The monumental success that Valorant has had in India has a lot to do with how the tournament organizers dealt with the competitive and professional aspects of the game.
Taking the newest esports in the block, out of the pond, and making it fly in an ecosystem that favors titles in handheld devices, is a herculean task that most would hesitate to take up.
However, for Skyesportsit was all a part of the daily grind, as they strive to be one of the biggest contributors to not just Valorant's success, but the overall development of esports in India.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda Esports’ Abhishek Mallick, Shiva Nandy, Founder/CEO at Skyesports, opened up about the hurdles in tournament organizing, and what the organization has planned for the coming months.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
Q. Before we head any deeper in this interview, I would really like you to tell our readers a bit about Skyesports. Charting its journey from how it came to be, to the nascent stages of the tournament hosting phase, and now as one of India's most iconic esports organizations.
Shiva Nandy: Since we were gamers and game developers, we had a huge interest in venturing into esports. We did many collegiate tournaments, including IIT Madras and others. Slowly, we saw bigger opportunities coming our way. We utilised it and started creating many IPs and were very successful in organizing Skyesports League 2020 and Skyesports Championship 2.0
Q. Skyesports began as a local/regional project, if I am not mistaken. Catering to the needs of young esports talents in South India, when the rest of the organizations and tournament hosts were more focused on the Northern states. How were you supported by the community when starting out? What helped you grow so exponentially in such a short time?
Shiva Nandy: Yes, Skyesports began as a regional project. We saw other organizations hosting a variety of tournaments, but it lacked localization and regional aspects. At Skyesports, we wanted to provide a platform and show how competitive the gamers in the South Indian region are.
The community loved and accepted it. We saw great support and participation for all our tournaments. The results increased our viewership, fan base, and also attracted non endemic brands and media. We have catered to 10 million gamers and have gained 65 million viewership in two years.
Q. What honestly stands out about Skyesports is how it diversifies its resources throughout various games and genres of competition. Can you shine some light on some of the challenges that organizing tournaments on so many games at the same time bring to the table?
Shiva Nandy: The first thing that makes us stand out is our commitment to esports. Our organization is full of gamers and that’s the top priority for our hiring team as well. We want gamers first. We are gamers first.
We tackle our challenges quickly and efficiently because the team is well versed for troubleshooting a problem or an issue. We self train on new games, new technology, and processes. We do multiple dry-runs before we execute an event or tournament. We are usually prepared for the basic hurdles like internet issues and server issues.
Q. Broadcasting is an art, and one of the most difficult sets of skills to hone no matter how talented the team is. A lot of hurdles can pop up along the road, and things hardly ever go as smoothly as one would like it to. However, Skyesports have been able to rally over those hurdles better than most. Not only was the production incredible, but it even caught the attention of TSM’s Subroza during the Skyesports Valorant League Grand Finals. How do you feel about this global outreach, and what is the next step for the broadcasting team going into 2021?
Shiva Nandy: We strive to do great when it comes to league operations and especially production and yes, there are hurdles always. Our team is filled with gamers first. Hence, it has become a little easier to handle pressure at times. We rely a lot on our capabilities because that’s what got us to where we are now. We believe in our team’s strength.
It felt great when Subroza spoke about the Valorant League. It shows how good our production quality was. For 2021, we are going to bring in a lot of new stuff to production quality and we are sure the eyes of the globe will turn towards India.
Q. You have often been quite vocal about the Indian esports scene, especially when talking about grassroots development. Do you still feel that the scene is still lagging, even after the amount of success that titles like Valorant and PUBG Mobile have seen?
Shiva Nandy: We are at just 10% or 20% of the target audience when it comes to exploration. We have to do many more grassroot level events to bring in new gamers to esports. This is only possible if we hit the tier three and lower regions and give them more basic tournaments. Yes, India is still lagging at this level, but that won't be for long. Within two-three years, many smaller towns will give us pro level gamers.
