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I really hope that Battlegrounds Mobile India is a bit different compared to what PUBG Mobile was: Nimish ‘Nemo’ Raut, former Fnatic India lead

Nimish ‘Nemo’ Raut, the former Fnatic India lead
Nimish ‘Nemo’ Raut, the former Fnatic India lead
Abhishek Mallick
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Krafton’s official Battlegrounds Mobile India announcement and the ensuing pre-registration has left the nation's esports personalities wondering what the game will be like once it goes live.

There is a lot of conjecture in the air, and it's quite hard to pin down what exactly the game is going to look like and how it's going to revitalize the mobile esports scene in India.

In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda Esports' Abhishek Mallick, former Fnatic India lead Nimish "Nemo" Raut opened up about Krafton's exclusive title, which is being tailor-made for India.

He even talked about some of his apprehensions regarding the sustainability of the market that BGMI will look to create and how that will dictate the success of its competitive scene.

Here is an excerpt from the conversation.

Q. Before the ban, the Fnatic India lineup was one of the most celebrated PUBG Mobile teams in the region. And it was only recently that the organization decided to let go of their players and coach so that they can look for opportunities elsewhere. It must have been a difficult decision for the organization to make. Can you tell us about some of the thought processes that went behind it?

Nemo: I think one of the most important things for us was to figure out what makes sense in business. We continued to pay our players and coaches and made sure that they were happy and satisfied with the organization and with the team that they are a part of.

However, it came to a point where there was a lot of uncertainty with the return of PUBG Mobile, and continuing with the roster did not make much financial sense. So, it was a very difficult decision to make, but I guess with Battlegrounds Mobile India coming in the near future, Fnatic will be making a comeback.

Keeping in mind how different the new game is going to be compared to the previous one, and with Fnatic India not being able to compete in the highest level for the last 7-8 months, it will take some time to build a team and for the esports ecosystem of the game to settle.

Hence, we decided to let the players go for now, and when the time is right, Fnatic will hopefully make a comeback to the Indian market.

Q. With Battlegrounds Mobile India finally getting its official announcement and pre-registration, it would seem that the nation’s PUBG Mobile faithful can breathe a sigh of relief. What are Fnatic India’s plans for BGMI? Is the formation of a competitive roster already in the works?

Even though I have moved out of Fnatic myself, from my previous discussions with Patrick and the team in the UK, I can safely say that the org will definitely be keeping an eye on the Indian market.

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However, I think it’s a little bit too early to talk about putting up a roster together because the reality is that Battlegrounds Mobile India has not really announced how they are going to work on the esports aspect.

“How it’s going to be profitable, and what it’s going to look like?“ are some important questions that need to be answered before anyone makes a huge investment in India again.

Q. With the arrival of Battlegrounds Mobile India, what kind of shift do you see we will see in the mobile esports scene? Keeping in mind that a lot of players did leave the game post-ban, how many of them do you feel will come to Krafton’s new title?

Nemo: I feel that the majority of the players who left PUBG Mobile will migrate to Battlegrounds Mobile India. I think the major challenge will be how much money Krafton is looking to invest in the esports ecosystem of the new title.

And even if they do invest a sizeable sum in the esports scene, how sustainable it’s going to be in the long run is another ball game altogether. I have been very vocal about how I feel about people who were involved in the PUBG Mobile esports scene and did not do enough for it.

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I never felt that there was a sustainable model in place for the game, and I think the professional teams struggled to make money at the end of the day.

So, I hope Battlegrounds Mobile India can be a new beginning that fixes and answers some of the questions that teams and team owners have regarding profitability.

Q. The launch of Riot Games’ Valorant did cause a significant boom in India’s PC esports scene, and the popularity was further aided by the PUBG Mobile ban. How exactly do you feel BGMI will affect PC esports in the country?

Nemo: I do believe that Valorant did make a lot of noise, but I have also been vocal about the fact that this is a huge facade. The reality is that India does not have more than three or four really competitive Valorant teams.

And I personally feel that most of the events that took place on the shooter were either exhibition events or represented influencers which, in my book, did not make the format competitive enough.

