The esports and gaming industry has become a part of the mainstream media and entertainment industry, transforming from a niche to a central form of entertainment. Experts are assuming that by 2024, the gaming and esports industry in India is set to be one of the biggest gaming and esports markets in the world. Esports tournaments in India are playing a major role in building this ecosystem as they attract investors and sponsors from across the globe and at the same time due to the live telecast of the tournaments, one can see a large number of diverse audiences as well.
The esports space is constantly shifting with the change in preference of games. Earlier players and esports enthusiasts were more into mobile-based games, but now they are also exploring the PC space as well. There are a lot of factors driving these shifts like the launch of new games or new esports tournaments with attractive prize pools and so on.
In conversation with AnimationXpress, The Esports Club co-founder Ishaan Arya said, “Esports’ popularity in India has always followed content popularity. Whatever is popular with the largest content creators and streamers, has the potential to be a successful esports title. It happened with PUBG PC, PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire and now Valorant.”
With big events being organised, big sponsors are also joining in. The Esports Club has announced an esports event, The Esports Club (TEC) Gauntlet, which is powered by WD BLACK and AMD Ryzen. The company claimed that TEC Gauntlet is set to be South Asia’s largest Valorant event with a prize pool of Rs 52 lakhs. There will be four seasons and the first season of the tournament is set to run from 12 June 2021(exclusively shared with AnimationXpress) till January 2022. Registration for qualifiers is now open on The Esports Club Website.
Speaking on how important sponsorship is for an esports event, Arya shared, “Esports events, like any other sports events or leagues, are commercial properties. There are heavy costs ranging from operations, broadcast to the obvious prize money and so on. So, sponsorships and media rights play a crucial role in ensuring esports events can take place at scale like the TEC Gauntlet. COVID has certainly impacted the way that brands assess their marketing budgets and campaigns. However, the brands that have understood what this young gaming demographic offers, how they spend their time and money, are the ones that have actually seized the opportunity and expanded their presence through online esports campaigns. These are the brands that you have seen more of during the past year and they’ve subsequently also benefited from this constant engagement with the gaming community.”
Esports is growing rapidly although it is still not at a point where there is widespread acceptance, therefore, a celebrity or sports person ambassador might help in breaking through the barriers and to reach out to a larger audience. Apart from that, there are a lot of challenges in the esports scene in India. He highlighted, “There are no established long-term leagues, the commercial value of the space is largely untapped and there are very few professional esports organisations. Most of the teams we see today, even popular successful ones, don’t run well, players are undisciplined and unprofessional. Teams like Team Mahi/Velocity Gaming and Global Esports are looking to change this, however, it is a slow process and with time we will hopefully see a few more professional organizations owning teams, a move that will certainly pave the way for more events and investments in the space.”
He is also hoping that the LAN events should commence soon as it will help to evolve the landscape once again as it has its own charm. Additionally, it will help to drive more interest in online events, as they serve as the first phase of the event with online qualifiers. “I fully expect offline LAN events to drive more value to online esports campaigns,” he added.
With the upcoming tournament TEC Gaunlet, the company believes that the tournament will add much needed stability to Valorant Esports in India. “Up until now, nobody had really given teams and players a long term roadmap for the ecosystem; our aim is to provide that assurance with this event and others around it,” he expressed.