“Red Bull Campus Clutch is giving the young players a platform to showcase their talents”: Ankit “V3nom” Panth

Ankit "V3nom" Panth (Image by Sportskeeda)
Ankit "V3nom" Panth (Image by Sportskeeda)

There is hardly anyone in the Indian esports scene who doesn’t know Ankit “V3nom” Panth.

Ankit “V3nom” Panth, started off his career as the star player of his team, Team Brutality. He has also gained success as a content creator, with over 114k subscribers on his YouTube channel.

Ankit “V3nom” Panth is quintessentially the older brother of the Indian Gaming Community. He has always opened up about the issues plaguing the community and has been a guide for the younger generation. He is an inspiration to many in the country.

Ankit “V3nom” Panth opened up about Valorant Conquerors Championship, the Indian gaming community and Red Bull Campus Clutch

Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your journey? How was the experience from the very start to Team Brutality? From a professional player at Team Brutality to one of India’s best gaming content creators, How was the entire journey?

Ankit: The journey has been amazing. When I started my journey, I had no clue gaming was going to become so big, but I always had a passion to represent my country. In the game we were playing, India used to get a couple of slots in WCG. It all started from there.

I kept practicing and playing a lot of amateur and semi-pro tournaments. Back then these tournaments were taking place consistently, but the prize pool was very minimal. So I played a lot of competitive games, understood the scene, and saw the best teams. In 2010 we won our first tournament, where we defeated India’s number 1 team. There we formed Brutality and got a lot of recognition.

After that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive came and we had to switch and start the grind. We won a couple of tournaments. We have a record of winning 3 tournaments in different cities within 72 hours.

It was a fun journey, but now we have shifted to Valorant, because the team wanted to play Valorant. We are working hard on learning the game, and let’s see where the journey takes us.

How do you feel esports has grown from a niche interest to mainstream culture with multiple career opportunities over the last few years? Do you think the growth will continue to prosper and bring in more talented players in the upcoming years?

Ankit: The esports scene is improving a lot thanks to brands like Red Bull because when I started, we didn’t have events like Red Bull Campus Clutch, Red Bull M.E.O., or Red Bull Flick. These tournaments are a great opportunity to get into the competitive scene and get yourself recognized.

When we were playing there wasn’t any big College/University esports tournaments like Red Bull Campus Clutch. There wasn’t any platform to be recognized. But now, there are so many streamers co-streaming the Red Bull Campus Clutch Final. The participants were very happy because they were given a platform to showcase their talents.

So events like these have started happening, which also helps in the growth of the entire community. Apart from that, there are a lot of aspiring content creators coming into the scene, many professional esports athletes are coming into the scene who want to represent the country on a global stage. This also opens up opportunities for managers and coaches to join in. As the scene matures, there is obviously going to be a need for coaches to step in and guide the players.

This entire ecosystem cannot exist without tournaments and gaming events, and that’s where organizers like Nodwin Gaming and Skyesports are coming in. So the entire community is coming together and the numbers are exploding. Due to covid, people are staying at home and enjoying the content we are providing through social media and various other platforms.

So in terms of growth, I think it’s going to grow bigger and bigger every day.

Do tell our readers a bit about the Red Bull Campus Clutch and how it is helping and inspiring the young generations to get a grasp on the competitive world of esports.

Ankit: Red Bull Campus Clutch is one of the world’s biggest college/university Valorant Tournament, which is happening across the globe. It is a great opportunity for upcoming gamers who really want to do something and showcase their talents. People are always asking me about such tournaments, and I try my best to share them and distribute registration links, to give everyone the opportunity to showcase their talents.

We can’t put talent in you, but we can give you a platform to showcase your talent. And that's what Red Bull does. We have a lot of plans to help the Indian gaming community and that is what we have been working on. Events like Red Bull Campus Clutch, Red Bull Flick, Red Bull Fragout, Red Bull M.E.O. are there from Red Bull for those who want to get into esports, streaming, content creation, whatever they want to pursue.

Basically, we as Red Bull are trying to help the community out by giving you a platform to get out there and show everyone you have it in you.

Skyesports, the official broadcasting partner of Red Bull Campus Clutch India, broadcasted the entire tournament in 8 languages. Any thoughts on the amazing production and broadcast by Skyesports?

