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Indian Gaming League set to ignite e-sports revolution

Esports is all set to hit the mainstream realm, after a decade of existence in India.

20 Feb 2016, 19:09 IST
Esports set to hit the mainstream realm, after a decade of existence in India

E-sports or Electronic sports is now one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Tournaments such as ‘The International’ for the game, Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) offers $ 18 million as prize money to highlight the participation and the sport’s growth as a spectator-based entity.

This meteoric rise has also helped in removing the taboo and stigma around competitive gaming as a sport. Thousands of gamers across the world are now paid salaries to represent organisations in a varied set of tactic-based games.

Despite thriving in countries such as United States of America and South Korea, which has set a celebrity for pro-gamers, it is yet to reach India’s shores in its most structured form. However, Krish Galani and Yash Pariani are looking to unite the various scattered communities within India’s sporting landscape.

Main aim is to create a financial ecosystem for Indian gamers: IGL Co-founder

The duo recently launched the Indian Gaming League (IGL), which offers the country’s gamers a chance to earn a living out of their hobby. Co-founder Yash told Sportskeeda, “Our main attempt is to unite the country’s gamers. India has a scattered gaming community by creating an avenue of earning money for them. Competitive gaming has existed in India for a long time now. But, there was no structure to it. We are attempting to change that.”

During a market study, the duo discovered India’s competitive gaming community of being close to 100,000 strong. The tournament itself will be divided into stages, online and offline, players/teams will fight it out against each other to earn ‘pro points.’ The one with the highest number of points will qualify for the offline finals.Within a week of their launch, IGL had 5,000 subscribers without any promotion whatsover.

The league has also tied up with renowned US esports company, Major League Gaming (MLG), who boast of 20 million users and 1.3 million twitter followers. IGL co-founder Krish said, “They will be helping us with the broadcast/stream elements. Their platform will be used for our streams and also publicising our event. They are really excited about the prospect.”

The offline finals will be similar to India’s cricket equivalent, Indian Premier League (IPL). Teams will be picked up by city-based franchises, who will fight for a final prize pool and regional pride. These teams will be paid a salary by the franchise owners, in an attempt to legitimise the sport here.

The games chosen for the offline finals are FIFA, which is a famous one versus one football game, Counter Strike Global Offensive, which is five versus five first person shooter and DOTA, which is a five versus five strategy game. Each of these games will have individual franchise owners, for example Counter Strike Chennai and FIFA Delhi.

Other console games such as League of Legends, Halo and Call of Duty are also part of the list.

Involvement of Bollywood celebrities

According to sources, some notable personalities have already bought franchises in the league. The most notable to go public with his acquisition is Bollywood actor Sanjay Kapoor, who has bought the Chennai FIFA franchise. Yash added, “We will be doing an official announcement in late March, early April to confirm the owners. But, yes I can tell you that some other celebrities, corporate start-ups are interested in purchasing franchises.”

Actress Jacqueline Fernandez during a gaming event

Eight franchises will compete against each other in three games, during the first offline finals.

The league is also not solely restricted to PC/console games. Mobile games such as 8-ball pool, Fun Run and Angry Birds are also a part of the online tournament. Yash added, “We will be offering Rs 1750 for free entry, with the amount going up Rs 20,000 for small mobile tournaments, this will help increase the interest and get more casual gamesrs to play competitively.”  

“We are also looking to tieup with various cafes around the country, in an attempt to create a proper ecosystem,” added Yash.

There has also been significant interest by various partners, with regard to sponsorship. Playstation 4 has signed up as a hardware partner and Paytm as monetary transaction partner.

Tejas Sawant, a semi-professional Counter Strike player from Mumbai has represented India multiple times on the world stage. After playing the first IGL online tournament, “Ace” as he is popularly known remains positive about the league. He said, “It’s great we have such tournaments happening, there were a few organisational glitches, but since this is their first tournament, it is fine. However, there are certain things we are worried about, such as the league being a scam, because we have dealt with a previous event called India Gaming Carnival, which caused a massive furore in the community, and I also request the organisers to hire experienced people from the esports realm.”

An Indian Counter Strike team named “Gamegod Wolf,” during the ESL One Cologne international event

Responding to the comments, Yash stated that there is full-frontal legitimacy, and over time gamers will realise that.

Speaking about the societal aspect in Indian esport, Yash added, “our main aim is to teach parents that esports oor gaming can be a job. If you see our ad, it’s targeting the parents, showing them that people can earn money out of this.”

The IGL idea which came about over a lunch conversation, could potentially create a formidable base for E-sport in India.

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