V3NOM: “Never thought I would make so much money playing video games”
Team Brutality’s Ankit “V3NOM” Panth is India’s biggest CS:GO player. With 28,000 subscribers, he has been the leading charge in promoting esports within the country. He is also the founder of Team Brutality which currently fields a team in CS:GO. V3NOM also regularly holds fan meet-ups and has a huge dedicated following.
Sportskeeda got an opportunity to interview him about being a professional gamer, the Indian esports scene and more.
Q) How did you get into professional CS: GO gaming?
I was playing in a gaming café and one-day RiX came there with his brother. Suddenly everyone started whispering, that’s Noddy from Team Wolf. I asked one of my café friends why are people talking about him. They said he plays for one of the best teams in India. I remember that we were all playing in the Untitled map and the shots he was hitting kind of made me realize how much more I needed to improve. He used to come during the weekends to play with a few of his teams’ players.
We became good friends and one day he asked me whether I could play as a substitute in his team for a local LAN tournament because one of his players wasn’t available. I was super excited and said yes. I would say that this is the beginning as I got to know a lot about the pro scene and teams after playing with him.
Q) There are many aspiring gamers who want to be professional esports players, what advice would you give to them?
All I want to say is that gaming in our country is improving but we still need to see the consistency. It might look easy from the outside but it’s very difficult to sustain in here. If you are passionate and can give time then only you should think about being a professional player. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
Also, do not leave your studies or work for getting into this. We are still in testing waters when it comes to gaming in India. You have to keep your backups ready and that's what I did. I know it's not easy to study, work and then practice for hours but you have to manage. When you are passionate about something and it's a genuine feeling you will find a way to work it out and go for your dreams. I know a lot of you think that just by reaching a particular rank means that you can be a professional player. It's not like that. I would suggest you start participating in tournaments once you have learned the basics of the game. It will help you understand where you are right now in terms of skill and how much more you have to improve.
Don’t fear the defeats; winning and losing are not just part of the game but also life. When you can fight outside your screen then I am sure you can fight in game as well. To be a professional player you should have a spark and you should also know how to keep it lit.
Q) What is the best way, according to you, for a player to get better at CS: GO?
Play the game as much as you can to get used to the recoil of weapons. Learn and play the official tournament maps. Watch international tournaments and player demos. See how they play and I am sure you will pick up something that will help you get better at the game. If you like a professional player and you think his style matches yours or will suit you then watch his demos to learn some tricks. How he enters the sites, what angles does he pre-fire, how he holds sites and so on. The idea is to never stop learning and keep giving time to the game that you love.
Q) What are the future plans (if any) for your organization Team Brutality?
In future we want to expand to other games, get in new squads, make an academy team, train them, etc. but we are waiting for the right time. We have the experience and expertise in this field and till now our calculations have been working out for us. We know India has a lot of talent; it’s just that we need some more time to let gaming get stable in our country.
Q) India is seeing an increasing incline towards the mobile platform as the preferred one for gaming. How do you feel about this? Will mobile gaming benefit PC gaming in the long run?
I am happy to see the growth in mobile gaming as it will help create awareness. In today’s world, everyone has a mobile. Parents don’t stop their kids from getting a mobile because they are concerned about their safety, when their kids are out somewhere or something. However, they do stop them from buying a PC because they think it is going to ruin their life. There are some misconceptions which we need to clear and I am working towards it. During my meet-ups, a lot of parents come with their kids. They always come with a confused face but after I meet them they are the ones who pat my shoulder and say, “God bless you, you are a perfect inspiration for my son. I am glad you are his role model”.
We first need to make people aware of the gaming industry and clear these confusions. Till the time masses don’t support this sport, it’s not going to grow big. We need big tournaments consistently, we need people to come to the venue and cheer for their favorite teams. Till the time gaming is growing, it’s a win for everyone involved. At the end it is going to benefit the gamers, be it PC or mobile. I know right now the community is split but a few years back there was no community right?
So at least we have started somewhere and are moving towards a bigger gaming world which we always dreamed of. The problem right now is immaturity and jealousy which I feel is fueling the fight between mobile and PC gamers. We know the answer ourselves. We just need to cut the fuel and then no one will be able to stop us gamers.
Q) Are there any plans to expand Team Brutality to field a team in mobile esports?
Maybe in the future. As I mentioned earlier, we are just waiting for the right time.
Q) What are the challenges of being a professional gamer in India and running an esports organization?
I feel the acceptance of parents is a major roadblock but I don't blame them because we have just started. Our parents only want good for us and them stopping us means that they don’t see a future in this. It’s our job to collect proofs and show it to them. That’s what I am doing right now.
Q) Where do you see the Indian esports industry heading in the years to come?
Indian esports is surely growing, especially the mobile gaming sector. Cellphone brands are pumping in a lot of money and penetrating into college championship which is a good thing when it comes to awareness. When it comes to PC gaming, right now the first half of the year only has one tournament which runs for three months. I hope in the coming years we can have at least one big tournament every month. The dream is to fill a stadium in India with esports fans and watch them enjoy competitive gaming as we see internationally. I know it’s going to take some time but we have started our engines.
Q) What are your current playing and streaming setups?
Being a professional player means you need to practice for hours and I don't want any hiccups when I play. I have one of the best gaming machines thanks to Intel, Corsair, and Alienware. I play on the Intel i9 processor, Alienware 240 Hz gaming monitor, Corsair k70 RGB keyboard, Corsair Void Pro Wireless headset, Zotac 2080 AMP graphic card. For helping me in streaming, I have the Elgato Stream Deck, Elgato hd60 PRO capture card and the Elgato Cam link 4K which helps me stream through my DSLR camera.
Q) Are Esports earnings enough to live a good life? Can you give us an idea of how much do you make for a living through gaming?
For me, it is definitely working. To be honest, I never thought I would make so much money by playing games. Esports players have now entered a space where only celebrities were allowed until now. I am not comparing myself with them but it’s a huge achievement for an industry that has just started growing.
I am the brand ambassador of Intel and Alienware. I am sponsored by Corsair and Gold’s gym. Red Bull has been helping me a lot. I have signed seven-figure solo deals with multiple brands so it’s more than just a good life to be frank. I am in talks to close another big deal soon, fingers crossed.
But I never take anything for granted. I am a focused guy who knows how he started and from where I come, you only see these figures in dreams. I feel blessed to have made something of my passion which is now helping me feed my family.
This question about earning comes to me a lot of times from parents as well whom I meet during meet-ups at events. I always tell them that for me it's working pretty well because I have been in this industry for 10 years. I am not saying it won't work for the upcoming players but you will have to be consistent and work really hard.
Q) What does your family say about your career choice?
Initially, just like all parents, they were worried but I told them to give me their questions/concerns and I will find all your answers. Their major concern was that will I be able to survive in this world with what I had chosen? They also thought that this was something bad which would ruin my life. Another question was what would they tell people who kept asking them what their son was doing? Today, when they see that I am taking care of my family, traveling different cities for events, staying in 5-star hotels, playing tournaments, meeting fans, signing autographs, they are convinced that this is not something bad that I am doing. Today people don't ask them "what is your son doing?” They come to my mom and tell her that they read my article in a popular magazine, they saw my advertisements, they congratulate her on my brand endorsements. Today after seeing all this, they applaud her upbringing and when she hears that and smiles, that is my motivation.
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