While the Esports industry in India is still at a nascent stage, its popularity has been on a steady rise over the past couple of years.
Esports has been taking its sweet time to build its foundation among the Indian gaming community. The COVID-19 pandemic might just have acted as a catalyst for the sudden increase in attention.
With the entry of popular games like FIFA, PES, PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, Free Fire, and Valorant in the Indian Esports scene, the community has seen a substantial boost in revenue and workforce. According to Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder of WinZO,
"Esports is the next big thing, and India is warming up to it gradually. Esport players have longer session durations and deeper engagement."
Esports as an industry can have limitless heights and scopes in India. According to the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming, Esports will see rapid growth in the country and reach a cumulative revenue of up to ₹11,900 crore.
The Indian Esports scene, its growth, and current state in the global platform
Online streaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch have played a vital role in promoting Esports in the Indian market as a major sporting event. Various multiplayer online games like FIFA, PUBG Mobile, Dota2, Hearthstone, Call of Duty (both mobile and PC), and Valorant have led the video gaming market to reach a new height in the past couple of years.
The community in India is not even a decade old and has just shot up in the past few years, with more developers and investors jumping into the sector. The most common Esports genres in the country are Sports games, Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), First Person Shooter (FPS), Fighting, Card games, and Real-Time Strategy (RTS).
Indian Esports has accounted for around 4% of all online gaming users and 9.13% of aggregate revenue out of the overall online gaming market in FY20. The humongous increase in Esports prize money pool by almost 123.3% during 2016-2018 has attracted gaming enthusiasts to become professionals.
The count of online gamers in India also grew by 31 percent in 2019 and reached around 365 million. As per an FCCI-EY report on media and entertainment, the reach is expected to cross the 440 million mark. With a huge influx of investment from multiple brands around global industries, India's Esports segment is bound to grow exponentially over the next few years.
Esports in International Multi-Sport Events
The legitimacy of Esports as a mainstream sporting competition continues in this phase of discussion. Still, many of them have already been featured in global sports events like the Asian Games and the AIMAG.
According to BBC reports, the International Olympic Committee is also discussing their inclusion into the future of Olympic events.
Esports was introduced as a demonstration sport in the Asian Games 2018, Jakarta, featuring six different games.
Playing the collectible card game Hearthstone, Gujarat-based gamer Tirth "gcttirth" Mehta won bronze for India. Veteran Sports Games player Ankur "Jauntytank" Diwakar was also part of the Indian PES squad.
Esports has officially been declared to debut as a medal sport in the Asian Games, 2022, to be held in Hangzhou, China.
India entered the EA Sports FIFA Global Series
EA Sports recently announced India's entry into the FIFA Global series for the first time in its 2021 version. The franchise's official statement said,
"We’re very excited to welcome Bolivia, Costa Rica, and India to the EA SPORTS FIFA 21 Global Series! With the addition of India, we’re changing the name of the Middle East & Africa region to West Asia & South Africa, which India will join, and moving a few of the countries that have traditionally played in that region elsewhere."
The news took Indian gamers to social media, expressing their joy at the long-awaited inclusion in the Esports event. Fans expressed their disappointment at missing out last year, while the American gaming giants have rectified their mistakes this time.
The Global Series is a competition organized by FIFA developers to find out the world's best virtual footballers. The event has been the perfect platform for aspiring E-footballers to display their talents and skills. With FIFA 21 opening the doors for gamers, the Esports industry in India stands to gain.
The rise of the Indian Esports demon, Ankur Diwakar
Jauntytank represented India in the Asian Games and won the PES 18 South Asian Championship.
Mumbai-based Esports professional Ankur Diwakar, better known as Jauntytank, first came to the bigger stage when he won Season 1 of MTV India Uncypher, India's first televised Esports tournament.
Having chosen quite an unpopular career path, especially in an orthodox country like India, Diwakar has turned out to be an absolute winner and has become quite a popular face in the Asian Esports scene. He was part of the Indian Pro Evolution Soccer squad at the 2018 Asian games and is currently the South Asian champion in the IP.
Jauntytank is a die-hard Chelsea FC fan and a huge admirer of English football legend Frank Lampard. In an interview with Bollywood superstar Arjun Kapoor, he spoke about how he started as a 'noob' Pokemon tazo collector to represent India at the Asian Games eventually.
The 29-year-old Esports veteran said he felt like a soldier wearing an Indian jersey at the Asian Games. He also won the Indian championship, followed by the South Asian championship in PES 18.
Diwakar's interest in Sports games rose through FIFA 02 when he planned to represent the sport. He also revealed that he used to imitate Chelsea's playstyle, mainly of his idol Lampard, when he used to play the game. His current favorite Chelsea players are Mason Mount, Reece James, and Hakim Ziyech.