P
How was your experience at Team Brutality?
I used to be a big fan of Team Brutality before I was given an opportunity to represent it. I learned a lot as a professional player because it was my first professional team at the age of 16.
What motivated you to join Team Entity?
I was at the peak of my career when I got a call from Entity to join their all star lineup in December 2016 which by the way dominated the whole CS:GO scene in India for 2017. My sole motivation was to play in a team with the best of the best in my country.
You were diagnosed with Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). How did you think it would impact your performance?
I was diagnosed with RSI in June 2017. When the doctors first brought in the reports and broke the news, I thought my whole career was gonna end here. The one chance I got to play and to represent my country in front of an international audience will just be left a dream.
You were awarded the best player in India back in 2016. How much of a motivation was that to become even better?
Once I got the feel of being even above 9th cloud I knew I wanted to stay here forever no matter what it took out of me.
What was it like to represent India at the Zowie tournament in China?
I had lost a Zowie tournament before back in 2018 against forsaken and we couldn't go, but to win it back in 2019 was out of the world. It felt like all those sleepless nights and practice had finally answered.
How do you prepare yourself physically and mentally before a big tournament?
I am a very confident player and I take every professional match as just a regular game. I do listen to songs to keep my mind from wandering.
How much dedication does it require to become an esports athlete?
It's just like following a schedule for any physical sports. Maintain a proper sleeping schedule, diet and practice while also giving yourself some space to relax.
What’s your current rig?
• Cabinet - Antec NX800
• Processor - Ryzen 5 3600X
• Motherboard - Aorus B450 Elite
• Graphic Card - MSI Gaming-X RTX 2060 Super
• RAM - HyperX 16GB DDR4
• Power Supply - Antec NeoEco 650M-80 Plus Bronze
Why has there been a shift in preference from CS:GO to Valorant?
My own opinion is that CS:GO had become very stagnant, didn't make any changes in favor of community and professional players whereas Riot listens to their player base and the viewership is off the charts for Valorant.
Should aspiring esports athletes choose Valorant over other games? If yes, why?
It totally depends on the preferences and likeness of a player and what suits them. I have personally always believed to do what makes you happy, so playing a game professionally which you wouldn't love spending a majority of your time with sounds illogical to me.
What do you think is the reason behind Valorant’s popularity?
As i've mentioned before Riot actively listens to their player base and keeps making changes for balancing the game as much as possible.
You played for the Noble eSports roster after switching to Valorant. What was that like?
It was a very good run with Noble. We won a couple of tournaments and I think I grew as a leader in Valorant.
Who is your IGL (In Game Leader) in your Valorant roster?
I used to call the shots however after the recent roster changes I gave that position to Whimp.
Do you think big, offline Valorant events will happen in India in the future despite Indian Valorant servers solving the ping complaints of the players?
Yes, I do think that there will be a lot of offline Valorant tournaments with big prize pools in India.
What do you think is in the future for Valorant?
I think Valorant is going to evolve into a full blown mixture of communities coming from Mobile, PC and console with a lot of tournaments and lots of exposure for upcoming new players.
What would be your advice to young gamers who want to be esports athletes one day?
Never stop trying to better yourself, stay loyal to your passion and stay focused on your growth as a player because your hardwork will be recognized. I was once too, only a dreamer with a passion.
Popularity & demand prompts Ultimate Battle to launch a dedicated platform for Chess
According to a press release, India’s first-ever one-stop esports platform - Ultimate Battle (UB), had recently conducted a study in order to understand the gaming preferences of users. Under these findings, nearly a lakh gamers’ playing choices were studied and chess came among the top three preferred games that were chosen by players on the UB platform. The popularity of the game of chess prompted 'Ultimate Battle' to launch an independent interface for chess on its platform to not only cater to the dedicated community for the sole purpose of fun but also to compete against the best in the game.
The highly popular esports platform has been a platform for playing several action-packed games crafted with high-end graphics. However, the study conducted showed the gamers’ liking for chess in the list among the top 3 games. Garena Free Fire was first on the list as it was the most played game with 40% preference and with 30% players going with Call of Duty, it proved to be the second most preferred game. The third game, with preference of 20% of the players sampled was the chequered board game of chess whereas other games put together amounted for the 10% on the platform.