Ankit: To be honest, I’m hearing about the red Bull Campus Clutch being broadcasted in 8 languages for the first time, which is a huge step I would say. Local languages need to be publicized more, because that is what people love the most. Like people from Punjab enjoying the stream in Punjabi, or people from South India enjoying the Tamil or the Telegu stream.

Whenever I put out a video in Hindi, people ask for subtitles, so it is great that Red Bull Campus Clutch didn't face any language barrier, and the production was really really good. It was a great step to bring the tournament to people from across India who are scattered across the nation but want’s to learn and understand the game.

You have been one of India’s top Red Bull athletes for quite a while and have been representing the best of the brand. How does it feel to be a Red Bull athlete?

Ankit: It’s like a dream come true, to be honest. This brand doesn’t force you to do anything, everything is crystal clear, and whatever i do for red Bull, it comes from the heart. They have helped me a lot in my journey. Today i have access to a lot of their athletes and any of their top sponsored teams so that I can talk to them and learn from them. In streaming they have helped me a lot. I keep discussing with them this is what I need, this is what i can do, and they have never said no.

When I was eyeing this spot to be India’s first esports Red Bull athlete, I wasn’t sure it would happen, but I wanted to work hard and give my best. They don’t make you change yourself, rather they encourage you to be yourself. And if your idea of growing the brand in your field matches, it’s a win-win for everybody.

The best thing about this association was that i always wanted to do a lot for the Indian gaming community, but as an individual I’m limited, but with Red Bull, I’m able to do a lot more. Last year when we did Red Bull Flick, the registrations were on Faceit and within 48 hrs of the announcement, all slots were full. We have 2 other slots open for the event. So the community is there to showcase their talents and that’s where we come into the picture. So the thought process with Red Bull matches and they are helping me improve my game and grow as an individual. So this association is like a dream come true for me, and I’ll always be grateful to be India’s first Red Bull esports athlete.

Wrist sprains, Carpal Tunnel syndromes, and mental fatigue have often been some of the more widespread health problems that professional esports talents face today. Especially in India, health and wellness for professional players is not exactly a priority among esports organizations. Can you share some of your thoughts on the matter and elaborate on the importance that both physical and mental health hold for any esport athlete?

Ankit: Physical and mental health is very, very important. People tend to ignore them, but you should not. The reason why I can play for 8 to 10 hours without any problem is that I started to take care of my physical and mental health from an early age. I go to the gym regularly, do a lot of cycling and meditate on a regular basis. That helps me make the right decisions.

Now speaking of injuries, if you don’t work out, if your muscle isn’t strong, doing the flick movements might cause an injury. Also, posture is extremely important. When you’re sitting for 8 to 10 hours, if you don’t have a proper chair, you will hurt your back. Unfortunately, people realize these at a later stage, after they have been injured.

I knew that I didn’t want to go down this path, that’s why I started to take care of my body and my mind from early on. I maintain a strict diet, go to the gym regularly, make sure to work out regularly, sometimes take a break for 15-20 minutes, and close my eyes.

People should be very conscious about these issues if they want to be a professional esports player. There is a lot of stress in esports, you continuously have to think about strategies, how you perform, and counter your opponents. It’s not just you’re plugging in your mouse and keyboard and you’re a professional esports player. You have to put in the time and energy, and when there is competition there is stress.

So meditation will help you calm down and a regular workout will help you avoid injuries.

You have been vocal about different issues that have been plaguing the community, multiple times. What are your thoughts on how it ruins the community, and how should it be tackled. Do you think it will subside anytime soon?

Ankit: To be honest, I didn’t know people were following me so religiously. I say this now because i have messages of parents telling me that “please tell people to like and subscribe because you don’t know this algorithm, it pushes your content. We got to know you randomly. We always assume that gaming is bad, and gaming content creators and professional esports players are in a direction our kids should not pursue. But when we saw your video, searched about you, and got to know you, we understood that all gamers are not alike. That’s when I got to know about the algorithm.

When the parents are saying that we want kids to listen to you, I thought that if kids are listening to me, I should give them messages of responsibility. I hoped that by understanding my messages, the kids will stop abusing negativity and in turn, the parents will also understand the kid’s passion and give him a pc to pursue his dream. It's both ways of communication.

