Indian esports athletes and industry bats for esports recognition as a sport ahead of next year’s Asian Games

Esports has exploded in popularity over the last few years in India. Esports (Electronic sports) is a competitive sport where esports athletes use their physical and mental abilities to compete in certain genres of video games in a virtual, electronic environment. Recently, the Indian DOTA 2 team produced a power-packed performance to clinch the bronze medal at the first-ever Commonwealth Esports Championship. The Indian Dota 2 team, comprising Moin Ejaz (captain), Ketan Goyal, Abhishek Yadav, Shubham Goli, and Vishal Vernekar, defeated New Zealand by 2-0 in a best-of-three format in Birmingham (6August to 7August 2022).

As esports is going to make its debut at the Asian Games 2022, earlier in 2018 it was there as a demonstration title when our esports athlete Tirth Mehta won a bronze medal (Hearthstone). The Asian Games 2022, originally scheduled for September this year, will now be held from 23September to 8October 2023. With the conclusion of the ESFI’s National Esports Championships in April 2022, India’s 18-member esports contingent for the Asian Games 2022 was finalised.

  1. FIFA22 – Charanjot Singh and Karman Singh Tikka
  2. Street Fighter V – Mayank Prajapati and Ayan Biswas
  3. Hearthstone – Shikhar Choudhary and Karthik Varma
  4. League of Legends – Captain Akshaj Shenoy, Samarth Arvind Trivedi, Mihir Ranjan, Aditya Selvaraj, Aakash Shandilya and Sanindhya Malik
  5. DOTA 2 – Captain Moin Ejaz, Krish, Abhishek Yadav, Ketan Goyal, Darshan and Shubham Goli

Before this big tournament, for India to become an Esports nation, the game needs to be recognised as a Sport and build a solid grassroots structure in the country which can result in bringing more laurels to the country in competitive gaming. The same is advocated by esports athletes and industry players:

“After winning the medal at the Commonwealth Esports championship in Birmingham, it’s high time that esports should be recognised as a sport. Esports athletes need their due recognition and support from our government and help us in providing better facilities, coaches, health physios and all other things which other sports athletes get as getting a medal for the country need proper support,” said Indian DOTA 2 team captain Moin Ejaz

“With the medal wins at Asian Games 2018 & now at Commonwealth Esports Championship, the time has come to recognize esports as a sport. The potential of Indian esports and our athletes cannot be ignored and its recognition becomes more critical before the Asian Games 2022 (scheduled next year), this will open up doors for investments and opportunities which will lead to training and skill development of our athletes. It is encouraging to see our Hon’ble Sports Minister Shri Anurag Thakur ji launching a mobile video game “Azadi Quest: Heroes of Bharat & Match3” in line with India’s celebration of Azadi Ka Amritmahotsav, following should be recognition of esports as a sport,” said Esports Federation of India director and  Asian Esports Federation (AESF) vice president Lokesh Suji.

 FIFA 22 athlete Charanjot Singh who will represent India in the next year’s Asian Games said, “Recognising esports as a sport will help a lot. This can lead to esports having the proper framework, facilities and opportunities for everyone. This will automatically lead to the growth of the esports industry as well. More athletes would want to join in and want to represent the country at global stages.”

“It was a big achievement for India on winning the bronze medal in Commonwealth Esports. To make the industry more aligned, there should be information shared and communication between the government and stakeholders who have been investing in the Esports Ecosystem in India and including athletes and organizations. In order to have a healthy ecosystem, young athletes should also be given education in order to learn about the legal and financial nitty-gritty of Esports apart from the basic necessities of training, financial support and mental & physical well-being,” said Revenant Esports founder and CEO Rohit Jagasia.

“It will definitely help the players get more exposure and all the support players need from the government and from their family itself. Getting the right infrastructure and hardware is one of the most important aspects of preparing for the Asian Games. Players will show more dedication towards the games which will definitely give us top results in upcoming games too. We are already doing so much better and this would definitely be a big step for esports athletes,” said Street Fighter V athlete Mayank Prajapati who will represent India at the Asian Games 2022, on how recognising esports as a sport will help the esports athletes before next year’s Asian Games.

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