Talking about the launch, Tarun Gupta, Founder of Ultimate Battle said: “Chess is an age-old game which is played by people of all age groups. We thought of giving this community an altogether premium experience and hence we launched chess as a separate property and not dilute the audience experience with other games. We also have created leaderboards for the community to compete professionally and the aim is to find the champion players eventually.”
He further added, “However, the rampant rise of online cheating was equally alarming and we wanted to keep the UB platform safe from any such unfair means. Our focus has been to create a very robust technology to counter such incidences and we are glad that the platform has seen a lot of buzz lately.”
After a great experience at the testing phase, with 3000 gamers in January 2021, the Ultimate Battle chess platform has already built a strong community of over 27,000 regular users. The platform has seen the maximum amount of engagement from the age group between 18 and 21, nearly about 53%. Presently, three chess tournaments are held everyday alongside hundreds of one-on-one challenge matches on a regular basis. There is a ranking system too with the automated leader board which is based on the performances of the players. Additionally, it also features prize money for the winners.
Last month, the platform also launched its app on Google Play Store and till now has enjoyed over 32,000 downloads already.
‘India will be the next power house for esports’ - Mr Lokesh Suji, Director of Esports Federation of India
Esports has evolved into an industry of itself and has undergone a steady and meteoric rise all over the world. While India has still not recognized esports as an official ‘sport’ Esports Federation of India’s director Mr. Lokesh Suji is optimistic that this is going to change soon.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Suji talks about the rise of esports during the lockdown, potential for Indian game developers, various initiatives taken by the ESFI to promote esports in the country and the important difference between esports and igaming.
How has esports grown in the last year, especially with the pandemic and more people confined to their homes?
In India, over the course of 2020 with Covid-19 lockdown in place, we saw a boom in digital entertainment and esports is one of them. The ongoing COVID situation has propelled the penetration of esports to more and more people. The esports industry witnessed the highest spike in player participation and watch time viewership in the last year. While business sectors across the world have been virtually brought to a grinding halt by the stay-at-home mandate to prevent the spread of the contagious Covid-19, the esports or electronic sports industry, on the contrary, is on a roll. The current pandemic, for the most part, has shifted the entire esports set-up online. The overall growth of the esports industry was phenomenal last year and it’s going to be onward & upward in future.
How do you think #AtmanirbharBharat can be a part of the gaming sector?
India has a huge video gaming population, but when you look at the app/play store, you will find none of the Indian games in that list and that’s where the potential for Indian game developers lies. With the strong push from our Hon’ble PM to build video games built on Indian culture and ethos, this is the opportune time for the Indian Game development ecosystem. When we say “games” we mean video games not rummy, fantasy, poker, teen patti, online gaming and or betting/gambling or igaming. Video games like Hitwicket, Raji, WCC are already doing well and sky's the limit for others.
India is a market which has enormous potential for esports. What is your view about the market size, opportunities, growth trends and challenges in the online gaming market in India?
Biggest challenge is the misconception which prevails in India that playing fantasy, teen patti, rummy, poker, real money gaming, gambling and or betting is esports. These are everything and anything but “esports” and/or even “video games”. Unfortunately, they have been included & misunderstood as part of online gaming. These ventures are trying hard to be considered so and that’s unfortunate. This is detrimental to our sport. All the reports and numbers which you have seen recently during the Covid times are the cumulative numbers including such igaming etc. apps, and these numbers are bloated because of these apps, hence there are no real numbers for pure “video games” and or “esports” for India; esports industry is still very nascent in India. With esports as the future and future is now, inclusion in Asian Games 22 opens up the whole market with immense opportunities just like our traditional sports; pro players, academies, streaming, casting, player rights management, esports journalism and so on. While the community does what it needs to be done, government recognition of esports as a sport is must. We are very optimistic it will happen soon as the government is also opening up and it was in 2019 that SEPC (unit of Ministry of Industry & Commerce) along with ESFI did the “Nations Cup” an International esports championship, which was India’s first esports championship fully backed by the Government. Recently esports was also part of the starred questions in parliament on 4th Feb 2021 and the Ministry of Sports tabled its reply in which they said “esports is an emerging platform for the youth population in the country. There are large numbers of esports enthusiasts in our country. It is included in Asian Games 2022 as a medal sport discipline but not yet included in the Olympics. Esports is different from gaming or igaming and gambling, etc. as former is skill based while latters are chance based”; these are good signs for our esports ecosystem.