I started to build my own world, which I call the world of V3nom. I cannot change the entire world, but I’m here to protect the people of my world. So when you press the likes and the subscribe button, you enter my world. You can only enter my world when you have researched about me, and have found some connection with me. Otherwise, you’ll find me very very boring. So now in my world, there are parents, grandparents, kids, people who have done MBA and are engineers, people who are passionate about video games, professional athletes, gaming content creators. So we have a diverse world. There are also brands like Red Bull, Intel, Alienware and GoPro. Everyone has questions and answers, and we are having a conversation in our world.

When I started making these videos, like the first one was about problems gamers face in India convincing parents, I never script anything, I just talk about it from the heart. I’m not running after views or subscribers. I make the videos to make people understand. Even if i get only 1 view, that view should understand and learn something from it.

I have a clip with me, that I’ll post very soon, where a mother is talking with happiness that “ you are changing the world, you’re everything to us, you’re like a god.” Now obviously I’m not at all anyone like a god, but it feels good to hear such things. Now parents have started to believe in me, cause earlier i also used to hear that you’re a bad influence because you play on a computer, you’ll create a mess of my child’s life, you should not play this game. But now this has changed, because i have always told people to balance life, and now they are understanding.

Then there are a lot of issues, which people talk about very casually. Yes, our gaming community is kind of immature but that doesn’t mean we’ll leave it like that. It’s our responsibility as we are at the top of the to guide our audience responsibly. And that what I’m doing.

I heard the other day that a gamer was arrested due to some racial comments. I also made a video on that also, so that people don't act like they're having fun and there won't be any repercussions. The only reason he was taken to jail was to set an example, but that shouldn't happen. Why would anyone want to go down the road that after you've been arrested and taken to jail, you would understand what you did was wrong.

So this doesn't happen in my world. I make sure they understand what is right and what is wrong, to the best of my abilities. So there are a lot of things I'm doing, not just for my growth, but for the community's growth also, because I'm not going to be here forever. I have given myself 5 years, and in 5 years I'm going to play the best, learn the best and teach the best.

Valorant has risen to be one of the more popular esports titles within just a year of its launch. Do you think the game has a long-time sustainability potential, or will the player count reduce to a much smaller but stable number over the years?

Ankit: For people switching from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the aim might feel easier at the moment, but it will get tougher and tougher as time progresses. There are a lot of new maps coming in, a lot of new agents coming in, and you won't be able to master every agent, on every map.

So you need to put in a lot of hours understanding the game, discussing strategies, this is the beauty of this game, every now and then the meta will keep changing, you'll need to put in the hard work to change your gameplay, changing your strategy. So, for now, the game is doing really well because it's a new game, and riot listens to the community feedback and does changes accordingly. This is what everyone loves. Also in the future, I don't see it dropping until and unless people stop enjoying it. So it all depends on the community. If people are watching and playing, the fame will keep ongoing.

Do you think the Indian Valorant community has the potential to compete at an international level, on par with NA or the EU valorant community? What are your views on the recently announced Valorant Conquerors Championship, which will give the Indian teams an opportunity to participate in the Valorant Champions Tour?

Ankit: I don't think we can compete with NA or the EU right now, India still needs time to grow. But it's a new game and it’s open for all. Everybody has access to the game at the same time, so India definitely has scope, but there is a way to do those things.

The slot we have is for the SEA region. Once we perform there, we will be able to go out and play against NA and the EU. It's going to be a difficult road for sure, but if you ask me whether we can compete with NA and EU right now, my answer will be no.

There is potential, but that potential is scattered across different teams. Right now we have to grind a lot because we have been given a slot and a chance. If we lose this chance, we can't complain that people don't pay attention to our region.

We still have time and we have an opportunity, so let's see what happens, we will get our answer in the qualifiers. I'm really looking forward to the matches and hoping that we can do some damage in the SEA LQ at least.

What are some of your tips, tricks, and words of advice for the upcoming generation of esports players? Any wishes and words of advice for team Villainous, who will be representing India on the global stage of Red Bull Campus Clutch.

Ankit: my only advice to Team Villainous would be, now that you have proven to be the best college/university team in India, to make sure you represent the best of India on the global stage. Be confident, there is no reason to come under pressure and second guess your strategies. Give your best out there so that the world knows India is a region to look out for.

And apart from that, anyone who wants to be a professional esports player or a content creator, I would say that it takes time, don't lose hope. If you do things correctly, you'll make it. But when you do things, make sure to balance your life. Don't leave your studies, don't fight with your parents. you can manage all of them and then go for your dreams.

Edited by Gautham Balaji
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