Q. When it comes to viewership, PUBG Mobile more or less has the lead over the other esports titles in India. How do you feel about the audience base when it comes to games like Valorant, Brawl Stars, and Clash of Clans? These are titles Skyesports is intimately familiar with when it comes to broadcasting, so how much do you see them developing in the near future?
Shiva Nandy: Certainly, PUBG Mobile has the largest audience. But surprisingly, Valorant’s viewership grew big in a short time. During Skyesports League 2020, we had viewers see their favorite players and support the city they come from. We had a mix of gaming and non-gaming audience, which we see as a huge win.
For games like Brwalstars and COC, we have an audience who know and play COC and Brawlstars, and that’s the audience we cater to. We cannot compare gaming audiences with the likes of the ones in cricket. Both are different and are unique to the game they want to watch.
Q. Setting tournament regulations and maintaining the competitive integrity of any esports title is a responsibility that every tournament organizer has to bear. So how do you maintain standards when it comes to hosting and weed out the possibility of cheating. Especially in an online format, where so much can go wrong behind the scenes?
Shiva Nandy: We do thorough checks before we go into tournaments. We have our administrators screen profiles if they are fake or not, as a first step. But there is very little we can do because cheaters and hackers will always find a way. During our League 2020 finals, we implemented face cams for all the players. This showed us that the players were real and played with their own profiles. The audience also got to see a LAN-like experience.
Q. Indian regulatory bodies have been cracking down on games that boast gambling and risky monetary transactions. There has been a lot of confusion among the general populace regarding what an online gambling game is and what an esport and fantasy video game is. As a prominent figure in the Indian esports scene, would you care to elucidate some of the major differences in genres that competitive games can fall under?
Shiva Nandy: Esports is different. Esports is a form of competition that occurs in organized video game competitions.
The biggest difference is in the mode through which revenue is earned. Daily Fantasy sports companies earn money when players pay to play and also through commissions earned on the prize money. Money is earned through sponsorship, media rights, advertisements, and streaming the game on video platforms in esports.
Daily Fantasy sports victory is based on both skills and chance. But esports, on the other hand, require skill to win, and the element of chance is removed. Players spend hours honing their skills in the esports industry, and their performance is directly related to how well they play.
Q. Valorant has been surprisingly popular in India, even though it’s a nation that is heavily inclined towards mobile esports. What do you feel allowed it to gain so much momentum ever since its official launch?
Shiva Nandy: After the ban on PUBG Mobile, a lot of gamers moved to Valorant to try it out. Regardless of that, Valorant was sure to go big because of the game's dynamics and graphics. Riot has made the game highly competitive and playable. The PC gaming audience has been waiting for such a game and most of them are now back to playing a high-end PC game, which is competitive and esports worthy.
Q. How far do you see Valorant going in India’s esports ecosystem in the coming months?
Shiva Nandy: Valorant has made a great impact in India and on Indian gamers. It’s a lovely competitive title and the audience loves watching it. When it comes to gamers & organizations, India will surely be in the top 15 at the world level. India has already made a name in South Asia.
Q. From the perspective of a tournament host, do you see CS: GO making a comeback in India anytime soon? Or will Valorant completely swallow it up?
Shiva Nandy: At the moment, Valorant seems to be the preferred title for gamers. It has gone big in India, and it’s a great sign. CS: GO is still a great competitive title. It will still be around. Not sure of the comeback.
Q. Moving into 2021, what can fans expect from Skyesports? Is there something big in store?
Shiva Nandy: We have great things planned for 2021. There will be many leagues and tournaments and we have already started to plan for LAN events. We plan to take esports to the next level, keeping in mind the growth of esports in India.
We will be focusing more on regional content and moving to a larger audience. We will also focus on multiple titles for tier three and tier four cities.
2021 will see a lot of new gamers In India via Skyesports!Published 07 Jan 2021, 20:37 IST