The path to becoming an esports athlete, especially in India is unclear. How important do you think is it to promote, encourage, organize, educate, train and control the esports industry to make India competitive on the international stage?
Currently, all of our sports are unstructured, which leads to loss of talent and many times a lot of underdogs players lose out on the opportunity. ESFI is working on the lines of structuring the same and is open to any suggestions and feedback in this regard. We need to act and work like any other sports.
What is the role of the Esports Federation of India in the development of esports in India and what are the initiatives they have taken or intend to take in the near future?
ESFI will promote, encourage, organize, educate, train and control the esports in India. We have started with the rankings system and will keep adding more game titles. This will help in giving visibility to the underdog players/teams and help us in building a good talent pool. Recently we have also started with Female Ranking scrims; we are already working on training and collegiate programs which will be released soon. Esports have now been included in Asian Games 2022 and once the game titles are announced, we will start getting our teams ready; last time we got bronze and this time we have to get gold. Other than this, our primary focus is to expand in coaching and training for which we are already in discussions with some leading agencies. You will also find certified referees this year which will be India’s first.
What is your view on those who say that esports isn’t really ‘sports’?
Esports is a sport and is recognized by International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is the apex body for sports and Olympic Council of Asia (OCA); instead, we have serious concerns when playing fantasy, teen patti, rummy, poker, real money gaming, gambling and or betting is considered as esports; it horrendous. Esports is a sport, it is competitive video game playing, coordinated by different leagues, where players participate in group gaming competitions. Viewers can watch professional gamers compete against each other in a variety of games. We are a sport because the physicality of responses of our participants leads to the result of a winner. And esports is essentially a speed competition. The business model of esports depends majorly on three aspects – media rights, sponsorship and merchandising. There is no space for gambling or betting involvement in the esports sector. Mostly esports companies never charge their players to play their tournaments; instead, they give them massive prize money on winning the tournament.
How has esports evolved in India in the last few years?
With easy access to smartphones and internet, esports has grown leaps and bounds, earlier we hardly used to viewership numbers crossing a couple of thousands, today we are talking in millions. Smartphones & mobile game titles (esports ones) have made esports accessible to the mass youth population of India. India will be the next power house for esports, we have approximately 300 million esports enthusiasts, and its growth is clearly visible during the Covid times, be it in terms of online events or streaming, player participations and its viewership.
How would you differentiate esports with gaming and real money gaming?
This should not be the question at all; this question exists because people in India along with the media have wrongly portrayed fantasy, teen patti, rummy, poker, real money gaming, gambling and or betting as esports. We are wondering why these apps need to disguise themselves as “esports”; we as India have become a laughing stock because of this and our sport is in danger. These games are “igaming” not “esports”. If esports is “igaming”, then so should be cricket also, isn’t it? Can you win a cricket match by chance or by luck, the answer is “no” and same happens in esports too, you cannot win a FIFA 21 (video game based on football) match by chance; you need to have the skill to beat your opponent. We are talking about video games like “FIFA 21, PES, Counter Strike, DOTA 2, Valorant, Need for speed etc.” and our audience is 14-22 years, these games don’t come with a statutory warning that “if you play these games you may lose money”, you don’t have to pay to play our esports game titles and most importantly people don’t play these games to make money, they play these games for fun & entertainment and now of course as a sport.
This will help in understanding what esports is and what’s not:
1. Playing teen patti, poker, gambling, betting, fantasy is *not* esports, it’s “igaming”
2. Competing with each other for casual or hyper casual games is not esports.
3. Playing video games is not esports; there are only select genres of video games which fall under the category of esports. These genres are
a. Real-time Strategy (RTS): Clash Royale etc.
b. Fighting: Tekken7
c. First-person Shooter (FPS): Counter Strike, Call of Duty etc.
d. Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA): League of Legends, Arena of Valor, DOTA2 etc.
e. Sports: FIFA, PES, Asphalt etc.
4. Esports can be online and offline (LAN Events) both.
5. Similarly playing video games online or multiplayer is not esports, example if you are playing ludo online (offline) with you friends, it's "not" esports
6. You can have fantasy for esports
7. Its spelt as "Esports or esports or ESPORTS" not "eSports, e-sports, egaming etc"
What is your view on esports becoming a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games?