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I don’t think that we have a strong enough esports Valorant scene compared to some of the other Southeast Asian countries. So, I feel that Valorant’s launch has just moved the focus from one game to another. The reality remains that in PC esports, we are not competitive enough, and neither is there enough sustainability for it.

Q5. With League of Legends: Wild Rift set to have its release sometime this year, there were a lot of mobile phone gamers who were looking forward to the MOBA. How much will the chances of Wild Rift's popularity boom be hurt after the release of Battlegrounds Mobile India?

Nemo: See, the reality is that MOBA was always going to play second fiddle. As Wild Rift was launched in so many different markets already, I feel it’s like the “chicken and egg” situation all over again.

League of Legends was once very popular in India for a long time. By the time they tried to make investments in the game's esports scene, we were already very much behind compared to so many other markets.

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I fear that the same might happen with Wild Rift, as some of these Southeast Asian markets have already done really well with the competitive aspects of the game. There are esports athletes and teams in the game who have already invested a lot of hours into it.

So, even though Wild Rift is on a mobile platform, India, being one of the biggest markets for it, is still playing second fiddle to all the other regions. Hence, I think Riot has missed the bus when it comes to Wild Rift in India, and I will be very surprised if Wild Rift actually does well here after its official launch.

Q. In terms of investment, how much foreign and domestic engagement can Battlegrounds Mobile India pull in for the mobile scene once it’s officially launched?

Nemo: In terms of foreign investment or foreign engagement for that matter, a lot will depend on what exactly the esports ecosystem is for Battlegrounds Mobile India.

I think if they can create a very solid ecosystem, where there is a huge prize pool and sustainability, there will be a lot of investment from foreign teams and organizations. In fact, I am in touch with a lot of foreign teams who want to come to this market, but then again, there is an unfortunate fact that we are not able to build a great sporting ecosystem.

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The way we build and approach esports in this country is a joke oftentimes. I do feel that unless someone has a plan in place for the next 5 years, it’s just going to be another place where there is a lot of noise with hardly any money involved.

Q. When it comes to competitive fairness and international representation, do you feel India having its own game will hurt its chances on the bigger competitive stage?

Neemo: I kind of do agree with this, because if you are not playing the same game that is popular globally, then you are always going to be within your own market.

In that sense, it will definitely hurt our chances of becoming big at a competitive level on the global stage.

I always questioned if India would be able to create an esports ecosystem for a particular game, where the scene doesn’t need to go global but is big enough that players do not need to go outside of the country for teams to be sustainable, make money and do well.

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This is kind of what happens in China and North America, where the markets are big enough to sustain themselves. So, my question is always if India will be able to create something like that with Krafton’s title. I guess we will have to wait and watch.

Q. Though not much has been revealed about the game apart from a few teasers here and there, what do you feel fans can look forward to in Battlegrounds Mobile India upon its launch? How different will it be from PUBG Mobile?

Nemo: I really hope that the game is a bit different compared to what PUBG Mobile was. I do feel that the developers will be following some guidelines to keep the Indian government happy. Apart from that, there will not be any major differences.

I am hoping that it’s got the same excitement, the same kind of energy and ups and downs that PUBG Mobile had to offer. And I also hope that it comes with or creates a great competitive circuit that people will like to watch and engage in.

Q. Before leaving the organization, where there talks among the Fnatic higher-ups on what their future plans are for India? Is there a new game like Free Fire that they were looking to get into?

Neemo: Obviously cannot comment on Fnatic’s future plans that much, as I have moved on to other ventures. But from what I know, there are plans for them to make a comeback to the country, and I know that Patrick and his team were very keen on continuing with PUBG Mobile in this country.

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It’s true that the shape and form that Battlegrounds Mobile India will take is yet to be known, but I still feel that Fnatic India will not be looking past Krafton’s new title all that much.

Q. Will Fnatic be planning to create more international PUBG Mobile rosters in the near future?

Neemo: This was something that was always in discussion. I feel that it is something that they would seriously consider if the Indian esports ecosystem around Battlegrounds Mobile is not big enough or lucrative enough.

If they want to continue with PUBG Mobile, they can look to other markets like Malaysia and other such markets that have similar flexibility. But for now, India will be the focus, and they want to do something in the esports scene of the nation. However, we might potentially get to know what that’s going to look like by the end of the year.


Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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