The esports scene in India is booming, especially after the Asian Games bronze medal. Patriot talks to a few professional gamers and traces their careers
On September 1, 2018, Gujarat’s Tirth Mehta created history, as he became the first Indian to claim a medal in esports — the first time since the game was officially recognised by the Asian Olympic Federation.
Though this win put the spotlight on the esports scene in the country, it has been ever present in India since a long time — the early 2000s, to be exact. It all started with small tournaments — semi professional and amateur — and then it started to grow. But since 2010, the rise has been rapid.
According to a study conducted by Forbes, there were 25 gaming companies across India in 2010 and by 2018, the number had risen to 250, a 10-fold rise. In fact, the study further states that there are 263.3 million gamers in India and the revenue from online gaming is more than $817 million.
In fact, gaming tournaments across the country are being broadcast across video streaming platforms especially Youtube, and garnering millions of views. In fact, such has been the hype around gaming that major OTT platform Hotstar has been directly broadcasting the ESports League (ESL), the biggest esports tournament in the country.
In the midst of all this hype around esports, Patriot speaks to four professional gamers about their careers, their passion for gaming and the future of the sport in India.
This Kolkata youngster started gaming as nothing more than a hobby. “As any other gamer, my journey started from playing in gaming cafes”, he says. “My friends introduced me to lan gaming for the first time where I got to know multiple people can play together with each other while sitting beside each other. It was fun”, he adds.
“Later I got to know that there are tournaments hosted for these kinds of games locally as well as internationally. I first attended an LAN event and from there the excitement and ambition started to grow”, says Bhowmick, who plays under the name Setsuna. Though he enjoys playing all kinds of games, he specialised in multiplayer battle arena game DOTA (Defense of the Ancients).
Having participated in multiple tournaments including many national and even the Asian cybergames qualifiers, Satadru now works as an organiser for Nodwin Games. “The journey from a player where we used to get 2k-3k for a prize to being the organiser who hosts esports tournament with prizepool over crores has been very long, but it is paying off.”
“I was always passionate about gaming and used to play those TV video games in my childhood”, says Sabyasachi Bose, 22, who has participated and represented the country in many tournaments and is currently recognised as a prodigy in Counter Strike gaming in the east zone sector.
“I started playing casually with my friends in a local gaming cafe. Later I found out that people were talking about me as I was improving my game every day. Finally, I got a call from a local semi-pro team and thus I started my journey and never looked back,” says Sabyasachi, who plays under the name Antidote.
“Initially, my parents were sceptical when I told them about choosing this as my career, but later when they realised that I would be representing India at the international stage, they completely support me and are proud “, he says.
He believes that India is currently developing into an “esports nation”, with more and more tournaments being organized and sponsors coming to the fore.
At just 16 years old, this teenager known as Krish Moon in the gaming sector is one of the youngest professional gamers in the Indian esports circuit. “From my childhood, I was pretty interested in gaming, and even at the age of five, I was expert in playing PC games that most people of older age find difficulty in playing,” he recalls.
“Around three years ago, I started playing DOTA as a hobby, and slowly started to develop interest in it. Then some of my friends told me that I was quite good at playing and should try it professionally”, he says. “I turned professional in March 2018, and now am completely immersed in esports.
Krish is now officially the youngest DOTA 2 player in India, and his team clinched the second prize in the ESL tournament. He also plans on making a full-fledged career out of gaming as he progresses further.
“My family is completely supportive of my professional gaming, and they have said that they are fine with it as long as I pursue my studies side by side,” he says.
“India is developing in the gaming scene, but still many countries are far more ahead of us, but yes we are on the right track”, he says, adding that the official recognition by the Asian Olympic Federation had certainly given a boost to the Indian gaming fraternity. “I hope to someday represent my country in the Olympics if and when the sport gets recognised at a global stage”, he concludes.
“I started gaming competitively around 2007-08, but I became a professional after 2010”, says 22-year old Mumbaikar Raunak Sen, who plays under the alias Crowley.
“Me and my brother used to go to cyber cafes and I got addicted to the game Counter Strike,” says Raunak, who goes by the name of Crowley in the gaming sector.
“The passion I had for this since my childhood for gaming turned into my profession and I am very happy with it”, says Raunak, who also reveals that he gets paid quite handsomely for his gaming exploits. Though he started his career with the game Counter Strilke, he has now moved on to play DOTA 2 professionally.
“The gaming scene in India is growing rapidly with more and more sponsors willing to spend their money on gaming”, says Raunak, who has won many tournaments with his team including top honours at this year’s ESL.