ESFI got a Bronze Medal for India during Asian Games’18 where it was a demonstration title and we were placed 4th in another games title (clash royale). It’s a welcome move as now whatever medals our esports athletes win, they will be counted in India’s medal tally.
When do you think India will recognize esports as an official sport?
There are four major factors that make any sport mainstream -
1. There has to be enough people who want to play
2. An ecosystem comprising infrastructure and grassroots development that facilitates the same
3. Mass popularity of the particular sport in terms of viewership
4. Not just national but an opportunity to have global recognition.
When we put esports through these parameters we get favourable results and we can infer that esports is on its way to becoming a regular sports affair.
1. There are enough people who want to play.
2. Mobile is the platform of choice in India and from mobiles costing $150 to the high-end ones, there are different esports worthy games popular amongst the masses.
3. Viewership on just YouTube & Facebook has significantly increased over time.
4. ESFI & other esports companies give esports athletes a global stage to compete with the world's best and have a shot at global recognition and fame. We are in regular touch with the concerned people, the response from the Government has been very encouraging and we will soon see esports recognized as a sport in India. All the signs are positive and ESFI is trying to get this done very soon.
Road to Asian Games campaign for 2022 Asian Games introduced by Olympic Council of Asia and AESF
According to a press release by Electronic Sports Federation of India (ESFI), the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) have confirmed the introduction of a new program, ‘Road to Asian Games’ for the 2022 Asian Games. The AESF will be the exclusive organizer of ‘Road to Asian Games’ and will be the first of its kind to bring fair and equal opportunities to publishers and bring advanced Esports development not just in Asia but around the world. The campaign will also introduce an education program for participating E sports athletes to share Olympic Movement and Values throughout the world. Grassroot development, inclusion programs, career pathways, health and wellbeing support as well as the rights and protection of athletes will be the key area of focus. Here’s what Mr. Lokesh Suji, Director of ESFI and Vice President of AESF had to say, “Electronic Sports Federation of India (ESFI) is a full member of the Asian body-Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) and as a member nation, we are extremely proud and applaud this joint initiative. As much as I personally congratulate the sustained efforts put by our President Mr Kenneth Fok and the entire AESF team. This is also an opportune time for the Indian esports athletes to be more conscious and be part of the Championships organised by ESFI and help us to make the national ranking scrims/tournaments more wholesome and meaningful in terms of not only being extremely competitive but also reaching out to the talented esports athletes across the country who are looking for opportunities to play for India and represent at the highest platforms including Asian Games in the coming times. We are at the moment also waiting for the game titles to be announced so that we can start the Scrim tournaments for the same in India too." An official signing ceremony was held to officialise the partnership for the ‘Road to Games’ campaign and the confirmation of the roles & responsibilities of the AESF with OCA Director General Dr. Husain A H Z Al-Musallam, OCA Director of Sports Mr. Haider A H E Farman, AESF President Mr. Kenneth Fok, and AESF Director General Mr. Sebastian Lau in attendance. Here’s what Director General of OCA, Dr. Husain A H Z Al-Musallam said, “It is a great pleasure to officially announce our partnership between OCA and AESF for the new Esports program for our Asian Games and OCA will provide full support for successful Esports events at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. We wish the best to our partner AESF on the journey ahead.” In a speech during the signing, Mr. Fok, AESF President said, “I would like to express our sincere appreciation for the continuous support and trust from the OCA. I believe that the Asian Games presents the best stage for us to share Olympic Values with the Esports community and we aim to make our Esports communities develop further through this opportunity. Also, we look forward to a successful collaboration with OCA as well as LOC.” Speaking about AESF’s role and responsibility, OCA’s Director of Sports Mr. Haider A H E Farman added, “Leading up to the Asian Games, the Asian Electronic Sports Federation will have the leading role and take full responsibility in the selection of esports titles in collaboration with the OCA. From the qualifying rounds to the grand finals of each esports event, rest assured that the OCA and AESF, together with LOC will work hand-in-hand, ensuring successful esports events for the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022.” Conveying his gratitude during the ceremony, AESF Director General Mr. Sebastian Lau said, “As the Asian Federation, the AESF is honoured to be organizing the esports qualifiers and the Technical Delegate for the upcoming Asian Games. We will start from Hangzhou, and I am looking forward to exploring more opportunities together with all of you and make the evolution of esports further in Nagoya 2026, Doha 2030 and beyond.” The ‘Road to Asian Games’ partnership summary Esports Event Title Selection The Esports event titles for the qualifiers and finals of the 2022 Asian Games will be selected by the AESF in collaboration with the OCA. Eligibility and Participating Teams The AESF will be responsible for identifying the finalists through regional qualifiers of respective esports titles leading up to the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Qualifiers and Finals The structure of the qualifying and final tournament will be formed by the AESF for all esports events. The qualifiers of all participating Asian countries will be collaborated with the OCA at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Community Outreach Program AESF will deliver and execute the AESF Experience Program with full support from the OCA as part of the Asian Games community outreach. The program will aim to deliver the best Esports experience, connect with the community and attract new fans.
