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"U Cypher trying to put Indian eSports on the world map," says co-founder Ronnie Screwvala

Soumo Ghosh
FEATURED COLUMNIST
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294   //    21 Feb 2018, 20:31 IST

Ucypher co-founders Ronnie Screwvala and Supratik Sen.
U Cypher co-founders Ronnie Screwvala and Supratik Sen.

Esports in India, is still at a nascent stage, as compared to some of the Western countries, but the sheer number of gamers who have shown interest in gaming has already picked up.

Until recently though, the Indian gamers have faced the problem of lack of support for their respective games, something that has perhaps impeded the sport from growing. However, the gaming world in India has gained a lot of eyeballs, with the U Cypher Esports League tying up with MTV for the television broadcast of the league.

With games like Counter-Strike, Dota, Tekken and Real Cricket already under their scheme, they are now looking to boost the popularity through innovative methods.

Sportskeeda caught up with U Cypher co-founders Ronnie Screwvala and Supratik Sen, as the entrepreneurs spoke about how he plans to make the eSports ecosystem bigger in India. Here are some of the excerpts from our conversation with th.

Q: What kind of a response have you got for eSports broadcast so far?

A: This is as much a playing sport, as it is a watching sport. A part of our objective was to start a playing climate. Normally when you start a league, most people are viewers. But because this is a gaming league, and people can play online, all of them feel that they are a part of it.

So the response rate is very high. We have already registered around 91 million views overall, and its just been halfway into the season. Dota and Counter-Strike have both got some very good response. To some extent, Tekken has too.

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you have faced so far, with regards to broadcasting eSports in India?

A: The constructive criticism of this is that people want to see the full game and not abbreviated versions. The actual running time for each tournament is about three to four hours.

But our objective right now is to popularize the sport. For that, we need to bring in more casual gamers and frill people to come in and experience the sport. That’s why we have had to dramatise things a bit, get reactions of the players, as the tournaments are being hosted. This brought in a lot of casual gamers, but many of the hardcore gamers want to see the whole game.

The solution to this problem really is to divide things up between the TV and the Online broadcasts. The casual gamers can watch the event on TV, while the hardcore gamers can watch the whole in-game action online.

But digital is the primary commodity here. We realize that the main market is online. But, we also need to get the masses interested in gaming, and that is why we are looking at the TV broadcast now.

Also, internet connectivity has become a lot better in India. So in the future, we can target to top 10-15 cities. That connectivity already exists. And it will only get large from.

Q: Which game gets the highest number of viewers?

A: Counter-Strike gets the highest amount of traction. Then there’s Tekken, followed by Dota and then Real Cricket.

Basically, Dota is a complex strategy game, and only those who play it, can comprehend it. But Dota is the biggest game in the world. Right from prize money, to the championships, it is the biggest.

But Counter-Strike easily takes the number one spot, because it’s a simple game. It has a large community in India, and it's easy to understand. A lot of people are playing the lower end version on their mobile as well.

Q: Cricket is such a popular sport in our country. Do you think that aspect can be used to make Real Cricket more popular among gamers?

A: Actually we don’t’ see Real Cricket as having that much potential. The entire prerogative is for people to identify with the game. Cricket, in real life, is much more of a spectator game. so as a spectator sport its fine. But the whole e-sport thing is all about how an individual can play and be a part of the sport.

Again, for cricket, anyone can pick up a bat and start playing. But not many people have access to fancy guns. For Tekken, these karate moves are not everyone’s cup of tea in real life. The gaming world is a very different world.

Yes, FIFA has done well, but the most popular games out there are these first-person shooter games or racing games. About one in a million people can actually get into a high-end racing car. So here, we feel that Real Cricket is more for casual gaming, though the download of it is very high.

Q: We are slowly seeing that eSports is starting to get recognition on a global level as well, with League of Legends being introduced as a precursor to the 2018 Winter Olympics. How can India catch up to this global boom of eSports when we are already so far behind?

A: I’ve spoken to the Sports Minister about getting eSports to a global platform. In a sense, India can be one of the few countries that can still catch up in the world pecking order. I spoke to him about this, and how we can put India on the world map through competitive participation.

So a part of our responsibility is to spread the awareness. Another part is identifying and nurturing this talent. To get selected somewhere, you need to play a lot of games with global players.

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