Ultimate Battle aims to develop esports with its one of a kind online platform
According to a press release by Ultimate Battle, they have announced India’s first online esports platform for players to connect, interact and compete at competitions to win rewards. The platform will cater to the esports community through an e-commerce portal and a virtual supermarket with the aim to develop esports in the country. Tarun Gupta, gamer and Founder of Ultimate Battle said, “Gaming was mostly recreational all this while but with the absence of Live Sports, people who had a competitive bent of mind got hooked to online esports and the sudden surge is there for everyone to witness. I truly believe this is an opportune moment for homegrown brands like us, who are in the business of Esports and have created a unique value proposition for the gamers. This is a very exciting time for Ultimate Battle; we are a new age Esports online platform with a plug and play option which is innovative, informative and also provides E-commerce facilities for various gaming needs—all embedded into one single platform.” “To bring Esports into the mainstream and engage millions of gamers and fans together, we have multiple popular esports titles on our platform. In the year 2019, India alone amounted to 13% of the total game downloads worldwide with mobile games in the forefront. We are consistently working to develop Esports in India. Since our inception we as a tech brand specializing in esports aim to provide thousands of gamers with a unique online experience to participate in multi-player mobile, console, and PC video game competitive tournaments and win prize money,” added Gupta. India has quickly developed as a hotbed for esports with 365 million Indians gamers across PC, consoles and mobiles and industry estimates expect this figure to rise to 440 million by 2022. Ultimate Battle currently has popular esports titles like Call of Duty, Valorant, Fifa 20, CS:GO, Garena Free Fire, Dota 2, Fortnite and others on its platform with the aim to provide exposure to aspiring esports athletes looking to kickstart their career.
Esports Federation of India brings ranking scrims for female teams
In a major step towards promoting Esports to female athletes, the Esports Federation of India (ESFI) is bringing ranking scrims for all the female teams. Around the world, pro gaming has traditionally been dominated by men, but ESFI’s initiative to encourage female participation to build a career in professional gaming is a welcome step to create a more gender balanced and inclusive Esports industry. We reached out to Mr. Lokesh Suji, Director of the Esports Federation of India who had this to say, “Esports in the past one year has taken giant strides as an industry with a higher number of gamers and revenue flow; it has also been recognised as a medal event for 2022 Asian Games and steps are being taken to get it included in Olympics too. And meanwhile Esports Federation of India (ESFI) has in the past few months have also streamlined the way esports is perceived in India, and one of the key features was to introduce National Ranking Tournaments for the Gamers in order to bring forth an authenticated point system that determines India’s best gamers whether it’s a man or a woman. While it was important to initiate the process of identification like any other Olympic Sports in India-it is an evolving process and we hope the feedback from gamers will help us to create a full-proof system in the time to come. However, having a dedicated ranking tournament for women was critical and we are happy that we could start. As per the studies available, almost 33% of gamers are women which in itself is a testament of the potential that is waiting to be tapped and capitalised. We at ESFI want to promote the women gamers as much as their male counterparts. We believe the skill sets regardless of gender outweigh all other parameters that determine the performance of a gamer and want to congratulate all the women who are part of this tournament. May the best woman win!" While the demographics have changed in terms of the number of women watching esports, the gaming culture of the industry is moving at a much slower pace. ESFI’s initiative to introduce National Ranking Tournaments to bring an authenticated point based system is a step forward in the right direction to promote Esports and get more female athletes to participate.